How to dance like a man

How to dance like a man?

photo by Sergio Scandiuzzi ©

I doubt that there is a tango dancer who do not asks himself how the partners feel him? The next question is usually how to dance more like a man? What is that makes a dance manly?

Tango is created in early 20th century Buenos Aires, which had a strong machist culture. Of course, I am not saying that we should recreate the same relations, but part of the magic of tango is in the polarity of the mans and womans role – and we should preserve the best what tango brings from its history.

In this post I am going to share with you some of my insights on what makes a male dancer more masculine and what makes her feel his energy better. Please have in mind that those questions do not have a definite answer: I am sharing here some of the tips I give to my students, based on mine and the experiences of other good dancers.

We entered the big room. For me this was the unpleasant part. Not that I hate to meet old friends, it just to me feels awkward to go around with a smile and saying hello to everyone – and I usually do not. I say hello to the first ones I meet and I sit with them, just to avoid the hesitation should I approach everyone, there are 100 people I know in this room. I say hallo to others later, as the night unfolds.

– Show me the good dancers, she said.

It was her first big international event. She was my student and I wanted her to enjoy as much as possible. So, I started:

– Dance with this one. He is from France, girls love him… This one also, a German, he and his wife are both very very good… Look that one there, he is Italian, I don’t know how his embrace feels, but looks so elegant and with perfect musicality…

– What about that guy there?, she interrupted me.

– I don’t know. I see him often on these events, but to be honest… hm… he seems to me like too feminized, I don’t like that in his dance, I said with a smile.

I did not finished this sentence yet, and miradas were already exchanged and cabeceo made. They were dancing.

When they finished he accompanied her to our table, said hello to me and left. I looked at her with a question-face.

– Wow, that was very very good dancing. And very very manly dancing as well. Maybe he is a bit feminine, but when he dances, he is not at all, she said excited.

I don’t know what exactly he does during the dance, but in this post I am going to give you some tips from my experience, tips that helped some of my students as well. So here is how to dance like a man:

1. Be confident – Know where you go and what you do. When a woman dances she gives herself to her partner. She has to feel that he knows exactly what he is doing and that his embrace for her is a safe zone.

The masculine energy in tango, and often in life as well, is about protecting and initiating.

It is not only what – it is how. He has to demonstrate a clear purpose, but also to show that he knows how he is going to get her there.

When a man knows how to lead, women don’t ask where.

I have no idea where this popular social meme comes from, but it is completely applicable to tango as well.

There is nothing worse for a woman in tango than someone who is not so sure what he wants her to do. In order to experience true tango ecstasy she has to somehow forget about her body, the movements, the music, the environment; and to feel everything as a part of one symphony. Everything has to be perfectly coordinated. If you, as her man do not give her that – she will be constantly reminded of the reality and imperfections it contains.

But how do you achieve that? There are many ways. Just to give you the idea I will quote the martial arts wisdom of, whom else than, Bruce Lee himself:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times.

2. Take responsibility – Gentlemen open doors and hold the coats of their significant others. Men do everything to get things out of their ladies way. Lets be honest – there is no woman who would resist a man who makes her feel like a princess. Tango is no exception.

The man takes a role of creating the movements, to lead the body of his partner. As we know, rights and responsibilities always go together. In order to allow him to lead her body, the woman has to feel that the man is taking the responsibility for everything that is going on.

Darth Vader and Cinderella on the floor

One old milonguero once said that if a woman makes a mistake, he will follow her and make mistake as well. If at the end of the dance she is not aware that she made mistakes, she will fell that it was her perfect dance. A reward will come for that milonguero in form of an embrace full with emotional charge.

After the dance I sometimes see the face of my partner in a gesture that says “I am sorry”. In fact I-am-sorry face is more suitable for the man in tango, because he should take the responsibility for what is going on. And yet, we see it more often on ladies face.

But to dance like a man is not to say I am sorry many times. It is to change what you do and not to get yourself in situation to have to apologize. Adapt to the partner, give her what she needs to dance good. Make her feel like that was the best dance in her life.

3. Be grounded, be the center There are many ways to have a perfect connection with someone, but the best ones are achieved when you have physical and emotional connection in the same time. This means that partners connect not only on emotional level, which is non-material way; but also on a physical level, which happens in the material world. Yes I am talking again about apilado.

