The Collective Blog
Will the Ronda always be Round?
06 Feb 2021 - by Graham of Tangosynthesis
On my radio show the other night I was talking about classes that teach you techniques for dancing in small spaces, and commenting on how useful they are at the moment for those of us trying to dance in our kitchens and bedrooms. Long sweeping moves across the dance floor are equally incompatible with a packed milonga and small rooms at home, and so more than ever people are discovering that there are ways to dance tango that work better in small square available spaces. Turns and pivots are now among the most important techniques you can learn, and along with the in-place change of weight and careful use of the rebotte they have created a version of tango that stays in one place rather than travelling around the room.
None of this is new. These are not techniques that have been invented for dancing in the kitchen, and they are all regularly used in crowded milongas where the ronda moves slowly and you need something to do whilst you wait for the person in front of you to give you some space. But whereas before they were things that you did when you needed to, now they are the only way that many of us can dance. Those of us that are lucky enough to be able to practise with a partner have spent the year dancing tango on the spot rather than moving around a room, so what effect might this have on our dancing when we finally get back into a dance hall?
Partner-dancing styles can be loosely grouped into two categories: static dances like modern jive, salsa, and kizomba, where the dance is centred on an imaginary spot on the floor which tends to stay in one place; and travelling dances, like waltz, and foxtrot, where the dance progresses in a (usually) anti-clockwise path (the ronda) around the outside of the room. Tango is usually considered to be a travelling dance, and although a busy milonga might not move very fast, you will eventually get all the way around the room and end up back where you started.
But it does not have to be like that, and a year of dancing on one spot may well influence the way we dance when we get back together.
I have personal reasons for liking the non-travelling version of tango. We encourage people to dance other styles of dance at our milongas as well as tango, and we see a lot of blues, kizomba, and other slow styles appearing on the floor. They are all static styles, so we have to be careful to keep the 'outside lane' of the room clear to allow the travelling tango dancers to get past. But if tango became largely static we could do away with having to think of the room as an 'inner' and an 'outer' space and just let everyone mingle anywhere they like.
It may of course not happen. When we go back to dance halls it may turn out that people are so fed up with dancing in kitchens that the fashion turns to large sweeping steps that take up half the hall just so people can say "I have room!!". Instead of tango becoming smaller it may become bigger, revelling in the room to move that has been absent for so long. At this point we have no real way of knowing, but I do tend to think that compact tango may well be the new normal for some time to come.
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