Monday, April 27, 2015

What Tango Taught Me about Creativity

“Okay, last one to finish wins!” declared our teacher.

Last One Wins

It was another tedious set of walking exercises, and the heat from our brains working overtime added to the exhaustion, never mind trying to be creative with our steps.

The point was that we rush through everything in our daily lives. Dance like any craft involves patience in process and practice. There was no point in dashing to the finish line.

I had thought that I could half-ass learning Argentine tango, and quickly learned as Ron Swanson says, “Never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.

Sure, I’d learn how to fake my way through swing dance and salsa. So I figured how hard could tango be?

Somewhere, somehow I got the crazy idea that I wanted to improve my aikido technique and learn how to move more fluidly. Dancing swing was fun, and it provided some of the energy of randori techniques.

But still something felt.. missing..

Then, one day I walked into a Berkeley dance studio, and the closest way I can describe it was that I felt was finally home at last.

Despite my initial struggles I eventually took to tango – or it to me. It grew on me, and I shed my former shelf. In fact, tango led to many unexpected experiences in my life – How Tango Taught Me to Find My Tribe and Start a Movement

A short while ago I moved down to Los Angeles, and it’s amazing how different the community is down here. I suppose that it may be due to the image conscious nature of Hollywood. Or just the disconnected nature of Southern California life where freeways and daily commuting separate us.

To be fair I’ve only been willing to put in only so much energy into being involved here. Still this was not the tango I knew. It reminds me of the sentiment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Potter when asked for his definition of pornography, “I know it when I see it.”

Recently, a discussion between Facebook “friends” turned into less than kind words. What started out as disagreement about results from a dance competition led to very personal attacks.

This was not the tango I signed up for.

Tango is about connection and community through art and expression. I can understand wanting to say this dancer’s technique is “good.” Or that one’s is a great example.

Well, as we’ve talked about, fear is the killer of creativity. Once we start comparing and defining.. it’s no longer about the art, no longer about connection, no longer about community. To give out awards and encourage even more competition?

What’s the point? Last one to the finish line wins!

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