They look good, don’t they?
And completely effortless…
Ever wondered what makes your favorite dancers look so elegant, when their dancing seems incredibly simple? They don’t seem to be doing much, yet they are always musical. They look connected, and the lady dancing with them always has a smile on her face. And even when they are just walking, they look powerful and sophisticated.
Years of technique classes?
10 festivals a year?
But I’m willing to bet that their secret is much simpler than that. In fact, it is one that even someone who took one beginner’s class can incorporate into their dancing. And yet, very few people – even experienced dancers – do it.
How do they do it?
They pause. It is the secret spice that adds flavour to their dancing.
The pause is the secret spice experienced dancers use to add flavour to their dancing.
Yes, it is as simple as that.
Actually, it’s not so secret… it’s just rarely used because there are plenty of misconceptions about pausing. We worry that the follower will be bored, that we will be too slow, that the people around us will think we don’t know how to dance…
But all this is not true.
Add pausing to your dancing, and you will start feeling much more musical and connected. And your partners will be asking for more.
1. What is a pause?
A pause is when both partners are on one leg and slowly collect or decorate. We call it pausing, but it could also be called a suspension of the dancing.
Note that changing weight from one leg to the other is not a tango pause: you need to be on one leg when you pause!
2. Why do we pause?
Pausing is wonderful for connecting. It gives you and your partner a moment to reconnect. Obviously, when we dance we want to be connected all the time; but sometimes in complicated sequences we lose the connection. The pause is there to help us go back to our partner and let them in.
Pausing also makes your tango dancing more musical. Tango music was written with pausing and connection in mind: there are plenty of pauses in tango music. If you don’t hear them and respect them, then you are not fully expressing what the music suggests. Enjoy the pauses: it will bring extra sophistication to your dancing.
Finally, it gives time for both your partner and you to decorate (It is not because you are pausing that you are not dancing!)…which is why followers usually love the pause: they can add their own decorations.
3. when do you pause?
The pause in the music is usually in-between phrases. It often comes at the end of a 2×4 musical phrase. We can also pause with the singer, when he/she is holding a note. If you want to develop you ear for pausing, listen to Pugliese: he is famous for adding a lot of them into his music.
Pause more than you think you should
Even though it is rarely taught in classes, pausing is one of the fundamental elements of tango dancing, together with the embrace, walking and the pivot. So use it a lot. As a general rule, pause more than you think you should.
Note that pausing is not only a pause in the walking. A pause is a suspension of any movement and can be done at the cross, at the parada, after a half-giro…. at any time!
If you worry that the dancers behind you will think that you are too slow, they are probably just not hearing the pausing in the music. So, you are doing them a favour by reminding them to slow down.
4. How do you pause?
The key is to understand that when you are pausing you are still dancing. Pausing is a suspension of the movement rather than a full stop, and it should be powerful and elegant.
You keep your weight on the supporting leg, and your free leg is free to either decorate, or slowly collect. Never change weight during the pause.
The key is to understand that when you are pausing you are still dancing.
Check out Pablo and Naomi here, pausing just before a side step… – the above picture comes from TANGO CORE™, where they teach power and elegance in the embrace. They explain how pausing can add playfulness and elegance to even the most basic movements.
Pausing is probably the easiest thing you can do in tango dancing!
In fact, even after one beginner’s class you should be able to pause in a beautiful embrace. Yet very few dancers, even advanced ones, do it. It is a shame because it adds incredible flavour to the dance, for both partners. The tanda becomes more musical, connected and playful. Give it a try!
Wishing you beautiful, musical tandas with plenty of pauses…