Do you ever get halfway through a song/ tanda and suddenly hit with the thought,
“I am bored!”?
We wilt with the awareness that we are simply going through the motions, that our dance has become routinized, dry, empty.
What is the North American solution to everything?
More stuff. Stuff more stuff into your dance. Learn more steps, more tricks and flicks. Be busier. Dance faster. More is always more.
Not always. Sometimes less is more. Boredom is seldom the result of simplicity or repetition of the steps. Often the simplest dance can be the most the most engaging and enriching. Conversely, a technical dance can also leave you feeling empty or alone.
What is the key ingredient that keeps our dancing engaging, exciting at all times, no matter what the technical difficulty?
“Presence requires staying centered and present in one’s own self, and at the same time listening with your whole body to your partner’s motions and emotions. ThIs requires flexibility, adjustment, and adaptation, always in an environment of safety, trust, respect, honesty.”
We bring our whole selves to the dance.
We infuse motion with emotion.
We listen to ourselves, our partner, the floor and the music.
We engage our senses.
We are aware.
Tom Lewis, co-facilitator at Presence in Motion Workshop, Tango and Aikido instructor and owner of La Pista Tango Studio, begins each dance instruction segment of the workshop with a presence-mindfulness exercise adapted to the anagram GRACE.
We begin with grounding, rooting ourselves into the floor, feeling our physical and psychic weight pull us down into the earth beneath us. Then we draw energy back up from the centre of the earth to our own center.
Next is relaxation. Shaking shoulders, breathing in and out, loosening the hips, the legs, the hands. Letting go of all tension, anxiety, expectations and agendas.
Awareness pulls us into our senses. Sights and sounds, touch. Where we are in the room. Where we are in relation to our partner.
Centering involves accessing our core self, our power centres. Touching base with our chakras. Aligning our axis. Checking what is going on inside and finding our inner dancer.
Energy is the last stage, preparing us to move into the dance. Sensing the eagerness and responsiveness of our bodies to the invitation of the dance. Testing the softness and bounce in our knees, sensing resilience, alertness, shifting weight, inviting power into our legs and hips.
Now we are ready to move forward with our partner. Basic motions, walking, stepping in harmony with the beat and our partner.
Simple. Not easy. But instead of it feeling redundant or boring, we feel enriched by the presence that each of us is bringing to the engagement. We feel the dance resonating through our entire body, into our being. We are enlivened by the closeness with our partner, Our senses tingle to an arm on our shoulder, the warmth and gentleness of the handhold, the brush of skin on our cheek. Our bodies pulse with the rhythm of the tango. We pause, we breathe, relax our embrace, we strengthen our frame, engage and then begin moving again
*Focusing is a mindfulness method, which teaches you how to listen to yourself in a way that helps your experience become more clear, similar to how a camera lens goes from fuzzy to ‘in focus’. It was originally developed in the 1960s and the granddaddy of other body-oriented approaches like Somatic Experiencing.