Foreground and background
In one of the lessons in my first year, our teacher asked us the following question. “Take one of your friends that don’t have a clue about Tango and let them see one random performance. Then ask them to tell you what they remember from it. What do you think they will answer?”
As you might guess, most of the answers will describe the woman of the couple… her hair, her dress, her shoes, her movements, her embellishments, etc. Only maybe a few will tell you some details about the man in the couple! Many will not even remember the color of his suit. This is what makes a successful leader. The ability to hide in the background and let his partner shine and dazzle everyone. Hiding means that he also has to do a lot of work in the background… but yes while she is busy dazzling the audience, he is there to provide guidance, stability, security, and whatever else is needed.
Lessons from caveman
Some years ago, I saw a theater play (more like a stand-up comedy monologue) called Caveman. The main theme was the differences between men and women which in the end complement each other. The simple explanation given in the play is that men, even from the age of cavemen, were trained to be hunters so they developed skills like being target-oriented, focused, etc. while on the other hand, women needed to guard their homes and families so they developed skills like paying attention to details and changes in the environment, making connections between seemingly unrelated things and generally providing the stability and safety that the hunters needed when they were focusing on their target. In short, guarding their back.
Without women, men would not survive from other threats and without men, there would be no food on the table for the family. So both roles are essential and complementary in order to survive. Couples are teams cooperating and contributing their skills for the common objective… to survive and obviously to reproduce! These skill sets were passed from generation to generation and although altered a lot through the ages… still remain somehow embedded in our roles as a couple.
Now compare this to what I wrote about tango in the beginning. In tango, the man needs to provide stability and safety while the woman hunts for attraction and attention. It feels to me as if in Tango the roles are completely inverted from the initial caveman theory roles.
However, one thing remains the same. You need both elements to have a complete entity and achieve the goal of having a great tanda… and that’s for me one of the main reasons why “It takes two to Tango”.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Given that… can you find a more fitting tango title than the “Para dos” for tonight’s Goodnight Tango?
How about you? Do you feel the same way about the different roles? How do you see the responsibilities of each role? Does this affect your dance? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.