It is no secret that tango raises issues, pushes buttons, brings to the surface deeply submerged feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, sensuality and sexuality - all of which tend to trip us up, both in our dance or relationships.
We have three options when this happens (which it invariably does):
Trade tango lessons in for something less intimidating, like salsa or bungee-jumping.
Push our way through and ignore those inner voices. Learn more steps, take more prozac.
Step back. Slow down. Get help.
I chose the latter.
Presence in Motion
On July 21 & 22, 2018 at La Pista Tango Studio in San Francisco I attended a fascinating workshop, Presence in Motion, designed and facilitated by Lucinda Hayden, internationally acclaimed Focusing* Instructor and Tom Lewis, Tango and Aikido Instructor and owner of La Pista Tango dance studio.
*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 grandfather of other body-oriented approaches, like Somatic Experiencing.
The weekend workshop combines the insights of Focusing and the relational and energetic dynamics of Tango. The intention is to nurture simultaneously the inner and outer dance by attending to what is going on internally while we express ourselves externally in the dance. The format alternates between practicing a movement or tango step and then creating a safe space to explore what is going on inside: the excitement, the learning, the resistance or hesitations.
According to Lucinda, dancing Argentine Tango is like a moving Focusing practice. It 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.
This inner attunement is skillfully woven into tango technique by Tom, bringing over fifteen years of experience with energy work and the Tango. Many of the exercises he introduces are adapted from Aikido and intensify and heighten awareness of one’s energetic connection with self, partner, dance floor and music.
It just so happens that the technical problems I have in my dance are the same that I have in my relationships. My collapsing chest, my indecisive walk, my tentative embrace are equally debilitating on and off the dance floor By addressing the issues at my core through Focusing and Tango, I am able to dis-identify or disengage from the negative beliefs.
The result is an accelerated learning of tango as well as growth in personal awareness. This suits me perfectly. My fascination with tango (and why I have kept at it for over a decade), is that the better dancer I become, the more resilient and loving I become as a person.