‘Be Easy to Move, but Hard to Knock Over’

Michael Hagedorn

This aphorism comes from a local Argentine tango teacher. With it he’s explaining the elasticity of one dance partner to another, especially in the follower’s role. The follower reacts to the leader’s suggestions, though she may do so in her own way. While this is going on both partners must maintain their own balance. This leader-follower agreement is the structure on which all partner dances operate. Without it, partners will be nursing bruised shins and stubbed toes, but with it, you can sail around a room as one.

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Willy GS / Getty Images

Inevitably, I begin thinking of trees. With bonsai, we are the leaders, and trees are our followers. But occasionally, our tree follower may suggest something or resist a suggestion of ours, and it’s up to us to pay attention and adjust our approach.

I feel a strong parallel between bonsai and tango.A healthy, well-rooted bonsai will be…

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