July 16th, 2009

Tango

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After many years, last evening I again dabbled in the “the dance” as I once heard Argentine tango described. While I had planned to continue today’s post with further discussion of the muscular sets which the fitness industry usually ascribes to the core, I cannot help but throw in last evening’s revelations.

Other links will described more accurately and in greater detail both the general attributes of Argentine tango and the somatic-sensory experiences of the dance.  My purpose in bringing tango into the discussion is begin to broaden the discussion and understanding of thoughtlessly used terms towards definitions which may further not only general intellectual understanding but also an individual’s personal and physical experiences.

From the moment I stepped onto the dance floor last evening I knew that something in my own awareness had dramatically changed since the last time – years previously – I was a tango floor.  Without being told, I knew that the most important aspect of me in the dance was my relationship to my center of gravity.  (I attribute this new awareness to my training under Anat Baniel and will elaborate in some later post on how that training has changed my perception.)

As my friend and colleague, Pilates master practitioner Connor Aiken, has pointed out on several occasions, “center of gravity” is a term echoed in different words throughout many different traditions.  Center of gravity is how science describes the area approximately two inches beneath the navel.  Joseph Pilates described this zone as the core.  In Hinduism the same region contains the sacral chakra.

Regardless of the name, it was my own connection to this zone and through me to my partner which dictated the quality of each dance I shared last evening.  If I was not fully connected, my partner, regardless of her (or his) prior dance experience, felt it and our dancing suffered.  However, on those occasions where I wasn’t too distracted by dance floor traffic negotiations or stepping musically to pay attention to my center, I experienced a degree of groundedness and a clarity of physical communication with my partner which is unique in my dancing experience.

Center of gravity, core, sacral chakra, or one of a dozen others; what matters more than a name is how we choose to use the area.  I suspect that many on the tango floor last evening have considerable more use of their cores than do those work tirelessly in a gym to build the appearance of a beautiful abdomen.  This is not to say that building the ubiquitously desired six pack cannot run in concert with greater body awareness.  I would merely encourage exploration – not necessary just of tango – of any form of movement which allows connection to this intriguing aspect of the human body.


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