Tango is loaded with both touch and feeling. But do they always fit together in a way that is complimentary and energizing?
In my upbringing touchy-feely was the classic put down for anything that challenged our macho mindset. Touch was allowed but only in sports. Certainly feeling was discouraged and especially not touchy and feely in combination - unless it was with the opposite sex and leading to some predetermined outcome.
So obviously dancing did not figure prominently on our list of preferred social activities.
Fast forward 50 years to my tango dancing phase.
Speaking of touchy-feely: the delicate hand hold, the soft comfort of the warm embrace, chest against chest, cheek to cheek! Loads. In fact, it is the sensual, seductive dynamic which is the most celebrated element of tango.
Certainly for many years this worked just fine for me, especially when I was dancing with my beloved. The soft sultry motions of tango, acted out in our living-room before an audience of none was the perfect primer for a romantic interlude. But when she stopped dancing due to physical limitations, I had to find another motivation to keep dancing.
Which is why I jumped at the invitation to attend the Presence in Motion tango training weekend.
Designed by Lucinda Hayden, internationally renown Focusing* Instructor and Tom Wilson, co-facilitator at Presence in Motion Workshop, Tango and Aikido instructor and owner of La Pista Tango Studio, the workshop promised the following:
Unlike traditional dance with the roles of leader and follower, this workshop is designed first to explore ourselves as energy bodies before we move in relationship with another. Everybody will play both the roles of “inviter” and “receiver” of the energy as we learn to move together.
Focusing offers a way to learn and practice:
becoming present and finding your grounded center
keeping company with emotional reactions that arise while learning something new
going beyond your familiar ways of moving with kind support.
Tango offers a way to learn and practice:
maintaining your grounded center as you move
communicating clearly and respectfully – without words
claiming your own space while offering space to another
Tango and Focusing together create a perfect way to explore how we relate to ourselves, others and the world.
My experience at the workshops (two to date) have led me to a deeper exploration of the interplay of touch and feeling as deeply healing and humanizing, both on and off the dance floor.
In the upcoming blogs I will attempt to unpack some of the insights that have surfaced in the Presence in Motion workshop as well as my ongoing experience of dancing the Tango.
*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. Lucinda Hayden
Aydan Dunnigan-Vickruck is a tango dancer and coach as well as author (Trauma toTango,) and blogger (www.dancingwithpresence.com). He celebrates life, dance and the great outdoors in Edmonton, Alberta with his wife Patricia and eight children and eighteen grandchildren(!). Closing in on retirement, he continues to be energized by his vocation as social-worker in the inner-city.