28 Jan 2008

The Great "Lady Day" Part II: Tango Thoughts

In the present moment, Jan 2008
This is a blog about Lady Day, but it lead me to think about tango, or the pursuit of any art form in general.

It is natural that in our undertakings, those who excel at their art inspire us towards their greatness. Their inimitable style, grace and creativity give us fresh hope and energy. They become our role models, their accomplishments represent a path to follow suit in their footsteps.

In tango, many of us dance wanting to be someone else. Needless to say the same phenomenon occurs here in Buenos Aires, locals and visitors alike. Dancers spent their time following a particular tango celebrity, trying to emulate their dance style, steps or even the way of dressing.

To me, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to spend so much time and energy, only to become a clone of someone else. At best, we become a very very good copy of the tango celebrity.

So what is wrong with being a very very good copy?

For one, you will always be "second-best". Why define your own limits with someone's yardstick?

At worse, it will be akin to living a lie that you may never have the courage to emerge from.

The top tango maestros have strongly individualistic styles. They are iconic figures in tango not only because of their technical competence but because their dance is their own and nobody else's. They reached their level after many years of dancing and exploration to develop their dance.

The difference is to learn from them, instead of setting your heart to be like them. The best teachers will show you the means to become free in the dance. Don’t undo this gift from them.

So, if you have decided or you feel that tango is an important part of you, then perhaps take a look at what Billie Holiday said about her singing. At what other people said of her singing. In Charlie Parker's words: "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."

So live it, experience it. Have courage to find your own path in tango.

What is the first step to achieving this?
When you dance, dance with honesty. This way you will find your own dance in tango.

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