Bigger Than Us: The Collaborative Dance Part 2

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to get a rush ticket to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch, an absolutely fantastic. The final number of the show, "Midnight Radio", concludes with all the performers repeating "Lift up your hands" and the audience enthusiastically joining in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPWNoYEuV08
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxqGzVHcfmk

The experience reminded me of why I loved being a part of large ensemble performances, whether orchestra, concert dance, or musical theater. At a certain point in any performance (more than once if I was very lucky), there would come a recognition of taking part in something much larger than the individuals involved.

This is an experience I've rarely felt within the tango community. I'm not sure what it is about our community that prevents such a feeling from developing. Maybe the fact that for most of the evening, at least half of the dancers are not actively dancing (though I think this is part of the salon atmosphere of tango). Maybe the way the community tends to divide into small cliques.

But more often than not, within my own dancing and teaching, I find myself using adversarial language when describing other couples on the floor. We are competing for space with other couples, comparing our dancing to theirs, critiquing their floorcraft. Maybe we should be looking at the dancefloor as a communal space, one which must be navigated and shared with all the dancers who have chosen to come out that night.

So the next time you step onto the floor, try and move with generosity. Not just for your partner, but for all the partnerships sharing the floor with you. We only move if we all move.