Demystifying the “Connection”
If you have started taking argentine tango lessons, I’m sure you’ve come across the word at least once and probably even several times. People sometimes tend to use it A LOT and they make it sound like it’s the coolest secret ingredient that everyone is after. Yet no one knows how to explain it. YEAH. I remember thinking what are they talking about? And if you can’t explain it then how can you know what it is? So here are a few tips that might help you simplify the meaning of connection and shed a little bit of light on something that feels incredible when achieved but is quite simple in theory.
Connection with what?
In tango you general should develop two types of connection, one with the floor and one with your partner. Everybody has a slightly different opinion on this and I have myself heard several “maestros” and “teachers” contradict each other (some say it’s all in the upper body and that you should forget about the feet; others say it’s all in the floor and that you should build from the bottom up). If not all roads lead to Rome, many do, and so let’s not get stuck arguing on the road, just pick one and we can all meet at the end and share a tanda. What I’ve discovered is that every good dancer has the two: connection with the partner and the floor. Whether they will admit to one or the other is another story. I myself believe that mastering both is the key to “great connection” and when achieved, it leads to a great moment in the dance (that thing no one can explain ;)
How to achieve connection with the floor and why it’s so important
If you’ve gone to Buenos Aires, you might have gotten your first wake-up call (even after dancing a few years or more), you don’t know how to walk. RIGHT. It’s a tough realization but those that manage to put their ego aside (and dreams of becoming teachers this year) have a chance of starting to learn the basics once and for all. Usually the first time around, there’s just too much to learn so by returning to the basics of the walk that you can start to develop your musicality and fix your technique, which will always use tuning. If you are moving forward, you’re not moving backwards. The bottom line is, if you don’t master the walk you will never master the music which is the ultimate goal; to dance, TOGETHER, TO THE MUSIC. The solution? Working on your walk alone to the music. Yes, this means you will have to work on all the orchestras one at a time, one day at a time. I’m sure you’re thinking “that’s a lot of work.” The good news is you have your whole life ahead of you and have the privilege to learn an art form that has much depth and will never get you bored.
How to achieve connection with your partner
Once you have connection with the floor and you are aligned properly, putting this into an embrace should not to be too difficult. Usually problems arise when the two dancers are not on the same page and not enough work has been done individually.
Don’t confuse connection with proximity
I remember my first few tango classes VERY well. I was taught to lean on my partner on a full chest connection. Though I am not very inhibited, all my sense were telling me there was something wrong with this. But I just wanted to learn so badly! We didn’t have Youtube back then and I wanted to achieve that “connection” that I saw at the milonga. That’s exactly the problem at first. We all want it so badly and it’s so hard to discern what’s actually right from wrong. A few years later, after relearning to walk (it took me a full year to get rid of my bad habits and achieve taking four steps without falling on my face,) I understood that more connection has actually nothing to do with more weight or pressure. That in fact, they don’t work together at all. This would explain why we can dance in an open or closed embrace.
Expressions like “real close embrace”
I’ve only heard this expression come out of foreigner’s mouths. Enough said. Case closed.
Remember not to confuse simple with easy. I’ve been working at my walk and embrace for over ten years now and I’m still learning every day. Achieving something simple is not easy and often takes longer than we might have expected. My mom always told me it took a minimum of ten years to form an artist, if he can stay humble long enough. All great things come with a price and that’s what makes them great. Find the joy in the work, never stop asking questions and enjoy the journey!
Faye AKA Muñeca Brava
Toronto - 2016