In the tango, a couple comes together to share authentically, and stay passionately connected as the pair glides around the dance floor, reenacting a struggle, entanglement, or a fantasy. The tango requires us – the dancers – to experience and deal with fundamental issues of trust, power, boundaries, leading and following, and merging and separating.
Creatively, the tango offers an opportunity to increase self-awareness and expand our capacity for intimacy. In the book From Love Trauma To Fearless Love (Fall 2018), individuals breaking free from toxic relationships learn how to navigate these issues through seven tango steps:
- The Axis and Awareness
Being balanced and able to move in any direction both physically as well as emotionally is your axis. You’re in your own power. If you’re always reliant on your partner for balance, you will limit your creative expression. However, it can take years of practice to master your own balance, to feel free and powerful in another’s embrace.
As in new love relationships, getting acquainted with your partner and learning the dance can cause a struggle on the dance floor. To minimize that struggle, it’s common that the less advanced Lead will find it easier to control you, the Follow, when you’re hinging on him. You’re not in your axis, but in his. In time, as each develops the acquired skills, becomes more self-aware and finds his and her own stability, it enables the pair to have both a bond to each other and a connection to their own bodies, giving the tango its strength.
- The Connection
Connection is the heart of tango. Two bodies moving as one, slowly stripped into raw vulnerability. This mystery of the tango lies in the unspoken bond, which relies on a mind-body relationship. The body, like the heart, is expressive and receptive. Once the mind silences, your body unconsciously adjusts perfectly to your Lead. No power struggle exists, only strength and surrender. You enter into a blissful state—a meditation for two.
As in love relationships, our connection, organically, regulates and harmonizes us with our lover’s emotional needs and moods. You are not doing but rather being. In that state of being, our body’s innate wisdom keeps us tethered to our lover. Our soothing connection to one another is the most powerful antidote against stress and anxiety, and makes us feel peaceful and happy.
- The Embrace
The tango brings masculinity and femininity together in a partnership called the embrace. Each person gets to be fully alive in his and her own strength, yet interconnected and interdependent. The embrace sharpens the couple’s exchange.
In the embrace, partners pay full attention to each other and can sense the other’s intentions and movements. A Lead and his Follow will know each other intimately. What happens when you enter into the embrace is unknown. It’s terrifying and exciting. You’ll know if he holds you with sensitivity, understanding, or carelessness—whether he seeks your heart, mind, or body. You’ll know whether he sees you as a conquest, a partner, or a doer of his command. You’ll feel his confidence, his selfishness, and his weakness. You’ll sense what he hungers for and what he fears. True partnership is sacred and exhibits both safety and passion.
- The Lead and Follow
Dancers form a partnership where the Lead coordinates the sequence of steps and navigates the floor in collaboration with the woman’s freedom of rhythm. The Follow responds, carries out and embellishes the footwork. The more advanced Lead knows how to follow his partner and blend with her movement. In this, we both Lead and Follow.
The tango’s interdependency hinges on our ability to maintain each of our structures while responding to one another. As a Follow, you dance walking backwards and with your eyes closed. To follow requires sensing your partner’s body, feeling a connection to the music, intuitive movements, and faith in the man’s ability to lead you. The Lead’s role is to safeguard the woman’s body and to deliver each stride with intentionality flowing from his heart center to hers.
His goal is to create a beautiful experience for his partner, which in turn, will resonate back to him. Surrendered to the moment, the Follow becomes both a reflection of her Lead and an expression of her creativity. It is the Follow’s musicality blended with her Lead’s that creates real magic.
As in love relationships, there is a free sharing of power that exists between a Lead and his Follow. The more sensitive and synchronized the connection, the more the man can listen to his Follow and let her musicality manifest. The sequences of steps are communicated effortlessly and are adjusted naturally to the woman’s rhythm. If the man controls both the sequence and the tempo, he is dominating his partner. When the man attunes to the rhythm of the woman, they both reach mutually blissful states.
- The Merging and Separation
There’s an ebbing and flowing of personal stability, exchanging power, losing ourselves, and then finding ourselves again. In our giving and receiving, we evolve.
The merging is accomplished organically, with sensitivity to one another. This closeness is the hallmark of the tango—to embrace intimacy, sensuality, and soulfulness. Two people enter a zone of shared selves, joining as one. Even in the separation, the exchange comes through the body’s unspoken language of an open embrace, an open heart.
- The Improvisation
On a crowded dance floor, navigation relies heavily on intuitive decision-making. The conscious and unconscious minds work together to create a dance from the options we have learned. The highest degree of improvisational freedom is found in choosing individual steps without regard to any predetermined patterns.
Freedom of movement rests upon our ability to pivot and change course at any given moment. It may come naturally or as a developed skill. Keeping your frame strong and your knees soft centers you. Collecting your feet positions you to redirect or pivot—giving total liberty to improvisational dancing. In love relationships, this autonomy comes through the power of forgiveness. We can pivot and change course at any given moment. Forgiveness unlocks our personal freedom.
- The Off-Axis Strength
Couples committed to their art develop the foundation and trust to create inspiring movement. This requires self-awareness and trust in your partner. For off-axis exchanges, the man takes the woman off balance by supporting her weight through the embrace.
The woman cannot initiate off-axis moves. The Follow is the instrument and relies on the strength of her Lead which frees her to create striking and dramatic moves. By maintaining their own frames, and using clear non-verbal communication, in concert they create a symphony. There is no limit on the beauty they can co-create. When the two come together, the result exceeds anything they could dream of alone. Their commitment to their art inspires each other.
As illustrated in the tango, loving relationships also require practice, patience, and perseverance – not to mention a deep state of trust. In a toxic relationship, this becomes a trap. But in healthy committed love, we give of ourselves without the fear of losing ourselves and that feels effortless and perfect. Much like the art of the tango.
Jianny’s goal is to empower and educate so you have the tools needed to avoid people who are incapable of expressing true love as well as to support your healing journey when love and the loveless collide. You’re wired to love and be loved fearlessly!
From Love Trauma To Fearless Love: 7 Tango Steps for Breaking Free From Narcissists and Predators
Download the Free Excerpt: Lovetrauma.com.