Ginger Rogers once said, “When two people love each other, they don’t look at each other, they look in the same direction.” While you may not always be in love with your Argentine Tango partner (or you might!), the intimate nature of the dance resonates with this saying. To dance the Argentine Tango is not to mirror each other; instead, it is about acting and reacting. The dancers have two very different objectives, working in tandem to create the beautiful tango. Let us further explain the objectives of each dancer.
Argentine Tango is a series of improvised movements that are executed by two independent individuals. There are no basic tango steps, no checklist of steps to complete before the end of a song. A good leader must have the sense about him not only to choose the next move, but to invite his partner to make that step in a way that is clear to her. She must accept the invitation, complete the movement, then regain her balance. Once she is ready again to follow, he invites her again.
The follower may indicate that she would like to stop for a moment and add an adornment, which the leader can accept and allow her to add to the dance, or he can choose to continue in the steps that he planned next. This allows the follower to add her own flair to the dance, and perhaps give the leader a moment of stillness to design their next move. The leader must be dependable, but flexible, and wait for his follower to be ready to follow him again. The follower must be agile, adaptable, and trust the leader.
If you are new to the Argentine Tango, try listening to your partner in this way. Leaders, wait for your follower to regain her balance before you invite her to follow you again. Followers, don’t be afraid to communicate that you want to slow down and add to the dance. Your personality and how you improvise together is what makes the tango so extraordinary!