This article was written by Luis Monasterios of Tango y Vida (Tango and Life) www.tangoyvida.com and has been translated from Spanish by Rachael Glaser of Libertango in Cape Town www.libertango.co.za The original article in Spanish can be found at http://www.tangoyvida.com/el-baile-de-tango-y-la-confianza/#.VcHHLPknLRo
We are grateful to Rachael for allowing us to publish her translation on Tango Fuzz (see her blog page). Rachael says,
“This article provides valuable insights into how trust and mindfulness are an integral part of the Argentine tango…. I am always learning something about trust and my self-confidence in my own dance that I feel that this type of reading is good to share, particularly so because it comes from the home of tango and provides insights into the non-visible aspects of the dance that are embedded in the tango culture of Argentina….. It is interesting to know someone’s perspective, even if you don’t agree.”
Tango Dancing and Trust
In the tango and in the life of a couple trust is one of the most important and delicate issues. When we dance tango we generate a close relationship of confidence and intimacy which, based on trust, can lead to an unforgettable and distinct experience in every dance, within every couple.
Trust within the tango dance and in life is constructed and nurtured with every detail. To dance tango the leader must trust his own abilities and in the dance of the follower. The follower must in turn trust in the direction and movements that the leader indicates. Frequently, when the leader leads movements that risk the security of other dancers on the dance floor, or leads the follower like bumper cars at the fair, bumping and stumbling into every dancer like an obstacle on the dance floor, the dance is dramatically affected and slowly the follower loses trust in the leader and stops following his lead.
With the understanding that within the tango as in life the roles of leader and follower are dynamic, both members of the couple are responsible in generating trust within the dance. Often in attempting to take the leading role, the person who is normally following makes adornments and figures that are dangerous for the rest of the dancers and dance partner, affecting his physical and emotional balance.
How do I create and maintain trust in my partner in tango and in life?
In order to understand the means to construct, generate and maintain trust, firstly I will explain what I consider types of behaviours relating to trust.
Trusting Behaviour: The type of behavior of that allows you to give all your trust when you get to know someone – within which it is necessary to offer a person opportunities which demonstrate their goodwill and good intentions . In one’s actions and heart, one offers complete trust from the beginning. At the same time, one also generates expectations about the person that you are getting to know so there is a tendency to be very demanding.
Progressively Trusting Behaviour: One offers a certain amount of trust in the beginning with the hope that the rest will develop during the experience. This type of behaviour is less demanding than the “trusting behaviour” considering the demands and expectations are small from the beginning and grow with the course of time.
Behaviour of Progressive Distrust: If you have at times offered a percentage of trust from the beginning but seem to be always expecting a mistake, you will be familiar with this type of behavior. It is difficult to explain but there are people who are always waiting for a mistake, never trust completely and are always on the defensive, waiting for a mistake to continue to lose trust.
Untrusting Behaviour: You simply don’t trust. Even though you try to trust, your previous experiences, traumas and fears make it impossible for you to trust.
It is noteworthy to point out that in every relationship, each one of us develops some type of behaiour relating to trust. This means, for example, that with some people we are “trusting” while with others we may be “progressively untrusting”. These types of behavior relate to the perceptions and image we have of other people and that we give to ourselves. It also has much to do with the experience that we offer to every person that we relate to. In the same way it is useful to recognize those types of behaviours of people that we relate to, to understand their expectations and manage these relationships in the most effective way.
The great secret to generate trust is to work with yourself, with your self-image, with your emotional balance, your behaviours, your manners and the experience you give those who relate to you. Trust is a natural consequence of personal growth and self-improvement.
Trust (confidence) to Dance Tango
We already know that the secret of trust in life is personal growth. In tango and in life my proposal is to always look inside yourself and seek personal growth.
In the tango the embrace is one of the principal tools for transmitting trust. Being embraced, without taking a step, you are already generating a vision of yourself in the other person, who you are as a dancer and as a person. In any moment you may generate an expectation or disappoint. In the tango, the embrace is the tool that influences your dance partner’s behaviour in relation to trust. To improve your embrace you have to improve yourself. You need firstly to have trust (confidence) in yourself to have an embrace that is at once firm, gentle and precise.
After the embrace, in the development of the dance one needs to continue with an active consciousness in the present moment. This means, to dance tango the mind must be muted and one only needs to feel. When you guide, or allow yourself to be guided, the active state of consciousness in the present means that one should not be distracted by ones surroundings. On the contrary, when the consciousness is active in the present moment and you are able to feel and not think, automatically all of your senses are alert to the surroundings and for this reason you are able to concentrate more on what is happening around you. Imagine your body in a situation of extreme danger: what happens in this moment is that the mind disconnects from the body and feelings start to govern your actions. It is for this reason that under situations of real threat, a persona may achieve incredible things and be very alert to what is happening in his surroundings. I propose for you to achieve something similar but in a conscious manner so that your senses govern your dance and you may transmit this security to your partner.
How many times have you danced with a person when you find yourself thinking of other activities? Thinking of your activities for the morning, the way in which other people are watching the dancing, the next figure you are planning, in the new figure you learned in class, that you are dancing with one person but you prefer someone else, in the shoes, in the outfits, the comments, the miradas (gazes), who is arriving, who is leaving? All of these thoughts are some of the natural sabotages that the mind has to ruin a moment. Active conscience in the present means forgetting all these thoughts and dedicating oneself to enjoy the tango that one is dancing with the partner that you have chosen to dance with (without worrying about the level at which they dance).
But if the other person does not inspire trust, how can I enjoy the dance? How will I have active consciousness in the present if I don’t trust? The answer to these questions is very simple. You cannot control what others are doing. You can only control what depends on you. You cannot avoid feeling what you feel but you can decide what attitude you take before you feel. Now you know, every time you feel mistrust you need to decide on your attitude in this situation and what the ingredients are to improve it. My suggestion, as a chef of relationships is to always choose the best ingredients. Everything I have said here is valid for not only tango, but in day to day relationships.
Improve your embrace and your dance from a technical and personal development perspective, grow your confidence, dance in a state of active consciousness in the present and nurture those ingredients that contribute to your relationships and your dance. With these, you will be able to engender trust in almost everyone who dances with you and in general, in almost every person you relate to. But above all, in addition to generating trust, honour and stay true to this trust that others have put in you. Don’t deceive yourself or others because in life, as in the tango, trust is always based on meeting the expectations that you generate.
Until the next tanda!
– Luis Monasterios
8 July 2015
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