After moving from L.A. to Marin, I find a new tango teacher—Gabriel. Both the joys and the challenges of tango continue. I reach out to Gabriel for perspective and support.

The Challenge of Dancing Tango as an Empath

November 11, 2012

Gabriel [tango teacher in Marin],

I am writing this because there is a lot going on inside me right now regarding tango.  This letter does not require a response, and I don’t need anything from you, but it would be difficult for me to continue our lessons if you were not at least somewhat aware of what I am experiencing.  It is a little bit of a risk to send this email since we do not know each other well and since you have no frame of reference for what I am about to share.  Nevertheless, I feel it’s important for me to share this, and I am willing to take the risk and hope it will be received in the proper light and spirit of its intention.

I am really struggling right now with my commitment to tango.  So that you can understand why, I will give you a brief description of my tango journey.  I started tango about five years ago, after completing treatment for cancer.  “Out of nowhere” I saw tango on TV and was immediately inspired.  In retrospect, I think it was an attempt to heal from the cancer experience by using my body as a vehicle for passion and joy and celebration, and to remember the sensuality of life after experiencing the pain and darkness that the body can also bring.  For me it was very liberating, and my heart danced.  I found tango so beautiful, distinctively different from other forms of dance, though I am deeply moved by most forms.

However, I had great issues with dancing so intimately with strangers.  I am highly sensitive to other people’s energies.  I would get headaches after the milongas [tango dances] because I would dance with a man and I would sense things from his body and energy, and before I could clear it, there would be more input to my body from another man.  By the end of the evening my body was so overloaded with “input” that I would have a headache and feel cold and empty inside.  Eventually the joy became so tiny and the vast majority of the experience unpleasant, so I quit.  I was devastated at the time; it was an enormous loss, but I could not find a way to make it work for me.

Two and half years later, the cancer returned and I went through more invasive treatment and had to have radical surgery, which changed my body forever.  (Just so you know, CURRENTLY I AM VERY HEALTHY AND HAPPY.)  Again, as soon as my energy was back, I started longing for tango.  I thought I was a little crazy to go back after my past experience, but the longing in my heart was so great and I was in a different place, so I thought perhaps it might be different this time around.  I was fortunate to meet a tango teacher in L.A. (Mateo) who understood energy and my psychic sensitivities.  He was able to help me discover ways to clear my energy on an ongoing basis so that it doesn’t accumulate and cause me headaches as it had been. This helped me enormously, not only with tango but with my ability to move through this world, in general.  So, for the first time, I felt really free to dance.

Gabriel, you are teaching me how to use my body in an integrated way with regard to tango.  But the truth of the matter is, for me tango is NOT an integrated experience because I am dancing intimately with someone I am NOT intimately connected to.  That continues to be an issue for me.

Dance for me is not superficial.  It evokes so many things inside me.  I am grateful for my tango experience.  It has been a passionate, celebratory, and healing journey.  I have learned so much about myself and I have grown.  It has provided passion and joy and sensuality during critical times for me.  So if I quit again, I will not regret my investment.  That being said, I am not quite ready to make that decision.  I do believe I have the spirit of a dancer, and if I had been more connected to my true self as a child, I believe I would have chosen the path of a dancer.

The experience of touch is very sacred to me.  In addition to the trauma of the cancer, I have other physical trauma from my childhood.  Combine that with my level of self-awareness and my degree of sensitivity and it is easy to see why tango is so challenging for me.  Mateo and I used to laugh about this:  Why I was given so much passion for a dance that in so many ways seems not a good fit for me…a cosmic joke.

SO . . . I think that is enough for now.  Again, I do not need a response from you or anything else from you.  I did, however, need to share this because otherwise it would be a huge barrier to my ability to connect and dance with you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I trust time will reveal . . .




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