When I am at a social gathering I never like to tell anyone what I do. Why?
Because I am a psychotherapist, and as soon as you utter these words in a
social setting, people change. You can almost feel them shifting gear, into
the ‘Oh my God, she’s analysing me mode’! Well, believe it or not, my first
introduction to real live tango was through psychotherapy. Late last August
I was in Buenos Aires at a world psychotherapy congress presenting work
relating to my latest books. Needless to say, weather apart (it was winter
there), my daughter and I both fell in love with Buenos Aires and I resolved
that on my return I would do two things. Take up Spanish again and start the
Dance has always been part of my life. As a child and young woman I danced
whenever I had the opportunity. First on the beach in front of our home in
rural Connemara, then later in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Salsa and Latin
classes. I love to dance. For me, dancing is life. It is how I express myself
when I cannot find the words. Somehow too, at a far from conscious level,
dancing for me is about celebrating my passion and loving God. No, I am not a
religious fanatic! Far from it. But I am a deeply spiritual being that has
realised through my journey that we are souls clothed in a human body
rather than humans with a soul. My training and work in Jungian psychology
and my life experiences have led me to understand that everything we do
has a purpose. That our experiences and the people we draw into our lives
are dictated by a higher destiny and the lessons our soul has still to learn.
What has this to do with tango? For me, a lot. Tango is at once extremely
sensual and deeply spiritual. As a dance of love, it is both melancholic and
ecstatic. As an exercise in ‘presence’ and being in the moment, it is superb.
Tango is also about the perfect balance/union between a man and a woman.
Moved by the music and the woman in his arms, he leads and she follows; she
tunes in to him and he to her and they dance. This aspect, where the woman
tunes into and feels her partner and surrenders to him, letting him lead her
(without words) is possibly quite unique and for many Western woman used
to having control- not easy. It certainly takes some getting used to. Most of
all, it takes TRUST. ”You don’t trust me’ repeats Hernan as he feels that
ever so subtly, I have moved ahead, shifted my weight or left him. “Lean on
me’. It can be hard to be this trusting in life anyway never mind at tango!
Within each of us is a masculine and feminine energy and component. Men
have an inner feminine (based on their experience of their mothers) and
women have an inner masculine (based on father). And what all human beings
seek is inner wholeness. This is bought about by the balancing in us of the
inner masculine and feminine; in Jungian psychology this balance is termed
the ‘Inner Marriage’. This union is essential to the spiritual wellbeing of all
individuals. It is the union of two parts of us, masculine and feminine, hearts
and minds, human and Divine. This drive to wholeness is implicit to our lives,
and marriage and love relationships are an outer expression of this drive.
When you are in union with your partner, you feel whole. Dancing tango
offers us this in such a way that the strongest overly dominant woman
becomes not submissive, but open and trusting, and the weakest
disempowered or wounded man becomes strong and assertive. In romantic
and psychological terms,’the masculine takes the feminine out into the world
because he loves her’. She follows, always knowing that he has understood
her needs and can lead her safely. When we are totally in balance we feel
good, we feel whole. We love ourselves and imagine we can do anything. It’s
rather like the feeling we have when we fall in love. To dance the tango
means to venture out into this world; to taste this union, and if we are
willing, to trust and let ourselves go with it, to live the dance of life. Tango
captures the pathos and beauty of the passion and vulnerability of love.
Dancing the tango is also about engaging with life and allowing yourself to
To me, a relative novice (I started tango six months ago), it offers healing
and joy in a deep powerful way. It is also great fun. I come away from a good
night of dancing tango having spent a few hours not just with friends but in
complete and safe intimacy with a stranger(s), feeling moved, energised,
beautiful and very feminine. Yes, I am most definitively hooked!