Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mortality Rates among Male Dancers

Birth of a male tango baby:
Will he die soon, like so many before him?

Male tango babies are not born with two left feet.
Just one is on the left.
Mortality Rates among Male Tangueros
No pity is needed here.  Just a fact:  Male tango babies have lower birth rates, and mortality rates, especially in anti-dance cultures.  No one has to pat the surviving males on the back or show us your sincere empathy.  Survivors sometimes are the worst at seeing the problem because they survived.  (Think "hell week" at a fraternity.  Why does senseless pain keep going on.  Survivors often don't understand.)  This discussion in not really about men or for me; it's about the survival of the tango-tribe, and for both men and women to enjoy a resilient community that includes a gender balance.  Some dance-friendly cultures and healthy communities will not even know what this post is about.  However, if gender imbalance is a problem in your culture, your community or town, you may have a
survivability problem.  If that is the case, then perhaps this article will have some value for discussion within your community.  Surviving is cool.

How well does your community (even culture) take care of a fragile tango fetus?  The stork theory, mentioned in "Tango Conception" was the false belief that tango babies come to tango to feed their adult egos.  If that is believed, now we can see the next phase of this tragic misconception:  Now teachers start feeding beginners egos with the sugar of endless steps and performance dance.*  That's a type of nutritional neglect that leads to "failure to thrive" babies!   Like most babies, a new tango baby probably is best nourished by the breast milk of social need:  The need be held, to hold, to move, and to hear and respond to music.  Homosapiens, both men and women, do this really well.  Adults dancers, victims of their experiences, often forget what they were born with innate abilities to embrace, move and co-create with the music.  No other animals seem to do this as babies like we do.  Dancing and making music is a central part of our humanity.  Improvisational dance is making music through dance.

My partner recently told me about a positive example of  new dancer who is doing very well.  She said, "He's a beginner, but has a wonderful embrace and keeps things simple."  In my opinion this beginner was born healthy, and has good chances of survival through infancy and early childhood. When I see him, I want to tell him this wonderful compliment that she gave him. We beginners (and that is all I ever hope to be) need these clues about tango bliss so they are not pulled into being exhibitionists and asocial dancers.  One of my most treasured compliments came at my 3 month mark.  I asked a dancer after our first song of a tanda how long she had been dancing:  "Twelve years," she said, noticing immediately that I was worried about being so far below her level.  She added, "But that doesn't matter.  You have a wonderful tango walk."  I had a wonderful, healthy tango birth.  That's why she continued dancing with me each time I went to her town.  I knew as a musician that it was not scales and solo runs I needed to learn, but how to know the bassist's part, not the complex rhythmic, harmonic and melodic structures of the dance.   The tango walk is that foundation--the "bassist's part."

Beginners need to know that an excellent embrace, a wonderful tango walk, and a keen ear to what the leader (the music) is saying is ALL they ever need to enjoy tango at the social level. New ideas come along naturally after these basics are mastered. A volcada will happen on it's own when the student is developmentally ready (or one can spend hundreds of dollars on "growing up" faster).
Survival of the weakest community members (those who "die" easiest) may be the key to understanding how to fix gender imbalance.

The Lamaze Tango Birth: A birth should be normal, not traumatic or needing hospitalization. Teachers, put away your tongs and sharp knives, and learn the crafts of tango midwifery.  The tango baby's basic course prepares not a future show-dancer, not a person who desired to compete world-wide but a person who desires to develop as a social animal. Therefore the course would include all of the Three M's of Tango:  Music, Movement and eMbrace.  If nothing else, it is simply a good business model that your clients are not "dying." 

My guess is that tango baby mortality rates, especially male tango baby "deaths," will decrease in your community when the tango babies finally get something that tastes Mmm Good.


* Earlier, in the post first developmental model post on survival, "Tango Conception," I started with what brings new blood into the community: The conception of a tango dancer.  I tried to show that the "stork model" (the "need" of competition and showmanship) does not first bring new dancers into the community to enjoy tango nor to take their first class. Social and human need creates not only real babies but also tango-babies. A rare tango-baby conception happens on the TV couch watching with millions of other viewers: "Argentine Tango Night: Dancing with the Stars." After that show on TV did you see hundreds of "storks" streaming in the door?  No.

Future developmental-model posts:
  • Let's look at early childhood.  Is there child abuse/neglect in your tango community?  Has your community forgotten the centrality of human needs?  Let me give you a clue:  Child abuse is generally not our problem; the problem is the "great sin of omission"--child neglect.
  • "Tango is NOT Rocket Science" will be a post address the tango-baby-killing-stress-hormone created by teachers (and dancers who believe them) that "tango is SO HARD."  Learning one's own language takes a lifetime!  So does learning tango.  Children learn to speak without going to school because it is organic in the human psyche, and so is dance!

Other Tango Therapist posts on the survivability of tango:

Photo credit:

1 comment:

  1. Great article, TT!

    "She said, "He's a beginner, but has a wonderful embrace...""


    Let's not ignore the beginners who bring a wonderful embrace from the rest of life, and don't get it taken from them by dance classes.

    "In my opinion this beginner was born healthy, and has good chances of survival through infancy and early childhood. When I see him, I want to tell him this wonderful compliment that she gave him."

    I hope you do! As they should :) say: "If it ain't broke, don't break it." But a beginner often needs help to dispel the implanted idea that he begins broken.


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