I used to think I could focus on three items while dancing:
Where is my partner?
Where to move now?
Am I on the beat/music/melody?
The Recursos del Tango Contemporáneo by Pablo Inza and Co helped me to realize that I lose either the partner or the beat or the sequence, switching from one to the other after a few seconds.
It looks more or less ok because:
When I’m on the beat and I know what I’m leading then the follower will feel that the instructions are very clear and it will seem that we’re connected.
When I’m on the music and connected then my feet will lead some outside walk or side step without any need of the brain and it will seem that I am aware of what I am leading.
When I´m connected and remember my steps then we’ll lose the beat but it will seem that I’m doing it purposefully and that I deliberately chose to leave the beat and listen to some particular instrument.
Typically, for four beats I would lead a complicated thing which would fit with the music without taking too much care of my partner then I would recover the partner on the next four beats while just letting my body lead some basical resolucion.
But… when during the Recursos del Tango Contemporáneo we were asked, while looping on a determined sequence, to add a fourth thing to focus on (a style attribute, which could be either switching from legato to stacato or switching from normal speed to double times to extra slow) then I realized that I was losing either…
…the partner and the beat, doing the sequence and the style switches on my own and off-beat.
…the sequence and the beat, leading style switches to my partner that were totally irrelevant.
…the partner and the sequence, repeating very musical side-steps with stacato/legato changes while the partner, left on her own, was wondering why I was doing this additional warm-up.
Fortunately the seminario ends today, tomorrow I’ll be back to my usual, three-dimensional tango.