Dance Sensitivity Communication

Sardanes dancers on the Spanish Catalan Coast, (c) Carole Edrich 2010

Sardanes dancers in bright spring sun on the Spanish Catalan Coast, (c) Carole Edrich 2010

For any social dance to work pleasantly there must be consensus as to how to interact. In a milonga, tango dancers will move into the flow which is always anticlockwise. Even when a dancing couple’s individual figures have clockwise components the overall direction will be maintained. When it’s not, dancers will collide or receive painful injuries from stray feet and heels. In less structured environments (such as on a tango nuevo floor) it’s still important to give others space to dance and take into account certain basic considerations. The consequence of not doing so is at minimum bad feelings which, since they can’t be hidden in social dance, will make everyone’s time much less pleasant.

A healthy milonga will contain individuals who irrespective of their ability or mental state are not too self-consumed to think respectfully about their interaction with their partner and the others on the floor;

“If I am *this* close to him [too close to the man in front] I cannot go here, because he is there. I cannot go here, because the woman is there, and I cannot see. I cannot go *this* way, because it is a backward step and I cannot see. I have no possibility at all. But if I am *this* close [leaving a meter of space] I have many possibilities”

Ms Hedgehog quoting a dance instructor

Tango Al Fresco, June 2008. In the front the dancers are giving

Tango Al Fresco, June 2008. Social dancers in the front and left are giving others a level of consideration while those top right are not, (c) Carole Edrich 2008

It’s not just partner dances that require such a combination of consensus and common sense. A Ceilidh couldn’t work if the dancers didn’t listen to the Caller, good form in salsa is to move only within one’s space and it goes without saying that any dance-off must give space to competing groups or individual dancers. Good dancers (and by that I mean those who use their brains rather than those skilled in a particular dance) can even employ a form of traffic calming technique which will be covered in another blog post.

While the milonga is particularly unforgiving with regards to insensitive dancers (women will refuse to dance with a selfish lead and I’ve seen groups of good dancers collude to drive insensitive ones off the floor) the same is true for every dance to varying extents.

As with dance, so with life. So too with communication.

Healthy relationships and healthy communications are built through, among other things, the successful transference of respectful messages between people who interact. Consideration, leaving them space to express themselves, listening and relating that back are all important, but the key thing is not to allow one’s feelings about one’s own situation – however dire or wonderful – to take over one’s behaviour towards the people around.