The 3 elements of connection
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back” Rainer Maria Rilke
Stillness in the mind
The basis for connection is the quality of your attention.
If your mind wanders and your attention is not on the present moment, you won’t be able to connect.
Stillness in your mind allows you to connect with yourself, and create headspace so you can let your partner in.
My connection skills completely changed when I started doing a bit of centering (meditation) before the milonga (or any performance). It doesn’t need to be much: just 5 minutes of mindful breathing in the tube can radically transform the evening.
For a more dedicated tango practice, you can also spend a few minutes a day walking alone, at home, on a tango music that you love. Focus on your balance and on deep breathing. When you do this, you feel much more calm, centred and ready to fully embrace your partner.
Relaxation of the neck and shoulders
In life, if you use strength, rigidity or full force – for example shouting at someone instead of having a discussion – you can’t connect and rarely get satisfying results. It is the same in tango: contraction, tension, rigidity…prevent connection. So, when dancing socially you need to be fully relaxed.
That doesn’t mean your body should be floppy – far from it: your core muscles are activated, your lower body is grounded and powerful.
However your upper body is fully relaxed.
The tango embrace – abrazo – is a hug (abrazar means to hug). In real life, you don’t hug with tense shoulders or rigid elbows. Same in tango! There should not be any extra effort involved in lifting the arms in the embrace. So make sure your neck, shoulders, arms and wrists are relaxed. Be extra aware of the open side of the embrace: it is easy to tense it up. Keep it soft.
Listen through your hands
You know, how frustrating it can be when you try talking to someone who doesn’t listen… It is the same in the tango embrace. If one of the partners is not listening, there can not be any connection.
Often in classes the focus is on communicating with the chest.
But there are other elements that we can use to connect: using the palm of your hands to listen to your partner, for example, is very powerful.
The palm of your hands is one of the most sensitive areas of your body. It is completely irrigated by nerves, linking the hands to the spine. With all these nerves, it is super sensitive.
You can try touching the palm of your hands gently, with the tip of your finger, and feel how extraordinarily sensitive it is. Wonderful, right?
The palm of our hands is one of the most sensitive area of our body
When dancing tango we can learn a great deal about our partner by simply feeling their palm against ours. No tension, just softness and presence. It’s a small change in the dance, but a powerful way to get to know our partner and deeply connect.