How many Buddhist tanguer@s are out there?
I have some hesitation about calling myself a Buddhist, but I do maintain a Buddhist (mostly Zen) practice. I have to admit that I know very little about TangoZen, only having recently heard about it. But a few months into learning tango I did have a revelation about tango being much like my Zen practice.
In a conversation with a modern dance choreographer, I explained that there are many forms of dance that I enjoy and care about, but my lifetime of dancing never brought me this Zen-like experience of dancing tango – and I think that is part of why I have fallen in love with it.
We really have to be present in the here and now to dance tango. As a follower, especially, we have to be aware of our own bodies and our leader’s body and the bodies around us. The best milongas are the ones where the whole dance floor is connected, moving together, aware of each other and dancing between as well as within couples. We listen to the music, feel it in our bodies, feel the way that our partner hears the music. We all know what it is like to have a disconnected dance, one where our (or our partner’s) body doesn’t seem to feel the music or where our partner seems to be mentally or emotionally absent. Good tango requires us to live in the Now.
Yet again, I find tango to be a good metaphor and, better yet, good practice for everyday life. It reminds us that mistakes happen, but if you live in the moment you can move on from those mistakes and turn them into something beautiful. You can accept them, release them and continue dancing. It is a reminder that anticipation most often leads to disappointment (guessing at the next lead and thus disconnecting from the dance, hoping for a certain lead and missing the joy of the one that is given, etc), while simply enjoying the present can create a beautiful dance out of simplicity. All of these tango lessons are true outside of tango, as well, and every time I dance I am reminded of that. I have felt more connected to my Zen practice since beginning tango, and I find it much easier to carry that practice into the rest of my day.
How wonderful it is to find that “tango high” or “tango nirvana” (what a fitting term!) translated into an everyday high, an everyday sense of peace and joy and moving ever closer to nirvana.