This week in class I was dancing with a man that had some difficulty getting the “The Cross” down as a follow. Of course, I had difficulty leading it so we were quite a comedic pair bumping into other couples and generally doing it all completely wrong! But both of us maintained a good humor which made the whole experience light-hearted and fun. As everyone in the class ‘smircled’ (small-circle) up to absorb some more teaching by the instructors, my partner and I pondered what went wrong and what caused it to go wrong. The instructors said as everyone danced they noticed a few things that they wanted to point out; the importance of forward intention (making sure your ribcage is over the balls of your feet, not behind them so you are leaning back–this knocks you off your axis), straight hips, and your concentration on your partner (not everyone else about the room while you are dancing). After each demonstration of these observations, my partner turned to me with such a jubilant expression and excitedly whispered, “They’re doing this for me! This is exactly what I needed to do!” I kept thinking about this reaction the rest of the night and smiling. This man was so joyful and excited that he finally figured things out and had things demonstrated seemingly solely for him. He could have gotten very discouraged realizing that every single thing he was doing was wrong. He could have really beaten himself up about it and that would have affected the rest of his experience that night. But there was no hint of those hindering feelings! I was amazed and inspired. Since I have been dancing since the age of 4, it’s sometimes difficult for me to not be highly critical of myself and to get easily frustrated when I don’t pick up new things as fast as I normally do. This man was the epitome of one of tango’s life lessons: Slow down. There’s no rush.
This week we also worked on a bit of musicality (maybe unknowingly) in class as well. One woman was telling me how it felt when she was following and she was instructed to close her eyes to really focus and concentrate on what the lead was telling her to do. She said she was able to connect in more ways to her partner, listening to the pressure of his hand on her back-wing, his hand pressed with hers, and in his intention in his torso. “It’s easy to get confused with your eyes open because you are trying to pick up hints of what to expect in other body language. Such as the eyes! Maybe if they look left, maybe you think they’re going to go left? But that’s not always the case. It’s not the best point of connection either.” In addition, she also told me how easy it was to hear the music once you ignored all the other things that would have normally distracted you with your sense of sight. Without sight, your sense of hearing was more open to being in tune. I loved that she had this observation, that she learned for herself what it felt like to connect with herself, her partner, and the music all at once.
On a different note about classes, the class I attend is a 10 week series, made up of 2 five week modules. Anyone can join at the beginning of the 5 weeks but must commit to 10 full weeks in a row. So that means every 5 weeks, people are graduating from that class and new people are just beginning their tango lives. Being in my 7th week I had some feelings of restlessness. I wanted to learn more stuff! Quicker! Faster! I didn’t want to do all this reviewing in week 6 with all the new beginners who maybe have never danced something like the tango ever in their life! I was expressing my urgency to learn and take so much in as much as I could to a friend at Sangha Space and I had an epiphany. Those 2 weeks at the beginning of every 5 weeks are really like a solidifying review. I am a student so I am used to learning all day, 5 days a week. My brain is warmed up, so to speak, and ready to bolt off the starting line. Not everyone in the class is at the same place. Some are retired. Some come from a long, exhausting day of work. This time that we take to review so thoroughly is really good. Those of us who are more advanced can help the beginners. The beginners can learn more from us. It’s a community. And that means that we’re working together. To further illustrate my point, picture this: you’re climbing a mountain. One person is above you, giving you a pull up when you need it. Another person is below you, allowing you to pull them up when they need it. It’s like a trickle down effect so everybody is giving something to everyone. And it’s touching to see complete strangers just an hour before come together and so kindly and patiently help one another.
Little Life Lesson: “Everyone has had a day. Some not so good as others….Be extra nice to these people today.” So that they may leave here feeling like they had an excellent day.