When I dance Argentine Tango… Sublime Surrender – October 16 2013

Tango his n hers

I have contemplated for some time whether to repost this. The words that shut ‘Sublime Surrender’ down. It is too much a part of my journey to exclude. I am aware I have changed a lot since I began this blog. I am the same but have allowed my writers voice to emerge louder and louder. I am as complex as the rest of you and I am writing from all the places I feel at home all at once. Bear with me, there will always be a touch of each part of me. Sublime Surrender has become quiet (there are deeply personal reasons for this that I am not ready to share) but there will always be the physical representation of love and relationship in the form of erotica, the dynamics of dominance and submission, the spiritual representation of love, truth and beauty, my random musings and general representations of me as an artist, dancer, writer, lover, friend and one as lost as any one else. Thank you all for reading, understanding and for taking the time to visit my corner of this terrible paradise… In response to Mr Modigliani’s post and questions back on 15 October 2013:

When I dance Argentine Tango, the lead is the painter and I am the brush. The lead is the Dominant and the follow submissive. Together we create upon the dance floor a canvas in motion. We become a moving three-dimensional work of art. Our materials are not paint but the music, our bodies and the environment in which we dance. Yet if either of us disconnects from any of these things if we lose sight of any ‘other’ within our dance the moment is lost and must be sought and found again. If one of us is not humble and honest we lose the authenticity of the improvisation. It doesn’t matter what our individual skill level we have a dance to share, to experience one another and create something unique, to potentially learn from one another and leave the dance more fulfilled rather than lost, empty, nervous, confused, dissatisfied or any other of a myriad of negative feelings.

A humble follow does not saturate the dance with her needs and wants but listens with her whole body, her whole self, and waits for her moments, showing her skill by responding clearly and with the right tone and musicality to each lead; by taking the invited opportunity and enhancing it without dominating the dance. A humble lead is dominant in the dance but not blind to the follow, he can sense what she is capable of and take her there and potentially beyond. The follow enables his skill, never forget that follows: we enable his lead therefore we can disable it as well. Within the shared framework of the music and the floor (possibly crowded) he guides her as they paint their dance. If a follow is afraid, arrogant, unable to centre, distracted, disinterested, indifferent etc she emasculates her lead on the floor and he is unable to truly dance with this follow. A lead can disable a follow with excessive force, an ambiguous or light lead, inability to react to the floor or poor tango etiquette but neither can fail the other with insufficient skill. The dance is always the responsibility of the dancer with greater skill. No verbal dialogue is required for this work of art, no language other than the shared knowledge of Tango. In any country you can dance together and not speak a common word. Within the dance he (or she) becomes my muse and I his (or hers – this is not a gender war read your gender into the role you relate to). Each adapts to the other and creates. Other people have described the sensation of all of these things coming together in an exquisite harmony as a ‘tangasm’ but I do not like this overtly sexual term; social Tango is not sex. Another term is ‘co-creation’ but this again has an overtly new age spiritual flavour. To me it is simply Tango. There is no other term required. Tango y nada mas. Tango and nothing more. Sometimes the dance does not work and we can learn from these opportunities. Other times the dance does work; it is lyrical, unique and unforgettably beautiful. Both are valid, both are real why call one tangasm and the other nothing or something negative? Yet the harmony will never happen unless each truly meets in the moment, or are open to the possibility of such a thing.

For the lead: do not push the follow into territory she is not familiar with to the point of discomfort, scold, or correct/instruct her on the social dance floor, if she is able then take her further with clear direction do not let her doubt it will damage her. For the follow: do not back lead, be a stubborn follow or act unreasonably; instead be relaxed with a dance energised focus, be open and willing. Meet each other as the best you are. Gift one another with the skills you have. Learn from the mistakes and triumphs however seemingly small or large. We are often quick to criticise, teach yourself to be quick to complement both yourself and your dance partner. Do not be lazy or complacent in your dance be actively engaged so that growth can occur and connection can truly exist. Please note that I am not suggesting that there is only good or bad tango dances; there is not just black and white here but rather a vast pallet of colours. I am also not suggesting that you should dance with people you do not enjoy dancing with or feel uncomfortable with. Nor that you not offer constructive criticism but please save it for the practice environment not the social dance floor. Tango is, to borrow and simplify a Flamenco term, duende, both pleasure and pain. We are always seeking balance and striving towards the best we can be. Tango y nada mas, para siempre. Como la vida. Tango and nothing more, always. Like life.

