Monday, March 1, 2010

That Connection Thing

It used to be a mystery to me, when the word connection would be used to define the how and the what of my tango moves. I was told it would eventually be the connection that would lead me, no need for wrist action or other highly visible or even exaggerated physical signals.

So the lessons progressed, and again and again I heard all about connection, and feeling the connection, and letting the connection lead me.

The wrist signals were easy to get used to, as they left no doubt what one had to do next. When the leader's wrist twists left, you move left or do an ocho. When the wrist action goes into the ragdoll move, prepare for a boleo. When the hand tightens, expect a special move to be executed.

Predictable, safe, not needing much of a connection really. For the wrist actions and their meanings, once established between leader and follower, are like the push button menus. Wrist left, move left. Wrist right, move right. Ragdoll, do the boleo.

But as time passed, and my lessons leveled up from learning the steps to cleaning up my moves, the wrist action became superfluous. And forceful leading that used to literally take me through the steps became unnecessary as I imbibed and practiced the dance "on your own" mind set.

And the concept of connection became real, evolved from just something my teacher kept talking about. Over time, I realized I had been connecting with my leader, a bond born from hours and hours of dancing together, of moving two as one, of letting the dance take over.

How does it work? Where before, the wrist would signal a caminada or the extended arm would mean an ocho, now, a slight leaning in from the leader would trigger my leg to extend backward for a caminada. Where the ragdoll wrist signal would open me up to a boleo, one slight move from the leader, and the boleo is ushered in. Subtle, imperceptible moves; a case of singular interaction, two as one.

So nowadays, I expect that link that leads. My tango senses seek the impulses and signals that come with connecting in body, in rhythm, in spirit.

Connecting requires a bond of trust, an open channel and a singular focus that lets the communication flow even as the feet move, the limbs tangle and two tango as one.

Amid the intense music and the crush of the tango crowd, that connection thing will lead you to tango with everything you've got.

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