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.

I stood in a circle with eight other wanna-be milongueras in a brightly lit 2nd floor dance studio. For the first time in four years, I strapped on the $350 heels I bought in Austin with my now ex-sister-in-law. I couldn’t have predicted that in the next 12 months, I would spend at least 212 hours in those shoes.

There’s a certain humility that comes with being a “Beginner anything.” It makes me appreciate watching my six-year-old son learn how to write. In that first class, I was his equivalent — unsure of how to hold my body as I took the most tentative of steps. All the things that to an experienced dancer happen through muscle memory, required the undivided attention of every cell in my body.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been noodling around this idea of documenting the journey that has transformed me from a girl who takes tango lessons to a tango dancer. Again, I’m not sure why I’m being compelled to do this. My friend, author Scott Ginsburg says, “Writing is about listening for what needs to be written.”

So, I’m listening. And maybe you’ll connect with what I write and be changed. You can contribute your thoughts on the matter (hint: comment below) and we can create Art together on this rather “impractical” project every Friday.

What do you say? Shall we dance?

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Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yogi Parenting.Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.

Comments

  1. What an inspired idea! I create for a living, but rarely for me and my own needs. I usually would agree with everything Seth Godin says (see above), and maybe I still do, but Art’s action of generosity begins towards oneself. I would say that it is selfish, but its not. You invest the time in search of the empowering feeling you receive from the experience of creation…that then is relished then shared…making you the generous one, not the art. Seth’s idea of Art is on a larger scope, but make no mistake, it begins with you. Kudo’s Ria. I can’t wait to read more.

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  2. My friend of 25 years began taking tango lessons at age 70! I think it does live up to its reputation as “the dance of love” – mainly love of life. You’re fortunate to come into it early… And, my latest project is based in Argentina – how coincidental is that? I just finished hearing all about the escapades in the tango bars in Buenos Aires and other places. You’ll be ready when the time comes to visit!

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  3. I can’t wait to see how this brave, fun adventure unfolded. Art does matter, and being a beginner matters – it’s like traveling: you see things for the first time and you feel alive and connected. Your insights into the experience are fascinating. More, please!

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  4. Steve, I love how articulate you are. That old adage, “The only person you can change is yourself” is quite true and change in the world is affected only by change within you. This is related to another post I just did this week:
    http://mymommymanual.com/how-our-relationships-matter/

    Diane, I am grateful for discovering not just the dance, but others who share such a passion for it and the energy that accompanies it. Yes, let’s go!

    Winslow… fresh eyes are a gift!

    Thank you for your comments! They do make me very excited to pen the next installment! :)

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  5. MMMmmmmmm……

    Dancing is one of the supreme arts. Physical, visceral, sensual…I love it. And tango is the sexiest of all. Though i know all dance roots us in our bodies there are few whose attitude has so much delicious gravitas as tango. Forced physical grace…turning us into predators…ever alert…preying on the next moment…and movement…losing ourselves…as we mutually devour each other.

    Ready for the next step…

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  6. Seriously, Devon?!? The whole point of it, at least for me, is exploring relationship intimacy safely! I’m sure I’ll have ample opportunity to elaborate on that. I welcome other tango dancers to chime in on this as well. But you’re cool and you used the word “gravitas” so I’ll let the comment stand. 😉

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  7. Art IS a generous action…sharing your gift can be one of the most moving experiences…and dance is so joyful, soulful, and beautiful. I am moved to tears many times when I watch someone dancing, singing, or otherwise sharing their joy and love for life through artful action. To do so with the self awareness it takes to perform each step is to be at one with the moment of now….but to let go of the kind of self awareness that keeps many a shy soul from ever taking the chance to dance in front of a group, that is a LEAP I have yet to make…considering going back to that ballet class and doing some independent work, been thinking about it for at least 6 months now. Keep it up Ria! Inspire me! xo

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  8. Go for it, Jen! Obviously, I’m loving it on many levels but from a purely physical standpoint, I notice that my legs and feet are much stronger. I imagine that ballet would do the same for you.

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  9. Sounds great, I wanna hear!!!!!

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  10. I’ve been moved by art in this way before, in a way that has changed me. Paint, film, music and dance have moved me to tears and compelled me to share. And the gesture need not be grand as you know, just a once a week very personal tango. I’m thrilled and inspired by your willingness to become a beginner. Your generosity to yourself has touched me…and so the circle continues.

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  11. I agree: there is magic in a beginner’s mind. I experienced this in pole dancing and bikram yoga. And I long to experience it in TANGO too…
    so, I want to read all about this journey of yours Ria!

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