The Art of Contact

Vine Curls

I imagine that in every tanguero’s life comes the requisite deep-end plunge into multiple technique workshops on walking, which invariably focus in some way on improving one’s connection as a vital component of refining the walk with a partner.

I’m unashamed to say that, for the longest, aspects of the connection seemed elusive, in part because, well, it’s tango (grrr!) and in part because every other instructor and every other studio seems to have a different way of talking about it. Interestingly, my ‘aha!’ moment has been more akin to the mysterious, expansive force of dark matter than the Big Bang itself. It must have started when someone said “allow movement” and then another teacher described tango as a “compact” or “agreement” between partners, and then later, someone else emphasized “unblocking.” Then when I started investigating contact improvisation, deeper aspects of the connection finally clicked. And finally, all the words came together to describe my corporal ruminations:

Our task is not to perform [a movement]. Our task is to stay in dynamic reality as long as the moment for [the movement allows]. You see it. Ah! Now! And this “now” will not be, “Now, I will do something” but “Now, this is happening. Now the reality is taking me there.” –Sebastian Flegiel, The Art Of Contact

Tango and contact improvisation share fascinating similarities in that both movement practices require partners to
· give each other their full mental and physical attention,
· allow themselves to be perceived in relationship to and in space by their partner, and
· importantly, establish and maintain their connection to explore unscripted possibilities in movement from moment to moment.

Next month, we use empathy – feeling INTO – as a vantage point to explore textures of the connection and embrace to better sync with our partner and improve musicality. Hope you can join us.

-Presh