© "Solar Tango" by Deborah Henry-Pollard
Dancing the Argentine Tango teaches me so much more than 'just' getting around a dance floor without falling over or treading on my partner's toes.
Having a repertoire of clever steps, an understanding of music, a good partner and a pair of snazzy shoes is all very nice. However, the Argentine Tango is an improvised dance, depending on a collaboration and connection with your partner. This could be someone with whom you dance frequently or who you have just met.
You have to be focussed totally on what you as a couple are doing. You have to listen to the music with your ears and to each others' movements with your bodies and your intention. With there being no set choreography, the follower never knows what step they might be led and the leader can never assume that the follower will do exactly what was intended. It is a conversation, dictated by the connection, the music and in a busy milonga, what else is happening on the floor.
The key to making the dance work is mindfulness, as in 'a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment' (oxforddictionaries). If you want to dance well and have a lovely tango experience, when the music starts there is no room to think about the phone call you should have made this afternoon, the email you need to send first thing tomorrow or what to have for supper. (Personally, I would even go so far as to say your mind shouldn't even be on the steps, where the follower is trying to second guess the leader or the leader is working out how they are going to get their newly learnt, killer move into the dance.) Attention and intention must be absolutely in the moment, with the dance flowing from the connection. It has been described by some dancers as being like meditation.
The bottom line is that to dance tango beautifully, even if you only know two steps, you have to be totally committed to what you are doing and there is absolutely no room for multitasking.
A great lesson for every other area of our lives.
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