Sunday, October 18, 2015

You cannot "Dancefully Grace"

I walk into a group tango class in a city where I have never danced.

The teacher tells us: "I cannot teach you to dance.  In my class we will focus on the graceful movements of tango, but it is up to you to listen to the music and let the music be embodied. The forms will then become dance, and not until then.  You cannot dancefully grace, but maybe after learning grace, perhaps you can gracefully dance."

Wow.  Truth in advertising.  She was operating a "grace studio" not a "dance studio."  Dance and grace are related but two different things!  Grace is form and dance is substance.
These confusions of form and substance create many problems in our world: 
  • Religions without spirituality;
  • Love songs without lovers;
  • Musicians without musicality;
  • Political rhetoric without real changes in social justice. 
And for tango?  Too offen I see a lot of grace without much dance.  We complain about these distinctions of form and substance not being made in our world. So why would we ever want to make the same mistake with tango? 

Shaping up your substance
Believing that learning to be graceful is learning to dance is somewhat like memorizing wise sentences, thinking that from memorizing sentences now one can wisely expound on the meaning of life.  Grace can only enable the raw materials of the human need to move to music and dance.  Grace is not dance.  Dance is your hardwired humanity needing to move to the music.  Dance embodies and expresses human emotions.  Grace added to the dance makes that communication clearer.

Emotion and music tied to our need to move is the substance of dance.  Little children dancing to music is our best measure of pure dance.  Grace adds to the magic of dance; so there is nothing wrong with the wonders of learning to be more graceful.  The substance of dance is the priceless diamond, and classes we take for form are to learn how to carefully cut facets of that diamond.  Graceful form and the raw material of dance are the yin and yang of tango.  They are tandem energies--inseparable yet separate energies.

Now go off and dance like a child all by yourself.  Then go to class and remember the feeling.  Add form to your raw need to move to music, and suddenly tango is made alive.

Photo credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment with four options:
(1) Here on the blog.
(2 & 3) On the links given above for Facebook/Google+ links.
(4) Comment via email at, which with your permission, I can paste into comments.