The secrets of apilado dancing

The man has to show that he is reliable in the physical way as well – he has to show enough balance and skill to control his own axis, but hers as well. What? How?

What is one of the most important characteristics of tango is that the dancers are grounded. This specially applies for the man, since he is the drive of the movement. But, because of the influence of the professionals who have experience with other dancers which are not danced in grounded way, tango is changing – it becomes less grounded. Those professionals are usually former ballet dancers, competition dancers or gymnasts – and they introduce to tango elements which are not part of its genuine nature.

Tango is Tango… if you try to made it better you are doing something else… (like ball room European tango), said Ruben Terbalca.

Not being grounded results with feminine energy. In a metaphorical way speaking, in tango the male aspect is the rock and the female is the wind. The man should be the one that caries the woman trough the air, who makes her body move around.

The masculine energy comes from being the physical center of the couple. No wonder that in most of the giros woman circles around the man, not vice versa.

Since he is the rock, when she loses her balance, he is the one who should get her back, or, in apilado, to make her feel safe.

How do you achieve such balanced state? I will give you a hint – its not about how you control your own balance, it is about how you manipulate yours and hers axis.

4. Be a gentleman – If you want to be a man, be a gentleman. Your job is to make her feel comfortable. As I said above, she has to feel your embrace as a safe zone.

I am very sorry to see how many nice talented ladies give up dancing because some guys without manners takes advantage of the fact that the woman during the dance puts herself in a very vulnerable position. Some of them know how to deal with it, but, unfortunately, many find that giving up tango is the better option.

Show respect. Make cabeceo. Be polite. Give her space to brake the embrace after the song finishes. If you have to speak, tell her something relaxing. Smile.

Of course, there are many ways to make people feel relaxed and safe. It does not matter what will you use, just make it happen.

And most important – make her lead the emotion. Her heart will tell you in a subtle way where is the limit of the intimacy, do not try to force her. You can initiate emotion, for sure, but do not try to take the lead. Always give her that feeling that she is having the lead.

And of course, be aware – what happens on the dancefloor stays on the dancefloor. It can become something more, and it sometimes happens, but don’t think that if she shows passion during the dance, you will finish in the bedroom. Tango is a game of seduction, but it is just a game.

Check out how the tango is a game of seduction in this post

The dark side of tango

Please share this post with your friends so they can learn something from my work.

Society's Desire For Wholistic Masculinity

FII launched a new podcast with the Swedish Institute. Listen to 'Advocacy, Passion & Beyond: Voices from SI Leader Lab' on Apple, Spotify and Google podcasts. 

Posted by Jerin Jacob

Mahesh Dattani’s works are noted to be of paramount importance in the field of Indian contemporary theatre. They question an amalgamation of social and gender-related issues. His play Dance Like A Man, set in the post-independence scenario, mirrors numerous concerns inherent in the fiercely heterosexual Indian society.

The characters and their respective struggles to live up to the gendered expectations of the patriarchal, bourgeois society – the ‘dancing’ man and the repercussions he faces for following his considerably ‘feminine’ passion of dancing, the rigid questioning of the ‘maleness’ of his identity, an over-ambitious woman failing in her role as a ‘nurturer’, money controlled power structures, a society reeling under the pre-independence clutches of tradition and the dominant nature of patriarchy are issues starkly reflected in the play.

Dance Like A Man revolves around the couple, Jairaj and Ratna, both Bharatnatyam dancers, and maps the struggles they had to face in the course of their Bharatnatyam careers. Amritlal Parekh, Jairaj’s autocratic father opposes their dancing and becomes the epitome of patriarchal subjugation in the play.

The themes which Dattani explores in his plays are far from conventional and centrally focuses on male stereotyping and gendered identity crises. The title is suggestive of the central challenge faced by the male protagonist, Jairaj, “[if] he [can] dance like a man”, as the very notion of dance is opposed to that of maleness and considered only as a female enterprise. Jairaj finds his passion condemned, his gender questioned and his identity stigmatized.

