Searching for the Right Words When Learning To Tango

Our Tango teacher Julie was trying to find a word to describe that first moment just before you dance, when you establish a connection with your partner. It’s not a romantic moment, when you stare into one another’s eyes, but it is a moment of surrender.

I searched my mind for the appropriate word and couldn’t find one. I even googled on the internet thinking maybe there’s a word in Spanish. Arrogantly I theorized that being a writer, surely I could locate a word to use, but still I am pondering what word would be the right word.

But maybe that moment I’m looking for to describe is not the surrender itself but the time preceding it. You stand directly in front of one another, your feet pointing towards their feet. You stand up straight and extend forward your heart. The two dancers together tilt slightly towards one another and I am reminded of a tepee.

We often think of Tango dancers gliding across the floor cheek to cheek, but dancers are different heights. In Argentinian Tango you line yourself up, ready to communicate via your core.  There is a slight push, a compression, established between the two dancers.

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on

Each Tango teacher has a different approach to how they teach the dance. The ultimate goals that result in what appears to be a smooth effortless dance can be achieved by a multitude of routes. Close embrace, the approach Julie uses, takes full advantage of the physical connection between the leader and follower.

It is the follower who surrenders to the will of the leader. The leader decides where to move and what size steps to take. The follower receives their instructions from the compression established between the two dancers. The leader pushes ever so slightly forward and the follower mirrors their action by stepping slightly back.

My husband Peter and I are re-taking beginning Tango again. The coronavirus surge, the omicron created too long a lapse between practices. Besides which, there is so much to learn and think about, the most important component to master are the basics.

It’s the same with writing. The nuances and details of a sentence can be approached in a number of ways.  I finish a story. I think I’ve finished writing it and then I discover that maybe I can tell the same story a different way with a more satisfying result.

Three months ago, I thought I’d finished my novel. I’d revised it several times. Now I’m taking a slightly different approach and revising again, tossing out some pages and writing new ones. Do I feel sad? I’ve learned through the process, and I enjoy surprising myself that even better pages can emerge from the toil.

In this moment in time, when part of the world is at war and so much is in turmoil, It is a pleasure to contemplate on a word to describe the initial moment in Tango when you check-in with your partner. Perhaps it’s as simple as connect and appreciate the other person standing before you.

Follow me on Twitter at SN Maril. Read one of my pieces of creative writing about purchasing a dress for dancing.

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Defunkt Magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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