Why does Tango reveal so much in a couple’s relationship?
~ by Silvina Valz (edited by Nirlipto)
The first response such a question may evoke; “I do not want to accept such a reality as long as I can continue to think of Tango as a beautiful hobby, are you crazy?”
Yes, sometimes I understand how very complex things can be. Yet, I want to lose myself a bit in that craziness. I want to stick my head in the sand for a moment.
Let’s analyze the basis of a relationship (among others things) —
- You need two parts (or bodies, or individuals, or souls)
- You need to have something in it you care about
- You need to try to build something
It seems to me that all of these three points exist in Tango. Some of us may say, “Yes of course, but they can be found in other dances too”. It helps for us to remember that Tango it is the dance of intimacy par excellence. Everything in the dance should happen from inside. If the dance is approached from the outside, it is in order to travel into the other body in the dance. Only after that occurrence from inside, and that alone, we manage to develop and transform the dance into a movement projected into space.
One day I was dancing with a man and he told me, “Tango is the intimacy amongst the crowd.” We observe how this dance is related to Eros or to eroticism itself in the retention of this primitive and animal impulse. Perhaps that is one of the aspects influencing the sublimation of the body inherent to Tango.
There is a close relation between Eros and Tanatos; the sexual drive and the mortal instinct. In eroticism, as in the sacred, prohibition does not exist without transgression. Prohibition excludes what is natural, animal impulses, to establish the dominance of social culture. This sacrifice is the finale scenario of eroticism [Georges Bataille, El erotisme (1957)]
In the discipline of Tango, words are not present and it is the body that reveals itself through the silence, and that may make noise. This process could eventually be violent. The psychoanalyst is looking for words in order to make blocked lives move forward. In contrast, in the Dance it is the gestures which are in search of the key words.
The dance exists in the collision of the worlds like symptoms, lapses, desires, etc. Those impacts come from a precise place, namely, what a body can do to another body. It can provoke the feelings of rejection, discovery, fear, excitation, curiosity, acceptance, compassion and so on.
You see, someone who walks with a symptom presents a testimony of a body affected by another body. Therefore, the body represents the mediator, a canal to those worlds. Consider the fact that we are using words, but often it is the absence of words that tells a lot. I am tempted to quote Frederick Nietzsche; “we have little ears behind the ears.” The body is the place where traumas live, the biological clocks we experience, also the ones we consider unlivable. A body always tells a story and in Tango we share it under the pretext of designing a dance in space. In dance and in Tango the body is first exposed and only later is it offered to someone. The body is exposed to the reality it provokes, and suddenly it deviates on another path, by dancing, by moving, by following the music. And it is eventually through this act that traumas begin to heal.
If we think from the point of view of neuroscience, I am reminded of an article I read long back. It was about the famous hormone oxytocin, or shall I call it the “the hugging hormone”? As you are well aware, Tango is a dance of the Tango walk and the Tango embrace, or hug. Let us discuss the role of oxytocin—
- Socialize: Social stimulation naturally increases oxytocin levels. Some researchers suggest that oxytocin may have an “addictive” quality. In other words, the “high” humans receive from the release of oxytocin might trigger us to pursue social relationships.
- Touch: Hugging and close contact with those you love is a natural way to increase oxytocin levels. Soothing music can elicit feelings of bonding and connection by creating a shared experience among individuals.Oxytocin levels increase when we love, connect, and socialize with those around us. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter and hormone that helps calm the body from stress, promote the growth of healthy tissue, aid in digestion, increase energy, and overcome desires for addictive behaviors.“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”- Herman Melville.
I dare say, oxytocin is one of the reasons why we keep dancing Tango, and one of the main reasons why we involve ourselves in life experiences, good or bad. Live deserves to be lived.
In conclusion, though in many disciplines we are confronted with the challenge to discover ourselves, exposing and sharing ourselves with others, Tango is a microcosm where all the above aspects are under the lens. Because all the reasons presented above. Because Tango invite us to work on our Self in order to relate to others. Tango is not necessarily a happy dance. Tango is an intellectual activity as much as a physical one. It presents a deep technical challenge and invites us to listen to someone else.
Once you are required to listen, you are building the platform of empathy, and rethinking yourself through others, revealing a lot of each other, and eventually of the relationship.