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.
February 24, 2013
I have been introduced to tai chi, a slow motion Chinese martial art, and was immediately hooked by its attributes pertinent to tango - rhythm, precision, flexibility, control, balance and beauty. Here is an example of tai chi.
Tai chi is practiced in a half squatting posture that requires strength on the legs to enable one to move like a cat. The body weight is placed on one leg and transferred to the other leg in slow motion back and forth while the torso remains upright and straight in the movement. All parts of the body, including hands, arms, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles, are used to form the movement, demanding good coordination, balance and control. Each movement is well defined to meet the aesthetics and must be done precisely according to the standard. The request on strength and flexibility of the legs is very high due to the slow motion in half squatting posturing, which can help one develop strength, flexibility and control of the legs.
All these are relevant to tango because, like tai chi, tango too is mainly a leg exercise, though all parts of the body, including hands, arms, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles, are used and must be coordinated to form the steps. Tango dancers often do not realize that their lack of lightness, balance, control, coordination, precision and elegance is a result of the lack of strength and flexibility of their body and legs. Those who want to overcome these shortages can benefit tremendously from practicing tai chi.
Although tai chi does not need to be performed to the music, its movement has a rhythm of its own, as you can see from the above example. Tai chi is deliberately designed to be practiced in slow motion for health and fitness purpose, which can help tango dancers improve their ability to dance to music of slow tempos. However, tai chi can also be performed in fast motion, as this example illustrates, which can help tango dancers develop nimbleness and speed. All these traits of tai chi make it an excellent exercise for tango dancers in preparing their bodies and developing their abilities for the dance.
Those who are interested in learning tai chi can start from here.
February 4, 2013
Our desire to realize our potentials, to conquer the unknown, to expand the limits, and to possess more, is a part of what drive us. This very nature is the cause of our accomplishments on one hand and abuses on the other. Our society is full of such abuses or extremisms - unlimited personal freedom, selfish individualism, heartless capitalism, militant feminism, ultra conservatism, ultra liberalism, extremist political right and left, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, radical sciences and technologies, monopolist business practices, extravagant lifestyles, violent entertainments and sports, bank fraudulence, gun lobby, over spending, over taxation, overuse of natural resources, man-made climate changes, population explosion, economic downturns…
All these result not in a coherent and harmonious human society, but inequality, polarization, conflict, hatred, hostility and war. We go from one extreme to another without realizing that all forms of extremism come from the same human nature within us - greed, self-interests, ignorance and intolerance. We are unable and unwilling to consider interests and perspectives beyond our own. We cannot see the whole picture of which we are only a tiny dot. We rely on might and power to solve problems, and we do not understand the consequence of unbalanced approaches. (See Tango and Integrity.) Our relentless pursuit of self-interests could lead to the destruction of civilization, if we let our greed and ignorance go unchecked and unbalanced. This is not alarmist talk. Given how rapidly and radically the world has changed since World War II, how long can Mother Nature support our greed and mankind remain peaceful with each other? (See The World Needs a Different Philosophy.)
I am not the only one who worries. Whether you realize it or not, tango’s popularity reflects the universal nostalgia for the missing peace and the rebellion against the dehumanizing realities of our times. Tango is fascinating to many because in tango we find a different reality - common interests, togetherness, interdependence, connection and complement. In tango we regain the joy in complying, comforting and pleasing each other instead of in competing with each other. In tango we find a refuge void of animosity and conflict, a shoulder that we can rely on, and a way to reach harmony through communication, collaboration, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. In tango we discover the wisdoms of Jesus who taught love, Gandhi who advocated nonviolence, Lao Tzu who pleaded simplicity and naturalness, and Confucius who argued for the golden mean. In tango we find peace, love, intimacy, collaboration, unity, and a better world that we wish ours could become. (See The Freedom in Tango.)
That is why people are attracted to tango. That is why I am sad to see that tango, too, is polarized by the extremist tendency to make this dance of love a dance of show, a dance of exoticism, a dance of political correctness, and a dance for profit. By so doing they not only change the essence of the dance, but also betray its idealism and degrade tango from a dance that teaches the world to love to that against its ordained purpose, from that sublimates the humanity to that debases it, and from that symbolizes the world we want ours to become to that reflects the world we want to change.
Many people now take responsibilities to keep the natural environment clean and natural resources wisely used, because the Earth is our only home. Should we not also take responsibilities to keep the human environment clean and societies stable for the same reason? People new to tango need to awaken to the fact that how you see tango affects how you learn and dance it. You may see it as just a dance, or you may see it as a dance that teaches the world to love. You may learn just how to do steps, or you may learn how to be one with each other. You may dance it to show your ego, or you may dance it to show your love. You may reinvent tango, or you may let tango change you and through you the world. How you dance matters, because by which you will leave an impact, either way. (See Tango and the Outlook on Life.)
This article was written in 2013. According to an internal Department of Homeland Security report dated March 1, 2017, most foreign-born terrorists operating in the United States do not become radicalized until several years after entering the country. This means our own extremist, polarized culture may have something to do with, or have contributed to the radicalization of the young minds.