From Mind to Heart: Seeking Qualitative Feedback in Tango
Thursday night at Milonga Lujos at El Beso, I had an interesting conversation that I found worthwhile sharing.
As soon as I sat down, a guy next to me asked me a question. In fact, he introduced himself to me before, stating that he knew me from my book "Tango Zen." Unfortunately, I still don't remember his name or where he came from. I'll call him S for now.
‘The Quest for Improvement’
S's question was simple yet profound: "How can I improve my dance?"
I took a moment to reflect on his question and responded, "What do you mean by 'improving the dance'?"
S explained that he wanted to dance better, to elevate his skills and connection with the tango.
I asked him, "How would you know you're improving your dance?"
He said that he relied on feedback from his partners, specifically compliments they would give him during the dance.
"Congratulations on receiving positive feedback!" I exclaimed. "But who are these partners that compliment your dance? Are they Porteñas or foreigners?"
S confessed that he mostly danced with foreigners as it was challenging to do cabeceo with Porteñas.
‘Shifting the Focus to Qualitative Feedback’
I explained to S that relying solely on compliments from foreigners might not be the most effective way to measure his dance improvement. Instead, I suggested shifting his focus to qualitative feedback, which is more detailed and insightful than simply receiving compliments.
I further explained that qualitative feedback can come in many forms, including nonverbal cues from his partners, his own personal reflections on his dance experience, and feedback from experienced tango instructors or dancers.
‘Feeling the Music Through the Heart’
To illustrate my point about qualitative feedback, I suggested that S try focusing on connecting with his partners on a deeper level during the dance.
"When you embrace your partner," I advised, "shift your focus from your head to your heart. Try to communicate with your partner through your heart and listen to their heart through your dance, resonating with the music."
S seemed intrigued but perplexed, asking a series of questions to defend his belief that his current approach to dance improvement was adequate.
‘The Bruce Lee Connection’
To conclude our conversation, I invited him to my Tango Zen workshop, then went off to dance.
As I observed S's dance, an additional tip came to mind.
"Hello S," I called out to him, "Wherever you are, try this tip."
"Watch one of Bruce Lee's films," I instructed, "paying close attention to how he makes his punch. You'll find that this can help you improve your dance with clarity and confidence."
‘Dance for Pleasure’
I’d like to conclude this post with a simple yet essential message: "Dance for pleasure!"
The tango is a dance of passion, connection, and self-expression. It's important to remember that the primary goal of dancing should be to enjoy the experience and express yourself through the movement.
I hope S finds this advice helpful on his journey to becoming a mature dancer. I’d like to stress that the tango is a continuous learning journey, and there's always room for improvement and growth. Embrace the joy of dance and let your heart guide your steps.