Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

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© Me Learns Tango, Limpid Works Photo

To begin, this is an ode to conquering your fear. It’s also a little shout-out to the seriously funny, talented and gifted Tina Fey. Particularly her 2016 biographical performance as Kim Baker in the war comedy/drama “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend you do. It stars Fey as Baker, a television journalist who struggles with her stagnating career (and lackluster story reporting) who then takes an assignment in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Serious danger, a lot of intensity and hilarity ensue! I’ve seen the film twice and think it’s quite funny, besides… what can’t Tina Fey do?

Anyway, as a woman who also enjoys adventures, taking risks (like uprooting to move to another country where I don’t know a single soul), the occasional glass of Whiskey (I have about a two drink maximum when it comes to drinking any and all alcoholic beverages) and dancing (I am Colombian, we love salsa, I’m certainly not an expert, but I love to dance), I can honestly say I have never done the Tango or Foxtrot. Until now.

I took my first Argentine Tango Class (with Limpid Works Dance Company) and now I feel like I’m totally hooked!  My instructor was tremendously patient and she did this really creative and excellent job of rotating everyone in the class so that we all had to dance with each other (in two minute intervals) and then give our partners a hug and say “thank you” for the dance. I had so much fun!

It’s a rush to be in a room full of beginners who are also strangers and being forced to trust each other. While I’m not a stranger to dancing or to body awareness (during my beginning acting training days, I took  West African Dance classes at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Ballet at Peridance Capezio, studied Lyra and contortion at TSNY in Washington, DC and as a child grew up doing gymnastics, and many other sports), I am also a certified Aerial Yoga Teacher and maintain a semi-regular practice, I like to think I’m very connected and in tune with my kinesthetic awareness and body movements, but I felt so intimidated and worried that I would make a fool out of myself. I mean intimidated is an understatement, I almost didn’t show up to the class I was feeling so anxious!

But, in laughing and talking to each of my new classmates, I realized that we all felt this way.

As with anyone who conjures up stereotypes or images of Tango dancers, I imagine tremendously graceful and powerful couples intertwined to the point where you can barely make out where one partners leg separates from the other partners leg. Then there’s the music. The music itself is its own spell of eroticism and enchantment, and the music during the class certainly exceeded my previous assumptions. But, in learning to dance the tango, I forgot how much of the foundation of the dance is in trusting your partner. The follower (dancer who is following) has to physically lean forward and into the leader (the person who is leading, it’s not specific to the gender). Each individual  maintains a root through the core and solid grounding from the floor, relaxing their shoulders. But, if you can’t lean into your partner, if you can’t focus on who is in front of you, maintain presence, and simultaneously trust each new dance partner, you physically can’t move or dance the Tango. You fall, actually you both fall.

The whole evening was such a powerful symbolism for relationships (certainly romantic entanglements, but I think it also applies to friendships). After the two hour class, I learned how disconnected I can feel and also sometimes can act in my daily conversations, even if by accident or because I’m trying to multi-task, or occasionally glance at my phone.

My Tango lesson exceeded my expectations and took on a deeper meaning that I never anticipated.

I’m ready for my second lesson! Here’s to dancing through life, being present and facing more of your fears!

 

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