3 Levels of Dancing - Going Beyond Lead and Follow

Igor Polk, 2005 February 24

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Just came from Portland's ValenTango. I had so many "best dances in my life" that I can not count them. Just to name a few: Staccato tango (Corte-tango) in close embrace. Numerous types of Apilado. Tango Liso in close embrace - super short super simple steps, waves of pleasure. Crazy orillero and candombe-like milongas. Tango Nuevo where every step is like a swing of a sword. Vertical Tango-salon Vals: change direction, take a deep breath and go-o-o into a rotating Giro-Caminado: wowh, one of the best ways to annihilate the world! As the culmination of my Portland experience I was awarded several tandas with genius N the "Queen of Tango Presence". And as grand-finale: contra-phase super fast dance with a belly dancer - dozen of contra-movements on one beat...

After 4 days of non-stop dancing with fabulous dancers, lessons, shows my thoughts about Levels of Dancing have crystallized. So here they are:

Level One. Lead-Follow.

A man leads and a woman follows. A woman is my musical instrument, very well tuned. I am a player. Preferably virtuoso. Every partner is different.

Level Two. Action-Reaction.

I lead, but woman is changing the result of the lead from expected. We are engaged in deep two-way conversation. It looks like there are hundreds of ways for her to do it. She is not lead, she reacts. And I follow her reaction. My next action depends on her reaction. Indeed, I lead every single step, don't I? Each figure is different. Some of her tricks:

Important thing is that she does not do it on her own, but with the goal to affect me. It means I have to feel all that, and she is in control of her actions watching me. With all these tricks and adornments she influences the way I finish the step or even make a predisposition for the next one. Essentially, one step is "I start the lead - she follows, then she reacts - I follow".

Level Three. (Action-Reaction)-(Reaction-Action).

There is no more lead and follow. And this is more than I act, she reacts, I react, she reacts and so forth. I am not in charge of the dance any more. The dance builds itself, it becomes alive, and we both are like fish in the waves of this dance. It completely subdues us. We (yes, both of us) can only slow it down to take a breath, or redirect the line of dancing avoiding obstacles. I live in the dancing space created by her, she lives in my space. Multidimensional space in mathematical sense, not physical. Highest level of ecstasy.

What? Someone might ask, isn't a man always supposed to lead and a woman follow in Tango? But have I mentioned Tango here? It is so for all types of dancing! Personally, I think the woman must master following before going to the level 2. As well as the man.

P.S. Contra-phase is not the same as contra-body
P.S.S. In other words here what a follower can do to affect the leader: 1) Affecting the result of the lead, 2) Blocking the lead, and 3) Intercepting the lead (as well as accepting it as an offer)

* * *
Here are some links expanding and supporting the ideas:

- Tom Stermitz: Modifications of a connection; More Explanations;
- Igor Polk: Resistance - resistance as a feedback;
- Steve Pastor: Fly-By-Wire;

- Deeping Tango - Hyla Dickinson. She talks how to dance with the boring partner who thinks that a woman must follow herself;
- Carole McCurdy shows how electrifying the connection can be with any dancer, and how to achieve it;
- Astrid wrties: " he dances in a different way with every woman, because she inspires him to do certain moves";
- Hyla on how to feel music and expand followers horizons and opportunities;
- Astrid: "Tango is seduction heightened to an art form";
- Maleva: "Back-Leading vs. Follower's Voice"
- Kat: "Improvisation within the rhythm"

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My name is Igor Polk. I dance Argentine tango in San Francisco.

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