27 February 2017

Finding your tango self

“Sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself.”
(Miles Davis, jazz trumpetist)

Last week, I found myself. Yes I know. How cheesy isn’t that? But seriously, that’s what it felt like. After all the technique classes and all the practicing and the thinking and the frustratingly slow progress, this one sentence from a teacher brought everything together. I kept thinking of it, and suddenly, it felt like it was my body that was dancing, not my brain trying to understand how to dance. What also happened was that the mental pictures I had were not just of my teachers, or other dancers I'm inspired by, anymore. Now I was able to visualise how I myself wanted to dance.




It’s not like I am a fabulous dancer now. It could be that I look and feel about the same as before. And I'm sure there's lots of frustration ahead of me! I’ll always be somewhere intermediate-ish. The difference is that suddenly, I'm getting more enjoyment from the way I dance now instead of constantly thinking about how I want to dance in the future. At the same time, I'm looking forward to continue working on my dance and learn more. Improved joy of dancing, improved joy of learning. Win-win situation.

I know this may seem a bit navel-gazing. But I want to share this experience in case there's someone out there who needs a bit of encouragement. Don’t give up! If you want to improve, keep at it. Keep taking classes. Learn from different teachers even if it seems like they contradict each other. Sometimes they do, but often they’re just using different language and different pedagogics to teach the same thing. And keep practicing. Go to prácticas, do solo exercises at home. Listen to the music. Everything you invest will pay off somehow.

And, most importantly: if you want to improve, don’t let anybody tell you that you shouldn’t. If you want to get more out of your dance, and if you want your partners to get more out of dancing with you, keep learning.

Keep collecting the pieces that build your dance.