Tango came to me, it summoned my soul. First, I heard the music, and saw the tango danced at a local symphony performance. Then, I began listening to, and studying tango music with a collection of CD’s while I worked as a seamstress at home. The listening made me want to dance. The music beckoned me. I found a couple teaching salon-style Argentine tango near my home and began taking classes.
At first the classes were overwhelming to me. I am a widow, who had spent the last decade digging up a yard to garden every inch. I had kept myself sequestered, mostly alone, to focus on yoga and pranayama, to heal, and to be creative. The yoga practice lead me to know that I must step out of isolation. So, I procured season tickets to the local symphony … which lead to dance classes.
I had never taken a social dance class in my life, and I am in my 60’s. The whole first beginning session for me was about adjusting to being around a group of people. I took the beginners class about 4 times, before starting to graduate. I likened my step to that of a Clydesdale, a big-hoofed horse … and I am a petite woman! When I was allowed to go into the intermediate class, I realized it was time to take private lessons, and so I did, once a week, and yes, I began to make some progress, ever so slowly. I went to practicas, milongas, and sought the intricacies of the dance. I am still learning the elegance of movement, the quietness of following, the essence of my own core and how that relates to each differing lead. It is exciting because of the parallels I see happening with the learning of the dance, with the living of life, and how the dance alters your person.
In the living of my life, I have had a long-time yoga practice, which includes pranayama breathing exercises, a flowing physical yoga with strengthening postures, and a slow, relaxed, lengthy yoga which quiets, opens, and aligns the body and mind. I feared the tango dance would cripple my yoga practice, but instead the dance deepened and even improved my practice! For years I had to adjust my alignment as I went from certain poses to another. So, one day, I decided to begin in my newly discovered tango posture. Viola! I passed easily from one pose to the next without having to realign. I also found that I danced better as a follow if I could quiet the mind as I could in pranayama – so tango is a form of standing, moving meditation. These two discoveries were full of excitement, and the joy of life.
I am also a bicyclist. I have a old lady’s bike now – an 18 gear, with an upright handlebar and seating arrangement, and a step-through, skirt-friendly body. So when I ride, in this position, I really feel the active lower body – the movement of the legs and the pressing into the petals, strengthened by the solid upright stead-fast core, with the arms/hands firm – unmoving but guiding the bike’s frame. Parallel here: the steady core, the movement in the hips/legs only, the arms/hands a frame following another’s frame.
Quite unexpectedly through the dance association, I met a lead who has become my partner. We danced and talked (and talked, and talked) and indicated that we would have a platonic friendship and be dance partners. I was seeing someone else, and he had sights on another woman. I encouraged him to ask her out, and so he did. She turned him down, but I believe he said they had a good talk. Anyway, we ended up together and getting to know each other slowly. We began taking private dance lessons together … and the dance embraced us both. We separately began to feel more confidence with our abilities, relax and have fun. After a year together, we attended Burning Tango … and our eyes opened wider. Wow!
Then I had another, unsettling parallel: If Tango could bring two people together, it could also tear them apart. I am a very independent and strong woman, albeit, also timid, and reserved socially. The passion of the dance is so intense at times, with all these other partners, I began to doubt and be afraid. So, as any good follower should do, I realigned myself, and strengthened my own core, my being. Yes, the dance or many other things could sever the relationship – that is a fact of life, but I will not fall over, or to pieces if it does. I am strong alone, I maintain my individual axis, and bring that to the dance partner of the moment.
Tango changes you … it has brought me out of myself. The strengthening of the core, is not just a physical thing, but an act of metaphysical empowerment. I have sung throughout my life in choirs or small ensembles, but no one could coax my voice to open to more than a whisper, unless I was securely hidden within the belly of a choir. After a year and a half of tango, I had an opportunity to join a band as a back-up singer, and have now actually sung a solo to a general public. Finding my voice – I attribute this to tango, how it has nurtured, molded, and altered me.
My beginning salon-style Argentine tango teachers were Lee and Barbara Sobo. Barbara embodies the elegant style I hope one day to emulate. Lee taught me to listen to the music he loves, and let it move me. The music and the dance live in him and speak through him. If you are able to take lessons with this man who loves tango, the dance will definitely embrace you, teach, guide, and make you whole. Enjoy it, love it, learn it, and always be open to its exciting possibilities!
— Maggie Moore, 6/21/2018