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Published September 2003

By Maestro Ive Simard

"Sharing is giving a little bit of what we need, not giving a lot of what we don't need." I.S.

In tango, everything starts with a posture and reflects down to your feet, passing through the entire body. It is not the other way around. The dancers must develop a posture, a poise, a frame, a dance position, and a silhouette. These concepts are not the same, but they reflect the essence of the dance. The idea is to translate the music, the dimension of time, into movement, and the dimension of space. The music must be readable by any onlookers in the movement of the couple, across their bodies, in their legs and in their feet.

The role of the man is to give- pleasure to the woman by giving her a secure space, while the woman in turn must secure the man's balance, define the territory of the couple, and provide the timing for the couple
Tango, like any other dance is a commitment to balance. It is imperative to have the right posture. Without posture, there is no balance. In order to achieve this necessary balance, you must understand your body from inside; it is a process of introspection.

The body can be thought of as a series of blocs or independent parts: the head, the shoulders, the rib cage and the hips. Your legs support these four blocs. Your focus should be on the word support; this is the way we should see and feel our legs, as two support points working equally at all times.

The legs should act independently of the body, exactly as they do in the case of all felines. As an example, observe the movement of cats. They move their legs independently from their hips.

The upper body (center of levity)--the head, shoulders, arms and upper rib cage--is the dramatic apparatus,-where emotions are expressed from within. This zone is the area of stillness, a major key in the dance of tango. The middle body (center of equilibrium)-the lower rib cage and the waist-is the active part, the zone where motion originates, although this is invisible to the outsider or the viewer. The lower body (center of gravity)-abdomen, and the pelvis-is the correcting zone, the area where you adjust and autocorrect your balance and stability. The legs and the feet are the expressive zone, where the dialogue and expression in tango resides.

Tango always calls to the dancers to dance the melody, which is found in the surface of the music as in the surface of the ocean, not on the beats, or the patterns of the waves in the example of this imaginary ocean. However, it is necessary for a newcomer, a beginner in tango dance, to understand and recognize the beats and the accents of the music.

It is often said that if you can walk, you can dance tango! Nothing can be farther from the truth. One of the most difficult things about tango is that one partner must walk backwards, often the lady. This is the first fear asso­ciated with tango dance for the follower: the difficulty inherent in walking where one cannot see. This is not true for the leader, who for the most part can see, and is in control of direction and navigation on the dance floor.

This fear can take some time to disappear.

Walking in tango is about changing weight, not just about changing feet as we do when we walk down the street. This is not an easy concept. The mindless way of walking we have on the street must become a mindful and voluntary motion in art of tango dance. This walk is based on constant attention and awareness, focus of consciousness, which is not easily prac­ticed in everyday life. This awareness must be developed from inside before it can translate into your walk.

Both partners must be patient and consider that they are sharing the same experience and space, living in the same inside circle created by the dance. Both partners must give up habits and distractions in order to provide a cer­tain quality of quietness, a sanctuary available for the other, and for sharing the experience of the dance. In tango, one plus one is still one. It takes two solid partners to make one couple, two halves to make a whole.

Ive Simard is the president of the Argentine Tango Master Association (ATMA).

Next month: Split weight walks.
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