Gender is deemed performative and seen to be a cultural process and a pre-established pattern of behaviour which in the play brings Jairaj’s plight to the fore. The widely accepted view among the general public is that men and women fundamentally differ and that a distinct set of fixed traits characterize masculinity and femininity.

the very notion of dance is opposed to that of maleness and considered only as a female enterprise.

Dattani comments gravely on gender binaries and highlights the bias society fosters against the act of dancing in the play, voiced by Amritlal – “A woman in a man’s world may be considered as being progressive. But a man in a woman’s world, pathetic”. Jairaj is thus seen to struggle under the weight of patriarchal subjugation, repressed desire and traditional constructs.

Amritlal tells Ratna later, “Do you know where a man’s happiness lies?”, “In being a man”. Ratna too, hurls her abuse at Jairaj, “You stopped being a man for me the day you came back to this house”. His own view of his masculine identity is shown to be at conflict when she accuses him of being incapable of supporting them.

In this flux of autocratic patriarchal expectations and so-called “progressive thoughts”, Jairaj, both as a dancer and a human being, is made to finally sacrifice his passions and desires, though initially he tried to keep Amritlal from stopping him pursuing Bharatnatyam when he says – “And I will not have my art run down by a handful of stubborn narrow-minded individuals with fancy pretentious ideals”.

Amritlal also has an issue with Jairaj’s interest in growing his hair long. Jairaj wishes to have long hair so that it’ll enhance his abhinaya and thus his dance. Amritlal, however, reiterates the patriarchal voice that long hair is a signifier of femininity and that female beauty is a threat to Jairaj’s holistic masculine identity as demanded by society.

Also Read: The 6 Myths Of Masculinity: Debunking The Notion Of The Alpha Male

We observe a power-play between patriarchy, epitomized by Amritlal and its victim, Jairaj, forced to give up his dreams because they don’t satisfy the expectations or meet the standards set by patriarchy. A power-play also exists between tradition and modernity, two generations of masculinities and their warring ideologies symbolized by Amritlal and Jairaj.

In the play’s bourgeois social setting, money can be seen as equivalent to power. Thus, for Amritlal, his dancing son, with no monetary power (as dancing is not considered to be a rewarding profession), will not be able to lead a respectful life in a heterosexual patriarchal society.

He then tries to buy Ratna into helping him by offering to help her nurture her passion for dance at the cost of helping him make a man out of Jairaj – “Help me make him an adult. Help me help him grow up.” We see towards the end, Jairaj reduced to a situation of drunken impotency after his ‘self-esteem’ as an artist is shattered through the plans of his controlling father and ambitious wife while Ratna continues to excel in the field of Bharatnatyam often with the help of Amritlal himself.

Mahesh Dattani also questions the biased norms of masculinity through the discussion he has with Lata (his daughter), Viswas (his to be son-in-law) and Jairaj after Viswas states that Lata’s latest ashtapadi performance was too erotic, hearing which, Jairaj gets angry and retorts to Lata –There’s nothing crude about it. I danced the same item. For the army… Your mother was too scared and they only wanted a woman. So I wore your mother’s costume… and danced. They loved it. They loved it even more when they found out I was a man…”

A power-play exists between tradition and modernity, two generations of masculinities and their warring ideologies.

This retort underlines the fact that Jairaj was indeed good as a dancer even when he took up roles where he had to cross-dress. This dialogue, though, contradicts the society’s stance it holds against a man pursuing the conventionally feminine enterprise of dancing. Society entertains itself and thus acknowledges a man dancing but still fosters a prejudice against his interests and passions.

The ‘non-womanly’ attributes of Ratna also become a cause of much speculation in the play. She controls and manipulates both her husband and her daughter, thus fulfilling the expected patriarchal ideals of masculinity in the household. She also teams up with Amritlal on his request to help him “make a man” out of Jairaj and in turn be allowed to fulfil her ambition of dancing.

Ratna’s feminine role of being a dutiful mother is also questioned towards the end of the play. Jairaj points out how her over-ambition and profession as a full-time Bharatnatyam dancer led to the untimely death of their son due to an overdose of opium, after which Ratna gives up a full time profession in dance. At this point in the play, we see Jairaj symbolizing the patriarchal voice of society and stigmatizing Ratna for failing to live up to the expectations of the woman as a nurturer in the same way that Jairaj is condemned in for choosing an ‘unmanly’ profession and hobby.

