“Tango magnifies” – Kapka Kassabova

I thought I was a salsa dancer, but I was wrong. After three months of salsa lessons, Pia and I had learned the basics sufficiently enough that I was dancing with Latina strangers in Southern California.  Not that I was comfortable, but I could pull it off.  The quick footwork and lively music seemed fun, much more playful than the waltz I had failed to learn ten years prior.

It was January of 2012 when I stepped into my first group tango lesson.  All of the American stereotypes of dancing with a rose in my mouth fell away.  It was elegant, precise, difficult, and very relational.

Thanks to Ana Savitzky & Marco Mambelli, we learned a new dimension of tango dancing.  Ana and Marco are beautiful people, passionate about the significance of the Argentinian dance.  I remember being told time and time again, “Lead with your energy, not your body.”

And herein lies the importance of tango in my life and in my relationship with Pia.  Our dance reveals our relationship, and my dancing signals where my life needs attention.

Tango is a mirror.  When I step onto the dance floor I will be taught, not just the frame, walk, steps, and form.  I receive cues when I am pulling or pushing my partner, when I am not making space, when I am not listening, when I do not see the floor, and when I am moving rather than feeling into my partner and the energy between us.

“Stop thinking.  Relax.  Be present.”

These words I hear in dance and other contexts for good reason.  Calculating my next step on the dance floor takes me away from the dancing itself, just as analyzing my internal and external world separates me from that self and world.

Our profound and excellent current teacher Paola Bordon says, “Tango is life.”

As much as I savor the fruits of nearly three years of learning tango, I don’t do it just for the sheer enjoyment.  It’s a relational practice for Pia and me, as well as a spiritual practice that brings me closer to my essence.