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In Tango mistakes can be opportunities

posted Mar 5, 2014, 8:22 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Jun 20, 2017, 1:40 AM ]

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Terpsichoral Tango Addict goes one step further than Al Pacino - she advises to not only accept your mistakes in tango...but to embrace them: 
                                 
"Embrace your mistakes! yes!

I will, with permission, steal a teaching idea from one of my favourite creative teachers, Juan Miguel Expósito on the theme of enjoying 'mistakes' in tango. He gave really nice specific examples (which I'm pinching). But the general concept is this: what happens when you are leading and the follower is on a different foot from the one you thought she (or he) was on? What happens when you are trying to lead a move and you can't remember which foot you should step with at this point and you step with the 'wrong' one? Or if both things happen at once? Yes, very occasionally this means that you will clash knees awkwardly (if you don't realise and adjust in time). 

But most of the time what will happen is that you will discover that it really doesn't matter or if it matters it does so in a positive way, i.e. it creates new movement possibilities. Sometimes it creates problems and problems mean that you will need to find creative ways to solve them. Worrying about what feet you 'should' both be on is a sure way to disrupt the flow of your dance. Mistakes are opportunities; they lead you to the path not taken; responding moment by moment to what is happening, allowing surprises to be gleeful not upsetting -- that's the heart and soul of improvisation. (That's why I always decorate 'mistakes'). 

Next time you are practising a sequence or figure or move, try getting it wrong, being on the 'wrong' foot. And try following it 'wrong', challenging your partner by being on a foot he (or she) is not expecting. Go on, get things wrong. Correctness is overrated. Because no one ever said "what a great dancer he is; he is always on his left foot at exactly the moments he should be".

Terpsi's suggestion to deliberately practice getting something wrong and then work how to fix it is something I do this often with my students, and find it very helpful to their progress as social dancers. 

I also like dancing with leaders who don't worry if something goes so called 'wrong' but rather enjoy the adventure of seeing where it takes us! These are often my favourite moments in tango!

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