These subtle undertones of gender-based issues run throughout the play. Dattani, through his play Dance Like A Man, throws light upon the patriarchal and heterosexual post-independence setup of the Indian society where this play is set. Dattani succeeds in giving a voice to the voiceless identities and un-gendered passions and strives to bring to the fore unseen issues that his characters grapple with by his unique way of dealing with themes like gender, identity and sexuality.

Also Read: Bharatanatyam In The Wild: Claiming Our Bodies And Spaces Through Dance

Jerin Jacob is an ardent literature and languages enthusiast and swears by the power of words changing lives and creating change. A woman with a keen interest in working for the cause of gender justice and being a firm believer in writing based and art driven activism, she uses education as a means to propagate social change.

Featured Image Credit: Medium

Tagged Under: BharatnatyamdanceDance like a mangender stereotypesMahesh Dattanimasculinity

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A little about why men dance... - Dancing in Cheboksary for adults and children

Never trust men who dance well. E. L. James.

It so happened that I am a psychologist! But not simple, but dancing. And willy-nilly, I run into men who dance. They dance for various reasons, or for no reason at all...

Now it has become very fashionable to dance, to dance, and men are no exception here. And I wondered what happened? If earlier men were interested in weapons, equipment, they fought, defended their women, their families, sorted things out in duels, but now they all rushed to dance. Of course dancing is great! They make us healthy, with their help we lose weight and keep ourselves in shape, we become more confident in ourselves ... But from this place a little more. Modern men have changed a lot. And, of course, women are to blame. They have taken over all male functions: they earn money, drive cars, hold leadership positions, wear trousers… And what is left for men, of course, to dance! Dance is the only way for men to "lead". There is a golden rule in dancing - the partner always leads. A woman must completely trust and be led. And it doesn't matter if she runs a large company, or works as a school director, or as a deputy of the State Duma - the main one is a man! And if you have already come to the dance, be kind, listen to what your partner wants. It has always been like this, always The man was the main thing in the family, in relationships, this is the law of nature, and we violate it. Therefore, now there is no harmony in relationships, women have gone too far, and they themselves suffer from this. And having come to the dance, at least not for a long time, they again become Women, gentle, sympathetic, trusting ...

But what about men? It is by dancing in pairs that they take responsibility for what is happening, which they lack so much in life, and not because they do not want it, but because they are not given such an opportunity. And of course, this gives them confidence, they begin to believe that everything is in their hands. If somewhere in ordinary life, they are inconspicuous nerds, maybe somewhere they do not correspond to the canons of glossy magazines, soft in character, dancing, they turn into handsome men, in every sense! Dance makes it possible to hear, listen and feel each other. And all this without words. And men don't like to talk much, they do. And therefore, we evaluate them not for beautiful words, but for the deeds that they are ready to perform for us.

But as soon as a man begins to hold himself flawlessly, he begins to succeed and he begins to feel like “Mr. Perfection”, it seems that the whole world is creeping at his feet, although he does not make any special efforts. There is something about a man like that that is confusing. And I don't just mean women... Do you understand me? So if you want to get married, go to the dance class and dance!

Usually men, when trying to invite them to dance at a dance school, find quite a few excuses, which, in their opinion, are very convincing. However, personally, I have repeatedly seen a man's burning gaze when a couple is dancing on stage. And I perfectly understand what is happening in the soul of every man at such moments. He also wants to have a partner, to rule over her, which, however, is quite normal, as nature intended. So why doesn't the man go dancing? It's simple: he is embarrassed to seem clumsy, unable to do anything in the eyes of a woman standing next to him. He believes that once having “showed” himself in such a “perspective”, he will never achieve power over the woman he so strives for. And here lies the most important, in my opinion, mistake! You don't have to be afraid to learn. We all once started to walk, took uncertain first steps, got behind the wheel of a car for the first time, winding the first kilometers of roads on wheels. And no one laughed at us, and everyone rejoiced at our successes! So why do men stubbornly, on the offer to go learn to dance, remember the “bad dancer”? Why do they think they will look funny? Paradox.

