Entrega (roughly translated as surrender) is that delicious and much-sought-after experience in tango, when you can allow yourself to become one with your partner and the music. You and your partner are in a bubble, being carried along by the music. This is, in my opinion, true tango.
Trust is a prerequisite - trust in your partner, as well as trust in your fellow dancers and trust in the musical selections of the DJ.
How lightly do you grant this trust? Recent chats with a few tangueras revealed that some grant it far too lightly. How powerless they have felt in having surrendered, when instead, a response of self-preservation was called for. Men have reported similar experiences. So, when might self-preservation tactics be appropriate for men or women?
Your partner (man or woman)
is imposing movements upon you that make you feel uncomfortable (eg. leg-wraps, high boleos)
is not in control of his/her axis, and your balance is compromised
moves ahead of you, rather than with you
is moving in a way which endangers or compromises the comfort of other dancers
is stepping outside the embrace
Here, tango might be compared to sex between consenting adults. Don't do what you don't like. Preserve your comfort, safety & dignity, and enjoy the experience!
So, what are some tried & true strategies of self-preservation?
Cabeceo - it means that you have choice. If you don't like what you see, or have had a bad experience with someone, don't nod to accept their invitation. It's the best line of defence. However, we have all experienced Uh oh moments, so ...
Brace - your body is alert. You are ready to tense your muscles in order to maintain your balance or to slow down your partner
Embrace - you may change the embrace, perhaps making it much closer to limit your partner's movements
Say something - tell your partner that you don't feel comfortable
Leave - if all else fails, reserve the right to say "Thank you" perhaps at the end of a song (not tanda) and leave the dance-floor
The choice is yours: surrender or self-preservation. PP
We have written often about the power of the cabeceo - the invitation to dance. However, there’s a case to be made that the cabeceo injects other
elements into the milonga – and not necessarily explicitly.
Clearly, the cabeceo is a strategyfor engaging with other dancers, but it also shows a willingness to engage.It can be very frustrating for a dancer, accustomed
to using the cabeceo, to attend milongas where he/she is faced with dancers who
rely on the direct approach.He/she will
sit, looking around for eye-contact, willing to engage, but receive no
response.The others will chat, dance only
with their friends, or scroll through their text
messages!Going to a milonga, where
everyone who wishes to dance the tanda is actively looking, is such a relief.
…. and what about the milongas where the cabeceo has become
the norm?I would suggest that the
dancers have also adopted other codes of behaviour, typical of traditional
milongas – and this spills over into how they dance.There’s a greater likelihood that the
line-of-dance and navigation are good, there’s a respect for other couples,
movements are conservative, the atmosphere is calm, and the dancers are attentive to the
music.In other words, an engaging place
Respect lies at the heart of tango, and it begins with that
most respectful of invitations to dance – the cabeceo.
It continues with the embrace the man offers the woman – one
of surrounding her with security.An
open embrace cannot provide this security, and one that puts her in
strait-jacket does not respect her response.
So what else should therespectful man bring to his partner? Clear body communication and good body
control will allow him to move with stability, balance, & precision. Add to that a knowledge of tango music that
will allow him to exhibit good musicality, with changing dynamics and energy.He
will have an ability to suggest the next movement …. and then wait for her
response, finally moving with her.His
aim will be to create a resonance of movement and response to the music with
his partner.The bottom line – a
constant focus on his partner: his lead, her response – as well as an acute
awareness of the music.Respect for her!
What can we say of the man who ignores much of this?The man who believes that there is no reason
to develop himself because he will dance anyway … most often by pressuring women
with direct requests.Is he
disrespectful, arrogant, or just plain lazy?
Regardless of the answer, let’s encourage the men who show
respect for women in their tangocommunity
by wanting to improve, using whatever means available to them. That involves
more than going to lots of milongas and dancing every tanda in the same way. Women deserve better than this!
I suspect most women would gladly accept the cabeceo
invitation of men who respect their partners - those men who make an ongoing effort
to internalise the music and develop their social dancing skills.