Ouch, my ego!

"Love and dignity cannot share the same abode." -- Ovid

Lately a different version of this rings in my mind. "Tango and dignity cannot share the same abode." I am only speculating, but I think the "dignity" meant above, is more like "pride". To be open to the connection, we must be open to the truth. And the truth may be that we're clumsy tonight, or we were insensitive to our partner, that we were wrong, that we were judgmental, that we hurt someone.

In my last post, I emphasized the importance of letting our partner know what we need. To be honest, but never mean or ugly. To make it about the action, and not about the person.

I can't keep up if we dance so quickly to this orchestra. (Rather than, 'you're motorboating me through the line of dance.')

I'm not comfortable holding a conversation when dancing. (Rather than, 'I
can't hear the music over your constant chatter.')

May we open the embrace a little so that I straighten my sore back. (Instead of,
'you're pulling me down like an anvil!')

The door opens both ways. We must also create a space that's safe for our partners to tell us what they need.

So who are you really mad at?

Mr. Lovelywalk and I were dancing and, as usual, I was enjoying the strength and musicality of his walk. I was immersed in it. And then, abruptly, I wasn't. He opened the embrace. He gently explained that he needed to lighten the embrace - it was hurting his back for him to dance with me that way.


It was a simple thing - completely acceptable in the request and in his delivery of it. It wasn't personal - he wasn't criticising me or my dance. So why did it sting a little?

In actuality, I wasn't hurt by what he asked for. I was irritated with myself for not realizing that my embrace was painful to him. I took pride in my embrace and my sensitivity to my partner. There's the word - the source of the sting. My pride. The truth is there might be no daylight between my partner and me, but we could be miles apart in how we are experiencing the same dance. I feel connected - he feels weighted down. I feel light and musical - he feels like he's dancing alone.

(There's an excellent post called, "Are we talking about the same thing" - over at Virtualapiz.)

That's why it is so important not only to be open with our partner, but also to allow them to be open with us.


PWS said...

You're prolific in sharing your thoughts about the tango mind and the minefields we all tread, Mari. I feel the same way--chagrined that I didn't see or feel this discomfiture forming and also a bit hurt by the actual comment. I should say I felt that way once, because of the predominance now of the open embrace in our community, where I once was expectant of at least some close embrace dances. I think it's golden that you're having so many good close experiences to write about.

Mari said...

PWS - It gets harder and harder for me to adjust to open embrace the longer I dance close. I'm spoiled now, for it. I can, in an analytical sort of way, see the benefit to the range of movement available in open embrace - but it's hard for me to *feel* it.

I am very, very lucky to have so many close embrace leaders in my community who make it incredibly comfortable - and comforting - that way. I've also had some really wonderful teachers who either focus on milonguero style, or at least teach it as an option. I had no idea that there could be tango communities that were almost totally open embrace. If it happened here, I would have to do what other tango dancers do in the same situation - travel.

Of course I don't drive so I have to wonder - does Greyhound go to Portland from here? :)

Stephen Shortnacy said...

One of the things I love about tango is its subtlety. When partners are well connected the leader's invitations and the follower's response are seamless and magical to the the outside world. Finding a comfortable connection with one's partner can also be a subtle craft.