Work of Ballroom Dancing
The purpose of this final assignment is to express how the lived work of everyday activities such as learning ballroom dancing can teach us about who we are and how we go about turning these tasks in to ordinary activities. In particular this paper will concentrate on the coordination of work of it’s participants in the collaborative task of the tango. Coordination of Work in the Collaborative Task of the Tango: Learning the heart of the tango is not about the rigid codes, any more than it is in the sequence of footsteps we learnt. The heart of dancing the tango is about communication nd what works for the individuals.
Personal disposition plays a huge impact on how we produced the look of the tango. Attitude, presence and intention are subjective factors that contribute to the development of good posture and balance. For example, the first time we attempted to learn a sequence of the tango my husband did not want to participate, he was doing it purely as an obligatory favour and has never had any intention of learning any dance. This lack of enthusiasm effected our ability as a couple to master the look of togetherness, emotional nd intellectual cooperation between a man and a woman, which is essentially what the tango is all about.
How are you supposed to produce a dance of lust and love when you don’t really want to do it. The personal disposition of my husband was reflective in his body language. He had poor posture, his shoulders rounded, his head was tilted downwards, he looked uptight and apprehensive. His steps in the basic eight were soldier like, he would look down at his feet constantly & he didn’t allow the rhythm of the music to guide him into the steps. To create the look of the tango our bodies needed to move ith ease, confidence and coherence.
We definitely did not look like tango dancers. So how did we manage to produce a little bit of social order and discover the orderliness of the Argentine style tango? It took time, collaborative action & reasoning and a little bit of red wine. The next time we practiced the tango we decided to have a couple of glasses of wine and dedicate our whole Saturday night to producing the look of the tango. The wine helped to release any inhibitions we had. When we would make a mistake we would laugh it off, and make jokes how neither of us could ever be professional dancers
My husband was more self-assured. When he was ready to move, his body weight solid on the ground with his weight mostly on the balls of his feet, his overall silhouette was projecting upwards with his upper torso relaxed and firmly standing tall. His right arm firm surrounding my torso. He was certain of where he stood and where he was going. His head was held high, he was counting the timing out loud, we were smiling and laughing and actually enjoying the dance. When he did the basic eight his knees were bent, he seemed to stride effortlessly across our apartment.
When we did the “El corte” ove he would flip me lower down then twist my body back to the right. This move made me laugh because it was spontaneous and I had no idea he was going to do it. He was confident in a way that inspired my confidence and trust in him. Besides the dozens of times we stepped on each others toes and missed beats we were essentially dancing in unity and coherence for the first time because we both wanted to be there as participants in that activity at that time. So evidently as the famous song says it really does “Take two to Tango”. What makes the tango social?
It’s the interaction of the participants doing the ctivity. Collaborative Communication The problem of producing social order in the tango is the instructions have no indication of how your body should change whilst moving your feet to the particular timing and figures connected to one another and more importantly how the partners communicate their intentions when no words are spoken. On the DVDs the two dancers seemed to navigate the basic step along with its dozen variations flawlessly, it seemed so easy. The tango is not an activity of mind reading or a choreographed set piece, but the dance is a social object.
Each variation from the basic tep comes as a lead from the man, followed by the woman. This communication was one of the most difficult aspects of learning the tango. How was my husband as the leader supposed to communicate to me what his intention was?. Missed beats and stepping on toes led to frustration which led to discussions and reasoning on how we can communicate our moves more effectively. My husband suggested using subtle signals with his hands eyes and body. These were not random or spontaneous but were created as a means to communicate with coherence what was next without having to speak.
For xample, when we were commencing the dance he would slightly nod his head to let me know that this was the beat to start on. I knew what beat to start on, but this nod of the head gave me the reassurance that we were both on the same page. When we came in to do the basic corte he would we would need to change direction he would apply some pressure on the small of my back either on the right or left side depending on which direction we would be going. These subtle signs from the leader to the follower are imperative to the flow of the tango, but most texts concentrated on the footwork and tructural aspects of the dance.
The Problematic Ocho & Coordinated Balance: Being attuned to what your partner is doing is essential in learning the tango. Mead’s description of taking the role of the other initially gives the impression that he is referring to role behavior. Indeed, he sometimes uses the phrase in that way: in order to coordinate one’s actions with another, like in dancing the tango, one needs to learn not only one’s own role, but also the role enactment of one’s partner (lecture). This is evident when it comes to the fundamentals of balance in the tango.
I was continually looking own at my feet, concentrating on the timing and visualizing where my feet were going to go next and consequently lost my balance against my husband. My right foot flied immediately behind me pulling my husband with me. When I lost my balance my husband tried moving to the left or right and adjusting his own body position to try to rebalance me while pulling my arms in towards him. Retaining balance and equilibrium was the most challenging when learning the ocho(fiqure of eight). The role of the follower is to pivot and turn continuously on the balls of my toes without loosing my balance.
The instructions didn’t tell us how to position each of your bodies effectively as not to loose your balance & equilibrium or how much weight to put on your toes as to not throw off your partner’s balance. All of these problematic situations we as partners had to work out ourselves through natural reasoning. We adjusted our bodies to help us with the balance. I found if I fixated on looking at the one spot whilst pivoting and turning it helped to maintain our balance. Not being a professionally trained ballerina, and not used to wearing heels for dancing, I found it difficult to retain foot or toe pressure.
I naturally organized the activity of balancing on the balls of my feet, by adjusting the range of pressure exerted when doing the pivot. I leant my lower foot down a little while still putting pressure on my toes but placed my entire body weight on to the support leg at the same time lifting my ribcage. This way I was able to balance and pivot more successfully and by lifting my ribcage up I achieved the look of being on my toes without the whole weight of my body being on my toes. Sense of characterization: Dancing the tango is a social object. People do things everyday that makes their actions ractically recognizable.
What makes the tango, identifiably as the tango? Whenever my husband was ready to start the dance it was practically recognizable as he would stand facing me with his arms ready. This observable action and the positioning of his body and his demeanor is assumption of how the dance should begin. We make the first step so we can make the second step and do a sequence. The lived work of the tango is full of assumptions. It’s assumed that the man is the lead and the woman takes the role of follower . It’s assumed that we commence the dance in a closed positions facing each ther.
Throughout the organization of the activity, I made assumptions that my husband knew what foot I was on which led us to into a bit of a tango tangle. Sometimes I as the follower adjusted my own steps to match the lead. This is where the power of improvisation comes in handy. To be able to do so, we must be able to have the elements and the knowledge to identify familiar body positions so we can invent on the spur of the moment a way to move to another position without missing a beat. These orderliness of these observable actions were produced by me & my husband, the participants in the ctivity while producing the look of the tango.
Dancing the tango is a social activity – we may think we are in control, but how we move is determined by the pace and the direction of the situation in progress. Conclusion Dancing the tango is, in a sense, communicating to reach the goal of producing the look of the tango by the individuals participating in the activity. The tango cannot work when one partner has to broadcast his moves to the other or when one partner does not want to do the dance. Society, like the tango, requires that sense of unconscious collaborative communication.
Learning to interact with courtesy and manners, like learning to lead and to follow, allows society to dance with unconscious coordination toward the betterment of all of its members. Analyzing the lived work of the tango we made a few discoveries about how we as individuals interact with each other in the production of this activity. For us as a couple learning the tango was a great experience, we achieved something together that we probably would of never attempted to do on our own. The time and effort it took to learn the dance was well worth the pleasure we later received.
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