This is a project that's been coming together for about 3 months now as I've begun gathering stories from dancers and teachers about the effect that Argentine tango has on their bodies and minds. I wasn't sure how to approach this at first - should I start with the harder research side and start pouring over study abstracts - or should I start on the milonga floor?
Since my story started on the milonga floor - I thought I'd start the project there as well. So I started talking to people, asking dancers and teachers about their experiences - and the experiences of people they know. Most of us would readily accept the idea that dancing (almost any kind of dancing) feels good - as though our bodies are meant to dance. We feel better when we exercise - when we're active, listening to music, spending time with our friends - all of these are things we know we need on a fundamental level. Argentine tango, though, for some, has an effect beyond that.
For those of us who are experiencing the healing aspect of this dance - there is something more. What is it about tango that moves beyond just "feeling better" - to changing us on a fundamental level? Physically, emotionally, mentally/intellectually - we are feeling a profound difference in our lives.
Some things are simple to relate and understand - I've lost a few pounds and my muscles seem to be getting stronger. (My illness, whatever mysterious thing that causes my pain, causes (or is manifested by) atrophy of my muscles - so improved muscle tone and response is a very big deal for me.) Spending time engaged in social activities (especially with music and movement involved) elevates our mood - but many tango dancers talk about something beyond that - about the effect of connection, the feeling of belonging, community, shared enthusiasm for something very special and unique.
Tango - The Perfect Storm
So what happens when you combine all of these behaviors (music, physical activity, social bonding, community and belonging) that have significant positive results individually - together into one activity? How powerful a force could it be in one's life?
Several studies have already taken place on Parkinson's patients regarding mobility and coordination, in Cystic Fibrosis patients in regards to emotional well being, medication compliance, physical improvement. And the studies are mounting. If you gone to TangoConnection's Tango Health group, you can find links to those studies and several more.
How much of what tango seems to do for people comes from its evolution and development in Argentina? What has been retained as tango has traveled throughout the world?
This is the beginning. I welcome any comments and suggestions regarding this enterprise, and I would deeply value this community's input.
If tango has affected your health, emotionally and/or physically, please feel free to email me at infinitetango (at) gmail.com
Tell me your story. . .