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Selected Tango Immigrant posts will continue to be up for the foreseeable future.

1 September 2015

In search of the joyful body

Follower friend: “I LOVE twisting.”


Some time ago, I went to an event and got a girl crush. You know, like when you were ten and there was a new girl in school who was almost twelve and who was super pretty and seemed super nice and super fun and had the coolest clothes and you wanted so much to be like her. My girl crush is probably both nice and fun, but so are many tangueras. The reason why I noticed her was something else: she seemed to have so much fun when she was dancing.

Obviously, it was not the first time I had seen dancers enjoying themselves on the pista. But when people smile, it’s often because we are enjoying our partner: a comfortable embrace, smooth following, or nice musical interpretation. What I noticed in the case of my girl crush, however, was that she looked like she enjoyed her own dancing. She had this rubbery, twisty, cat-like technique with a very intuitive expression, very physical and very effortless and not styled in any way, yet oh so pretty. Her dance was communicating “My body can do this, and it’s totally like the coolest thing ever” And she was smiling. Her partner was also smiling. Watching her, I suddenly felt that I’m missing out on something vital, literally speaking.

So I’ve been thinking about my own dance. When am I having fun? Obviously when my partner is connected to the music and I get to contribute with my own interpretation - in other words when we’re communicationg about the music. And I also think it’s fun when my technique is improving. But in many cases, I’m still hindered by my technique - and I’m also hindered because I’m thinking of my technique. And because of this, I’m not really enjoying the physical aspects of the dance the way I think my girl crush does. The idea that technique itself can be something enjoyable has not been conveyed to me. Technique has always been taught as a necessary tool for dancing, which actually is a bit odd when you think of it, because technique IS dancing, isn’t it?

I'm sure we'll become better dancers if we find a good connection not only with our partner and the music, but also with our own bodies. I’m not saying we should stop enjoying our partner, or stop communicating, or stop leading and following, or stop listening to the music. But maybe all these aspects of the dance would become even better if we allowed ourselves to be happy within our own dancing bodies.

In short: Let’s have more fun twisting.