I realize that during my brief tango life, I have been on a quest: a quest for “something”. The first time I heard about this “something” was when Jen and I took a private lesson with the legendary Villa Urquiza milonguero _____________. The class was over 2 hours long and we mostly talked and sipped mate. I can’t remember the neighborhood of where we took the class. I can’t remember the day of the week. I can’t even remember any steps that were taught in the class. One of the only things I remember is when I asked about Gerardo Portalea. Now it is a well-known fact that milongueros always criticize each other and the milonguero responded as I thought he would….with criticism: “Portalea?? Ufff, el no tiene pasos!” (Portalea?? He has no steps!”)
“Pero….el si tiene cadencia” (But…..he does sure have cadencia.”)
And there it was: the word that began my quest: cadencia.
Since that day, I have asked every milonguero/a or master teacher I have met about cadencia. Their answers have been beautiful and colorful and have led me to my conclusion: Cadencia is achieved when you combine your mastery of the technical and rhythmic aspects of your dance along with the emotion you feel from understanding the lyrics and mood of the music. It is then that you capture (what I call) the “speed of sadness”.
I have realized that a good tango dancer must have rhythm, technique……..and emotion. Rhythm and technique can be learned. Emotion, on the other hand, is a work that affects the personality. What’s that saying?: “People change for two main reasons: either their minds have been opened or their hearts have been broken.” I believe tango has the power to do both.
Of course, sometimes it’s not that the person has to change their personality. Sometimes they just have to accept their personality.