music as the landscape
the leaders construct the road and fix the signs
the followers drive their car on the prepared road
Following & Leading period
From the very beginning, I have been uncomfortable with the idea of following to be a passive role but it has been a challenge to find a way to describe the active parts included. It has also been impossible to find one picture integrating the whole life of a dancer. The feeling during the first years was totally different compared to the experience of a tanda 20 years later.
What kind of a metaphor could then describe the first years when the leading and following roles have the strongest presence in the couple. In the beginning, we are learning how to move our bodies to Argentine tango and how we relate to music so the dance becomes enjoyable even during your first years!
In classical music, the idea of a musical landscape is common so the idea of tangos creating their own sound landscape was a logical development. Even if some of the song texts are about soccer, heart, blood, and difficulties the music still creates different parallel paths the leaders can choose their favorite among. This is the leaders advantage or often a responsibility during the first years.
The Road ConstructorIt is also easy to think a leader as a road constructor when he is choosing the musical path for his feet and body, building the road, which he is offering to the follower too. His skill to navigate and adapt to the other couples will create a safe road on the pista for the couple. Is your road rough or has it a smooth surface? How can your follower recognize the signs for speed limits? Other signs? Are there spaces for scenery stops?
The Car DriverThe follower is not a car as suggested so many times but the driver. It is the follower's decision how to drive that car! It is her decision to keep the vehicle on the offered road and to follow the speed limits and other road signs from the leader during the journey. What is your style of driving? Is it slow or fast? Is the driving occupying all your capacity or are you able to enjoy the path, the musical landscape around you?
The lead/follow period is about learning how to create the tango movements and sequences with your body and how to communicate all that to the partner. It is much more about learning and not so much about improvising yet.
Yes, this is just a metaphor and it doesn't meet all the leading and following aspects but it shows a possibility for a dynamic experience in both roles.
This is the metaphor for the first period on a dancers path! You can here below find the different possibilities there are for us!