Tango Lesson 3 – Getting the Cross – I am a Horse

Kathrin Lake, author of From Survival to Thrival documents her first Tango lessons inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book The 4 -Hour Workweek.

Tango Lesson 3

Last night was lesson number three and amazingly E and I are still being told we are Tango naturals. My LSE self (low self esteem self) has a sense of doom and tells me this cannot last, and at some point we are in for a great crash. Being one of those people who in gym class was always picked near last by team captains, I still have it in my head that I am uncoordinated. I face the fear of being found out every time I go to a dance class. My HSE self (figure it out) however, says, enjoy it, and enjoy the dance itself.  So I try to focus on that.

But the truth is, I attribute much of our progress to our teacher, Gabriela Rojo, who says,

“I’m not lying, you both pick up very fast.” She shouts across the room to the beyond beginners filing in, “Look at what they do after three lessons!”

I’m blushing. Please don’t build us up so much, Gabriela. We are getting semi private lessons which progresses a person much faster.

When I dance with Gabriela (all dance teachers must be able to lead and follow) she is a fabulous leader, but when I go to one of the men helping us I am less confident. Everyone has a different style of leading and the physical cues are not always the same or as clear. You must surrender to your partner’s style. Mental note: try to include this skill in my relationship with Jim. It also reminds me of horseback riding. No one can see the subtle cues that the rider gives to the horse to make it spring into a canter. In this case, I am the horse, and it is not the cue for a canter but the cue for a “cross.”

The “cross” belongs to the women and looks so classy and clever that it makes any woman into an instant goddess. It really makes the tango the tango. But the man must lead the cross. Gabriela shows me that when she is directly in front of me I will be lead into a cross, but slightly to the side and I cannot cross. However, with other partners I find it less obvious of when I cross and when I am just supposed to walk.  I get it right at least 75% of the time. When I misstep Gabriela makes a sound, “chh,chh,chh” that tells me I am not crossing when I should. It again reminds me of the clucking or verbal sounds a rider does to help their mount get their cues when they are less competent.

This also reminds me of another horse/human parallel. Dressage horses, the dancers of the equine world, reach their peak at 10, 11 or 12 years of age after intense training, and live to a ripe old age of 24 to 30.  Race horses, however, have finished their careers in year four and are often dead by the age of 12.  Likewise, they say that couples who do partner dancing are far, far, less likely to develop dementia as they age or Alzheimer’s. They also live longer, and are generally healthier.  Alzheimer’s runs in the female side of my family, and I’m terribly afraid of developing it; another reason for me to continue facing the fear every week.

Gabriela tells me that E does even better at getting the cross and is “very coordinated.” I agree.  With her Spanish-like dark looks, and long lean body, she looks stunning as she dances.

Tonight E and I were lead through an entire piece of tango music from basic steps, walks, crosses, both forward and backwards ochos, and another move which I don’t yet have the spelling for.  We are truly dancing. For the joy of that, I am happy.

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: http://www.survivaltothrival.com/

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