Tango: The Art of a Relationship

That feeling of something awakening deep inside is increasing.  Time seems to have slowed down as I look more carefully at the world around me. I’m seeing things I never noticed before, like the ohm symbol painted on the side of a building I drive past weekly to go do my shopping. Or the bright blue polish on the elderly woman’s toenails in the sauna the other day.  Or the bright green chard under the melting snow in my garden boxes.  Or that my youngest son is almost as tall as I am now.

I’ve also become intensely aware of people’s facial expressions and how they move their bodies. I watch how their eyebrows lift as they talk; the inflections of their voices, the clothes they wear, the shade of their hair and how they style it and then it dawned on me… everyone is a walking, talking art piece.  And just as my self-portrait revealed symbols that I assume is my sub-conscious is trying to make me aware of, people also adorn themselves with symbols to convey a message, whether conscious or not, about themselves. From designer clothing and tattoos to hair dyes and fake eyelashes… I knew all of this before, but for some reason, I’m paying closer attention to the symbols people choose to adorn themselves with now and I’m trying to decipher what these symbols mean to me and to them.

Furthermore, I’ve become very interested in the art of the relationship between a man and a woman; not that I wasn’t before, but I had never thought of a relationship as an art form per se.

It started with learning how to dance the Tango recently, that I became aware of the subtle, yet powerful, communication that passes back and forth between the dancing partners. This style of dancing, I learned, is a wonderful analogy of a romantic relationship between a man and woman.

“You only give me your hand when I ask for it,” my instructor told me. I had to smile as I reflected back on the old term of ‘giving one’s hand in marriage’ and realized that traditionally, a man chose the woman he wanted to be with for the rest of his life. I still like that tradition. How quaint that it shows up in this dance.

I obeyed my instructor, Sir and tried really hard not to anticipate his movements.  I tried really hard not to tangle my feet with his and to keep my balance.  I tried really hard not to step on his toes, nor let my foot get caught under his.

After some time, I noticed that I could do the varied movements very well if I didn’t think about it too hard.  But the moment I started focusing on what I was doing, I’d lose the step or fumble over my own feet. Sir would laugh and say, “You were doing it so well, and then you started thinking about what you were doing.”

Boom. As in life, so in dance. I’m beginning to think that you can tell a lot about your relationship style based on your Tango dancing style.  It would seem to me that the Tango could also apply to the subtle guidance of God in one’s life as well.  How many times have I been going through life, trusting in God’s way, and then, boom, I start worrying and fretting over something and I trip up and make a bunch of mistakes in the process?  Had I just kept going without fretting about it and making a bigger mess of things because of my fretting and worry, I wouldn’t have messed up so badly.  Trust in God!  That phrase is repeated many times throughout holy writ.

So, I tried not to think about my feet.  I just had to keep moving.

I learned about some unexpected body language in the Tango when Sir blocked my foot and challenged me to figure out what to do next.  For the most part, I feel like I have an intuitive sense for this dancing style, but with his right foot blocking my right foot and with our weight on our back left foot, there wasn’t a natural step for me to take next.  I looked at him confused.  Was this the part of the dance where I supposed to take the lead? Or do I jump over his foot?  Do an awkward twirl? I had no idea what to do next!

“I don’t know,” I said finally, laughing. Nervous. Self-conscious.

He smiled, “This is your chance to play.”  Oh! So he WAS giving me the lead, I thought. But how does one ‘play’ in a dance? I couldn’t figure it out as I looked down at our legs.  He saw the confusion in on my face, then promptly demonstrated a move.  He shifted his weight to his right foot and swung his left leg around to wrap around my right leg and just as quickly, retreated.  It was so swift and sexy, it took my breath away.

“Like a flirt,” I blurted, realizing the suggestive nature of our entwined legs.  Sir laughed. “Kinda like a flirt,” he said, “but we’re playing.”

I’m not that bold, I thought as I tried to imagine making my leg move that way around his and feeling a great lack of sexiness at that moment – a glaring reflection of my lack of inter-personal relationship skills.  Ugh!

Sir probably thought all he was doing was teaching me how to Tango; little did he know how much he was teaching me about myself.

So around the dance floor we went again, and when he blocked my right foot, I remembered what do and swiftly swung my left leg around his right leg, which forced me quite close to him for just an instant, and then we were apart again, gliding over the dance floor.  I think I pulled off the move well, as he didn’t say anything to the contrary about it.  But, I’m not lean and sexy like a Tango dancer – at least not yet.  Oops, did I just reveal my struggle with my body-image?  Oh well.

Eventually, as the night progressed, I could close my eyes and trust his lead – lost in a world of movement and music.  Aware of only his touch and the gentle cues to let me know when to twirl in under his arm, or away from him, or to cross-walk forward or backward – I felt as if I were in a sort of dancing nirvana. This was living, breathing art between a man and a woman.  Her feminine energy submitting to his masculine energy – building trust and following his lead, knowing that without me, he’d have no one to believe in his ability to lead, and without him, I’d have no one to trust to follow.

I think I’m addicted to the Tango.




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