Two to Tango
Halfway through Trudi Shoop’s book Won’t you join the dance, I took a moment to write down the last sentence I had read. It said: “Constantly and adequately, this body performs its feeling.” Yes, constantly – how exhausting!
Because I chose this book as my first required reading as an intern at Sangha Space, tango was always in the back of mind as I flipped the pages. I started asking myself which feelings my body performs as I try to learn and get better at tango. Well what I really asked myself was which annoying feelings do I feel plagued with as I try to learn to dance tango? I don’t feel quite ready to share those on a blog post, but it doesn’t matter because I realized that it wasn’t the most interesting question to ask. What’s challenging about tango is that it’s not only about yourself.
As you might hear someone say at Sangha during a dance after you apologized for some unimportant mistake “it takes two to tango”. It certainly does, so let’s do the math : that would be two bodies and two minds – or is it two body & minds?
In anyway, it makes room for a lot of non verbal messages and body statement, toward yourself and toward your partner. For me one of the challenges of dancing tango, especially as a leader, is to filter some of those messages – especially because I’m pretty sure I tend to misinterpret them. I forget that my partner might be dealing with their own struggle and decide that their shoulders are tensed only because I’m putting them through hell.
But what’s exciting about tango is that ultimately it offers a form of resolution to that dynamic. We’re learning about posture, balance, musicality etc to reach a moment when we’ll take delight in our partner’s dance and in our own body.
Ideally tango might be those two bodies leaving their own feelings and the way they manifest inevitably in their physical identity to perform a different feeling, the one played out through the music.