The Tango Journey
Dear students, friends, milongueros and milongueras:
How long since you have started your Tango journey?
A while ago I had a conversation with a student in my class (not one of my regular students). She complained about studying Tango (although not continuously) for three years, but not achieving very much of it. I asked her what milongas she had being going to, since I never saw her in any milonga. I realized from her answer that she was not a regular in the milongas. Well… if after three years of studying Tango you still do not go to milongas… something is not right. Another student (a regular one but returning from a month long break) was feeling a little sad because I gave her corrections about her posture: the basic “please lean forward a little bit, find a soft point of contact with your partner’s face…” which is often difficult to do for ballroom dancers. At the end of the class she said with a crying intonation that she felt her dancing was not improving. I reminded her that the correction about her posture was the same I gave her at her first class (a year ago?), that we had done many exercises in classes, that I gave her drills so she could practice by herself to incorporate these details in the posture, and that I gave her the same correction over and over again many times.
- Posture is essential. Why? When we dance Tango we engage in a multiple faceted experience. If you like a simple description, it is like a diamond, but furthermore, for me, it is like a “string” in the “string theory” of physics, with outside and inside dimensions. One of these facets is purely mechanical: a couple dancing Tango makes a mechanical system. Our posture is, in essence, the way we set up a fundamental piece of that mechanical system. If a part of your car is not well placed or not well shaped, your car won’t run.
- I can teach you, showing what is necessary. I can give you a set of different exercises to do. I can make you do these exercises at a class, but nobody can change your posture or make any other necessary changes but yourself, as well as nobody can do your dance but yourself.
- That takes us to an important realization you have to make in the very beginning of your Tango journey: you will need to make changes in yourself, many kind of changes, many self-explorations, many plain acceptances of corrections, many learning curves. All that will require a great deal of courage. Tango is not about satisfying your ego. It is about Tango itself. It is very important to take a minute, and think about what is our goal with Tango. Be aware that you are about to be part of a community. The natural habitat of that community is the milonga. It is not the class. The class is merely a school to prepare you to be at the milongas. It is not the festivals. They make only exceptional moments in the life of a milonguero. It is not the stage, where Tango is as real as a Hollywood movie or a Broadway production is real life. The life of a milonguero consists of everyday milongas. So, we have to make the milongas our wonderful experience if we want to be milongueros.
Many of you know how much I love to learn and practice martial arts. In a martial art class, when your teacher is giving you corrections, all the oxygen in your lungs and your brain is taken by the fact that you just tried to beat the other person , or avoiding to be knocked out by him or her. Nothing is left to talking back, giving excuses. So, you just listen. And that is great, fundamentally, because you always learn something when you listen. I understand, you have a life that sometimes gets in the way of your desire of dancing Tango. You have a day job; you are stressed out by many factors like the economy, your health, your children, etcetera, etcetera… What I propose, when you get corrected, is to just listen, consider, and try. Do not come back with excuses. There are way too many excuses not to dance well. Our learning process is not a continuum. I understand that you may be tired. Something might be going on in your life, and you cannot focus on your passion as much as you would like to. However, my job is to do what you pay me for: showing you how to dance Tango. I know that you know all that. I know that you know that I know it. I will be patient. After all, I do what Tango does, something older people in Tango always tell you: “Tango is waiting for you”.