Dance Your Life

By Tara Thurau

Image by Shelley Rose Photography

"We lost you to tango."

"What is it about tango that we don't even see you anymore at salsa events?"

-- Comments from most of my friends home who are from salsa

I did ballet when I was a little girl for about two years. Then I started salsa when I was 19 years old, with other dancing such as bachata, swing, kizomba, even country line dancing later on in my life. I don't know what it is but I sure love dancing. Maybe it's in my blood. I don't know. I still don't know what exactly it is that pulls me to dancing. Yet, I stopped dancing for over ten years. Honestly, I don't know how. I did because of my relationships I was in but I know I will never make that kind of mistakes again…because I know what makes me happy.

Late 2014, I went back to salsa….and did I dance salsa! I loved it! I was dancing at least 4-5 times a week, whether it was a class or a social. My daughter was even taking classes. And I'm definitely a better follower in salsa than in tango. About a year later, I started taking tango classes. Another year later, I started dancing argentine tango socially. After one tango marathon, it was over.

Now I pay in order to connect with friends and strangers in an embrace, and torture my body and feet for hours and hours over weekends. But the rewards I get is so much more satisfying than the pain caused by it.

Compared to all these different dancing that I've done, Tango definitely is a different animal. Tango is the only dance that has ever made me want to really practice, even at home individually, then with a partner, at a practica, take technique workshops, and so on. One that has made me question, cry, laugh… One that made me actually ponder about music, about life, about people, about embrace, about connection…

In salsa, one question I get asked when dancing with a leader who has never danced with me before is "Do you dance on one or on two?" I dance whatever beat the leader dances to and just follow. And if someone is dancing 'off beat,' many consider them to be 'wrong' or off.

In tango, everyone hears the same music, but there is no rule of which beat to dance to. One couple may be dancing to the base rhythm, while another couple may be dancing to melody played by violin. Then, another couple may be dancing to the singer. Everyone is dancing to the same song, moving in a ronda, within a system, yet dancing to the different beat.

It doesn't matter what beat the next couple is dancing to. You connect with your partner and move together, breathe, heart to heart. For 12 minutes. You talk through your heartbeat to the music. Truly listening to each other back and forth. When the 12 minute is over, and I try to calm myself down and gather myself, I often can feel my and my partner's heartbeat. Listening to the heartbeat helps me to calm myself. It's just like a life we live. We connect with those things that matter to each of us the most. Some may connect with/to friends, lovers, knowledge, money, greed, power… Everyone is different.

Tango, to me, is no longer a just dance.

This life, this journey, we all feel and hear the different beat, and decide what to do, how to live…based on what we hear, feel, and think and our past experiences and lessons are the foundation of it all. Every time you dance, you have different connection, different partner, different embrace, different style… Yet not one will be ugly or wrong. It might feel little bit off but it's not wrong. What you hear might be different than what your partner is hearing although it's same song. You are NOT off beat. Just like our lives.

My salsa friends may have lost me to tango but I have found myself in tango.

Remember that no one else is dancing your life; you are the one dancing it. Love and live it with your heart and dance it. At the end of the tanda, or your life, the only one who really knows how the connection and the dance was is you, not the audience. Don't worry about others judging you. Own your dance and dance it fully.

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