Friday, August 20, 2010

The Bottomless Pit of a Tango Lead and the Path of EI2T2

Actually, I wish that I had come up with this concept, but since I'm not a follower, and not a lead who follows, that would be hard to do.

Irene over at Irene and Man Yung's Tango Blog came up with the concept of a lead that is full of holes - bottomless ones. Notice I didn't say "a lead who". Let's not make this personal. As a leader, I think I can say we have all been there - where the bottom drops out of our lead. A black hole of tango. Tango Not. A tango-naut thirty thousand feet deep in the blackness of the Mariana Trench. A tango knot, infinitely twisting in on itself, never to be untied.

I think what Irene and Man Yung are trying to say is that there is a difference between dancers who think they are "skilled", or worse "know" they are skilled (when they actually aren't) and those who are on the path of eternal improvement in their tango.

The ones who "think/know" they are skilled are the "Tango Dancers of High Repute" that Irene refers to. I would edit that to be "Tango Dancers of High Self-Repute".

Those on the EI2T2 Path (Eternal Improvement In Their Tango) (grin), recognize that sometimes their lead sucks - "a great big sucking noise" in the words of the infamous Ross Perot. Makes me wonder if Mr. Perot has, or will ever dance tango...? What a visual! But I digress.

Those on the path recognize the voids, the holes, the nothingness in their lead. They are painfully aware of those moments - generally few, but profoundly deafening and reverberating in the mind of said leader. Those on the path seek to fill those holes, and fill the deafening void with something. "Something". Perhaps even silence.

Fill a void with silence!? Wow. Now there's a concept. Filling the void of a lead with silence. Dancing the silence as el maestro Gavito said. I think that was him. I love it when a blog comes together.

Dance the silence. Master the nothingness in your lead. It's called "The Pause".

That's my two cents. Even if those two cents are down over there at the end of this other path of digression.

And dont' forget to check out Irene & Man Yung's post on "SKILL".

Thanks to Elizabeth and Mari both for saying something about this Irene and Man Yung post in their own blogs. It's funny and pertinent and poignant enough to spread the word and spread the post.

Skill and nothingness. Skill v. nothingness? Hmm. I love it when my brain ponders. When it comes to "skill", personally, I think I'd rather master the nothingness in my lead. With a five gallon bucket full of silence. The "less is more" minimalist approach.


Dieudonne said...


I read Irene and Man Yung's post before reading yours. I have read your post several times, intrigued by something that finally revealed itself.
What if "The Bottomless Pit of Tango Lead" is an integral part of Tango, some kind of a natural "step/experience" on the path to leading? A place where you have tried everything that you know, and what seems like "nothing" at that point is where Tango begins. Might this be place where Tango extends it "hands" and says:
"You want me? here I a am"
As leads, most of us (all of us really) have been there on numerous occasions, and know now that we will allways visit that place, at least those of us on the Path of "EI2T2".
What if we were to embrace this place, and not fear it? What if this place was what there is to achieve and not avoid? I think that this is what Gavito and other milongueros refer to when speaking of "dancing nothingness".
This place of nothingness, being an integral part of Tango has learned steps, to those who feel the desire to take the plunge, eventually loose their appeal. "Tango is Tango, it is what it is "(someone said this somewhere), and therefore can't be reduced to steps or whatever else.
Maybe Tango gives us ourselves back to ourselves, and what there is, is to be with we all know how challenging that prospect can be sometimes .

AlexTangoFuego said...

Thanks for the insightful concept/comment D.

Perhaps this "place" is the vortex of pure creation and improvisation in Tango, and we just have to be there a bit - let ourselves settle into it and wrap it around us - in order to realize it and begin to enjoy it to its full potential.

I always (ad nauseum) drop back to this definition of the tango trance: "The state of being so profoundly connected to your partner and so completely immersed in the music that movement flows from within the partnership absent conscious thought."

I like your observation that it is a place in our Tango to be sought out and not feared.

See you at a milonga soon - once the weather starts to cool off.

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Alex,

Great post and analysis! In my experience, it really takes self-knowledge and awareness to discern between "non-leading pits" and "conscious silences". Our teacher Alberto Dassieu, for example, has exquisite pauses in his tango - he also exhorts us to "dance the silences". When I am in his embrace during those silences, his leading communicates to me the stillness... it is never ambiguous. And it is not exactly "nothing" either, because the lead never stops during those pauses, the movement continues internally and these is no break in the dance. It's difficult to put into words, but the silence that is communicated is like thunder in its intensity.

Wonderful thoughts and comments here on your post!

Irene (and Man Yung)

AlexTangoFuego said...

Thanks so much for the comment Irene (and Man Yung)!

My first thought in re-reading it is this:

"Tango, where nothing is everything."

Or something like that. I think it's important for all of us leaders (and followers, too) to be okay with gaps in our tango - to be able to play with the nothing and learn and evolve.

Which is different from the non-leading pits as you say - which unfortunately may be a bit too common in dancers who have chosen not to consciously evolve their tango.

Any, I'm re-repeating everything.

I just wanted to thank you for your comment, and your original post. It got me to thinking deep thoughts about tango. :)