Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Answer for Not Growing Old (T.A.N.G.O.)

The Answer for Not Growing Old (T.A.N.G.O) 

Tango has demonstrated clear indications of helping people decrease symptoms of Parkinson's disease.  Yet, there is a much larger group that tango-as-therapy could help:  The rest of humanity.

Staying active, constantly learning, connecting to others, human touch, practice in balance and exercise are all necessary to maintain physical and mental resiliency as we grow older.  It is NOT just exercise, dance is much more than that, but at least it is recognized as helping people physically.

But the tango community itself has a large problem:  The high dropout rates of new and veteran dancers.  At some point many feel that "tango is not much fun any more."   However, if tango becomes a way of giving care to others, volunteer groups can keep tango alive for those tangueros/tangueras who would otherwise give up on tango.  Which would you rather have? You have years of experiencing sharing tango to the children, or that we refind you in a old folks' home?  I personally do not want to find you in some home, and you tell me that you once danced tango on stage before giving it all up.

The Answer is a life of tango:  Tango is a way to give, not just a self-focused entertainment escape as it is now often sold to immature students who never grow up.  T.A.N.G.O is not a hobby but a mission of self-care.  Give as a volunteer for the elderly and those at risk from their lack of positive attention (parents/school/friends/society).   The Answer for Not Growing Old is not only for participants of your giving but for you as a life-long dancing volunteer.

Teaching protocol for T.A.N.G.O.
Philosophy:  Dance is hardwired into the human body and psyche.  Get out of the way as much as possible.  There are only two steps in tango:  Left and right.  It is perfect for children and the elderly--the at-risk groups in all societies.

Breathing:  Play music with a clear beat, no words.  Vals is often good, but one without changes in tempi.  Guide the class to allow the music to lead breathing of both roles.

Introduce the roles:  Explain that this class has only one leader that both roles must follow, and that leader is the music.  However the roles are quite different and both followers tend to cross over into the wrong role.  Tell them, "Please understand your partner's role so you do not take it over."

Music-Listener-Yang 1:  Step in place, following  the Music's (the Leader's) pulse, and imagine feeling the shift of weight of your partner (listener-Yin) and make imaginary movements into her* space exactly and clearly with this pulse.  Dancing alone is the best first step.

Music-Listener-Yin:  Step in place and imagine a gentle impulse from you partner coming into your space.  You own the space between each impulse and he* owns the impulse itself.   If you fully own the space between the impulses (collecting the feet), you will allow an infinite amount of possibilities to happen as a couple.

Break:  Take breaks as a part of your program.  At a table there is food and beverages that hydrate (preferably not coffee or alcohol) for the purpose of demonstrating elements of resiliency:  Strategic air/water/food/rest/shelter.  Music/movement/embrace are other elements of long-term survival that Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of need missed.

Now you have The Answer (T.A.)NowGO!

*Masuline and feminine pronouns represent behaviors seen cross-culturally in both hetero- and homosexual relationships. Tango roles are yin and yang.  Neutering, castrating and tying the tubes of the roles is your option, but not suggested.

Photo credit


  1. I like your idea of Yin and Yang in Tango very much. It seems much more appropriate to dance and Tango in particular than all the usual "men/women" / "leader/follower" terms, that carry so many implications heading to images that I don't like linking with Tango. Especially as I do both, Yin and Yang...

  2. TwoToTango wrote: "all the usual "men/women" / "leader/follower" terms, that carry so many implications heading to images that I don't like linking with Tango. "

    I agree about about leader/follower, but surely the link between man/woman and social tango dance is inextricable. To break that link would be to break the dance too.


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