Arlene's London Tango Pages

Ask Arlene… Can Anybody Become a Good Tango Dancer?

I am going away for a few days and will leave you with this until next week.

From Wildcard:

Can anybody become a good tango dancer?

Dear Wildcard,


If anybody could be a good dancer why are there still so many bad ones out there?

I used to think that if you wanted to learn how to do something badly enough, had proper training and lots of practice, then you could be great at it. Unfortunately, tenacity isn’t always enough for some people, and I believe that the key to becoming good or great at anything, one must already possess the necessary material to transform it into your strength.

I am naturally athletic and am able to participate in many sports activities and with practice can be quite competent.  I am happy to settle for being competent, as at this point in my life I don’t have time to focus on one particular thing.  Dancing is just another sport in some respects.  I don’t know if I will ever be a great Tango dancer as it is not that important to me to become great, but I know I am competent and I really feel the music.  Some nights with the right person and music, I can be pretty amazing!  I’ll settle for that.

There is a wonderful little book called StrengthsFinder 2.0 that I came across a couple of years ago.  It is particularly useful in determining peoples’ strengths, especially in these challenging times.  In the first chapter they talk about society’s relentless focus on people’s shortcomings and improving those..and that they discovered that people have more potential for growth when they invest energy developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.’

To dance well, one must possess tenacity, musicality, and a passion for what you are doing.  I also think that one needs to be relaxed and confident.  I suppose one can learn about musicality, but how can one be taught to feel the music?  I am not sure that is possible.  I think there is more to being a good dancer than learning the moves.  I think it has a lot to do with what is inside you and that feeling inside is put into the dance.  You either have it or don’t.

I have danced with men that are still in the process of developing their technical skills, but because they have such feeling about the dance, and wonderful musicality, I can still enjoy the dance with them.  I have danced with men who have the skill, but I can feel nothing from them.  It is just mechanical.  Am I wrong to say that he is not a good dancer?  Even though I feel the music and try to impart that feeling to my dance partner, sometimes I feel blocked by the other person.  I can’t dance like that.

Some people just don’t have the aptitude for dance.  That doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy music.  Some people can sing Tango music like an Angel, but they can’t dance.  Some people can play Tango music, but they can’t dance.  Some people are excellent DJ’s, etc.  There is a place for everyone in Tango, not just as a dancer.

That’s my opinion.