Tango is my life. Sounds pompous but it's true. I've quit my architecture career to dance, teach, and live tango, because I love it and I believe I can share something wonderful with other people through my tango. I am completely happy and in love with this dance, this experience and grateful I am able to live my dream (since I was a baby, my dream was to be a dancer. Many years later, after a detour through sports and architecture, I am actually a dancer, finally!)
But of course it's not all flowers and butterflies. Sometimes, tango can be really cruel, and sometimes it can also bring you down. Anyone who has been dancing for some time knows that tango has it all, like everything in life: the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.
While I can't possibly complain since I have students I love, dancers I admire around me, I travel to many events in Europe and further, and generally have a beautiful dancing life, I have come to realize I am missing something in my tango. And this something is the reason I came to Buenos Aires.
Today is Day 1 of my stay in Buenos Aires.
I arrived this morning. I had a coffee, and sat down to write about my current state and my goals for this trip, before anything happens, really. I want to document everything and share it with you, because I am sure I am not the only dancer who experiences a tango-low. While you don't have to go to Buenos Airs to fix it (and so far none of my recoveries have ever had to do with travelling), I found myself ready for this trip.
Why ready for this trip?
This is my first time in Buenos Aires. After 10 years in tango, I am here. I have never been the one to long to go to the “Mecca of all tango dancers”, because honestly, I didn't believe I was ready. And in my opinion, one has to be ready for it. If it was for dancing, I had marathons in Europe. Quantity-wise, as well as quality-wise, I was happy. In terms of studying with maestros, many good ones were coming to Europe anyway. In terms of seeing “the real thing”, well, what is the real thing, anyway?
I knew Buenos Aires had to wait, I knew it'd come to me when I'm ready for it, ready to take it in, ready to not just treat it as “a place where I can dance a lot”. That's the thing, you see. So many people come here for the promise of amazing tango, of endless blissful tandas, for the idea of dancing more than at home. And I think it's the wrong reason to be here. Buenos Aires lives tango, doesn't just dance it. I want to experience the life of it, not just the movement. I am ready to go to milongas and just sit and watch, and take it in. If I dance, I will be grateful, if I don't, it's not the main reason I am here.
I am here to discover how to “be” in tango.
What brought the tango-low into my life?
For the past year and particularly last couple of months, I have been getting increasingly perplexed with what I observe in tango in Europe. I can't be sure whether it's just Europe or rest of the world, too, but it is not something I can disregard any more.
I see and feel most of the people moving. Not dancing. Movement, no matter how beautiful, skilful, fast, technical, complex, it just movement. Dance is something entirely different. I believe Dance is what happens when your soul, your whole being is inspired to move, not just your body. What I see around me is wonderful or less wonderful movement, and after experiencing movement in milongas across Europe, with dancers from various countries, I came to a conclusion that “Tango as Movement” is on the rise and might continue to grow in popularity. It's flashy, it can be exciting to watch and for many people, it's exciting to dance as well. In all honesty, up until recently I didn't even realise I was very much a “mover” myself!
But I'm changing, and now more and more I desire “Tango as Dance”. It might not be as flashy, not as fast, but it's much deeper, more connected with oneself and with the partner, as well as with other dancers around. Sometimes, when I experience it, I feel like I come back to life.
Tango is much more about connection, about music and about emotion, than it's about movement.
I like to dance without making a single step. It's actually an exercise I do with my students. I want to introduce my students to the idea that movement is less important than connection within the couple, to the music. And for that, you don't have to move. You can, and it's lovely, but not at the expense of musicality, emotion and partnership.
And the reason I teach this is because I don't experience enough of it myself when I look at most dancers in milongas.
So here I am, in Buenos Aires, on my trip to watch and get inspired.
Yes, I am here to observe and take it in. I want to see how people interact with each other, how they DON'T dance all the time but only few selected tandas, because now they FEEL like it. I want to see the emotion and the interaction between men and women, in a tango environment. And if I am lucky (if) I am also here to experience the kind of dance I am missing: dance as expression of feeling and music, rather than movement.
And of course, improvement.
Yes, I am also here to study. I booked series of private classes with amazing Corina Herrera, Alejandra Gutty, Moira Castellano, Pablo Rodriguez, Pancho Martinez Pey and others. I will be looking at working on technique, expression, embrace, flow. I have 2-3 classes almost every day, and this is good so. It might be an overload, but I think I'm ready for it.
So it will be intense 3 weeks but I hope to get inspired in the end. I hope to find out who I am in my tango, what I like, how to embrace.
And then, if all goes well, I will also dance a lot. But it's the last things on my mind, really.
With love for tango and in search of inspiration and improvement,