Why Tango, by Veronica Toumanova was a surprisingly insightful and relatable read. I say “surprisingly” because while I expected the book to be about her perspective on why she – and possibly we all – do and should dance tango, I didn’t expect to find a piece of my own dance journey in every essay. I didn’t expect her to so clearly describe some of what I dare to call universal experiences in tango. Did I agree with every word she wrote? No. I don’t think all of our individual experiences with tango can be boiled down that easily. But I did find something in each of her essays that resonated with my experience and journey.
Some of my favorite quotes were,
“…tango should not be compared to learning a dance, but to learning a language.” (p. 15)
“Paradoxically, tango is not about making you advanced, it is about making you dance. It is about discovering YOU in tango.” (p. 22)
“It is therefore essential to understand the difference between FEEDBACK and ADVICE. Feedback describes your internal sensations, the effect of your partner’s dance on you. An advice tells your partner what to do…Your feedback can be very accurate but unless you are an expert in tango and in your partner’s role, your advice will probably be off track.” (p. 91)
And my favorite quote,
“The quickest learners in tango are those who are not afraid to move, not afraid to loose [author’s typo] themselves in movement and music, not afraid to look ridiculous.” (p. 54)
This quote stuck out the most to me because I tend to approach the idea of fear in dancing in a different way. Will I be turned down for a dance? Will I trip myself or my partner? Is everyone judging me for how off I am tonight? I bet we all sometimes have “fears” such as these, or others, that creep in no matter how hard we try to control them. Fears that try to keep us off the dance floor. I don’t think it’s always about being fearless vs. not. I don’t see fear as something I have to overcome in order to dance and foster learning. I just have to get out there and dance anyway, despite the fear.
Maybe tonight I’m not fearless.
Maybe I’m afraid I’m not graceful enough.
Maybe I’m afraid to trust my dance partners.
Maybe I’m afraid I’ll be ridiculed.
But my learning and my dance journey don’t continue if I let fear keep me off the dance floor. So, tonight, I’m going to get out there and dance anyway.