The Tango is known as the dance of love and love is what we are really interested in through Tango Therapy.
We danced yesterday with a lovely group of people who started off a little unsure about what was going to happen and soon became in the flow of the dance.
Tango Therapy is a simple technique that uses the Argentinian Tango dance as well as its music to guide people back into their bodies.
As we taught today the idea is that by opening our chest and allowing a gentle and easy connection with ones body and with others we are better able to dance. For Tango the walking steps are important as a way to begin and these are executed with focus on the big muscle in the bottom, the bellybutton and the heart. This might sound strange, but I promise there is nothing strange about this at all.
Dance has the ability to lift the spirits and to heal many of our human ailments. Its makes us feel happy and connected when we are feeling low. It boosts the immune system and it provides vital human vitamins through the feel good hormones that it sends through the bloodstream and the brain.
Tango as a therapy
Tango used for therapeutic purposes is a beautiful way to promote activity and fun with others as one enters the elder years. And as Malen Lesser talks about in Tango terapéutico para envejecer activo y saludable:
‘the therapeutic potential of Tango is infinite, its not just about who can dance it, enjoy its lyrics or listen to it, it also stands for everything that can be evoked from the emotional, the stimulation of memory, the social links it promotes and the re-connection with ones own body’
Dancing in our elder years
It is possible to think about aging and all the health implications that come with it as a stage in life that requires connection with others in order to provide this stage with optimal health choices. Its also possible to think about aging as a stage in life (much like infancy) as one that requires bonding and the affective containment. Affective containment is the unconditional love and kindness; the goodness that is so necessary for us as a species. Tango Therapy is a class that is about allowing yourself to connect with the heart of another and to enjoy the moments together as well as at the same time exercising your balance, coordination, agility; vital health, breathing awareness and fluid movements together.
As we grow older neuro-cognition issues are more likely to set in as they are in our younger life and it is interesting to understand that the social, recreational and creative needs are just as important, if not more important as they are in our infant years.
Keeping active and connected with others, our friends or community groups, with nature is one key to keeping our life spirit flowing through us.
In the specific case of Tango Therapy the social, recreational and creative needs are very much met along with the need to bond at a deeper level. The level that says ‘you are not alone’, ‘you are important to me’ etc. We start the class in a circle holding hands and are guided from here each step along the way.
The very fact that we stand up and use our bodies puts our whole existence first. Life is felt through the body and maybe one day we are in a low mood and cannot be bothered to do anything other than sit at home but we come and join hands and communicate through Tango Therapy and waltz around and suddenly the world is alright again. In connecting and linking with others many problems disappear and the person is able to have a sense of belonging to a group that values them and their uniqueness.
Remembering beautiful moments
Dancing in Tango Therapy people are able to recall certain moments of their life, sensations and this makes them work with long-term memory. They remember significant moments lived and can sing along with the music which in itself is healing.
The article by Malen Lesser that I mention at the beginning goes on to say that:
‘Tango is familiar and kind, and we have to surround people with these feelings, apart from giving them other elements at this stage of their life.
their knowledge, their tastes, the stories that may arise from the
tango universe and be attentive to any resource that could be a way
of openness, frank communication and joy in these areas of care and
containment of elders’
Dancing the Argentinean Tango stimulates the remembering and healing of significant life events which allows for the continuity of the past with the present thus promoting the experience of one’s continuous life history.
In the group yesterday we had the theme of the development of the Tango walk which takes effort and concentration. However, when this walking fits into the body it enhances ones natural walking, posture and gait which in turn raises the self-esteem and confidence within the body.
How can I join a group?
We run 12 week courses in Tango Therapy and for information on these please contact us at the Old Post Office Art and Therapy Centre in Blaenavon.
Thank you Louise ( Carers Support Worker/ Gweithiwr Cymorth Gofalwyr, Social Care and Housing/Tai a Gofal Cymdeithasol, Torfaen County Borough Council/Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Torfaen); for organizing this class and we hope to dance with your group again.