During my years at ASU I was really really blessed with so many creative and talented students. I’ve read poems written about tango, short stories, photographs taken inspired by tango, paintings made, illustrations, buildings designed for tango, boardgames for tango, songs written and played, you name it! All these things were presented as part of the Tango course and submitted for a grade. Tango clearly inspiring the young! I have also been lucky that some of them keep in touch, and on occasion I will get a message or see their lives on Facebook. (Those who follow me on Facebook may have seen some of the comments they post.)
Although this assignment wasn’t submitted as part of a grade, I was so moved by how intensely and clearly she captured her tango journey that I asked her if I could share it on my blog.
So with Patrice’s permission and initials used instead of names of others, I give you a beautiful write up of what Patrice calls What I Remember:
Looking back at this year (2014), I thought I should write my What I Remember About Tango. But half the problem is I don’t know how to translate it for you guys. Tango is its own culture, its own vernacular, its own celebrities, its own family drama.
How do I explain how long it takes to walk, to extend, to stay on your own axis? How hard it is to listen to someone else and translate that in your own body? To understand your body, the spiral in your core, the lengthening of your spine. To know the music so completely that you stop at the end of the song whether you’ve heard that specific one before or not.
How do I express the joy of dancing the perfect tanda with A to live music in Albuquerque? The first time E cracked a boleo on me and I felt it spiral down my spine and through my leg and foot? The shock and amazement of G leading me into a seamless volcada after hours and days and months of trying to strengthen my core and trust enough to make it happen? The joy of following every tiny movement T makes in a milonga tanda and not missing a single traspie? The humor behind the tanda with D in Albuquerque and why I couldn’t stop laughing? The jump some random guy led me in San Francisco? Finally fulfilling my dream of Chacarera on the beach?
How do I impart what amazing people I’ve taken classes with and how I have grown so much from them? Chicho and Juana, Martin and Maurizio, Maxi and Jessica are some of the best in the world, the most influential, and the most creative. And yet the names can mean nothing to you.
It would take hours to explain, pages of definitions, and still, when you aren’t in it, you can’t understand the obsession. How it feels like a drug; the need to dance constantly, to dance with “your” leaders, the high highs and the low lows. Not saying that there isn’t mediocrity, there is. Trying to teach the new generation as you were taught only a short year and a half ago. Knowing exactly what someone is going to do before they even lead it on you because of repetition. And a hundred meaningless tandas in between that one amazing one of the night.
All I can tell you is that it has consumed me and changed me and I can’t live without it. Sometimes I wonder how I got here. If it was B in my African Dance class telling me about tango, or the first day of class when T told me I was a natural, or Daniela and her brilliant teaching, or finally, feeling how great it felt to dance with T, or A at Comic-Con telling me I had to take tango two, or him asking me to take the Chicho and Juana workshop with him. I think it was all those things and none of them. The one thing I distinctly remember is standing in my bathroom one night after a practica, my feet feeling like they wouldn’t stop moving, and being unable to imagine not having tango in my life. This was before I had tango friends, before I had traveled, or done any of the amazing things that have since defined me as a dancer. I simply knew deep down that I had to continue. Now, after tears, frustration, sweat, anger, joy, laughter, and friendship, I wouldn’t change that decision for the world.
Patrice is now in the Peace Corps in Ecuador and she has actually shared tango with some fans in Quito! She hopes she’ll make it to Buenos Aires before her time there is up!