All words by the author writing as Errant Satiety – any questions? Contact me directly in the first instance, want to share? In this instance please ask my express permission…

Apologies, I cannot locate where I retrieved this image from kudos to whomever caught this shot…

And yes there is a musical offering: Pearl Jam, I know it doesn’t make much sense.

Gifts

Three tellings of the same sweet story…

We encounter many souls in our lives. Some we are not inclined to spend much time with. Others we meet and find we are immediately enamored with. Others we greet as old friends, as if we remember them from another time and place. Some surprise us with a slow connection and one day you realise you just adore them.

I was reminded the other night of a wonderful example of the fleeting connection that is long lived, a meeting of souls that must already be long familiar. The Dutch pragmatist and I drove past a beautiful olive grove and private residence that stirred especially fond memories. The owner of this property now lives overseas but her extended family live there and run the olive oil business and she returns to holiday. She is a tango dancer and the last time she returned she brought with her an Argentine teacher who she is very good friends with. We have never met before but are introduced by a mutual friend we all get on like a ‘house on fire’. The teacher is a true Maestro and gentleman. They arrive in the height of summer so there are several large Milongas (tango social dances) while they are in town. We become a tight group having intense conversations and much wonderful dancing. From the first dance I have with the teacher he is praising myself and my partner and encouraging us to teach. He complements me in a unique way, acknowledging my ability to adapt to each different lead and style of dancing. For me this is high praise as I see this as the ultimate aim of improvisation. I partner another teacher for some private lessons with him. Then he invites us all to have a final get together to celebrate our mutually enjoyed time. When we arrive there are three male dancers and two female. Olive oil introduces us to her sister and explains that this day is the anniversary of a third sisters passing and that this sister was the one who introduced her to tango. They ask if the teacher and I will perform. We do and it is heaven. We drink good wine and eat and dance. It is an intense evening for me as the men are all playing with ideas and I am their tanguera as Olive oil is more a beginner. We dance into the small hours and in the end just the teacher and I are dancing as the others have moved onto conversation and there has been a lot of wine… We are in our own world, reduced to the music, each other, and the floor. It is very intense he communicates with great subtlety what minimal changes he wishes; a tiny movement in his hand upon my shoulder and I know he wants me to soften here, just so. This moment of suspended dance is etched forever in my soul. We dance very different styles yet we found each others essence and communed. The dancing eventually came to a natural end he held my eyes, deeply smiled at me kissed me chastely but fully on the lips returned me to my man and sang my praises to him begging us to promise we will start to teach, that we come see him in Buenos Aires and that we remain as connected as we are. This is the true essence of tango spirit.

Trece amigos. Dos Tangueros, un Milonguero y Yo. A farewell, a performance and an extended improvisation.

Willing
Primero embrace tasted through his distinguished eyes. Words pass his lips full of genuine and lavish interpretation, concise compliment to my movement; entiendas. Prophetic words astonish mind. Taking offered hand, accepting instigated connection. Stranger embraced as lover, intimate conversation, souls seeking tangible. Seen. Known. Danced. Flush of pure dance pleasure. Ending, continuum, lushness flows within all dances. Satiated, overflow, seeking the core of every connection. Night passes, more enjoyed, none as sweet as the first or the finale. Our farewell in a prolonged dance, subtle articulation, gestures refine perfection. Endless flow, música drives deeper, extending within, without, innocent harmony. Finally, speechless mouths thank with chaste lips. Returned to lover, gratitude shared, intimate inquiry lush with ripening. Body memory never to be lost.

Aida Denis ‘Anoche’