Let the Artist In

10 06 2012

Something rather remarkable happened in my dance last night.  I danced a tanda with one of my favorite local partners at a level that I didn’t think was possible for me.    It’s as if something become magically unlocked in my body and released in my dance — apparently because I finally was able to empty my head, listen to my body and let the artist in.

It’s not that I haven’t been told that many times before and have been working on it for years.  But in the past, each time I’ve felt that I’d arrived, it ended step being nothing more than a baby step and I realized (in my mind) that I had a long ways to go.  So while my mind is useful from time to time helping me understand what’s going on in my dance, it’s only when I let it go that I seem to move forward to places I’ve never been.

I do watch videos from time to time.  Other dancers inspire me — Carlitos Espinoza is one of my favorites — I have come to realize that it’s not by looking out at others, but by looking in at myself (or should I say not looking in) — giving myself permission to just be and listen to my body — that good things happen.  As with many things tango, what is most remarkable to me is that when I let it go and don’t focus on it, it happens — whatever “it” is.    But when I  focus on “it” nothing happens.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say.  I’m not saying that focusing on elements of technique doesn’t help.   Some of you may have read about a discovery I recently had by understanding the principles of barefoot running and applying that to tango.  I’m now able to carry my core properly and step lightly with spring in my feet in important ways that have improved my dance.   And applying the same principles improved my snow skiing last winter and my bicycling this spring — go figure!

When I started studying with Susana Miller a few years ago, I recall her telling that she will be helping me improve my dance by taking things out of my body and not by putting more things in.  She said that I already had enough in my body — or should I say too much — too many things in my body that were getting in the way.   And while I wasn’t always sure what was happening, I let it go and trusted her to get me back on the right path.

I took classes with Susana in April of this year, and then again six weeks later this June which provided me two opportunities to move forward.   And just when she told me to quit thinking and to quit focusing on steps, the steps happened.   It wasn’t easy for me to do or should I say ‘let happen’ … comments like “quiet the mind”,  “lose your thoughts”, “walk with an innocent (idiot) look” and “let your body speak to you” seems so simple to me, but it’s not easy.   But for the moment, it is working for me in good ways.

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