Polly's Tango Talk

August 16, 2015


 Many doors can lead to tango, for example, watching a performance; being bribed or convinced into taking a class, or perhaps satisfying our curiosity. Beyond the first door, others lead to styles like salon, close embrace; and Nuevo, to name a few. Within each of those, doors lead to social dance, performing, teaching and more. Which door led you here?

An introductory path is typically led by our first teacher who we follow until we become interested in discovering what’s behind one or more of the other doors. Some students are enticed by the “Trick Door” while others are attracted by the “Basics Door.” Some enter the “My Way” door and attempt to learn by watching videos, taking drop-in classes or just attending milongas. Some follow multiple paths simultaneously, a daunting task with a high rate of burn-out.

In about 2002, a Portland venue opened that specialized in Nuevo style, and drew large numbers of the under thirty set. Some traditionalists became concerned that novices were not learning “true” tango. We felt they were being led down the path of turning standard moves inside out, creating unusual embrace positions, exploring unorthodox leg work and footwork, and all was being done to (gasp!) alternative music.

When examining my own path, I realized that “Fancy Footwork” led to my instant attraction. The flash and fire figures by Sonny Newman and Patty Leverett instantly changed my dance life, and shortly, my life-life. The more I thought about itthe more clear it became that no matter which entrance we arrive through, if tango resonates with us, we will continue opening doors and learning about what’s behind them. (Many who enter the “Alternative Door” move on to study traditional styles, while many who enter through “Basics” never move forward.

Let’s imagine standing in the center of a room surrounded by a circle of doors, each of which leads to a different aspect of tango. Our quest will lead us through a unique sequence of entering, exiting, and exploring the paths associated with various passageways.

I’ve learned that any door we enter and path we take when learning/living/loving tango can lead to all others; that no door is more correct, better, or more authentic than the others, and that there will always be more doors.

From my book “Tango Quest.”














































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