Friday, November 16, 2007

Tango:: "The Surrender"


















Photo by Leone...from the Catania (Italia) Tango Festival...

I find that some beginning followers have trouble with what I call "the surrender". I feel it in the first few seconds of the embrace and ensuing equilibration. I feel it - or not. Some very experienced followers have still not mastered it. It comes from everything within a woman (I think) - her past relationships - her body image - her self confidence - her insecurities - her nervousness at being new to the dance - or the absence of nervousness.

I have danced with rank beginners (first time on the floor) who although I feel their nervousness - quickened breathing - heart fluttering against my chest - sweaty palms - almost to the point of trembling - but who still seem to have mastered the surrender from the get-go.

Actually, I don't think it's something that can be "mastered". I wonder if it's something that you are born with, or not. But then I know it must come with an increasing comfort level - comfort with the dance, comfort with follower vocabulary, comfort with a leader, desire to dance with a leader. A woman may have a perfect surrender with one leader - and be more tentative about it with another.

I don't think the surrender can be taught...nor "practiced"...nor even conveyed verbally...what's a leader to do?

All I know is that I feel it - when a woman surrenders herself to me - surrenders herself to be led by me - surrenders the placement of her feet to me - surrenders control of her axis to me - surrenders herself to my embrace - and when I feel it, it feels so very good.

12 comments:

Johanna said...

Goodness Alex! This is the entire premise of my book!!

But I do happen to believe that the "surrender" can be learned, in the same way that we learn to still the mind through meditation. It is very difficult, no less because nothing in our society encourages us to do so, or strengthens our fledgling efforts.

But you do raise a very interesting point, which is the relationship between lead and follow. I will tell you from more than 10 years of personal experience that there are leads who make it very easy to surrender, and others who, um, don't.

Alex said...

Interesting Johanna, I almost said something about meditation being the (likely) only way to achieve this state - a state which I believe to be entirely metaphysical...

Without giving too much away, do you have plans to address this in your book - the possibility of "learning" the surrender?

Johanna said...

Well, my "new" book is not about this, but the Tao of Tango is about my discovery of this relationship. By learning to trust, use and thus cultivate this "surrender" (which is but just one of many manifestations of "passive/female" energy), we become more balanced "energetically" not only as dancers but as humans. As we become better at it on the dance floor, we can also - if we have the intention to do so - become better in our daily lives.

But although "learning" to surrender is very challenging, I think it can be done. I did it :-) Although I think it really helps helps to have a "mentor", or somebody who can act as a guide or sounding board in the process.

Doug said...

It's facinating, really, the whole question of surrender. I think there's a reverse or "male" surrender by the lead, equivalent to the "female" surrender by the follower. In either case, I don't think surrender itself can be learned, but you can dis-cover the conditioning that blocks you from surrendering, and then surrender happens, spontaneously.

I would guess, Johanna, that the more surrendered the lead, the easier it is for the follow to surrender and vice versa. And when the lead and follow are completely surrendered... both disappear.

Anonymous said...

I agree - when a leader and a follow can trust each other enough to reach surrender then tango "happens".

A follow may be comfortable with this surrender, irrespective of her technical ability (I've danced with teachers who seem to be aiming at not surrendering). It is also the responsibility of the leader to live up to this surrender - don't accept it if you think you'll end up on the floor!

I like the idea of Tango Happens - you don't Do tago, it happends when you surrender, when you play, dance, breathe, feel, move ... together.

Alex said...

Anon,

The surrender I am talking about is not a physical thing and has nothing to do with a follower "giving" herself physically to a leader, it's entirely emotional/metaphysical...

Anonymous said...

if there is no emotional surrender, then physical surrender is insincere and you can feel it.

Danzarin said...

This surrender thing is tricky, and just as you cannot explain when or how it happens, it is elusive to most followers as well. Have you ever considered whether surrender is not something some have and others don't but maybe it is something of a dyadic nature. That some followers surrender to some leaders??? That a follower who does not surrender to you might find it easier to surrender to another?? Or one that does surrender to you cannot to another???
This is the most elusife part of tango. Its like a butterfly that lands on your shoulder and then disappears...

Johanna said...

Doug, et al. Yes, "surrender" (or "listening", or permitting, or whatever you'd like to call it) is necessary from both partners for it to allow that "connection" we're all addicted to :-)

From the lead-er point of view, it is allowing the follow-er their moment, once a lead has been given. In other words, the lead-er gives up control for that moment, and in essence, "follows" the follow-er. This allows the "conversation" that is tango.

I think a lot of people get caught up in the "I'm not going to surrender if THEY're not going to surrender" mentality, making the possibility of the connection much less likely. Most of the time, this attitude is subconscious, which makes it more difficult to diagnose. And I believe it has a lot to do with trust issues.

I personally approach every single partner - whether I know them or not - with total openness and surrender. As a result, I seem to experience the "connection" with far more partners than most people express. When I present myself to my partner without boundaries, I imagine it makes it much easier for them to surrender to me.

Anonymous said...

As a follower, as a woman and as an individual who thoroughly looks forward to hugs, I entirely agree that some people have a hard time surrendering. In my first class dancing in a close embrace, though my technique was severely lacking, the instructor commented on my embrace being one of surrender and still full of life.

In all honesty, if I can give someone a hug with an open heart and they shut me down by giving a light pat on the back, side hug, a tepee hug (one where they bend at the hips to avoid any body contact)… well, I don’t expect much out of their tango. It’s not that the physical touch is the issue, it’s the absolute avoidance that is present within that individual regarding connecting with me. A hug, an embrace, holding someone’s hand, cooking for someone (whatever your love language may be) is demonstrative of caring for someone to me. It allows me to open up and pour out my heart, soul, spirit, whole self, and surrender, which in turn invites my fellow hug-ee to contribute the same aspects of themselves.

The best way I’ve had this explained to me was: “As a follow, when you get asked to dance and accept; begin the embrace with one thought and intention, to love the person you are about to embrace. Love what you know about them. Love what you don’t know, but love them. This does not mean you are in a relationship permanently, are lovers or anything of the sort, it just is a moment in time where you get to express your love for a fellow human being. It’s infectious, delicious, encompassing, and contagious.”

Tango Salon said...

I'm so glad to have found this interesting discussion on the "entrega" ("the surrender" - the closest English translation just about captures the experience).

May I add that mutual trust (thanks for raising this, Johanna), is a pre-requisite for the entrega, whether or not you know the other person. Hence, the importance of the traditional cabeceo.

tangoaddiction said...

Alex, I respectfully disagree with the thoughts expressed in this blog entry for reasons that are a little too complex to explain in a comment. I've written about this (and quoted this entry in the comments section) in my blog. You can find the entry here: http://tangoaddiction.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/leanings/