Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating idea, philosophy, culture, and lifestyle. In many ways, tango is a metaphor of life. 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 or 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, reconciliation and compromise. If you share this conviction, please join the conversation and let your voice be heard, which is urgently needed and long overdue.

Together we can awaken the world.




February 4, 2013

How You Dance Matters


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.)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Paul,

    I have been a follower of your blog for quite some time now and even though I am not a tango dancer I cannot tell you just how much I enjoy your posts and your priceless advice that many times transcends tango and applies to other dances as well. I just wanted to let you know I loved your latest post and I totally agree with the way you discuss polarization and extremist tendencies in the tango.

    It made me think of several discussions I had in Havana with old rumberos who have noticed similar tendencies in their dance, who see their art and traditions transformed into a commodity that has to be exotic at all costs, thus leading to the loss of the essence of dance. I see this happening not only in the rumba, but also in other Cuban dances, and I was wondering if it was related not only to the radicalism and extremism you mention in your post, but perhaps to a kind of supersaturation? We tend to quickly become very bored with what we are being offered, our attention span seems to be reduced to a minimum, therefore we have the tendency to consume all kinds of experiences in a very short amount of time, without even trying to understand the essence of the things we do - and unfortunately dance is a very good example here. It is, of course, up to every dancer, beginner or advanced, to try to change this and become fully aware of the multiple layers and meanings of dance (and I think this applies to all dances, not just the tango or the rumba), but it seems to me that this is the biggest challenge for dancers.

    However, I loved the underlying optimism in your post and the belief that even though things seem to be going in the wrong direction, they can be stopped, if only we understand this need for an awakening.

    Thank you for writing, for dancing and for sharing!

    Best wishes,

    Ruxandra

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