What are you dancing for?
When I was younger, I remember that I was asked quite often about my hobbies, and I also remember that this question was always coming with a huge bundle of frustration. The standard answer was reading, meeting with friends and listening to music.
All the little girls were proudly replying to the question about their hobbies with the standard answer. However, I was always questioning the meaning of what a hobby is. I was thinking that it should be something you are dedicated to, something that defines you and makes you unique.
Later I discovered the origins of my frustration. In order to discover your hobbies, you have to know yourself first. And so my journey towards the first tango lesson at the school called Tango Timisoara begins — right after my dear friend Anna told me that they are about to start a new series of classes for beginners.
Ever since I was a child, my parents were taking me and my brother to parties where people were dancing tango, waltz, and other social dances. Even though my parents never took dancing classes, they are very good at it, they feel the music, and, most importantly, they love dancing.
In the beginning, me and my brother loved watching and admiring them, but soon enough we started getting closer and closer to the dance floor, being more curious and interested in learning to dance as they do. Our parents noticed our interest in dancing, and they slowly introduced us to the basic steps — my father was teaching me and my mother was teaching my brother.
In our home, Sundays are all about eating lunch together and listening to good music. Sometimes, our parents are so absorbed by the music that they are dancing in the living room. Thus, it’s no wonder why I love dancing.
Fast forward, while my parents haven’t changed their lovely habits, I started taking tango classes at Tango Timisoara school. I never expected to discover so many things about myself and about people in general from only one dance.
Well, now I admit I am a total control freak. I hate when I make mistakes, I don’t have enough patience with myself and I often forget to enjoy the journey being too focused on the destination (check my previous article).
Tango showed me how to relax, how to accept the mistakes and turn them into advantages, how to be more gentle with myself, as well as how to be more focused on my feelings rather than my actions.
In tango, the follower has to collaborate with the leader in order to create a beautiful moment. The partners cannot take decisions by themselves, and that’s where the deep connection between them happens. The follower’s mission is to be graceful, to be elegant and to embellish the dance with emotions.
Thus, I had to learn how to listen to my partner, to feel the other person’s emotions and to trust him/her so much that I can dance now with my eyes closed — and that’s not easy for a control freak :).
As a tango dancer, I have to be aware of every little part of my body and make them move with an elegant discipline. It’s very difficult to be mindful and to keep my body under control from head to toe — while being graceful.
There’s much work behind a flawless dance. From yoga to gym and meditation, every extra effort helps to learn more about your body and discipline it in order to have a perfect appearance.
Tango is all about the feeling and the experience. I learned how to explore my emotions, to let it be, to enjoy, to discover, to stop my mind, to be present — it’s just like meditation. As a follower, I have to reach a ZEN state of mind in order to be able to feel the moment, and that’s the beauty of tango.
Many hobbies start from being passionate about some aspects of it, but tango teaches the dancers about how complex passion can get. You start because of your passion for dance, and then you discover how to work with it in order to transform it into something that nobody will ever be able to take away from you.
Respect is huge in tango: first, respect for yourself, for your body, for your soul; second, respect for your partner, equally important as the respect you have for yourself; third, respect for the others present on the dancefloor, and last but not least, respect for the music you are dancing on.
However, tango is not only about the respect you give, but also about the respect you receive. Thus, your partner has to be aware of your limits, of your dancing competences, as well as of the level of comfort you are feeling during the dance.
Even though tango cannot be called a modern dance and, in appearance, the follower is completely under the leader’s control, that’s not the case. There’s a lot going on between the partners and both the follower and the leader have something to say in the choreography displayed in front of the audience.
The power of the leader is balanced by the follower’s grace and, despite the fact that the leader is the one initiating every step in a dance, the follower can decide for herself if she will do it or refuse it.
What I love about tango is the fact that it has no age. Tango is not about numbers. It is about work and feelings. All you have to do is to commit to it, keep practice, and work — work a lot.
Thus, tango will never ask you how old are you. This is a dance for everybody willing to learn it. I think this dance finds you when you are ready for it, and it brings out the best of you — no matter the age.
This is my tango experience so far, and I’m planning to keep practicing it as long as it brings me joy and happiness. I might not be an expert in this dance, but, as I mentioned before, I learned how to enjoy the ride and I think that every step is important in this journey.
If tango managed to teach me so much in just a few months, I can’t wait to discover what it’s about to teach me later. I will keep writing about my experiences and I’m sure they are going to evolve together with my competences — not necessarily as the time passes, but more as the hours of practice are adding up.