While we tango, we work hard to keep time with the music. We also work hard to maintain the “flow of traffic” as we travel in the line of dance. We’re also careful to avoid bumping into others, and to stay connected with our partners.
Amidst all this, we have a tendency to rush. This isn’t necessarily because we want to go fast, but because we’re trying – or sometimes struggling – to maintain balance. This results in dancing that looks rather frantic, even if we aren’t feeling anxious.
Merely making an effort to slow down is a logical solution, but that’s not enough because we can only move as fast, or slow, as our balance allows.
There’s a physical and mental strategy to address this issue.
The physical: We often think of balance while arriving on a step. This is true. But we often forget to make sure that our center of gravity is already secure over our standing leg before initiating a step. Balance doesn’t begin or end. It’s always happening.
The mental: In addition to being a physical skill, keeping balance should be thought of as part of the meditative nature of tango. Being aware of it shouldn’t be looked upon as another item in the long list of things to keep straight in our heads while dancing. If we allow it, focusing on balance can be very calming, as well as an effective way to practice the whole mindfulness thing that all our friends keep telling us about.
So the next time we’re at a milonga and trying to find our footing, or working to stay upright, let’s remember that being balanced is a physical act intertwined with a mental state of being. We can’t achieve either one without the other.