Emergency and Intention
I had a lesson the other day, focused on two main themes. First, and what I'll talk about here, was making my lead more inviting, by removing the emergency from my body during faster steps. Second, which I might talk about another time, was which exercises were going to be most helpful to continue developing my dancing and dancing technique.
I have a little of practice moving smoothly and comfortably to regular rhythmic tango passages. However, I often want to respond to or play with the music, in moments when its rhythm changes. When that happens, I frequently want to change the rhythm of my own steps, or those I ask of a partner. What I've been working on here is two fast steps together, followed by a pause (or two fast steps together following a pause). To the best of my ASCII skills, consider the following rhythms:
1. TA - - ta -- TA (Straight/Square rhythm)
2. TA ta - - ta TA (Syncopated Rhythm)
3. TA - - - -ta TA (Syncopated Rhythm, very characteristic of Milonga)
Rhythm 1 my body accepts as a completely natural motion at this point, and processes the intention I give to my partner naturally, with no real new effort from my body or mind while dancing. However, for 2 and 3, when I go to take that fast step, I tense up in warning.
Now, this tenseness doesn't make the dance suddenly terrible, or become hard to follow. But the tensing does cause two things: it weakens the connection to my partner, and because I'm tense I actually no longer step at quite the right speed, so I miss the beat just slightly.
Avoiding that tenseness has taken some practice. One help has been placing my body's emphasis on the second of the fast steps instead of the first. If I focus on the first step, I tend to over-commit to it, or move too far with my initial step, which will break the connection when I recover too quickly to reach the second step. Second, just repition helps; I'm getting used to the faster pace required, and now that I'm more used to it, my body seems to stay more comfortable during.