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Tango ... Place of Gathering


By Jean-Pierre Sighé



The music piece sets the tone. The dance partners who have just agreed to step into the circle of the dance, la Ronda, proceed to holding each other in an embrace. This ritual takes a short or long moment, depending on how both partners sense or feel their individual place and grounding. It is a necessary moment, almost frozen in time, where the symbolic circle formed by their arms, bestows upon them a sacred influence to be mindful of. Each partner becomes aware of his own center, from which they he soon express and execute the dancing. From one’s own center indeed, must the dancer dance. However, the beauty implied in that grounding, in that special place, is the ability to intuitively include the other person in a newly created reality. From the center, the barriers fall apart and a simple and direct communication between two living beings takes place - inclusive, yet expanding.  
A certain “quietness” - similar to the quietness sought in a Tai-Chi exercise or in the contemplative state of meditation - helps bring the dancers to their center; their


center as individuals, but also their center as a dance couple. The expressiveness of Tango music brings to the souls of the two partners a variety of sensations and emotions that only the intuitive state can accurately apprehend. Anything diverting from that intuitive state will certainly break the essential direct communication, thus interrupting the flow from the center and the “quietness”, and ultimately breaking the magic of the dance itself. It has been observed that good Tango dancers don’t talk while dancing. It is obvious why this is the case. Truly, one cannot dance Tango and carry on a conversation at the same time. It would have to be one or the other.
It is true that from time to time, a word might be exchanged between the two dancers; it could simply be a burst of laughter after a nice move or a great resolution of a situation. Of course, that will happen. However, these exceptions could not become the rule without dramatically affecting the dancing.
Like in any direct communication, the need to listen and be listened to is essential. To me, knowing where my partner IS, at this step that is being executed or at this moment, is the justification of the embrace we are both creating. Otherwise, it would be a totally individualistic exercise. It implies, though, that the idea of the embrace is cherished in the first place and that there is comfort in it. It has been my personal observation that some people (men and women) are very reluctant to accept the embrace. Something deep inside seems repulsive about the idea of just holding another human being in your arms. Notice how Tango reveals this discomfort.
We can begin to see how Tango, the “place of gathering” means more than a place of physical dancing. It is certainly by no accident that the Black descendents of slaves in Buenos Aires called their gathering as such. There is a distinct vibratory essence that proceeds from the place where one feels connected to a dance partner to the extent of feeling where and how they step, especially when we are creating the space into which they are stepping. That is why pushing and pulling cannot and should not be part of Tango dancing. Attunement … harmonization … attentiveness, these are the qualities any Tango dancer should endeavor to acquire. It is truly a noble task, because the process of achieving that goal opens up so many other subtle doors within. Tango and Tango dancing have an undeniable impact on our inner perception of life. I can confidently propose that Tango has a very powerful healing attribute for the individual as well as the couple. I like to call it the “pleasure for life”.
Walking in awareness and listening to the music, as if time had suspended itself, as if the present moment was in fact eternity; dancing as if there would be no other dance afterwards; dancing every second of the piece in agreement with the atmosphere proposed by the musicians in their role, as if the whole place was filled with beautiful angelic beings around us; dancing … walking as if our whole movements were part of a ritual to project beauty, thus allowing the partner in our arms to be a full participant in the celebration of the Present. That is the gift offered to us, every time we set foot in la Ronda. May the embrace be our constant reminder! … Tango!


© May 2008


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