Thursday, June 12, 2008

A good day

I was asked to be a part of a seminar on Leadership and Tango, taking the skills learned in Tango (on either side of the embrace) and applying them towards leadership skills, the attendees were all educators. My part, as well as that of a friend, was to be followers in the tango aspect, and assistants when the basic walking skills were taught to the attendees, and being the instructors' partners in the end of seminar demonstration.
Talk about pressure! Yikes!
But it was a blast. It was a room full of alpha educator leaders, who were strong in their opinions in the beginning, but then it was amazing to see them all make the connection between learning how to lead or follow in tango and the parallels they found for teaching in their fields.
My friend and I worked with different people as they learned as fill in followers or leaders. The only tango they learned was how to be comfortably close to another physically, the tango presence, leader intention, and how to walk. That was it. But you would think that we were unlocking the mysteries of the world to them! The thing that rocked my world was when they caught the idea that a follower is not a passive being who receives, but an integral part of the communication of the dance. It was like a dozen lightbulbs going off in their heads, especially when the traditional gender roles were not being used. Everyone lead. Everyone followed. I had a moment with one gentleman who "got it" while I was working with him. I rotated in as his follower, and he said to me "Oh good! Now I won't have to worry!"
"Why is that?"
He responded "Well, you know what you are doing. So I'm golden."
I gave a little laugh and said "Yes, I know how to follow reasonably well, but if there is no lead, I won't be able to contribute to our dance at all. Which makes you not so golden."
He looked at me in surprise, then I saw what I said connect and he had an Aha! moment.
At the end, all of the attendees, even the men who's wifes had obviously twisted their arms to come, caught some of the excitement that inspired most of us to start tango. They wanted to learn more, they wanted to work more on walking. They wanted to hear more about leadership. So the two gentlemen running the seminar said we can either spend the final few minutes working more on learning tango, or they could watch a demonstration. You would have thought we were playing musical chairs they all sat down so fast! So music went on, and I danced with the tango instructor, and my friend danced with the leadership instructor (who is also a very good tango dancer). I was very happy that our dance was kept simple, nothing fancy, nothing showy, just simple social salon tango, which felt just amazing. In speaking with the attendees afterwards, I was even more grateful that the volcadas, colgadas, and all those other adas were left behind, because I was told repeatedly that they felt they could one day do what we did. It was a performance that contained elements they felt was attainable for them.
There was one gentleman who gave me such a laugh because I remember the feeling of disbelief he gave us when I was a beginner. I had not danced with the tango instructor before today. We danced a few songs together before the seminar to warm up and get a feel for each other, but that was it. The gentleman would not accept that as truth, he was convinced I must be the instructor's partner or assistant. He could not believe we only met that day. Then he said to us "So, in tango, you can connect that completely with people you've never met before?" Yes sir, you can. And thus, the addiction begins..... ;-)
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Anonymous said...

How utterly, utterly awesome! There is no greater joy that to be the electricity that lights someones bulb!

Elizabeth said...

Debbi, I emailed this to Alan, (who works in a corporate world) and then I re-read it again today. This is a wonderful thing to do! So much to be learned from tango, beyond dance. Alan often talks about what he learned about being a leader (in work) from his tango life. Thnks very much for this thought provoking post.

Alex said...


Mtnhighmama said...

This sounds like such an amazing experience. I think, in the tango world, it's easy to forget how difficult it is for most people to be so connected and intimate with strangers. It's an amazing thing! It sounds like you got a lot from the workshop too!