If you are wondering why I have been so quiet lately, rest assured that it isn’t for a lack of dancing. I recently became entirely self-employed, and the transition has sucked up a lot of my mental energy, not to mention my time.

However, I wanted to pop in and talk about intention. Lately, it has become clear to me that I value two main things in tango: technique and intention. It is incredibly important to learn how to dance with proper technique (no matter how and where you learn it). But once you have that technique, it means nothing without giving it the proper intention. From Merriam-Webster:

1 : a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
2 : import, significance
3 a : what one intends to do or bring about

I am fairly certain that I would accept pretty much any move in tango (yes, even a soltada) if it could be performed with the right intention. That is because, to me, tango is not about how it looks. It is about how it feels.

(I should probably interject that, even with the best leaders, I have yet to follow a soltada that is led with the same intention as the rest of the dance… so although I could accept it in theory, and it’s neat as a dance move, I haven’t yet experienced it as tango…)

I think this is why I can’t jump in with all the youtube-watchers and fawn over or criticize the dancers. To me, a video is just another performance. It isn’t exciting for me, because tango isn’t really about how it looks. I have danced with people who, according to tango purists, don’t look like they are dancing tango — but their intention made it feel like tango! And I have danced with people who stuck to close embrace, walks, rock steps, etc… and it felt no more like tango than if I were embracing a post.

It isn’t really about how it looks. It isn’t about whether this move or that looks like tango. It’s about the connection, the intention, and the emotion…


2 thoughts on “Intention

  1. I don’t know Mari. At some point, there has to be a definition of what constitutes one thing as being that thing and not another. Otherwise, by your definition, two people who meet at a bar and feel that “connection” are doing the Tango. People petting their cat are doing the Tango. If you distill it down to a feeling, there is no way to know what someone else is feeling, or if it matches what we feel when we dance Tango.

    I know there is a terrible reluctance at using “labels”, especially in the Tango community. But I am certain that ballroom dancers feel that connection doing what they do, and it certainly isn’t Tango.

  2. I’m not Mari…oops!

    The thing is, technique comes before intention. And I’m happy to debate what constitutes tango technique (talking about things like posture, embrace, etc., but not moves), which I am sure we can agree is distinct from the technique it takes to dance ballroom or pet a cat. That’s why I began by saying that it is a combination of technique and intention.

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