This is why I dance tango. My tango journey has been amazing. It is rewarding to watch our students come up against what I have been watching and examining in myself for the better part of the last decade. Tango will haunt you. It will appear in your dreams. It will appear in your nightmares too. And at the same time tango is the siren call that leaves you breathless.
Tango will enter a portion of your mind that has been heretofore reserved for private thoughts or creativity. Tango can connect these thoughts with your body in a place where thoughts haven’t been allowed before – even life long dancers experience this in a new way because of the partner in their lap.
Even your eyes will see differently. It is as though your thoughts have slowly been given access to a place in your visual cortex where they previously weren’t allowed. Your mind and body orchestrate a partnership within and without in ways you have never experienced before. When you begin to study and practice tango you will be glimpsing these realizations via your struggle for mind body and partnership connection. Later you will get these realizations through the eyes of connection and accomplishment that will allow you an even deeper look into your mind, body and spirit. This self insight allows you a glimpse inside your partner so you can simultaneously connect with the mind/body/spirit of the person in your arms.
Next you discover there are lies your head. Lies your mind has been telling your body. Lies your ego told your soul. This awareness can lead you to the stark realization that your body and soul never really believed the lies – but rather like a patient parent – your body allowed your head to think itself to be the owner of a body it now realizes it barely knows at all.
Tango exposes lies we tell ourselves in lots of psychological, literal and metaphorical ways. Tango will challenge your ego or maybe inflame it. Tango allows us a personal glimpse into a world we only thought was ours. Then once you are in that world of connection everything looks, feels, sounds, tastes and even smells different. We are always allowed to believe the lies that have caused separation from our mind/body/spirit, it is a choice, we can also choose to rise above these lies and grow in a fiercely powerful way that we never dreamed was possible.
A very fascinating facet of tango is its ability to tell on you: tango always knows. Your reality is reflected in your tango. You can fool an beginner or intermediate dancer, but you cannot fool someone that knows tango. You cannot fool, trick, fake or hide yourself from tango or from someone that truly understands the process of tango. Tango will not let you hide the truth about yourself from those that really get tango. Those that truly experience the connection can sense and feel more about you than you can yourself for the first few years… but… since they really do “get it” they also understand and forgive you. They know it is just the process of tango. There is a sense of peaceful, loving, forgiveness in the embrace of very good social tango dancers – at least while they are in the “tango-zone”.
Tango is like Zen or Nirvana in that the minute I say I have tango, I own tango, I claim tango, tango is mine, I will be allowed once again to delve into the illusion that I am my body, that I am a collection of my thoughts.
Like Zen, tango will soon take away my illusions and prove to me that I am merely an observer here. I am no more my thoughts than I am a brain or neuron. I am no more my body than I am muscle or blood. I am a spirit playing the human game. When I am dancing tango, I am truly human. When I am immersed in a moment, so deeply and serenely that nothing else exists, I am at one with all of creation and I am all of creation at the same time.
Trained and talented musicians, artists and even dancers get to see this, but rarely while they are holding another human. Doing all of this while connected to another, that is where the real magic of tango occurs. The magic in tango happens when tango becomes the catalyst to open this realm to those that have previously believed they couldn’t connect like this. Those that are convinced there are dancers and non-dancers and fate cast them into the slot of the later can find they were always wrong. A lot of partner dances could take you here, but first they would have to break out of the box and paradigm that the limiting structures of patterns, choreography, set rhythms place on your spirit and creativity.
The Zen like quality is what makes tango so powerful – and why so many crave it. At the same time this is what makes tango so controversial and brings on what I will call “Style Wars”.
- Which style of tango is pure?
- Which style of tango is genuine?
- Which is authentic and true to its roots?
- Who has tango and who doesn’t?
- Who teaches tango and who doesn’t?
- How should one dance the tango?
These struggles exist and are predominant in tango world wide. For generations there were fights, arguments and even killings in Buenos Aries over who had real tango and who didn’t.
The ultimate illusion: Because we place limits on ourselves, we think we can place them on tango too… and then I think it goes something like this: Someone sees a style of tango that they can’t seem to imitate or find access to in their own personal body/mind so their ego wants to deny that it is the real tango – when all it is, is a style they cannot access.
– OR –
A style presents a challenge and the challenge makes a certain individual want that style even more – then if they apply themselves and capture those movements, they want to deny the less challenging movements because they are so proud of their accomplishments – when all it might be is a talent or body connection that makes them think they have something others don’t have.
Tango professionals pour so much of themselves into tango that they lose sight of why they wanted to learn tango to begin with: “a passionate love of tango”. It is easy to forget that each person brings their issues with them, mind body and spirit and superimpose their successes and failures on tango. Then in learning and growing they say that one is pure and the other is tainted, simply because they have trained a certain way and thus can access and master a specific style. The truth is everyone can access tango, whether they are talented or not, there is a style of tango they can access!
Every style group list hundreds of seemingly valid reasons for why their tango is the only real tango – using reasons like: One style is more “socially friendly”, another style allows the freedom of expressing the “true emotions of tango” while this style over here is closer to what they danced in Argentina during the “Golden Era” – all along the only truth they are professing is their own limitation.
By saying in essence I dance this but not that, one is actually saying they only have time, talent or energy to pour into one style or another. For some, one style is better, not everyone can drop what they are doing and chase tango some have a proclivity toward one style or another because of their dance or athletic background, the shape of their body, their fitness level or even exposure to tango and its culture.
What is magical about tango is it offers the same Zen-ful connection regardless of the style of tango being danced. Tango for Rusty Cline isn’t about a style. Tango is about connections of:
- Person to Person
- Global Boundary Crossing Connections
In my soul is where tango becomes more than a dance and it morphs itself into something like the The Odyssey, The Lord of the Rings, A Path With a Heart, The Hero’s Journey. This passionate journey into tango makes us want to become Odysseus, Frodo, Don Juan the Yaqui Warrior, because finally we have a worthwhile challenge: the total access of oneself, mind and body and spirit.
In this full circle connection, as I am simultaneously connected to another mind/body/spirit, my spirit soars and I morph into a king, a peasant and an artist all at once. The ultimate challenge is to help one another surrender at this level to reach the satisfaction and complete essence of tango. This can happen regardless of style or level of dance. Awareness is not a prerequisite and I am sure many are not consciously aware of the depth of connection when they connect – it is this connection I make an effort to create when I dance. Everything I do with and/or for tango (which is a lot) is all done for this end: enabling other people to experience the joy of real and true connection with another person through this wonderfully expressive language of tango.
There are other ways for two souls to freely unite in the throws of ecstasy I have shared in a pure tango experience. Sex can do this, but on a social level sex comes with complex connecting issues and stigmas that restrict it to personally selective relationships – where tango can cross all the barriers of chemistry and gender. Besides how many people can we actually have sex with? Yet you can tango with anyone.
The ultimate tango experience for me is well beyond the realms of sex, drugs, rock and roll, exercise, meditation, politics, government or even religion because it has a reality that surpasses them all. Tango is noble, honorable, true even gallant and I can tango with anyone. Tango doesn’t happen in a thought, it happes in a connected moment.
When I dance tango – a truly connected tango, however complex or simple – do I feel like I am authentically experiencing the true human connection. With all its faults, peccadilloes and foibles being human is special. I know in my soul of souls that being human is a special way to be in this vast universe. This is why I dance tango: To know what it really means to be human!
Love, Light, Humanity – Connecting – Mind, Body & Spirit,