Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 9: Sacadas
We’ve spent the semester learning sacadas. The literal translation of the verb sacar is “to take.” So in this move, either the lead or the follow moves into the space that his/her partner just left, creating the illusion that the other is being displaced.

As we execute a series of sacadas in a row, I note the circular energy; the result is two people spinning together, taking turns pivoting and in the axis position. In the last variation, the backward sacada the follow powers the turn. So for a minute, your roles are reversed. The follow supports the lead, as he balances his weight on one foot. [Read more…]

Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 8: Finding Quiet

On Sunday evening, I was full of hate. Spit and vinegar as my “co-parent” likes to say. Yeah, a few frustrating exchanges with said “co-parent” still manage to do that to me. But as I drove to the dance, I willed myself to let go of all the crap. No luck.

I kept turning the scenario round and round in my head, trying to find some silver lining to it all. Where was the bright side? C’mon, Pollyana? What could I be thankful for? What lesson was I learning from this situation? What secondary benefit was I getting from hanging on to it; or continuing to create it?!

Not working. I just kept getting angrier and angrier!

So I got to my destination and strapped on my shoes, knowing full well that my head was everywhere but where I was. Tal walked over. I was silently praying he wouldn’t ask me — because I was tango disaster waiting to happen. I almost laughed out loud because just a few days ago, Mimi was praising me for being so grounded. Ha!

[Read more…]

Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 5: But, I’m going backwards!?!

Talk about a prescription for my control issues. In order to do this tango thing, I had to do it blind! Or at least, be okay with not knowing where I was going. Perfect. f$%#!

Melissa Pierce is one of my sources of inspiration. She is a stay-at-home mom turned documentary filmmaker/speaker and the question she poses in her project, Life In Perpetual Beta is this: “Is the unplanned life still worth living?” [Read more…]

Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 4: Lead & Follow

Recently Tal, one of my tango instructors reminded me that I had come to tango for answers and that not surprisingly, answers were willingly supplied. Funny. I’m not even sure what my questions were.

In Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert was also looking for BALANCE. She picked her post-divorce destinations on her quest to find the balance between physical experiences (Italy) and spiritual experiences (India). Early in the book, she asks a Balinese medicine man the question of how this balance can be achieved. He answers by way of a picture: a man with his head in his heart, and two feet planted on the ground.

What does this have to do with tango? If you’re a tango dancer, you can wipe the grin off your face now.

In that very first class, this is what I learned: the leader leads with energy from his chest. As the follower, I focus all my attention there. This is where all the information and energy is transmitted from lead to follow. Quite literally, I put my head in his heart. [Read more…]

Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 3: Just Step

Back in the 90s, when I would visit my family in Manila, we would all go out to dance clubs. For those of you who’ve been there, you’ll know that ballroom dancing was all the rage at one point. Maybe it still is.  You would go with a bunch of friends, hire a few D.I.’s (dance instructors) for the evening, and have them twirl you around the dance floor.

So when people asked me, “But why did you pick tango?” I would say, “Tango is the easiest one.” WTF? Yuh huh… that’s what anyone in the St. Louis tango community said to me, at least with their eyes.

Don’t you love not knowing what you don’t know?!

To be fair, until 2009 my limited exposure to tango had been with D.I.s who instructed me in broken English to, “Just step!” Perfect. I know how to step. I don’t have to learn any fancy change-ball-change crap.

Yup. Tango. No fancy steps here.

[Read more…]

Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 2: But Why Tango?

At this point, I began living my life by the signs. Sometimes, I didn’t exactly know what they meant but at least I was paying attention. This was a new thing for me since up until then, I was a take charge kinda girl. I was convinced that the only way to get anywhere in life or get anything done, meant I had to do it myself. Period.

My DIY Method is what had allowed me to transplant myself at age 13 to halfway around the world. This philosophy is how I graduated at the top of my class, how I landed one of two prized positions at a prestigious ad agency, how I created a stellar career as a designer, how I got to be 36 years old, 2.5 kids, in the top 5% of household incomes in the world, and feeling… profoundly empty. [Read more…]

Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 1: In the beginning, there was The Dance.

It started with a book at my local library. The book was displayed prominently at the end of an aisle. It was orange. If you were watching “My Life, the Movie” this would have been the dramatic moment when everything except this book faded into the background. It was called The Dance.

Here’s the poem that was the inspiration for the book: [Read more…]

Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Art is a generous action. It’s when a human connects with another human and makes a change. ~ Seth Godin

On January 16, 2009 I was officially divorced.

On January 29, I took my first tango class. I know, it’s a total cliché. I felt the need to do something I’d never done before. Argentine Tango seemed a lot less self-destructive than jumping off a bridge.

Some post-divorced women go to find themselves on 4-month sojourns in exotic countries. Seeing as I had two young children, that just wasn’t very convenient for me. So I went to find myself at COCA every Tuesday night for 13 weeks.

Considering the extent of my previous dance instruction was Intro to Ballet in the church cafeteria at the age of seven, I’m not exactly sure what compelled me to go. But I was most definitely compelled. [Read more…]