Thursday, March 25, 2010

Follow the Leader

Tango Night on a Thursday and I was going it alone, this time sans the comfort zone that is the maestro.

Time to flex those tango feet and tango to the lead of another. Something like the finals in a semester, where one's accumulated learning is tested and measured. While there is no exam in the tango school, being able to follow the lead of any partner is to my mind a fitting benchmark to check if I am indeed learning to tango and learning tango.

While I had previously danced with my partner for the night, this could be counted as the first time, after my intensive lessons over the last three months.

Balance. Pivot. Move. Attack. Musicality. These were my test areas. And armed with hours and hours of studio workouts, I faced the lean and energetic Willy, ready to tango.

Four hours and an endless stream of boleo, sacada, gancho, saludo, ocho adelante, ocho atras after, the sweat was streaming and my breath was coming in gasps. Energetic he was, and enthusiastic about maximizing my new-found skills and agility.

The dance floor was ours. Whether crowded or not, he made it the arena to test my limits, stretch my limbs, add to the arsenal. Unrelenting and bubbly, Willy led me with authority, brooking no argument in his hold, encouraging me to step wider, reach longer, give more with every move.

The frenzy got me dizzy, he wasted no time, and he pushed until I got each quick sequence right. Imagine my delight when he noted how much lighter I was becoming as the night progressed. And how much my tango had improved since a month or so ago.

But the highlight of the evening was when he decided to test if I could do the volcada. He asked as we were dancing, and in the next breath proceeded to go into an abrazo, the prelude to the wide wide ronde. As I was taught, I followed the leader. And did a volcada. and another one. For which I heard the words which makes every studio hour and every painful foot worth the sacrifice: you can tango already.

His words were an affirmation of what I could feel in my bones and in my limbs the whole night. I was in step, even though at times still off balance, stretching, reaching, moving in tune with the leader and the music. I was out there, not timid, not waiting to be dragged. I attacked as much as I could, and I could feel it in my tango.

And it got better as the connection grew. From an unfamiliar authoritative hold, the connection came alive, as I let the leader take me into his circle. His moves, his energy, his enthusiasm were being absorbed and relayed into my own moves, my energy, my enthusiasm.

Again, last night I tangoed with everything I had, and it felt good.

Follow the Leader, I did; and tango with heart and soul, I did.

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