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Tango Zen: The Walking Dance Meditation

Updated on November 10, 2013

Moving Meditation

Sport Dance has become an important part of athletic events such as the Arnold Fitness Weekend and its adjunct events in Columbus, Ohio in the early spring of each year. The event is so popular that it is also nominated to join the Olympic Games.

Sport dance and ballroom dance in competition are tough disciplines that require many hours of concentrated work. They be more difficult to perform than even boxing or the martial arts and these dancers train their bodies and their minds for peak performances..

Both types of dance activities can create better health and concentration in their participants. Part of these benefits include physial balance and mental centeredness. Altogether, the physical and mentalo aspects of these dances, and particularly Tango, offer a route to self mastery through movement arts.

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Tango especially is what is know as a moving medication in some circles, like the movements of Tai Chi Chuan. Tango expert and author Chan Park teaches and writes about all this in a small but powerful book that is an excellent guide for anyone interested in dance and especially in Argentine Tango with its history of most intense development beginning around the 1860s.

Tango Zen is full of useful information on how to observe Tango and life from a meditative attitude. This includes breathing and body awareness more than sweat and so, new students learn to walk and to breath in a synchronized fashion.

Mr. Park begins each new class with walking and breathing exercises. As they continue to walk and breathe together, each new couple relaxes to become a single moving unit. This is beautiful. Add some Tango music, and it is even more beautiful. Watching is almost as exhilarating as doing the dance.

Tango Zen by Mr. Chan Park

Chan Park's Tango Zen Class

Moving As One

Walk and breathing in unison, a couple becomes one with one another and the Dance. Their movements gain power that is hard to ignore, because it suddenly grasps the viewer's attention. Audiences feel invigorated yet relaxed after a performance. To some, watching the Argentine Tango is better than eight hours of sleep for refreshing the body, mind, and spirit.

Chan's book is important, yet light and easy to read and understand. It is fun. Even if a reader does no more than to use it to learn to walk and breathe for exercise and serenity, it has done its job and provided a gift.

Watching Chan's classes and performances is like experiencing the power of the ocean.

Elements of both Tango and Apache have been used on ice for Olympic competition as well, including the video of ice stars Torvill and Dean below.


More Than Dance

In learning Tango Zen, students walk together and may trip over each others' feet and laugh at first. Gradually, they become synchronized. Soon they are gliding and when many couples do this together in the same room, a feeling of relaxation and flow is palpable.

As a book, Tango Zen includes practical instructions for dance movements, along with stretching exercises and specific walking techniques. The illustrations are quite good as well and beautiful. The exercises can be used for dance, exercise, and relief of tensions.

In the video below, a meditation class has decided to use Tango as moving meditation. It involves relaxation and concentration on movements and changes of posture.

Argentine Tango

Torvill and Dean

The unbeatable ice dance couple in several Winter Olympics, Torvill and Dean composed the following number as Tango for the ice and mesmerized crowds wherever they performed it. Thei show stopping number such as this are th reason for their consistent to ranking for so many years.

Ice dancing is already the concept of two dancers becoming one on the ice and with Tango, it is more so.

Torvill & Dean Combine Tango and Apache on Ice

Tango Music

Tango Music

Although this is a fictional work, the novel reads like a documentary of one man's search for the best, most famous Tango singer in Argentina. every page feels real and the history of Tango rings true.

Since 2009, Tango is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, like a National Park in importance. Its most famous dancers and singers are revered.

Carlos Gardel (1890 - 1935) is probably the best known Tango singer, active in the 1920s and 1930s. Another, Carlos Acuna (1915 - 1999), was famous is several Latin America countries. Thy are both buried in La Chacarita Cemetery in Buenos Aires. These and a few other men have been responsible for writing and performing much of the body of Tango music we have today, a large part of it used in Mr. Chan's Tango Zen classes.

A sample of famous Tango numbers is presented in the video to the right, which you might use for relaxation.

Modern Scene from "Take the Lead", Starring Antonio Banderos


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