I’ve been dancing as a follower for about 12 years now, and started leading about 4 years ago, which, as you can imagine, has been an instructive and scary experience altogether!
Instructive, because until then, I had never realised how difficult it was to lead. It’s only when I started to lead that it dawned on me how many things leader in fact have to do: listen to the music, figure out which step to do next, communicate the step to the lady (nicely but clearly), manage the dance floor, do a little bit of emergency management (wall approaching / other couple moving in opposite direction)… Endless!
And scary because it suddenly dawned on me how relatively un-helpful I had been to my partners until then – a little bit like a princess in a golden castle. For a long time, I thought that there was nothing I could do until my partner could lead the sequence properly, which in fact is far from being true. As a leader, I realised that some ladies in fact anticipate, change their weight on their own, lose their balance, etc – but they still expected me to lead the step to perfection. Impossible!
Only through dancing both as a follower and a leader, did I realise that tango was an art form which required both partners’ full attention and participation. In short, only if both partners try to ‘make the step work’, will they be able to do so.
For this reason, in our tango group classes and private classes, I like to encourage our students to work together and to give one another positive comments, because only teamwork will activate tango magic.
In Buenos Aires, you often hear that women tango dancers are diamonds. I would say that, further than that, in tango, we need to treat each other as diamonds…