Feldenkrais and Tango

I stumbled across Argentine Tango many years ago in a taster session at the school where I used to dance Ballroom and Latin.  I remember being intrigued by the intricacy of the dance and a unique quality I perceived as mysterious and brooding, internally focused rather than outwards looking.

Many years later, I’m lucky enough to dance tango on a regular basis and I’m still intrigued by its unique quality of being all about the felt sense of the communication between the dancers rather than about the external form of the dance.  How much of the dance is in the details, in small movements and how clearly they can be communicated.  And here is where I find many parallels with Feldenkrais. For me, Feldenkrais is a way of approaching movement that is all about the internal felt sense of the movement rather than its external form, than what it looks like in the mirror or as viewed by other people. This is what makes Feldenkrais and tango such perfect partners.

At a basic level, I could just say that Feldenkrais has really improved my tango technique, allows me to dance later into the night and to avoid sore feet from so much time walking backwards in high heels.  But it’s about a lot more than that.

Feldenkrais makes me clearer in my own movement, more aware of how I move and more sensitive to how I feel myself moving. It adds a richness to my experience of myself as I dance.

The richness of the experience is partly in my improved ability to sense small differences, so I can feel my feet more clearly on the floor and sense all the different parts of my feet moving as I walk. It is also somehow like developing a better ear for music. Not only can I pick out the different instruments more clearly I can also hear them all at once with more depth when I listen to the piece as a whole. So I am more able to do that while I dance, keeping lots of parts of me in my awareness whilst also noticing how my partner moves and listening to and responding to the music.

This may seem like a lot at once and it can sometimes feel like a sensory overload. Mostly however, the best way I can describe it is that if my earlier experiences of dancing tango were in black and white I am now dancing in glorious technicolour.  Wherever my tango journey takes me from here I know my experience of the dance is forever richer and deeper.

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