I arrived in Red Hook a few minutes early, excited to meet and learn new tango insights from two visiting maestros. First, there was Michael Nadtochi, with whom I was well familiar yet never tired of. His dancing is always elegant and his teaching always delightfully precise. But even so, the real note of interest for me this day was his teaching partner this time around: a young woman who went by the name of Y’amour. In her photo leading up to the event, I had seen an uncommon sense of self-assurance and glowing kindness of spirit. Her bio made it clear that her tango expertise was solid, and to boot, it explained her forthright commitment to excellence in teaching. And she was named for love itself. She was from Europe, and here she was touring in my backyard!! I was super curious and interested to meet, experience, and learn from her. Who is this radiant tango chick?!! I wanted to know.
While waiting for the pre-milonga lesson to begin, I wandered over to a span of dance bars mounted on the wall to dock and steady myself during some quad stretches …length through the front of the hip is good for any standing sport. A friend I hadn’t seen in rather a while came over to say hi and catch up a bit. In the middle of our conversation, Y’amour came into the room and sat down on a short stool near the dj’s station, about five feet from where I stood. I didn’t want to be rude to my friend by breaking conversation with him and yet here was this person I had come here this evening to experience. So while the conversation continued with my friend, I floated my energy over to Y’amour to check her out. What I felt was different than what my idea of her would’ve predicted. I thought Y’amour was on tour from Europe and teaming up with Michael for the moment while she was in this area, but probably, like many teachers who visit from far away, she would be travelling all around the country a bit. From this idea, I would’ve expected her energy to be preparing to command the room in some co-teaching manner with Michael. But what I felt was that her energy was quiet and very much to herself. She seemed to be feeling something like self-conscious but only in the sense that I felt she didn’t yet feel how to connect with the people in the room. And she was letting that be. I felt her energy oriented toward Michael, grounded in a sense of comfort with him. And I realized that she was not on tour. She was here to be with him.
Michael entered the room and after a brief flourish of introductions by the organizer, the lesson started. There was a lot of balance in the way Michael and Y’amour taught together. She had as much to say throughout the lesson as he did, and they easily gave each other respect and room to share each of their teaching with the group. Y’amour was very natural in herself sharing followers’ technique, and her teaching was of the highest quality I’ve seen in terms of delivering substantial technique feedback to followers for the exercise at hand without accidentally encouraging them to go through the motions by rote. This is very challenging to achieve in a group class, and Y’amour had the deep knowledge and teaching clarity to pull it off. Also, as the lesson began, her energy lost that self-conscious feel. Her sense of purpose in the lesson opened up a natural movement of connecting to everyone in the room. Her energy was still quiet, but it was the quiet of honesty and resting in one’s own space as the foundation for feeling how to be with others moment to moment. Between Michael and Y’amour, the lesson was very rich with detailed, accessible insights for leaders and followers both.
The lesson ended and the evening moved into social dance, which broke in the middle for a performance set by Michael and Y’amour. Michael explained that he and Y’amour had only been dancing together about two weeks, the length of her visit to the States, which was about to conclude. So their performances would be improvised, he informed the small crowd. Socially, tango is an improvisational dance, so for me, improvised performances are a treat. Their performance contained three dances, all thoroughly enjoyable to watch. But the second dance stood apart from the rest. I had the sense by its introduction that this dance had a foundation of exploration to it. Michael said to the crowd, “Well, this is an intimate group…” like, so it will be okay to share this. He selected the music, and then he and Y’amour bowed to each other, hands in prayer position like a Japanese gesture of mutual respect. Then they embraced and began the dance.
This dance expression had a slow, sweeping modern look and lovely feel. In fact, as I watched, the feeling experience of witnessing this dance grew stronger and more exquisite. I had seen many captivating and spectacular tango performances in my twelve years of dancing tango; but I had never actually felt the energetic quality of a tango performance before. There was an atmosphere of intimacy building between the two dancers, and I could feel it just like I was seeing their movements and hearing the music. And what I felt was truly beautiful. It was gracefully sensual, grounded in honesty, and real. By real, I mean that it felt like two people stripping away the superficial layers of self to simply be with each other and reveal themselves to each other moment by moment.
For the duration of the dance, I breathed in this feeling experience. After the dance, I savored it, ignoring the chatter around me to be just a bit longer with this exquisite feeling Michael and Y’amour had just shared with each other and all of us. Tears welled up in my eyes from the beauty of it. I felt glad for Michael to see him experiencing this quality of connection. Glad for both of them, of course. But having experienced Michael over time, I saw how much more real and honest this connection was than any I had seen before. I felt by watching it that I came to know something about his growth as a person and what he wants in this life: realness and intimacy built on honesty. Not everyone wants this; it takes work to have it and many people are not interested. I was happy for him for this.
I wanted to share with Michael and Y’amour the powerful experience I’d had of watching them dance. I thought to go up and tell Michael right at the event; but it didn’t feel right. So instead, I wrote him on FB when I got home that night:
Michael, I just wanted to say that I have seen many gorgeous and spectacular tango performances over my nearly 12 years of dancing, but tonight I'd have to say is the first time I ever FELT a beautiful performance. I literally felt a quality of energy between you and Y'amour as you danced your second dance together. It's hard to put words on a feeling like that, so suffice it to say that it landed with my senses as a truly beautiful and sensual intimacy that is also deeply honest. It touched me so that I sat and replayed the feeling in my senses after the performance was past, and the feeling brought tears because of its realness and beauty. Thank you for sharing that with all of us.
In fairly short order, Michael wrote back:
Oh Shannah... Your message is just so much and beyond! I just read it together with Y'amour and both of us feel touched... these two weeks did not pass empty because we have talked and shared and explored tango and endlessly discussed what would make it real. And so your message is a beautiful confirmation to our joint art.
He finished his message with a happy animated figure with hearts bubbling forth from its chest.
I felt the same, my heart full and my being humbly joyful in wonder and gratitude. On top of an already fantastic experience of energetic feeling, a new dimension of intimacy had now precipitated …between the three of us. Because my mind was simple, open, and clear enough to feel them and my soul was courageous enough to follow my feeling to share with them from raw honesty what I experienced, no matter if they thought I was weird or inappropriate, the now had just expanded to envelope the three of us in a shared experience of seeing each other in a real way. I marveled with gratitude at the invisible nakedness I felt in all of this: how deeply my feeling sense had let me know Michael and Y’amour that evening with hardly exchanging a word, and how happy they were to know they were truly seen when I shared my experience with them. Life is magical in the pocket of being real.
Here's a short, short clip of Michael and Y'amour dancing:
Authenticity is a huge key to unlocking and deepening our personal experience and expression of God’s Reality a.k.a. the deepest joy and freedom of self in relationship with anyone and anything under the law of Love. This is a very powerful area of self-awareness with some very subtle make-it-or-break-it nuances. So let’s take a good, slow look... Login as member to read the whole commentary