Meanwhile, learning to dance, as, indeed, to any other art, gives an amazing emancipation, allows you to reveal yourself, first of all, for yourself. Nothing is impossible if you really want to. So maybe already start wanting? Why is it that a man so persistently refuses to communicate with a woman in a dance hall, while at the same time so persistently looking for this communication in a nightclub, trying to portray on the dance floor something like a dance a la “two stomps, three slams”?

But the ability to dance, as well as any other skill, surprisingly increases self-esteem!

Any dance is a wonderful reincarnation, an opportunity to appear before the audience in a new image, to feel like a hero in the eyes of a partner. Isn't this the feeling that any man strives for so much? That's it! So why don't men go and learn to dance? After all, on any dance floor, a girl, recognizing and feeling the experienced hand of a man, surrenders completely to his power. A woman wants to obey, as nature intended.

It is very easy to find two free hours a week in your schedule, come to the gym and in a couple of months anyone can feel, if not the king of the dance floor, then absolutely not an extra person at this celebration of life.

And yet, dancing in an amazing way cheers up and improves well-being. More than once I noticed that even when I came to the hall with problems, at first glance, insoluble, in a low mood, after a few minutes I forgot about everything except the dance. And all because it is impossible to dance with a bad mood, it just disappears somewhere, as soon as the music starts to sound and your partner is in your hands - a woman who now trusts and hopes only for you, looks at you with wide eyes and is ready to do whatever you wish. Isn't that true pleasure? Isn't that what all men strive for? And everything is simple: most men simply do not know that dance is a vertical embodiment of horizontal desires ...

Men, don't be afraid, feel free to learn to dance. It's great! Understand, it's not a shame not to be able, it's a shame not to learn. Learn to make your dreams come true! Dance is a great art that is available to absolutely everyone!

Marina Markova

Pole dancing, striptease - how to dance; man pole dance |

Yuri Proshin from Arkhangelsk chose a pole instead of a barbell - in such an atypical way for men, he decided to maintain physical fitness. Acrobatics really requires stamina and agility. And let for the uninitiated, everything looks like a striptease - in fact, these are hard workouts in which all muscle groups are involved. Although without huge heels - nowhere.

Pole dance is a type of dance that uses one or two poles. The performance combines elements of choreography, gymnastics, and acrobatics. Often mistakenly confused with striptease.

Of course, you could go to the gym for strong muscles, but for the creative personality of Yuri Proshin - he works as an actor in the drama theater - it seemed too boring.

- The main difference from the pieces of iron is that you cannot choose the weight here. You are still working with your weight. Well, you can't get away from him. You have to lift yourself up, just in different positions.

Pole dance involves all the muscles. After a month of training, Yuri felt the result. So he was drawn into pole acrobatics. For the ninth month he has been training surrounded by girls. For Arkhangelsk, a man in such classes is a rarity, which is also confirmed by Nadezhda Istomina, head of the Soul Club studio:

- When Yura wrote, I remember sending this message to all my coaches: “Look, a boy wrote to us!” But I so wanted him to try himself, because for other cities it is normal that a man dances on a pole.

The coach gives Yuri a more difficult load. It is easier for men to perform the power elements of the dance. The main profession prepared Yuri for pole dance. As we have already said, he is a drama theater actor:

- And it helped me a lot that I had also encountered acrobatics before, and it seems that I have no problems with a sense of balance. I know how to fall safely, it also helped a lot. I’ll tell you a secret: in order to fall safely, you need to quickly lie down, says Yuri Proshin.

The actor has always loved the language of movement and dancing, but 20 cm high heels became a test...

- I thought, my God, how high. In fact, dance shoes, they are specially designed for this, and it is very comfortable to stand and walk on them. And there are elements that are really easier and safer to do in strips than just with a bare leg.

Hobbies are not the most common in male circles, but Yuri Proshin is not afraid of a wave of hate. Relatives accept all his hobbies.

- Friends support, mother supports, but does not understand why strips. At work, they got used to me that I was constantly doing something incomprehensible. So, they giggle, but in a kind way.

Earlier we told the story of hairdresser Nadezhda Semyonova, who, at the age of 57, also decided to master pole acrobatics. She went to pole dance out of pure curiosity, but over time she was so carried away by this direction that she even installed a pole at home.