O Demos; How We Hate Thee!

Apparently, we’re supposed to like performing demos.  Somehow being a teacher means we’re not supposed to get nervous when we dance said demos.  But we’re not nervous when we perform!? Noooooo… We’re “excited” (*sarcasm*).

Take a look at the kitties below. They tell it the way it is.  Gato numero uno is nervous.


Gato numero dos is excited.


We’re with gato numero uno.  We may well want to be gato numero dos when we dance a demo, but the rapid heart beat, shaking, and stiff muscles all lead us to believe we are nervous.  We’re shaking (literally) in our Tango-booties.  While there may be a serious issue with those Tango dancers who seem to like performing/acting more than they like the actual improvised/social Tango they’re dancing, we would love to experience a taste of their adrenaline-free demo.

The idea that the essence of Argentine Tango is easily lost in a performance is often very true for us.  Meanwhile, this is said as we head to Korea to partake and PERFORM  (eek!) in the Seoul Tango Festival.  We’re learning though.  We’re learning that sometimes it’s better to keep our demos “simple”.  However we’re also learning that sometimes it’s better if we take risks, as it opens the door to dancing from our soul.   That is why we are not going to choose the songs for our demo until the day of the performance and we’re going to choose songs outside our usual comfort zone.  This is another chance to remind ourselves that the dance is for the two of us… we don’t need to be perfect… Tango is about being free and so…

We release and destroy the need to impress anyone.

About Movement Invites Movement

We are relatively young Argentine Tango dancers and teachers who are married both to each other and the dance. We truly found Tango after making an 8-month Tango pilgrimage to Buenos Aires and we are using this blog to share our thoughts and feelings about our Tango experiences. We are not aspiring authors and our writing skills are questionable, but we write our truth. View all posts by Movement Invites Movement

9 responses to “O Demos; How We Hate Thee!

  • tangocherie

    Exactly! Ruben and I never practice or rehearse before giving a “demo.” A lot of times we are asked to do one impromptu and we dance to whatever music the organizer prefers. If we are asked to do a milonga and what music we’d like, we might just say, Canaro. Or whatever.

    True social dancers can dance to anything.

    And because of that, I’m never nervous. Maybe I would be if I had a lot of choreography to remember! :)

    • Movement Invites Movement

      That’s great Cherie! We’d love to be able to bottle and consume some of that non-nervous stuff you have ;) Of course, being nervous and experiencing anxiety about performing isn’t always as simple as being able to dance to anything. Put us on a milonga floor with other dancers, but with ALL eyes on us and we’re fine. But take the other dancers off the floor… *sigh*… and all of a sudden we’re in “fight or flight” mode.

  • tangocherie

    I believe that a few butterflies make for better performances, because you really care about doing well.

    Also the more you do it, the more natural it will feel to “show your stuff.”

    I would be more nervous if I had choreography to remember, but we always “perform” just as we dance in the milonga. Then too, I follow, which is easier than being in charge.

    • Movement Invites Movement

      “The more you do it” is so true. When we used to compete in International Ballroom, we got to a point that we weren’t so nervous anymore because we were doing it every couple of weekends.

      Hopefully the swarm of butterfliew found in our tummies will eventually become just one or two ;)

    • Movement Invites Movement

      Hi Cherie,

      We realized after-the-fact that you mentioned choreography in both your comments and we weren’t quite sure why. Obviously there are some Tango dancers who do choreography when they do a performance/demo (and we would venture to guess that those are the same people who are “performers” and therefore don’t get nervous), but we sure aren’t part of that group (at least not after our 8-months in Buenos Aires where we truly learned the how and what of Tango). Our demos are improvised and more or less showcase how we dance in a milonga. The big difference being that there is more space to move around in a demo and we make sure to use it.

  • bertil36


    first, thank you both for a very interesting blog, you really do rise some nice topics although I don’t really agrea with you to a 100% all the time ;-)

    According to my own experience, there is only one way to go from Gato uno to Gato dos and that is preparation, preparation, preparation. Even if you don’t want to choreograph there is a lot of otherthings you can prepare. You should at least talk through how to enter and how to thank the audients (most people forget this, your show/demo only ends when have exited the dancefloor/stage). Try to visit the dancefoor/stage before(when it’s empty), get a feel of the room and the atmosphere. Do a soundcheck.

    Also about the actuall dancing a lot can be done without actually making a choreography. I always find it helpful to make a plan of the demo – how shall I begin then how does it develop and last how to finish. This could just be small keywords like fast, slow, powerful, gentle, big, small. But it really helps.

    Positive visualization is also a very helpful method, imagine your self performing the demo and concentrate on your strengths that you want the public to recognize, it doesn’t have to be any specific step, but the quality of your embrace :-)

    But don’t listen to people who says the don’t need to prepare -no preparation is just for amateurs.

    Hope this could help you and toi, toi, toi

    PS I would say that you are in a very good company when it comes to being nervouse before a show ;-)

    • Movement Invites Movement

      Thanks for writing Bertil and sorry for the late reply. We just returned from China/Korea last night!

      We really agree with you about preparing for the demo with regards to checking out the floor, a plan for entering and exiting the floor, etc. However, for us, Tango is a social improvised dance and this means we don’t prepare our dance performances. We just performed in Seoul a week ago and it was one of our best demos (as far as the feeling was concerned – we haven’t seen the video yet :) We chose our songs only a few hours ahead of time and it was the best decision we’ve ever made. It was truly an improvised dance that came from our souls and our hearts at that moment in time.

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