24th June 2010
(More Fusion articles.)
"You can do anything you want to do, if you put your mind to it." ~ MacGyver
"Fusion is 20 years away. And it always will be." ~ a saying about commercial nuclear fusion
There was a simple question I had about a year after I started Jango. Was it just a matter of expertise? If you got really good at tango, would that allow you to fuse the two in freestyle even if the follower didn't know tango or Jango? Or was Jango predicated on the follower knowing Jango (according to Amir at the time, yes it was).
Does it work at all?
Modern Jive and tango have a different language. Doing precisely the same lead with a MJ-er and a tangoista will usually get you two completely different results. However often those results are still tango. So you can "learn" this sub-language. But the grammar is sufficiently different that trying to then apply tango musicality becomes exponentially difficult.
Or you can also learn to shout; use brute force or umpteen "tricks" to get the follower to actually do what you want particularly with ochos - for example, excessive use of arm leads, because that's what the follower understands. If you can only communicate with sign language, use sign language. It's not elegant, but it gets the job done.
Or you can dance in a tango style. There's nothing preventing you from having a tango posture within Modern Jive - moving and stepping in a tango manner, and so forth. Modern Jive is relaxed and eclectic enough to allow for a wide range of postures and styles.
Obviously you can dance with someone who knows Jango, but they're pretty thin on the ground these days and I believe virtually all of them either abandoned it or went and learnt tango, which leads to:
You can dance with someone who actually knows tango. But again there's not going to be too many of them at your average MJ venue, and there's no way of telling in advance whether an unknown follower "speaks tango".
One of the biggest complaints about Jango was the transitions between Modern Jive and Tango - they tended to feel jarring to the followers.
The other was ochos. Yes, they could be done, kinda, if you leaned a bit extra at just the right moment, and waggled your ears just so... But basically it never felt the same as it did in tango. (The exception was if the women had actually learned how to do ochos).
Say you like speaking French and English. You could go through the languages and look for points of commonality; for example "night" and "nuit" . You'd have somewhat strange conversations, but hey, it's possible.
Or you could speak French to French people and English to English people and have decent conversations.
What I've noticed recently is that my tango and MJ have become more polarised. In tango I dance in close embrace where before I danced in a fluid embrace. In MJ I'm tending more and more to do the things I enjoy that I can't do in tango, dips for example.
Which leads me to the following idea. Ask yourself "What is it that you like doing in tango?" and do that in your tango. "What is it that you like doing in MJ?" and do that in your MJ. What I think may have happened for a lot of people is they realised deep down that actually all the things they enjoyed doing were in either MJ or Tango, but not both. So they gave up the other.
For me, the next step is this. It's quite possible to get away with speaking English to English people with a French accent and sometimes use French words / phrases like "je ne sais quois" and come across as being sexy.
(Alas, the French do not feel the same about English accents)
Likewise you can dance MJ with a tango accent and maybe do one or two tango things that work. Or you can dance Nuevo with a MJ accent and do one or two Ceroc things that work. But still focus on doing what you enjoy the most in each.
"Well, I suppose now is the time for me to say something profound... Nothing comes to mind." ~ Colonel Jack O'Neil
Ultimately you're free to do whatever you want, such is the joy of dance.
But after 6 years of trying to fuse tango and MJ week after week, I now feel reasonably content that if you're walking along the same path (or considering starting along it), this "dance with an accent" possiblity is a much better / less frustrating solution than pursuing a fusion.
You end up being able to do two separate things really well, rather than a combination that works OK.
If you really want to fuse them cleanly, prepare yourself for a looooooooooooong journey. And good luck ;o) (Or get yourself a dance partner and only do it with them).
- Christopher O' Shea, 24th June 2010