A look, a smile and then...

Guest blog: Constance Brissenden

My consciousness of Argentine tango began, not with movement, leaders and followers, grace and close embrace. It began with shoes. At my first tango class, all I could think about was my feet. My feet in black high-heeled shoes, not official dance shoes but good enough.


Slowly my awareness expanded beyond my shoes to posture, shoulders and arms, and mastering steps. Occasionally, everything came together and I could follow with 30 seconds with no mistakes. Then a minute, and then more. My body began to integrate the steps; my ability to follow improved.


Yet I yearned to really feel like I was dancing tango. Not just recall the technical aspects, but feel the essence of tango aligned with the music.


I read Aydan’s blog Double Bubble, about eye contact. And smiles. Now, here was a challenge to experience the deeper essence of tango. I rarely looked into the eyes of the leaders. Early on, when I was first learning, I was obsessed with my feet. Now I had to raise my consciousness to eye contact. More than that, I had to smile.


A few quick sneaky peeks, brief fleeting smiles followed. I was embarrassed, uncomfortable at the intimacy. Combining eye contact and a smile with dancing tango felt like being naked in church.


I can’t do it every time. Yet I admit that there was one perfect dance, that began with shared eye contact and smiles, that took my breath away. I staggered back from the perfection of a complete dance with an unbroken flow, with a blissful connection. The room fell away. I could have quit tango after that dance.


I didn’t quit, of course. I love the question marks of tango. What will the next dance be like? I look at the leader, I smile, I dance on.

(Constance Brissenden is a prolific and well-known author in Edmonton. She began learning tango in October 2018 and frequents Sunday at Parkwood and Monday at Naked. A delight to have in our community.)