Friday, 23 November 2007

"Why don't you dance like that at milongas?"

This wasn't asked of me - it was asked of someone else, in a class - and it just seems to me like a witless put-down.

To exaggerate hardly at all - dancing with one highly-skilled person you know quite well, for an hour, in private, to the same few pieces of music over and over again, with a clearly-defined purpose in mind, is not the same skill as dancing with seven different variously-skilled near-strangers for twelve minutes each, to twenty-one different pieces of music, in public, for the sheer adventure of it.

It's related, but it's not the same. And dancing socially is much harder. Never mind what you can physically do - these are skills of the mind far more than they are of the body, at least until they become automatic, and the mind has a lot more to deal with at milongas.

I my experience it takes quite a while before a matter of technique that I learn in a class becomes something I can deliver, dancing socially, let alone deliver consistently.

Matters of technique go through a gradual transformation over time from something I've done in class, made a note of, and thought about, to something I realise I ought to have done just then (oops), to something I remember to do sometimes, to something I do most of the time (unless I'm too tired, or having a bad day, or dancing with someone I too-desperately want to please), to something I do because I've forgotten how not to.

Each of those stages is positive progress. It's is not necessarily easy or quick. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. What else would you expect?

I imagine my progress in dancing as like looking through my camera - as very gradually coming into focus. And then perhaps I might work on tonality and depth of field.


Psyche said...

What an excellent article. I especially like the camera analogy. And I agree, all those stages are progress. Even the times when we feel like we're going backwards, it's still progress.

I can see how, from my brief account, it may have sounded like a witless put down, but I promise you it wasn't! It was a heartfelt observation born of a genuine desire for me to be the best that I can be, and it opened a very fruitful discussion on a problem that I was already aware of. Actually, I think we had a real breakthrough on that front this weekend - my wings were actually unfurled at the milonga, albeit sporadically. The next challenge is to develop some consistency on that front.

msHedgehog said...

Some people have more trouble with the whole situation than others - it must be frustrating if it seems excessive, so perhaps I wasn't being entirely fair.

It's good that you found there was something you could do about it. Was it just having the conversation that helped, or did you change anything else?