Tango Lesson: Don't Look At My Feet, See My Heart

When you begin taking social dance lessons, it is tempting to study the foot work of your teacher. Soon you realize the "steps" are not the keys to executing the moves. Rather it is the lead, conveyed from the torso, at the solar plexus, which initiates every aspect of the dance: direction, speed, and distance. In tango, we romantically call this "leading from the heart".

The lead is also referred to as "intention". It is important to realize that following while looking down at your partner's feet can be extremely misleading, and often leads to the misinterpretation of the intention. In other words, if you don't allow yourself to get caught up in your partner's steps, you become more available to pay attention to his intention.

When we focus too much on the missteps of speech or gesture, we misinterpret the heart of another person. When we are pouncing at every word or phrase spoken by someone of different political or religious persuasion, we overlook our very similar humanness.

Truly, we can dance at least once, with any person. All we need to do, is to stop focusing on our feet and stop looking for reasons to stumble.