T.S. Zak Brown
The idea of a “shared lead” has been around for many years. On the dance floor, traditionally, there are embellishments, such as at a parada, where the lead can be relinquished for a moment or two before being reclaimed. There are followers who have learned to lead, and leaders who have learned to follow. Some instructors exchange the lead in demos, re-embracing with the new lead. There was that hint of something in the end credits of Assassination Tango. None of these share the lead, at best, the lead is traded.
Can the lead be truly shared? No. The technique of tango requires a leader and a follower, those are the two that tango. If one is the leader the other must follow. Dancers can change roles, but the roles cannot change. Furthermore, neither can we have two leads at once, nor two followers.
However, we can trade the lead better. It can be done in stunning fashion, with just two techniques, one old, one new. One is very easy, but the other is twice as complex as everything you have done so far in Argentine Tango. Next-level stuff that is probably not for everybody, yet worth visualizing or trying out as an improvisational exercise, as it is very good for cross-brain connections due to the nature of the difficulty.
Technique#1: Palm Squeeze. A gentle squeeze of the open side palm is signal enough: Squeezer takes the lead. Simple. But now the open side of the embrace is on the wrong side. Uh-oh. Can you guess the next technique?
Technique#2: Mirror image. When leading from the follower’s embrace, figures are performed reversed left-to-right. Yes, twice as much work for both, for a bit, till the brain does the flips quietly in the background. Should one choose to throw in a change of embrace as well, then there is plenty of inverse practice to go around.
In Practice: One can get the idea quickly using the old crusada eight count basic. The squeeze happens as couple is arriving to 8. Follower position then leads the basico in mirror image - two is side right, three is left foot, etc. The leader position is here following the 8 count basic in mirror. Then try ochos from 5, outside partner walking, sentadas or quatro figures. Emphasize seamless trading and phrasing. Then trade the lead occasionally, just a few times a song.
Four legs, two hearts, one dance: Tango.