Blog #3 with Jean-Sebastien, Studio Ten. Houdini as my tango mentor?
Apparently. By all counts, he was a remarkable man accomplishing incredibly complicated maneuvers without breathing for three plus minutes. Not tango exactly (he was wrapped up in 30' of chain at the bottom of a water tank) but his antics bear uncanny resemblance to my efforts on the dance floor.
“Breathe, for God’s sake," Jean-Sebastien exhorts. Apparently I am so focused on executing complicated maneuvers, I have stopped breathing. Not entirely, but my breathing has become shallow, tense, constricted.
This is helpful. I seldom get attention drawn to my breathing by a tango teacher. Breathing is important. (Unlike Houdini I can’t go an entire 3.5 minutes without stopping to catch my breath).
Which is what has appealed to me about tango from the beginning - the invitation to pause, to breathe. Unlike milonga, there are spaces in the structure of the dance and the music to allow for this - the fluctuating tempo, the mood shifts, the steps and sequences which start and stop, begin and end.
So why is it then that I have to be reminded to do what I have been doing quite competently and unconsciously my entire life?
In tango, I start to think about things that, up to now, I have been doing instinctively. Like walking. Like breathing. Initially this linking of conscious awareness and non-conscious knowing is disruptive and suddenly renders me incapable of doing what has been natural up to now. However, with practice I can meld the two and harness the primal rhythms and energy in service of the dance.
There is an added bonus to this learning. Cultivating communication between the conscious and the unconscious is actually one of the principle skills of the evolved spirit.
More on breath next blog. Stay tuned. Subscribe.