When we are children we are told to apologize when we make a mistake or when we hurt someone. And now as adults, it’s ingrained in us. Some of us apologize way too often, thinking it will help the situation. It doesn’t. I’m not saying that you should never apologize as there are certain circumstances in which saying “I’m sorry” is very necessary, but this should be the exception and not the rule. This may come as a surprise to some people: it’s really not necessary to apologize for every mistake you make while dancing. Most often the mistake will be small and if you don’t say anything, it may not even be noticeable to your partner and even less to those who are watching. And even if it is noticeable, just make a mental note not to do it again, and keep moving on.
People who perform know that if you make a mistake you cannot stop, you need to continue on as if nothing happened. The audience does not know what you intended, and if you keep moving, no one will know.
Some tango school’s of thought will say the fault is always on the leader (even when it’s not). And that’s fine too. But leader apologies should also be limited to one or two, “oops, sorry” at the most. Both the leader and follower should make a mental note of the mistake and then focus on doing it correctly next time, no matter whose “fault” it was.
We all make mistakes in dancing, even professionals and experienced dancers. A lead may not be perfect, or the follow stopped paying attention, or a quick stop was needed to escape a potential accident or you stepped on your partner’s toes. It’s important to acknowledge that this can happen to anyone, and often has little to do with dancing abilities.
It’s not always obvious when to apologize and when not to, so here are a few guidelines:
When to apologize:
- You’ve stepped, kicked, or bumped into someone – always acknowledge this either during the dance or ideally during the break between songs, so as not to interrupt flow of the dance.
- You’ve stepped on or hurt your partner
- You made a very obvious mistake that disturbed the flow of the dance.
When not to apologize:
- A miss lead or missed follow. Just make a mental note, and keeping moving.
- You are practicing a new move during a class or practica. Usually a “let’s try it again”, is sufficient.
- You have already apologized once during the dance.
- After the tanda has ended and you mention mistakes made during the dance (especially bad).
Mistakes happen most often when you are first learning. If you in a class or just practicing, understand that this is part of the learning process. Practicing over and over again, will help you to make less mistakes in the future.
We often apologize to our partner when we want them to know that we know our mistake. Remember to put your ego on the side and just accept that mistakes are part of learning and dancing.
When you apologize too frequently it appears that you do not have confidence in your own dance abilities. And if you don’t have confidence in yourself, it will be hard for others to have confidence in you. Wise words to consider are: “fake it until you become it“. Faking confidence, especially in navigating milongas, can often work wonders.These are my thoughts… what do YOU think about apologizing while dancing?