Monday, June 13, 2011

Finding the Missing Self in Tango

Tanguera returning to her Self

Diálogo Tanguero

This is the second of an ongoing series of dialogues with friends who have found a spiritual or philosophical meaning in tango.  This dialogue came out of a conversation from a tanguera whom I have never met.  She privately responded to an blog post in January, an article entitled, Tactical versus Strategic Tango.  She took to heart the wisdom I am learning from veterans of war and what helps them get better. "Teresa" (her pseudonym) took this warrior-wisdom to the next level-- life practice and the milonga dance floor.

Tango-Beat: Teresa you told me that your tango life seemed to take you away from your usual self. First tell me what is your "usual self?"

Teresa: I work with impoverished and downtrodden peoples, and it makes me truly happy -- to give of myself, to honor human dignity above all else and do what I can to make other people's lives a little easier. That is my usual self.

Tango-Beat:  So how were you were you different in tango?

Teresa: My experience so far has been largely "receiving" from those better than me.  I find it a bit confusing because by nature I tend to be a giving person, but tango brought out another side of me, a self-centeredness that I was not comfortable with. So why was it that with tango had I become so addicted to perfecting my dance that I put aside my nobler self? I am a bit disappointed in the months spent in this mode.  But I am at same time thankful that I confronted my ego now with just two years into the dance instead of much farther down the road. I do not place blame on anybody as I let myself be led down this path. 

Tango-Beat: So how has this changed? What did you do to return to a philosophy of tango that reflected your life philosophy?

Teresa: Well, I realized that I had to change this path or tango and I would have to part ways. So I went to our next class/milonga with a totally different focus. Honestly by night's end I had such peace in my soul, I was elated. I tried to stay committed to my focus on community versus performance. This is for me, at this time, I am not suggesting to anyone else how they should be. So I showed up at the beginners class to be a follower if they needed one. It turned out that they desperately needed a few more followers. This was my first big test. I danced with beginners. It felt good to GIVE expecting nothing in return.  I gave my self at the class and I did it with all my heart, that when it came time for the milonga I was so peaceful inside that the dance came from my soul and it was everything I strive for it to be. Gone was that perfection nagging, the performance mind. From this mental place my inner self and soul at peace with herself .

I realized that this all sounds so dramatic! But I am a very sensitive, deep-thinking, spiritual person and so I struggled with the disparity between who am as a person and how I have been as a dancer.

Tango-Beat:  I think your story is important for all of us. Tango will help our life philosophy, but also our life philosophy influences our tango.

Teresa: I feel like this is a new chapter in my tango journey. I want my actions to speak for themselves. Then if others ask about this new peace, I will feel free to share my concerns and the changes I am making.

Tango-Beat: Thanks for sharing this with us.  Your "beginners mind" helps me and I think it will help many.


smw said...

I think there is a time and a place for both selfishness and selflessness in tango. You have to learn when each is appropriate for yourself...sometimes on different days/weeks/months/years and other times within the same tanda.

Tango Therapist said...

SMW: As they say on the airplane: "Put on your own mask first, and then assist others." Finding balance in all things is key.