Opening sequence

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Films and research papers

Do you know what is the most important part of a film? The opening sequence! The way that directors decide to start the movie, who or what they focus on sets a tone for the rest of the movie. In the video linked which I accidentally saw some months ago, there are some typical ways that directors open their movies and every single one of them aims at a specific point. To capture the audience and set the tone.

As I also wrote in the posts about storytelling that was one of the most important pieces of advice my PhD supervisor taught me when writing research papers. Reveal something about what is coming up… something that is really interesting from your results and do it fast. It will make the readers and most importantly the reviewers’ work much easier. They know what to wait for and if it is really worth their time to go through all your process to reach those results.

The same principle applies in so many aspects of our lives and most importantly in many other forms of art. Literature, music even paintings and architecture. They all try to tell us something and this should be obvious quite early in our contact with them.

Pugliese, DiSarli and Milongas

I haven’t danced with her before but she seemed like a nice dancer. Something in her embrace and her posture made me think she would be a nice new experience. We had exchanged looks previously and when Pugliese hit the first notes of his opening crescendo I turned to her. She did the same. The cabeceo was immediate and we hit the floor. Pugliese has already relaxed from his opening crescendo and we take our time to embrace. I usually let my partner adjust to me and then close my embrace. This process lasts a few seconds but sometimes you want to extend it to hours. While she slides her arm behind I feel shivers and as her body comes closer touching me I instinctively close my eyes. The rest of the senses are already overwhelmed and I don’t need to look at anything. We start moving gently and slowly while adding a bit of tension when the music demands it. It was an amazing tanda. One that I won’t forget easily.

Another night, another event, another partner that I never danced before with. Once again the way she was embracing her partners made me look for her. After some time, having now identified the spot she usually stands… I stand casually somewhere nearby. DiSarli starts his music and I turn to her. It takes some seconds and she finally realizes that I am looking at her. The cabeceo is done and we enter Rhonda. I do take my time again. I stand, open the embrace and she closes the last centimeters of distance. Her embrace feels soft and light like elegant silk matching perfectly the sentiment from DiSarli’s music. Our tanda starts and ends with my being covered in her elegant silk blanket even between the songs. Our movements are always delicate and careful like floating on the floor even when we increase the speed momentarily. Another unforgettable tanda ends with me at least being on cloud nine (hopefully she too).

In a local milonga with a partner with who I dance quite often. The milonga tanda starts and I approach her after the cabeceo. On my way to her, I step on the Habanera rhythm or stumble shortly on the syncopes. She also already moves and dances lightly on the spot while waiting for me. The embrace is light and relaxed and we jam together like two children playing with each other, completing and improvising on each other’s actions. It is once again a really fun tanda and we end up laughing in each other’s arms by the end of it.

Predicting the tanda

The common pattern in all the previous stories is that the mood and emotion of the tanda are set right from the first moments of it. If the Mirada is a teaser trailer of a movie then the first few seconds of the embrace, the way it is formed, the time it takes, and the shape it takes are all parts of the opening sequence of the movie. They are one of the most important moments in the whole tanda. They can inspire you, let you down, lift you up, or just leave you indifferent. Everything can happen in those few seconds.

So… can you use this to your advantage? Can you be the director taking the decision on how this opening sequence will look like? Of course, you can! You are the director and you do take the decision. All in a split second. The moment you approach, first touch, and hug each other, the way you do it, the time you will take, your posture, your thinking, your emotions that exact moment will pretty much define the rest of the tanda. If you take the decision to pay attention to them and take care of those precious seconds and your partner does the same, you will know from those first seconds how the tanda will go. If not then it may be a very good tanda but it will lack a great opening sequence and it will never be one of those unforgettable Tandas.

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

In Greek, there is a saying that translates as “The beginning is half of the whole thing”. It means that beginning something right is very important in whatever you do. If you do it right the rest will be easier and more enjoyable. If not then you will need to do a lot of back and forth and the result will be questionable. Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is from a musician who knew very well how to set the tone in his music right from the first seconds. The openings of Pugliese’s songs are like no one else’s. Enjoy!

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