Couples and tango partners

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Tango is not only romantic, it is sublime. It involves every dimension of our being, at once and in sync with another person. Once dancers experience fluid connection, we want it again, more consistently, and in an ever-growing range of moves.

We often find 3-12 minutes of bliss with a stranger, but after one hour of dancing with a partner we’ve already found the places that don’t work. We desperately want to smooth them and we often think we know how.

And it is because tango is so connected, intimate, and comprehensive that we yearn to be able to speak across its sacred silence. We yearn tell our partner about the problems, to be listened to about solutions, to be trusted in the realm of problem solving to the same degree we have been trusted in the miracle of our bodies moving as one.

This often does not go well.

Somehow, in tango we are especially vulnerable to  criticism. Perhaps it is because dancing tango means working at about 125% of not only our physical capacities, but our intellectual, emotional, and even spiritual ones as well. In what other moment of our life is so much of ourselves on the line?

Moreover, tango demands and enables us to inhabit masculinity and femininity intensely — perhaps more intensely than we have ever been able to do before. When we are already over the line, beyond our limits, in a zone of masculinity or femininity very close to our fantasies, criticism seems to strike not at a step, but at our very being.

Ideally we would give feedback communicating our faith in the other’s capacity and our desire to share it with them, and receive it with the same faith in ourselves. But this is very easy to say.

The precision and passion of our analysis of the dance can distract us from the big picture of the relationship, and it can really be a struggle to keep things in perspective.

Between contentious practice sessions the milongas –promising and torturous– provide tension. Leaders’ right to choose their partners leaves followers feeling dependent and powerless. Intense connections on the dance floor can be perceived as flirtations. Status and hierarchy are discrete, yet still blatant. Again, we strain the edges of our joy to extraordinary vulnerability.

If you’re facing these challenges, talk to your teacher about strategies, and ask other couples for advice. I’ve been doing this and I’ll keep updating this post with the best ideas I hear.

  • In practice sessions, give feedback to your partner with as much care as you would to a paying private lesson student.
  • Write contracts to make clear how your tango relationship works. Even (especially?) if your tango partner is your romantic partner, write an agreement about how it’s going to work, clarify expectations and make plans for conflict resolution.
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Do you want to be a better dancer

but don’t feel you are getting what you need from your teachers?

Or do you get contradictory advice from different partners?

I got tired of hearing men tell me to be “natural”, “don’t do anything”, and “you’re floppy”, followed by “you’re stiff” …  So I studied biomechanics until I could teach perfect connection quickly.

We now have video solo practice courses that you can do at home to improve your knowledge, confidence, balance, and grace.

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Books

Power is the courage, confidence, and competence to make things happen. I want to create in a way that’s incomparable and define my own compensation package. You too?

Syntax of Power is a raw, potent, and spare revelation of how I got to where I am and how I take on the struggle every day.

This book is not about tango, it’s about everything else.

It’s about stepping into the darkness of change, learning how to take care of yourself, and making things happen.

Dyv stands for Duro y Vio. We were inspired by a 2007 conference at Harvard University about tango as a transnational culture. Also we wanted to create something that would help people to imagine a queerer tango. We forbid ourselves to use the word ‘passion’ and instead tried to articulate the experience more precisely.

Argentine Tango is more than an elaborate and difficult dance, it is an international culture of intimacy, desire, and dignity. No mere romance or memoir, the intricately woven stories evoke tango’s true mysteries … the elation, the frustration, the compulsion…

We published the book in 2009. Dancers asked “how did you know what I was feeling?”

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

We didn’t start online education in March of 2020. We started in 2014. Learn more about our Digital School