I Want To Follow Others

Tango Tia: I’ve worked SO hard in weekly practicas, group lessons, and many many private lessons, even a large festival. After 18 months I still consider myself just a beginner. Being a perfectionist, I’m extremely self-critical but am finally beginning to relax and enjoy a little bit. The problem is, I only seem to dance well with my instructor and feel that we do connect and I can be comfortable and follow him pretty well. (So he says.) But it all falls apart with any of the other leads and I can’t seem to follow anything well with anyone else. It doesn’t seem fair to to blame all the leads. Why can’t I learn to follow well with more than just one person?–I Want to Follow Others

Dear Want To Follow Others: It’s great you are taking a mix of lessons and starting to attend festivals. A very significant step is to understand there is no perfection, in the usual sense, in tango. There is “magic” but that is a perception. Consider yourself a beginner for another year and avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy: if you think something will go wrong, it will. Your instructor probably leads more clearly than other men which makes him easier to follow, and you have probably danced with him enough to be familiar with his vocabulary. This can become “rote” following so when you dance with someone else, and there is no related data base, your brain goes in to “think” mode and your dance goes awry. As you progress, potential partners will also improve and one by one you’ll find more of them who you connect well with. In the meantime, if you miss a lead, consider it a moment of learning. Every elegant tanguera has had countless, valuable “moments of learning.”

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