Delhi Milonga

Delhi Milonga 

Dance Argentine Tango in New Delhi


Wasted time: Musicality Classes for Followers

Posted by kiran.sawhney on July 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Article written by Mark Word for Delhi Milonga.

Mark word has a wonderful blog that can be seen here. It is called Tango Therapist. 

"Don't listen to me; listen to the music!"

If you are a "follower" you may be wasting your money on musicality classes. However, if you are a dual-listener (listening to the leading of La Música's voice and your partner's body), then musicality classes make sense!

I have had women say that it doesn't make sense to take musicality classes because they have to listen to what the man hears in the music. Yes, I can understand why a "follower" would say that because that is what she hears in the word "leader" and what is specifically said by some teachers! However, if the English-speaking community will start paying attention to how great couples dance, we all could easily dispense with "lead-and-follow" and start paying attention to what is truly making tango so magical.

Both in the traditional roles--el rol masculino and rol feminino, both are listeners--but still very much different. The person with their left hand up; however, is the listener-GUIDE, and the person with the right hand up, is the dual-LISTENER because of needing to especially follow the leader (the music) and her partner's interpretation of the leader. The Yang energy (male) as I understand it as a musician is the tone, and the Yin energy (female) is the silence between tones. Without both of these energies staying in their own lane music and dancing is not possible. So listening is different in each role, but nonetheless, listening. I step forward with clear intention (a tone), she hears why I stepped forward because the music said so! She creates a silence in her body posture, a pause, a rest that allows yet another intention from me as we both listen to the music. 90% of the possibilities will come from listening to the music. No matter if we are so-called "leaders" or "followers" not to know musicality is to be ignorant of the 90% of what is going to happen next! Musicality is the key to better dancing equally for both roles.

In dialogues with tango dancers of both roles talking about their desire to listen more to the music. Musicality classes are helping them, they say. Also, more and more people want to listen to their partner no matter what their role is. So it is time that English-speaking community comes together to consider other terms than "lead/follow" for the magic of movement of tandem dance in tango. Each community has voices, speaking out loud, wondering if the terminology of "leading" and "following" do more harm than help to students of the dance. Let's just say we will never abandon English-speaking tradition, and "lead/follow" is here to stay. Just let's humor ourselves and talk about this subject as if we were from another planet, and we were observing this wonderful thing called tango. Maybe the aliens would notice a few things.

The might notice, for example, a three part process as we begin to form up to dance at the behest of the true leader, La Música. The inhabitants of earth who dance tango:


  •  Earthlings follow the music's voice and form up on the dance floor, and both listen and follow the music.
  • Earthlings follow each their partners. Each time a new partner changes, often extremely different dancing ensues not matter if a male or female.
  •  Earthlings follow the rules of respective roles one as a listening-GUIDE and the other as a dual-LISTENER, including respect for tango's "vocabulary" of movement, and floorcraft rules.


Avoid being "Weak and Broken Link" in tango's chain of listeners!

Musical elements of Europe, South America and Africa listened to each other and tango was born and grew up in Argentina. The community of dancers throughout time and even presently listen and create rules of movement, which are called "tango." Some dancers dedicate themselves to follow the music, and they begin teaching and codifying what the community has created together. The students follow the teacher as best they can, but also create interesting (and sometimes not so interesting) interpretations of what started by listening to the music. Now it is my turn as a dancer: Am I now going to lead someone now and break all the golden-chain-of-listening that has gone before me? :-) Why would I want to be the weak and broken link in such a magical chain of listeners by proclaiming myself a "leader"? Dear God in heaven!

I will leave leading up to la Música. I am a listener-guide. Nothing more or less than that.

Categories: Tango, Milonga