Breath and Connection The first time I was invited to breathe in a tango embrace, and then to breathe in unison with my partner, was during a private lesson with Gwen Spinks, (check link), a dance instructor from Nanaimo/ Gabriola Island.
My first thought: Now this feels like connection.
My gut reaction: Yikes!
So what is it about breathing in embrace that makes it feel risqué?
It intensifies the chest to chest connection, certainly. Depending on one’s comfort level with close embrace this might be intimidating, or exhilarating.
But more than this. There is something intensely human and personal about the rise and fall of one’s breath. Ancient traditions would define this primal motion as the drawing in and releasing of Spirit. It is as basic to life as we get. Nothing is more tender and endearing than watching the stomach of a baby fill and fall with that life-sustaining nurturance.
As we age we become embarrassed by our bellies. We restrict the in and out with tight clothing and practice holding it in. Then we layer stress on top of self-consciousness, which further constricts our breathing.
To invite someone into the rhythm of one’s breath is to share one’s humanity at a vulnerable and intimate level. But then, is that not what the tango is intended to do - to stretch one’s comfort level, to expand one’s boundaries, to challenge one’s inhibitions.
Lately as we enter into the embrace, my dance partner and I give attention to our first breaths. At least occasionally during the dance, we synchronize our breathing at those exquisite pause moments.
Does this improve my dancing? Perhaps not in terms of technical execution (presumably it doesn`t, as breathing seldom if ever gets referenced - let alone taught - in tango classes). But it does in deepen my experience of the dance as intimate connection.
Is that important? I am just off the phone a cherished friend and artful tangera. Her response: “ That is all I care about. What else is there?”