Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Danced. Tango, I did. Tonight.

No holds barred, no nervous laughter to stall the inevitable bolkada, no time-consuming questions, which my teacher says he enjoys anyway.

None of the distracting tactics [now I have to think of new ones] to stop the dance from pushing through. I bit my tongue, I focused on the music, I let the connection take over.

And I danced. Tango Argentina. Slow and sentimental. Quick and snappy. Languid but liquid. Danced even to the music of the rhumba and the foxtrot. Just danced. Tangoed. I finally let the tango in me out into the open.

And that felt mighty fine. Missteps and miscues and all. Forgotten cues, improvisations and unbalanced moves aside, the tango tonight felt good. Because I know that I did dance, that I set my shyness aside, and just let the tango in me come out.

I finally got it, to get where you want to be, you have to give in and give all you've got. No pain, no gain. No missteps, no improvements. No risk of shameful mistakes, no reward of progressive learning. The lessons have been learned, it was time for the learning to take the dance floor.

I have always wanted to dance, to just let the music move me. So I learned, and tonight I let go. I danced, tonight. And that is only the beginning.

These words from Lee Ann Womack's song sum it for me tonight and for the longest time.
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I chose to dance, and I did dance. And I will continue to dance.

Tango, I will. Dance, I will. Live, I will.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walking My Way Through

Yesterday's tango lesson focused on walking, walking, walking.

Back to the most basic move, walking to the music, walking in step with the beat, walking as natural as possible.

You are probably wondering: 5 months of tango lessons and it is back to walking. How poor a dancer is she? Hopefully not as slow a learner as I seem, as you will see.

Yesterday was all about walking again, but this walking was to be done two as one, without displacing weight or position, in step with the leader. Try that for size.

Walking and yet dancing. Walking as light as air, two distinct bodies as one. Walking around the floor, feeling that connection, knowing that after 5 months, I am walking as I tango, and I tango with just my walking.

Twisty and contradictory as that may sound, you've got to give it a try to understand.

Stretch that leg, push back and close. Other leg, stretch, back and close. Before you know it, you've traveled the dance floor walking, walking, walking to that sensuous tango beat.

And ain't that sweet. I think I finally learned to walk on tango feet.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Be Still My Tango Heart

For there is much too much going on in my tango life.

What started as once a week lessons turned into lessons plus tango night Tuesday then tango night Tuesday, Thursday and even Friday and lessons in between days.

Tonight I said, the question is: which day do I not dance? And with that came the sudden realization that I had overcrowded my life again.

This jumping feet first into tango is so typical of me, that burst of enthusiasm and the intense concentration, which hopefully will not turn into a sudden waning of interest. Not this time, I can see.

There is much to learn. Balance. Attack. En ganche. Embellishments. Slow tango. Show tango. Much more to sweeten the already exotic mix that spices up the days and nights of this life I have danced into.

There are partners to tango with, and test, and tease. There are shoes to traipse the light fantastic in, and those babuchas and gauchos to showcase the boleos that are yet to be done.

There is a whole world yet to be explored, and yet that cloying sense of too much too soon demands a gentle break into the familiar serenity of quiet and aloneness.

Right now, that sense of being crowded and being too out there makes me want to curl up and just stay off the dance floor, away from that pulsating beat. Just because. The very private me is looking for the quiet that I have gotten so used to. The private me just wants to get back that space that is all mine. Just for now.

With all that I am learning and the limits I have breached, the voice inside of me says stop awhile, and let the music take you in again. Let the music seep back into your soul, so the dance and the moves and the lessons and the dancers become invigorating again, become inspiring again.

Be still my tango heart, rest awhile my battered feet. Breathe, let the spirit of this dance embrace you in your quiet time. So when morning comes, my tango heart will rise in joy again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's A Matter of Trust

Dancing the tango, I mean. Among other things in this life.

Trusting enough to follow the lead of another, for starters. Having the confidence that the leader will take you through the dance, enable your feet and your moves to express your understanding of the music, and just let the spirit of the tango settle in your soul as you follow the lead.

Trusting enough to know what each light tap intends for you, where every step will take you, how to absorb and exhale the energy sent your way. Knowing what, where, how and when to flow and glide and yes, even muster the bravura to flaunt that oft-practiced boleo-gancho-caress signature.

Trusting enough to let the newest lessons settle into the psyche, waiting for the time when it will suddenly make sense, and the moves will just happen.

It is all a matter of trust, this tango I am learning. Without it, the bolkada will be an exercise in frustration, for there is the element of letting one's weight, and indirectly, one's self, go; relying entirely on the leader to take you on, and lead you to the next salvo.

A trust that also sharpens the sense of carrying one's weight, and the leeway within that intimate embrace to stand, to secure balance, to dance as one even as one remembers that the duet is possible because one is as always on your own.

Suffice it to say that aching feet, tired muscles and new cuts only make the dancing even more enjoyable. The synergy shows and the dance becomes more expressive as time goes by, and the trust grows.

It's a matter of trust, and as everything in tango, it must grow and deepen for the dance to take flight.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On My Own

I mean, on my own balance, and not passing off my balance to the leader. On my own, standing alone, dancing tall, two as one but still dancing on my own.

A concept I have come to understand as another peculiarity of dancing. Not every teacher puts it as plainly as that, but every one who has taught me over the last 13 months has emphasized the need for balance. But not as succinctly as the tango teacher has stated.

The context must be stated for the principle to make sense. For dancing tango is never done alone. And the concept thus becomes a contradiction.

Yet it is not. For one can only be as one with your partner, if one can tango to the music, move in response to prods and commands, and dance with full control, steady on one perfectly balanced leg, on your own.

For if not, then the moves are stilted and stymied by one's inability to stand steady and tall, on your own. The ochos that lead to snappy boleos are less than lyrical when I fail to stand, on my own. And the smooth change from abrazo to a free hold is less than easy when i am late half a beat for not being able to close tall, on my own.

Little things that make all the difference in the tango, as in life. Steady through the storms, on my own. That has gotten me through trials and tantrums. Slow but sure, focused on the next step, as I have learned, on my own. Anchored on my center, no matter the challenge, be it a crossroad or a choice of boleo or caress, still always certain to make a choice and land steady, on my own.

Even in the closest of abrazos, it is good to always remember that while two dance as one, that is possible only when I dance on my own. Performances past in my life affirm that indeed, the tango will be conquered, on my own.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Take Your Time

One step at a time. No need to rush. Let the music lead you.

Again and again, I would hear those words during tango lessons. Or even on tango nights, when my teacher would explore the limits that I could breach in terms of expanding my range of movement.

And again and again, I would mentally take that in, and rush into the boleo or the ronde again.

Take your time. The dance is not going anywhere.

But one night, the repeating admonition finally settled into that compartment in my brain that processes all the dance input, and eureka! I took my time and did that problematic ronde with ease, with more grace and yes, in time with the music.

It just all clicked, and it felt good.

What did I do right? I was in perfect position, I let the music lead me, and let my teacher's subtle prompt trigger the moves. Easy, languid, liquid moves.

That felt good. But it was not perfect all the time. Getting there.

Still have to watch my balance, still have to let the mantra take over when I dance.

Take your time. Tango is all about the music and the intensity that will drive your body and your feet to move and flow and glide, together, as one.

Little things, small details, you might think. But they do make all the difference.

When I let the mantra into the flow of my dancing, the timing was good, and I was light and liquid.

I took my time, and I moved good.

Now to do that again, and again, and again... breathe and move... again.