TANGO! Unleash Your Passion or Get off the Dance Floor

27 Feb
The Seduction Dance

My tango takeaway: passion + practice = progress!

Let me preface this post by affirming that I am a happily married woman. That said, I recently found myself in an intense tango with a stranger whom I had only just met. I was drawn to this new partner under the most unlikely of circumstances, but the passion took over.

Okay, let me explain this metaphorical tryst before my husband of seventeen years installs secret spyware on my laptop. For months, I’d been plodding through a rather unpleasant scene in my novel, seeming unable to finish it. My character had to face a lot: a major death, charges of murder, a funeral, and above all, her own secrets. I seemed to be writing in circles, deleting more than I added most attempts and feeling, like my character, doomed.

Lunge back to my real life, the one without imaginary friends. A real-life friend and neighbor began to make me aware of details regarding plans underway to rezone schools in our county. I just didn’t have time to get involved, I thought. Besides, my friend and many others like her seemed well informed and fired up enough to fix any problem; I was confident they’d work it all out for the best. But then she insisted I should come to a school board meeting, that many of the proposed plans broke up our neighborhood and had my home and many others going to a school that would not allow my son to walk or bike to school like my daughter had done.

The fire was lit.  “One Neighborhood – One School” had become a rally cry among my neighbors and others asking for neighborhoods to be kept together while saving walkers and bikers, one which I thought summed up my new-found position as well. After attending a rezoning meeting, I was suddenly overcome with a desperate desire to do something, and to do it quickly, before the plans were finalized and set in stone. Sixteen haiku poems and a theme song poured out. My 11-year-old daughter helped me turn the song into a music video, which was reviewed by one newspaper reporter and even featured on local TV.

Chaines turn back to my imaginary world. Yesterday I finally finished that 3,000-word scene. It’s as if dancing with a new, intense passion reignited my long-standing, deeply desired passion of putting down this story. I’m as committed to it as I am to my marriage. Both take work, I know, and passion is what keeps each of them alive.

Here are some TANGO! rules of engagement I’ve learned. And a one-two-three-four…

  1. You gotta have passion. This is rule numero uno. En el tango o en la vida, your passion is what will propel your creativity. Lack of a driving passion bordering on obsession leaves the dance or the work flat. Just watch the first few episodes of Dancing with the Stars in any given season. While every contestant is learning the fundamentals of dance upon which they will improve over the course of weeks and months, those who cannot tap into their inner passion are always the first to go. It’s why even Pamela Anderson’s long legs couldn’t save her from losing to Drew Carey in week one last fall. The judges described her dancing as needing more “intensity.” That’s passion: intense, vibrant, alive.
  2. You gotta have technique. In dance, technique refers to the thousand repetitions of precise steps and combinations in the classroom that improve over time until they become second nature. My ballet mistress calls this desired phenomenon muscle memory. So it is with exercising our brains. The more we write/paint/compose/sew/take pictures/make films/create, the better we write/paint/compose/sew/take pictures/make films/create, and the more natural it becomes to do it.
  3. You gotta have structure. Practiced technique is tested with structure. Literally the beat and time of the music dictates when you do what. Lunge on one, snap head forward on two, wrap free leg around partner’s hip on three, be dragged gracefully on four. In real life, we call them deadlines. And we need them every bit as much as a dancer needs a rhythm. Trust me, it’s much harder to improvise dancing to a 3-minute song than to learn prescribed choreography and perform it.
  4. You gotta know what you want. In tango, the dance of seduction, the couple wants their mad attraction to come to its final pleasurable, um, climax. With the school rezoning, I knew what I wanted with easy clarity, perhaps because it was for my kids. For myself, it’s a lot harder. It’s too easy to get distracted by the necessary to-do’s of the day to forget that writing my novel isn’t another chore. It’s something I chose, something I want to choose to work on consistently, because it’s something I really, really want.

And so at the end of our month of TANGO!, I’m reminded of another group of awesome chicks, the Spice Girls, whose Wannabe lyrics make a great springboard for comments. So what’s your zigazig ah?

[You:] Yo, I’ll tell you what I want,what I really really want,
[4 Chicks:] So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
[You:] I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
[4 Chicks:] So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
[You:] I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really
really really wanna zigazig ah!

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7 Responses to “TANGO! Unleash Your Passion or Get off the Dance Floor”

  1. hostingthemuse February 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Love it! Great, great post! Tracey I really, really want it!

  2. ticklingthemuse February 27, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    I love this – one of my favorite posts! Even though I’m reminded of the music (or dance) teacher who trills “practice, practice, practice,” while slapping a ruler against her hand. 😉

  3. Teryn O'Brien February 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    I recently took up ballet, and I’d LOVE to try tango sometime. This is a great post. There’s a lot you can learn about writing from dance. And yes, passion is essential! 🙂

    • charmingthemuse February 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      So true, Teryn! I started ballet almost accidentally in my thirties and have been so blessed through it. How cool that we share both loves. I really enjoyed reading some of your identity posts. It’s not just a growing up issue; it really does linger with a person, especially an artist, always.

  4. Regina Hellinger February 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    I love how the tango you danced took you to unexpected places and your energy from it took you back to your passion!

    • charmingthemuse February 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      Thanks, Regina. Passion really is energizing, isn’t it? They say your metabolism speeds up when you’re feeling in love. Wonder if the same is true with feeling in creative love.

  5. pursuingthemuse February 28, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    Great post, Tracey. Isn’t it cool how passion for one thing can release energy that translates to other things as well? You gotta follow your gut!

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