March 28, 2006
I had an informal Tango lesson last weekend, followed by a discussion about dance, one's connection to dance and how that translates over into your view of the world.
Tango is fascinating, yet as I thought about tango's movement' versus swing, which I've been doing for years, I am still more inspired by swing. Yet, perhaps its because I don't know enough about tango and we naturally gravitate to what we are more accustomed to rather than something which is harder to relate to.
My justification, however was connected to personality and energy, meaning 'swing' says more about who I am as an individual than tango ever could. So I thought.
Swing is all about energy, it's both an 'open and a closed' dance, and is extremely playful, whereas tango is mostly closed and you are nearly always connected at the hip, but torso-to-torso.
My friend Maxwell, who is a top notch west coast swing dancer, has been studying tango for the past three years and while he still loves other forms of dance, he asked me an interesting question.
What other dance is this physically connected, where you can feel the breath and energy of your partner throughout the dance?
Think about it. The waltz perhaps, but it has 'open moments,' and it is harder to 'feel' each movement, even if your partner is a strong leader. Cha-cha and the Rumba are open dances and while Salsa and Samba are connected, they are more rythmic, fast moving and almost at an angle rather than torso-to-torso. (based on my experiences).
So, as I closed my eyes, I quickly learned that I could feel when and where he was going to move me before it happened, mainly due to the ever so subtle energy shifts in his body. Like most experiences that are worth treasuring, when you move your head out of the way, replace it with heart and simplicity, the experience moves from great to truly remarkable.
The first word that came to mind was deliberate. Rather than dishing me move after move (for techies, I could replace this with feature after feature), the tango experience seemed to be more about 'movement' rather than the move.
In other words, walk me 'deliberately' and 'passionately' around the room; the combined experience is remarkable.
With grace and intelligence, and at times, precision. Without exchanging a word, I can read you, feel you, understand you. Yes, remarkable.
While there's definitely a rush to feeling the spray rise above me as my slalom ski cuts into the water below me, and feeling the snow hit me on both sides as I speed down a mountain, dance is without a doubt, the art that reminds me what it means to 'feel alive' more than anything else I've ever experienced.
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I didn't know you were a West Coast Swing dancer. Very cool. Barb and I started off with West Coast but fell in love with Lindy Hop and haven't gone back to West Coast.
Many of the Lindy Hoppers also do Argentinian Tango because Argentinian Tango feels as "steet", improvised and as connected as Lindy feels to us.
So my big question is: Are you talking about Ballroom Tango or Argentinian Tango (not that I am an expert on either but the Argentinian one is supposedly a lot more connected, fluid, and improvised than the Ballroom one)?
Posted by: Roland Tanglao | Mar 28, 2006 4:46:12 PM
Wow, it's been too long since I've read your blog (or any blog for that matter).
While I'm not a huge fan of it, blues dancing that many lindy hoppers have become addicted to sounds a lot like your tango experience. Very close, very connected, and can be a pretty intimate dance. I don't care for it simply because the music puts me to sleep (slow jazz). Both San Francisco and Sacramento have lively blues dancing scenes. I was in Sacramento a little over a week ago for the Sacramento lindy exchange. So much fun!
Posted by: Ryan | Apr 4, 2006 12:44:31 AM
my dancing ability is very limited but i fell in love with gotan project's revanche del tango last year. it's a modern interpretation of the music. very sexy and energetic. http://tinyurl.com/lhufp.
Posted by: rebecca fuller | Apr 7, 2006 10:52:15 AM