Sometimes I forget that I am not only a tanguera with a modern dance background; I am also a modern dancer who tangos. Last night, I got myself to a modern dance class for the first time in ages. It was with one of my favorite teachers, who always approaches the class with both a sense of humor and a serious work ethic. He has an eye for what needs to be fixed and a way of explaining things so that I understand how to fix them. He teaches a Horton-based modern class, and I always leave tired and satisfied.
Tango is improving my modern dance. My arms feel connected to my torso. My torso feels like the powerhouse of my upper body. My hips feel like the motor for my lower body. My legs are along for the ride. Best yet, I feel intimately in tune with my breath. All of the upper body, breathing, arm-related warmups just clicked last night. I knew how to reach out with my arms and my intention but keep my torso still. I could isolate and dissociate and twist (although I have always been twisty).
Of course, the choreography wasn’t so smooth. My brain has gotten rusty, so picking up choreography doesn’t happen so quickly as in the past. And I found that balancing barefoot (with one leg behind me in arabesque, while my torso and arms moved all over the place) was not so easy as balancing in heels. I never thought I would say that. I did, however, get compliments on my quick, sharp movements.
It felt so good to be back in the studio. To play on the floor and in the air. To be off axis yet on my own, and to know that I will be there to catch myself. To play in that space that is so different and yet so similar to tango: where I am given a movement and invited to fill it with my personality; where I am working muscles but finding relaxation; where I am my own person but feeling and moving with others; and where I can inhabit my body fully in the present for the pure enjoyment of dance.