Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating culture, idea, lifestyle, and philosophy. In many ways, tango is a metaphor of life. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, beauty, harmony and humanity, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. We are humanists. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation and compromise. If you believe in this cause, please join the conversation and let your voice be heard, which is urgently needed and long overdue.

Together we can awaken the world.




September 15, 2012

Tango Is a Feeling



It is often said that steps are tango's vocabulary, that is, a tool used to express feelings, just like words are used to convey thoughts. Tango is not found in the steps, but in the heart. As someone famously put it, “Tango is a feeling that is danced.” It is difficult to define feelings, which could be anything from emotion, sentiment, mood, dream, excitement, euphoria, to duende. Simply put, what we experience in tango is a state of mind. As ineffable as it is, we are most exuberant, creative, fluent, eloquent, and satisfied when we are in that state of mind. How this state of mind comes into being is a mystery. It may not come by will or effort. It may not come always. It may not come at all even when we try hard to find it. But everyone has experienced it at some point. We are addicted to tango mainly because we have experienced that feeling. (See The Psychology of Tango.) 

The reason tango can lead us to that feeling may have something to do with the music. (See The Signature of Tango.) Good music is essential to a fulfilling tango experience. It is an inspiration indispensable for bringing our potentials (originality, imagination, ability, and fluency) into full play. Good music, marked by a lucid rhythm and rich sentiment, is not only beautiful and easy to dance to, it also generates a mood, stirs up emotions, lifts the spirit, inspires creativity, and leads us to that state of mind. When we remember a milonga where the music is enchanting and morale is high, what we remember is the feeling and not the steps. (See The Characteristics of Classic Tango.)

The feeling, of course, is not generated by music alone. The embrace also plays an important role. Tango is unique because of its embrace. (See The Thirteenth Pitfall of A Tanguera.) Unlike what the novices may think, tango embrace is not just a frame or hold. It is the connection that makes us one, the communication that links up our hearts, the intimacy, tenderness and comfort that satisfy our soul. It serves the need that lies deeply in our humanity, giving us a sense of connection, belonging and completion. It takes us back to our earliest memories, to the cradle of our infancy, the nourishment and comfort of our mother’s chest, the support and protection of our father’s arms, and the warmth and safety of our home. Tango reflects our longing for “home.” It reminds us that we are better not when we are alone, but when we are together. In the end, we find home in each other, because we belong to, need, and complete each other. We dance to be one with each other, thus make ourselves whole. Without the embrace, tango is not tango but another ordinary dance. 

If the embrace is important, so is the partner. We cannot find the feeling dancing tango with someone who doesn’t know how to embrace. (See The Affinity and Harmony between the Partners.) The problem of a tango pedagogy focusing on the steps is that it produces just such amateurs. They shy away from the embrace, lean backward, detach themselves from their partner, grab their partner like a shopping cart, and are not emotionally engaged. Such people completely miss the point of dancing tango. Dancing tango is like holding a baby tenderly in your arms, singing a lullaby, and swaying him/her to sleep; or resting safely in your parent’s arms, listening to the hymn, and being swayed to dream. Tango is the warm, safe, comfy and intimate feeling that we experience and share with our partner. Indeed, the beautiful music, comfortable embrace and rhythmic motion of tango have a hypnotic effect, causing us fall deeply into a state of meditation or dreaming, so heavenly that we don’t want to wake up when the tanda ends. (See The Conceptional Beauty of Tango.) One needs to know the steps to dance tango, but the whole point of the steps is to facilitate the embrace so that we may remain one in motion. (See From Steps to Feelings.) Tango resembles the relationship in real life where we face all kinds of challenges but keep on united, connected, supportive and inseparable. It requires love, trust, surrender and commitment. (See Tango Is a Relationship.) If you can see tango from this perspective, I guarantee you that you will experience a totally different dance - romantic, sentimental, sensual, dreamy, poetic, soulful, and incredibly satisfying. (See Close Embrace and Open Embrace (III).)