Intimacy on the dance floor
Post date: Jan 23, 2015 2:28:13 AM
Image and words by Tony Rathburn
Jenny is a therapist who will be visiting Australia soon to run a series of her Clear the Fear Workshops. Click on the link for more details.
Whilst this post doesn't focus on tango its focus on personal growth through dance, for me, is very relevant to tango. As a tango teacher I get great personal satisfaction from witnessing the personal growth that occurs within my students. I have seen how people traumatised from abusive relationships have learned to trust and connect with others again. I have seen how shy men and women, previously not comfortable in their own skin, have developed greater confidence, presence and poise. Tango, amongst other things, has helped me to develop greater powers of focus and concentration.
"I can feel whether this person is inviting me in to his personal sacred space or whether he’d prefer to succumb to the audience with a display of flashy dance moves."
"...the more you know, trust and love yourself, the more you will see those qualities in others and learn to sense and communicate beyond words."
- Jenny Lynn
How intimate do you get on the dance floor?
By Jenny Lynn
This post is inspired by my own experiences on the dance floor in the last year. Early in 2014 I found myself single and dancing on the dance circuit more and more. And this is what I’ve been learning.
I read an article a while ago about the dance of Tango used as a vehicle to describe how we ‘do’ life. Inspired by that article I want to share about my own dance experience about what I sense from an open hearted space on the dance floor in relation to intimacy. To those that know me as a dancer, forgive my candidness. But I hope you get something out of this too.
How powerful is the sense of touch
As a minor digression I’d like to share a bit of what goes on on my Clear the fear workshops to give you an idea of why I find physical touch so insightful. You’ll know if you’ve been a past participant, that the interventions start with my holding your hands in front of the group. As I take hold of your hands, I can start to sense where you are in relation to me. I can sense if you want me in your energy field or not. I can sense where your blocks may be and how far you’d be prepared to expose them and dispel them. I gently feedback to you what I’m sensing and feeling. And generally you nod to me and confirm my shorthand insight into your heart. Allowing me to touch your hands is a privilege and an honour. The hands say so much about how someone ‘holds’ life.
What does your dance hold say about your ability for intimacy?
It’s the same with partner dancing. The moment I enter into a dance with a man, and his hands touch mine, I start to sense almost despite myself, what kind of person I am dancing with. I can feel whether they’re comfortable with me in their energy field, I can sense their anxieties, their aspirations, their dreams. I can feel whether they’re comfortable in hold or whether they’d rather be at arms length. I can feel whether they’re actually with me or just going through the moves. I can feel whether this person is inviting me in to his personal sacred space or whether he’d prefer to succumb to the audience with a display of flashy dance moves. Sometimes I can sense both the desire for intimacy and the fear at the same time. Being so sensitive means I can usually calibrate myself to whatever force my male dance partner brings to his dance with me and offer the counter balance to his energy so that we dance in some semblance of harmony. Sometimes I dare to push a connection through so that my partner knows he has been ‘seen’ and that it’s safe too for him to be seen. Sometimes that is uncomfortable for him but I sense he is willing to become more comfortable. Very rarely, there is some kind of energetic mis match. He can’t see me. I can’t see him. We can’t see each other and the dance fails.
However, it works much more than it ever fails. And what I also have observed is that it is not all me doing the inviting. Occasionally I meet a male dancer who invites me into his space. He calls me into his world and invites me to connect on levels I haven’t yet connected with. This enticement is non sexual but it is highly sensual. I like to follow and explore what this man is giving permission for me to be like. How much more of me could I express and explore in a dance with a guy who has overcome his fear of intimacy on the dance floor? How much more womanly could I feel? How much more could I complement his masculine? How easily will we flow in and out of lead and follow? How can we together, express the union of the music and with unique dance connection?
What dance qualifications do you need to dance in intimacy on the dance floor?
It’s been 6 months since I started exploring a far more intimate form of dance in the Blues. I’ve discovered partners who are prepared to take intimacy in the dance to a new level even for me. And this has meant I’ve had to up my game. I’ve had to ask and answer questions of myself about who I am on the dance floor and what I want to or would like to share with my dance partners. For example, do I allow my partner to rest his head against mine, stroke my face, hold me close? Do I allow myself to stroke him, to keep in contact with him so he knows where I am in the dance? Do I trust him to lift me off the ground, to hold me safe in a dip or drop? How can I establish so quickly all of these intuitions, nuances and insights in a brief dance, oftentimes, with a complete stranger? I believe the law of intimacy that I am exploring in each of these articles boils down to the same thing: the more you know, trust and love yourself, the more you will see those qualities in others and learn to sense and communicate beyond words. It’s almost like you’re moving out of your head and into your heart. Here is where you feel life without fear of what it looks like to others. No qualifications necessary.
How being fearless enhances your dance
I’ve lost my fear of being seen, not just on the dance floor by others, but by my dance partner himself. I’ve realised I can have those 3 minutes of exquisite dance and intimate connection, as though there were no one else in the room who mattered. With it has come a wonderful woman sense of just accepting my body, my age and my expression as natural parts of me. It has allowed me unsurpassed liberation and has been so fulfilling even without having had a partner to share the rest of my life with.
Dance like no one is watching.
The curious thing about dancing is that, it’s at that moment where I have made a dance connection with my partner that the sense of connection is timeless. While the music is pacing us to finish the dance in around 3-4 minutes, the connection holds us in an often illusive, if-you-try-and-capture-it tension of communion. At that moment of sublime union, it’s as though the music is guiding and supporting me to flow with it and to allow the dance to take me wherever it wants. I allow myself to surrender to it and for the intimacy to express itself through this improvised dance ecstasy.
What is dance teaching me?
I know categorically that had I not been prepared to learn about my relationship with myself through the dance, I would still be stuck in technique and specifics. I would still be looking for more classes, more expertise and still imagining that the dance was something out there that I had to perfect before I could do it. Instead, I’ve made dance into part of my core expression. It evolves continually as I explore with my dance partners, and some classes, how I can surrender to the music, to his sway, to his ability to connect with me and enter into a single communion of male and female energy.
Though everyone has different levels of comfort and preparedness to connect, their own particular style and reasons for not wanting to surrender to intimate connection on the dance floor, I can’t help but wonder if some aren’t missing out on something essentially nurturing and beautiful. When in the blues, the dance more often than not, manifests in a special chemistry of music, mood and partner, for me it transports me to a different place and I feel truly blessed to be in intimate communion with my opposite number for those few minutes. To be able to do that means I have learned to honour and love this heart that is mine so that I can share my sacred space with others.
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