Elena Sergienko

Dance lessons from great masters

Carl Gustav Jung
-Why is a raven like a writing-desk?

Mad Hatter's question
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", Lewis Carrol
Dancing for me, as well as everything related to it from music to teaching, is a way of understanding the world. Connections and trends that occur to me in tango are also common everywhere and in everything. While reading books on absolutely unrelated topics and learning something new, I notice a usual thing at the edge of my consciousness: the same thing is in tango! Do you know how a gyroscope is like embrace? No? In tango you will learn this.

These days a good friend of mine posted a video with famous quotes by Carl Gustav Jung, a legendary psychoanalyst. I started reading them and almost in every quote I saw tango. Let’s learn from the great ones!
1. I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.
I often hear this phrase at the lessons: "I was taught this way". Of course, it is not necessarily an excuse, and those skills which were acquired first, really stay firmly in your body and mind. It is not easy to change habits.

Usually I answer that I was taught like this, too. And it was right. Almost all the words that we were told at some point were appropriate and right. It is that the same phrases for those people who are at different levels of understanding have completely different meanings and evoke different images in the minds.

Variety of interpretations is inevitable, that is why sometimes it takes quiet a long time to find "your" teacher and find a way to your consciousness. Do not underestimate the importance of your own efforts in seeking answers to your questions. Listen carefully to yourself: are you happy with everything? Is it comfortable to dance? How do you feel during classes and when dancing? If something is wrong — keep searching. Searching for a teacher, for different partners for practice, for books and other information that might help you make the changes you like.
The real practice starts when we try to perceive our partner as part of ourselves.
2. Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
3. The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.
Who wouldn’t remember the arguments with partners during practices about who is guilty and what should be done? This is natural as we live our tango life from inside our own universe where everything is balanced regarding our habits and past experience. There is a big temptation to try to customize the other person to the "authentic you", without making a step further.

The real practice starts when we try to perceive our partner as part of ourselves. Or ourselves as part of the partner. The key point is to try to see the dancing couple as a single whole, different from me and from the partner, and examine the reality from this new context. Like this, the feeling of your own importance will decrease, and the empathy towards your partner will grow. Sometimes it feels strange, as if you were looking at yourself from outside in a detached way. But often when you look at your previous problems this way, you may notice that your partner was not so wrong and their comments were really useful and appropriate.
4. When we expect something from others, we thereby make ourselves dependent.
When Argentinean women are asked what to do if your partner dances badly, they get puzzled and answer "Change the partner!" But in our reality this method is almost inapplicable, so let’s try to look at it from another side.

Before you expect ideal dancing from your partner, it is good to make sure your own technique is perfect. And as far as the process of learning and growing is profound and endless, when you direct your attention to it rather than to the partner’s mistakes, you start to notice that there is almost always a way to improve the situation using your own resources.

It doesn’t mean dancing separately from your partner, it means dancing together with their personalities rather than with their mistakes. When you are in contact with yourself, it is easier to find it with the partner. This approach saves you from expectations and disappointments and leaves room for the search of your own internal movement.
5. Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.
The well known syndrome of A-student doesn’t help much in corporal development. The whole picture is easily lost among minor aspects.

While you are busy pointing your toes beautifully and making a boleo up to your head, your partner may find another follower who would embrace him and listen carefully. If you use your partner as a source of pulling force for giro, to make one hundred lapices and enrosques per second, don’t be surprised if next time she chooses a gentle beginner.

Surprisingly, idealist truly believe that they are working so hard not for their own benefit but for the partner’s. But most of the times there is no energy left for the partner — all forces and attention are used to control numerous details from the checklist "How to be ideal". Usually these dancers feel tense and absent, they don’t have time and chances to pay attention to what is happening inside the couple.

It is very hard for this kind of people to accept a different way of improvement. But when it becomes possible to see the cooperation process not from the state of acute reaction on mistakes but rather to watch what is really happening, then everything changes including technical factors such as steadiness or balance.
6. Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.
I frequently come across a situation that seems strange at first sight. During exercises at classes the desired changes start to occur, but it all feels so unusual that the person deliberately stops the process. Because they don’t understand what’s happening. And they feel very strange, because it is absolutely not what was expected.

And here I have to convince them not to be afraid and keep trying. In the beginning, inner turmoils rarely have something to do with the reality. The experience does not always follow the understanding. Sometimes things happen, and only later we can analyze them. At this point it is important just to watch how something new appears in the body and not to try to control it.

For example, our idea of how we look like while dancing and how we look like in reality start to coincide only over some time and experience. That is why I make videos, show mirror reflections, use other more or less objective facts in order to prove that this strange inner feeling follows the picture which we are trying to get. And this is not only about beautiful lines but also about the freedom of movement. The surprise in the eyes of my students at these moments is my special teaching pleasure.
The true contact is magic which will inevitably happen if only we wish for it.
7. The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
Not much can be added here. When we simply direct our attention to another person and watch them, when we are interested in dancing about them not less than about ourselves, it changes both of us.

The true contact is magic which will inevitably happen if only we wish for it and invest some personal energy in it.
Author: Elena Sergienko. Translation: Valentina Mitrieva.
Opinions expressed in articles within this blog may not coincide with those of the editor.
Write Close
Subscribe to Simple&Elegant Blog to keep in touch!
By clicking the button, you consent to the processing of personal data and agree with the Privacy Policy
We use cookies and other metadata to provide the best experience. If you don't agree with the Policy, you can leave the site.
Ok, thanks!
Content is coming soon
We are working hard to make your tango and life better!
While you are waiting for it you can
Dream Team
Video, Editing, Directing and Creative Support - Daria Ermolaeva
Video Operating - Vladimir Kutakhov

Animation and pictures - Evgenja Chernikova
Logo and icons - Anastasia Rotar

Photo - Anya Semenyuk, Daria Ermolaeva, Viktoria Fedirko, Maria Mosolova, Dmitry Volkov, kaboompics.com, imagefinder.co, freestock.org, gratisography.com, facebook.com
All photos are used with the permission of their owners and/or have an open license.