Conscious Body

Remarks on how we decrease the dance by its very essence
Some time ago in our dear serpentarium (this is how I call our beloved facebook discussion group "Uncensored about tango", which keeps bringing me an endless number of insights) people were gossiping about something important: who is a man dancing tango? A dancer, a leader or a man?

It all started with a conversation with famous Argentinean dancers. Noelia expressed a very specific opinion on the matter: "If I dance, I want to dance with a man! If he happens to forget, then I know how to remind it to him, and activate his masculinity."

The sly trolls were wide awake and shared their pain and terror with the maestra – some women and men (I suppose it happens among boys as well, although it was originally said only about girls) come into tango "only to dance, and they are very much bothered by any demonstration of sexuality". Noelia and Carlitos were laughing for a long time, so they say.
To be honest, I understand their confusion. "To make a leader out of a man" – it is like to serve falafel to a meat eater.
My friends, let's not deceive ourselves. A couple dance without gender-based characteristics is an oxymoron. It does not exist. Or it does, but in a very specific format. For example, for a couple contemporary dance sexuality and sex are not very important. But a social couple dance with no sexuality and physicality doesn't exist.
But a social couple dance with no sexuality and physicality doesn't exist.
Here both sexuality and physicality are important. At least, for me. In my values system these two concepts are similar but not equal.

It makes no sense to deny the importance of sexuality for the dance, in terms of physical attractiveness. In a situation when you get cabeceo from two unknown people, and you find one of them more attractive than the other, you will dance with the one you are attracted to. Moreover, sometimes a person is nice but their natural body smell is unpleasant for you. Do you know what it is in reality? It turns out that it is a natural defense mechanism: a partner who has a smell unpleasant for you has a set of genes too similar to yours, which could lead to a harmful mutation. This is how the nature decides. Going back to sexuality and choice of dancing partner, let's admit that our decisions are primarily driven not by our consciousness but with our body and instincts.

And now a couple of thoughts about the body. It is a part of us, only a part, but a very independent one. Often body is opposed to the mind, when we try to rely mostly on our head and logic. As if body was something bad and unworthy and logic was almighty. There is only one difficulty with logic – it is impossible to dance with it.
It is body that dances. And we should learn to understand it, feel it, accept it and work in cooperation.
Until you accept your body in a broad sense and the sexuality within it, in particular (if you like, you can call it sensuality), you will not be able to dance. Something always will be shameful, uncomfortable, and stiff. When your body is conscious and full of emotion, it dances together with you, and not beside you or even against.

Our culture has a big but hidden problem – disregard of body/embodiment. We heroically endure cold and hunger, we have invented a hundred of euphemisms for sex, and even common embraces and smiles are in a grey zone, where Russians are not very skillful. And it is understandable, it is cold here, there is hunger, constant five-year plan in three days, wars, mindsets that short skirt and red lipstick is only for frivolous ladies. I am sorry for generalization but this is the context which brought up generations with repeated distinctive body tensions. Argentinean teachers get surprised and literally "untwist" our backs, hips, joints in order to get the desired movement.
When your body is conscious and full of emotion, it dances together with you, and not beside you or even against.
Southern people get it easier. We could endlessly make jokes about their carelessness and laziness, but their bodies are usually more relaxed and grounded, it you can not only see it but also feel it. And how they make compliments! For them it is very natural: if you notice beauty – say it. And it is not only about men, for them it is a cultural norm.

We have less of this freedom, by default. It makes it more interesting to research this area. If you have ever danced with a partner who works on the conscious embodiment, then you remember the fantastic energy of this body. It is exciting, which is a normal body reaction when it gets involved in a process. But one thing is to feel excitement and fall in love at a specific moment when it all happens internally, and another thing is to make it all reality in the external world. You could be charmed/surprised/scared. You could suppose that this magic is directed specifically to you. Although without verbalization by your partner, it might seem that you are about to get a coffee together and then you are going to have kids and live happily ever after.
Or you could ask yourself a question, "What do I want?"
If you understand that your soul is striving for the adventure and nothing holds you – than go ahead and rush into the pastures of heaven. But if you don't want it, you have your circumstances or other reasons then you may simply say "no, thank you". This is an adult decision that can't offend anyone. Well, it can upset someone, but get offended because your attraction is not mutual – is not a very healthy reaction.

And please, don't go groaning in the internet "all these men/women are so wicked, they keep bothering me with sex". Because the same people will be complaining also about "they don't know how to be gallant and pay compliments", and it is very confusing for everyone around you.
Couple social dance in a playground, for trials and errors, refusals and acceptations, for flirting, joy and happiness.
Couple social dance in a playground, for trials and errors, leading and following, refusals and acceptations, for flirting, joy and happiness. It is impossible to distract body from here; it would be tasteless and shallow. Most likely you won't go to the gym or dance step with tango music. That's why you should accept to receive the whole set of rights and liabilities.

I absolutely don't want to embrace a multi-functional fridge. And a person, who does not involve their personality, body, emotions and brain seems like an android to me. I can't perceive tango as a system of movements, for me it is a system of interactions.
Tango is a place for freedom, a place where you become alive and genuine.
To sum up, I would like to suggest an experiment. Before you go to the dancefloor, while you are in the changing room, spend about 5 minutes to massage your own body from finger tips to the head. If there is a possibility, try to breathe mindfully and deeply. Tell yourself that you love and accept your body. And then go dancing. Let yourself be present in the dance fully and enjoy.
Author: Nataly Maystrenko. Translation: Valentina Mitrieva.
Opinions expressed in articles within this blog may not coincide with those of the editor.
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