I have danced since I remember myself, I don’t really know why and how I started or why I didn’t stop when all toddlers do. I was just told I did it a lot and it was annoying to adults, so they sent me to dance school. So 32 years later, here I am, thinking this is the best thing that could happen to me and wish all could experience it.
Now, I don’t think it must be a form of dance for all, but I do think having the place where you meditate, express yourself, rediscovering yourself and having honest conversations with yourself is very helpful.
You might have guessed, my favorite space for self expression is tango.
We often say tango is like a life, when one talks about tango and it sounds like life advice, it is a true tango concept. In that moment when you are in tango class and your teacher, while teaching tango gives you life advice and it hits so much, you are crying on the way home, you know it is not just about dancing.
When I started tango I was convinced, it fits so much my understanding of relationships between partners, man/woman role and partnership, and so I was dancing it, and so compensating the lack of it in my life.
Now I am thinking, it was not so much what I truly needed, but what I thought I should have.The woman role I pictured, fantasized about thanks to the media, history and all other tools the society uses to spread the propaganda. And here was tango suggesting the same norms and expectations:
Man creates the world for you and protects you from the outside danger, you are happy to create within the boundaries provided and need his support like air, you follow everything and wait for him to indicate the time for you to express your creativity. This fairy tale of the prince on white horse has followed me since kindergarten.
So what do we really dance? Do we dance who we are? Or do we dance the image of the princess, that little girl inside us thinks she “should” dream to be?
Years passed, and I knew it was not fitting, I learned to participate in movement creation, suggesting the mood and musicality interpretation throughout the dance, and it only increased my enjoyment of the dance and I got more positive feedback about my dancing from the partners. Then I realized, that is called active follower (Interpreter). Not many were teaching how to be one, but many talked about them existing.
Well, no matter what the message is, I deeply believe tango do have a great power of influencing one’s perspective of themselves and their role and area of influence on the dance floor and in life. The message is way more meaningful, than just a gender role and really not about that. It is about you, you the person, dancer, reader, you. Your journey and honesty with yourself. It could help you find what are your true values, what is your voice and what is your talent. And your teacher could guide you or not.
The tango I dance today is about cooperation, partnership, mutual respect and support of each other, when one loses balance, breathable embrace of mutual agreement to contribute to creating something together, playfulness, encouragement of each partner to be themselves, feel the power of connection based on listening to each other, letting go of expectation and and develop empathy, and both always have space to make a choice.
Now I dance my reality, or the person I chose to thrive to be.
P.S. Something tells me that if the teaching message is along these lines, the follower (interpreter) will automatically be active.
Iryna Ilyk, August 2020
Photos by Kyon Butterfield