Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating philosophy, culture, and lifestyle. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, unity, 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 people and species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
March 18, 2014
The Affinity and Harmony between Partners
Tango only happens when the partners are immersed in the music and find the connection between them. There cannot be tango between two beginners who do not listen to music, focus only on themselves and the steps, are physically detached, emotionally disconnected and unable to communicate their feelings. (See Tango Is a Feeling.) They dance like two individuals disagreeing and bickering with each other. In contrast, mature dancers are emotionally connected, mutually committed, and are able to communicate what they feel. They surrender to each other and to the music, which stirs up their emotions, enables them to identify with each other's feelings and allows them to find the connections between them. As a result, they dance like two soulmates in perfect understanding and agreement. This agreement is what makes tango intoxicating.
What we look for in tango is the affinity and harmony between the partners. A good tango partner does not need to be good-looking, but he/she must be a good match to you so that dancing with him/her makes you feel the chemistry. In real life people tend to be attracted to superficial things like appearance, status and possessions. But such external things are irrelevant in tango. What is relevant is a dancer's inner quality. When being asked who his ideal partner is, Carlos Gavito answered, "My ideal does not have a face. She's a dream of something I want in real life, but that ideal does not have a face." (See Tango Is a Shared Moment.) In other words, what's important is the dancers' intrinsic attributes: her femininity, lightness, softness, flexibility, obedience, adaptability and agreeableness; his masculinity, strength, dependability, protection, thoughtfulness, finesse and musicality; and the connection and harmony between them. Those who pursue the vanity and ignore the essence cannot find tango, just like they cannot find love. People often compare tango to love because the two share a common theme. (See A Dance that Teaches People to Love.) They both involve a relationship between a man and a woman in which the two genders play different roles but complement each other. They both aim at achieving harmony through understanding, submission, devotion, accommodation and cooperation. A reader, after read my post The Gender Roles in Tango, remarked, "These seem to be applicable to real life as well." Indeed, the concept of tango has a universal value. It reveals the way to achieve inter-gender, interpersonal and social harmony. (See The Lessons of Tango.)
Beginners need to change their focus from on what is external to what is internal. I do not mean that you need not to learn steps. But when you learn them, your attention should be placed on being one with your partner rather than executing the steps. If you only focus on doing the steps, it is easy to forget about your partner, or even blame him/her for not doing so well and want to correct him/her, resulting in two partners uncoordinated. If you focus on being one with your partner, you will try to collaborate with him/her, or even be conceding enough to make him/her feel at home, so that the two may become one in the dance. Tango is like marriage. What makes it work is not pressing your partner to follow your will, but being cooperative and accommodating. Novice women often feel comfortable dancing with a milonguero, not because the novices know their stuff, but because the milonguero knows how to accommodate them. Surrendering, adapting to, and being one with your partner, therefore, are more important than doing the steps. (See Tango Is a Relationship.)