Monday, November 19, 2007

Sin Titulo

This is from La Tanguera on her goes to my earlier post
On Connection, Quality vs. Quantity and Learning to Feel *It*

As I've learned and moved ahead on my "Tango Road" over the last 3-4 years, I have also become gradually more selective regarding who I dance with. The reason is simple: it is more likely that I will have a blissful Tanda with those leaders with whom I have already developed a good connection, have similar sensibility to mine and are skilled enough to interpret the music and really dance. But, recently, the words of a Tango Teacher and the observation of a really good Tanguera in my community have made me wonder...

Could I, by being selective, lose my ability to connect?

Hum. *That* is a thought.

So, now you'll ask me: OK, Tanguera; How did you even come up with *this*? After all, prefering Quality versus Quantity is a sign that one has evolved enough to truly value the connection and the quality of the dance. No?

Well, Yes. Or so I have been thinking so far... In fact, I will admit to the fact that it can be quite hard for me to dance with some people, not so much because of their actual skill level (although in some cases it can definitely cause trouble), but because of their emotional understanding of the music. To me, it is important that we both are in the same wave, that our sensibilities are compatible--that the intensity which we feel the music is similar, that it is natural for us to move with more dynamic energy at one point, or slow down at another. This sense of emotional connection and telepathy is what can make this dance such a powerful encounter.

But I'm starting to think that being too selective in choosing the leaders I dance with also entails the following risk: that I am putting *my* sensibility and understanding of the music as a benchmark of what it *should* be, instead of giving myself the opportunity to understand the *his* sensibility, even if completely different from mine. Taking things to an extreme, it means that I'm actually prefering to stay in my comfort zone--dancing mostly with those who interpret the Tango World like I do--rather than venturing on a trip to a very strange and unknown place, which I may not understand at first, but that I may eventually come to value and enjoy. Moreover, as I stay farther away from those people who seem harder for me to understand, it is likely that it will also become more difficult for me to open up to them.

There is a Tanguera I know who seems to have mastered this ability to open up I am talking about. She is regarded as one of the best dancers in my community, and yet she is one of the least "choosy" followers I've ever seen. Watching her, I am amazed at how she moves seemingly without any trouble from dancing a Tanda with a visiting Tango Teacher or a Hot Shot to dancing the following Tanda with a mediocre leader with poor musicality. The surprising thing for me is that she seems to enjoy it every single time. And I don't think she is pretending, because she dances with that same mediocre leader at the next week's Milonga. So, she must be onto something there.

Quite frankly, I had always been a bit puzzled by her seemingly odd choices, until I had a discussion on connection with my Tango Teacher during a private lesson. He commented that, in his view, one of the best exercises to learn how to connect was to dance with more people, even if they were not regarded as "good" dancers, and the emotional understanding of the music was less than perfectly compatible. He argued that it was possible to learn to enjoy a dance with almost anyone, if one focused on paying attention to them and listening to what they were trying to say.

To be honest, I was quite skeptical about how much I could ever enjoy dancing with someone who is in a completely different mental wave than me about the music, technique issues aside. And still, watching this Tanguera in action, I have to admit that perhaps there is some truth in all this after all. While I am still convinced that there must be limits to it, maybe one can really learn to open up even beyond what we are willing to think possible. And, perhaps, giving ourselves this chance can take us to some beautiful places we would have never seen otherwise.

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