Have you ever heard about noncompetitive games? These are games that take out the competitive element and in the end, there are no winners or losers. They can educate or simply entertain children by playing without the stress and the competitiveness that the win-or-lose element creates. It helps children enjoy the game, and learn from the game by taking out the competitive element. There are many examples of such games but in essence, any game can turn into one like this if you remove the competitive factor. For example, you play football without counting goals.
Have you ever noticed that dancers who emphasize musicality tend to enjoy their dances more than others? Regardless of their partner, it seems like they are most of the time happy. I have observed that in myself as well. From the moment I focused on developing my musicality I was getting more joy out of my dance. In the beginning, I thought it was simply because I became a better dancer. But recently I discovered a weird connection that kind of explains this observation.
The freeze tag – musicality game
A very interesting noncompetitive variation is this of the freeze tag. This is the game where one player turns their back to others and sings a song and when they turn all other players must freeze until the player turns again their back. In the version without winners and losers, this can be played without eliminating players when they move. Dancing musically can be a game much like this noncompetitive freeze tag.
Remember when some time ago I was asking the question if there are mistakes in Tango? Back then I concluded that depending on your view you may say that there are mistakes but they are not important ones. When we talk about mistakes in Tango our mind usually goes to a step done without being led or some loss of balance or things like that. But you know what? These are not the only mistakes you can make in Tango. There are also other kinds of mistakes.
Let’s say you try to step on the music of La Mariposa in this last part. Let’s say you try to hit the ground with this exact number of milliseconds later to hit the violins and avoid the bass. Step one… yes… step two… done… step three…nailed it… and then you are taken away but the success so far… you get distracted and hit the ground on the beat and not on the music. Oh shit! You think… I messed it up! But at the same time, you feel your partner’s smile on your cheek!
It’s exactly the same as playing freeze tag. You moved at the wrong moment. However, you are not out of the game. Your partner can smile realizing what you did, and you can also smile realizing your mistake but you continue on to the next beat. There is no time for blaming, eliminating, or winning and losing. There is only time for smiles.
In a recent workshop some weeks ago Horacio Godoy and Maricel Giacomini were explaining to us what kind of possibilities we have to dance the different kinds of bridges in songs. When we were trying the exercises we were sometimes getting it right but some others the bridge would come and go before we even noticed it. It all takes a split second of distraction and your timing is off and the bridge is already past.
If we managed to get it right… a big smile was drawn on our faces… if not… the smile would still be on our faces just because we knew we missed it. We tried and missed it. Maricel and Horacio then told us that this is the point of the whole exercise and the dance in general! To communicate, have fun, and smile at the end of the song either because of your successes or because of your failures! This is when it dawned on me. Our dance is nothing but a game… the fun is in playing it… not in winning… not in losing… just playing it with your heart!
From the moment I started diving into musicality aspects, I started noticing how much more fulfilled and content I felt after my dances. Especially when my partner understood my “game” and was joining me as a teammate! In any case, I was playing a game against the music, against the orchestra, against the musicians, trying to move only when they wanted me to do so and slow down or freeze when they demanded it. Sometimes I get them, sometimes they get me.
So this is it. Musicality is a game. A game you can practice alone against the music and you play with your partner against the musicians. The nice thing is that it is a game without winners or losers. It is a game where you just have fun and enjoy. And that is why dancers who focus on musicality are usually happier after the end of most of their tandas. Because they play the game for the fun of it and they don’t care about winning or losing.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is one of my biggest opponents in this game. Biagi’s rhythm can be so sneaky that it will always find its way to trick you into making a mistake. But in the end… what does it matter? Lose or win… we still have a smile on our faces.
How about you? Does this resonate with you? Do you feel like playing a game against the orchestra every time you dance? Do you feel the smile on your partner when you make mistakes? Or when you get it right? Do you smile when your partner makes a mistake or gets something difficult right? 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.