thinking without thinking: an awkward yogi’s attempt at tango
After practicing our pivots, Kristin and Francis – the instructors of the “tango improve movement” class at Tango Social Club – did a demonstration for us. First, they shuffled across the dance floor. Then they glided across the floor.
“Connection is the essence of tango,” Francis stated.
“Did you see it?” my dancing partner, Gilles, whispered to me.
“I did,” I replied. I saw the connection, this essence that Francis was referring to. But I don’t know if I could explain it. I don’t even know if I could describe what I saw. The first effort seemed dispersed and chaotic, while the second time felt unified, smooth, captivating. The first effort left me feeling disinterested, the second effort left me wanting more.
I get the idea of the connection, but during our dance exercises, I wasn’t feeling the connection. I was still too busy thinking about what my feet were doing.
Kristin and Francis must have sensed that was going on in the preceding classes, because one of our warm-up exercises was designed to be done “without thinking.” We were instructed to “create images” with our bodies. One person would initiate the image by taking a pose and the second person would complete the image by working themselves into the pose somehow.
I did my best to not think, but it was difficult to be in my body and not jump ahead to what I would do next. Of course, we were told by the instructors that they could see us thinking.”
I’ve been reading about Nonviolent Communication (NVC) lately, which is another approach to connection and communication. Even though NVC is based on language and using words, there is an acknowledgement of something else, some other way.
“The practice of being connected with yourself in a visceral, noncognitive way is powerful,” writes Judith Hanson Lasater and Ike K. Lasater in What We Say Matters. “We are unlikely to connect to another human being unless we are connected with our own needs. This is not something most of us are taught as children, and generally it takes time and practice to develop the skill.”
My tango experiment is opening me up to another way of connecting with myself. I thought it was about connecting with other people, but it’s about being aware of where my body is in space and listening to the music. Now, if only I can quiet my chattering mind and accept what is awkward and uncomfortable.