Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, 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 team, community and people. 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, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

October 28, 2020

Tai Chi and Tango

I have been introduced to tai chi, a slow-motion Chinese martial art, and was immediately hooked by its attributes pertinent to tango - flexibility, balance, rhythm, precision, control and beauty. Here is an example of tai chi.

Tai chi is practiced in a half squatting posture that requires the strength and flexibility of the legs to enable one to move like a cat. The body weight is placed on one leg and slowly transferred to the other leg back and forth while the torso remains upright in the movements. All body parts, including arms, hands, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, ankles and feet, are used in the making of the movements, demanding good coordination, balance and control. Every movement is well defined to meet the aesthetics and must be done precisely according to the standard. The request on the strength and flexibility of the legs is extremely high due to the slow motion in half squatting posturing, which can help to develop the strength, flexibility and control of the legs.

All these are relevant to tango because, like tai chi, tango, too, is mainly a leg exercise, although all parts of the body including arms, hands, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, ankles and feet are used and must be well 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 the legs. Those who want to overcome these shortages can benefit tremendously from practicing tai chi.

Although tai chi does not need to be done to music, it has its own rhythm, as you can see from the first video. Tai chi is deliberately designed to be played in slow motion for health and fitness purpose, which can help tango dancers to improve their ability to dance in slow motion. However, tai chi can also be practiced in fast motion to help develop nimbleness and speed, as showing below.

All these traits make tai chi an excellent exercise for tango dancers to build up their body strength and improve their dance ability. The following video teaches you some basic tai chi movements if you are interested.

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