Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance


Connection. (pron: con-ek-shun) According to Webster’s Dictionary it is an English word which has 5 possible definitions. 1.) The state of being connected. 2.) Something that connects. 3.) A person connected to another person by marriage, kinship, or common interest. 4.) a political, social, professional, or commercial relationship. and 5.) a set or group of people who are associated to one another.  The word Connection comes from the latin word ‘connexion’, or ‘connexio’ which both come from the word ‘conectere’ which means ‘to bind’.

Usage. In the case of Tango Connection we use this word in a very different way than as intended of its 5 possible definitions. We use it in 1 of 7  common ways (listed here) of the 8 possible meanings that it has been used over the years:

1.) How desribes the communication between the partners, or the kinesthetic, physiological, or the emotional conversation between the partnership.
2.) Describing the emotions that are generated due to someone or their embrace, and/or the way that they move.
3.) The physiological/kinesthetic sensation of how a partner’s movements matches your own body movement. Not emotional, and not musical.
4.) Describing how a step/pattern/figure may or may not function properly the way ‘it is supposed’ to work.
5.) Describing how someone interprets the music within the construct of the dance.
6.) Describing the ‘hand-in-hand and/or ‘torso-on-torso’ contact, body position, and/or tactile pressures of your partner.
7.) The overall physiological/kinesthetic sensation, but not emotional, of how your partner’s movements matches the music & not their body.

Notation: While the remaining 1 possible meaning is somewhat obscure, and requires a visual reference to show it accurately. 

notions of tango

Clarity: You’ll hear a fair amount of dancers use this word to describe all manner of things in tango from the physiological, to the emotional, to the kinesthetic, to the ethereal, and well beyond into places that it seems impossible that one word could possibly mean all that. It has become the catch-all word in tango to mean the ‘kitchen sink’ of phrases.

Lead, Follow, or Both ? Both use this word. A Lead will typically use this word more often than a Follower will in terms of describing how X is accomplished. Vs. A Follower using the word describe how Y dancer ‘feels’, the sensation vs their activity.

a few things to ponder

The Tango Topics Opinion: You would think that Connection, as a word, would be easily understood by anyone that hears it. That they’d instantly be able to get what the speaker is talking about. But, as you can see above, that’s not the case as it turns out. The word has any 1 of 8 possible meanings, 6 of which are listed above, as it relates to Argentine Tango. The word has been bastardized, probably, from it’s original intent in Tango to mean all sort of things that rightfully have no business meaning what they convey. In short, it’s a bullshit word that’s lost it’s way. Take for instance a commonly used phrase that you’ll hear with such frequency that you’d think there was a class on this stuff, “You connect really well!”. WTF does that mean ? Seriously! It could mean any number of things and certainly not any of the things that are implied above in the actual definition of the word as Webster’s intended it to mean.

Somewhere in those 5 possible definitions of the word, it is intended to imply that said individual’s embrace is desirable ? That their ability to execute a volcada, sacada, colgada, or some step, pattern, or figure in time to the music is delightful ? That dancing with that individual is a pleasant experience ? That they hear the music the same way ? Ok then why not say that! No, instead we use this entirely nebulous word to describe what is best put as ‘fuzzy’ language that does no possible good and more than likely creates lots and lots and lots of confusion in the listener.

Hmmm….A wild thought! How about we, as dancers, begin to use specific language to describe what we mean, like for instance: “I love dancing with you because your arms are so light and soft, there’s no pressure there, I have room to move within your embrace.” or “You really move yourself, you just go! It’s like I breathe and you respond! I think, and you just go. It’s like air dancing with you. So effortless.”, “You’re so comfortable to dance with. It’s really easy, I can follow you because you’re so clear and precise.”, or “You don’t hang, or pull, or push at all, you’re so stable, I love that about your dancing.” Note in all of that, that the word ‘Connection’ was not used once! And yet, the meaning was conveyed precisely as to what the speaker meant! Specificity is the name of the game here. The more precise you are in your language, and in your descriptives of how and why something functions in this dance, then the easier it is to convey a meaning or a thought so that it is properly understood and then executed.

If all of that sounds like the author is being a bit anal retentive, try teaching a room of dancers, each with 27 different ideas of a ‘Close Embrace’ without using the word ‘Connection’ to convey your meaning. (see also Tango Thought 014: The Connection Fallacy)  #SocialDance #ArgentineTango #TangoDancing

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