Trust in Argentine tango. The garden-variety trust that everyone wants to expect has our partners respect our needs for safety, comfort, respect, and mutuality. We trust that they, too, want to commit to making a meaningful dance together. Trust that they won’t take advantage of an intimate embrace for unexpected, unwanted physical contact. Trust that they will practice safety awareness in giving weight and energy to another body, plus safety moving around other dancers and objects.
Another and different type of trust excites me when dancing.
It’s a trust particularly hard to find in novices who aren’t yet aware of what is possible, what can become resolved safely and comfortably if they but commit themselves to the movement their body feels.
It’s a trust that in more advanced dancers means dancing on the edge. It subsumes the previous elements while adding the element of matching: energy, intention, style. Like the novice, maybe we commit to a movement we haven’t seen or danced before and don’t quite understand, or maybe we haven’t danced with this kind of energy or style.
But as a more advanced partner, we can take that moment of trust and add to it our ability to move in a highly effective manner. Feet well connected to the floor in pushing and in receiving it. Legs tracking with hip direction and swinging under and through our center of balance (axis) with each step. Body well structured, coordinated, and alive! with energy matching our partner and the needs of each moment. Body well-grounded, with each step placement intentional, looking out not only for our own but also for our partner’s stability. Giving our partner signals before movements, in suspensions or minute contra-preparations, for an instant to notice, prepare, and respond.
There exists so much personal value that we can give one another: Love, gratitude, understanding, time, empathy, respect, attention, and more.
For me, trust must rank among the highest values in what we can give to another. While typically a thing that a person earns (or loses) over time, it’s something that we dancers do in a few moments of taking up an embrace and moving a few steps with a stranger. It’s something we give, even knowing that we can be hurt if our trust is misplaced, misused.
We willingly suspend our fears, feeling that when we place our trust in the right person, in the right moment, then we shall share mutual rewards.