5 Ways to Listen Better: apply it to your tango!

I like to listen to TED talks when I do my spinning (black and light blue alpaca right now). Spinning doesn't take all of my focus, so I look for things to do while I spin to keep me motivated.  TED talks are great because they are short, I don't have to look at the information, and I love to hear all of the wonderful ideas that these bright people put forward.

I randomly clicked on one of Julian Treasure's TED talks, and ended up listening to "5 Ways to Listen Better" and thought, "WOW! This applies to tango 100%!" This talk spoke to me. I spent the rest of the day applying the ideas to the lessons that I taught. What caught my attention were his comments that we should be "connected in understanding to each other" and that we should "listen consciously to live fully"--both of which I believe tango aids us to do in the modern, unconnected world.

Julian Treasure's listening exercises

  1. Silence: 3 minutes a day (reset your ears)
  2. The mixer: how many individual channels of sound do I hear?
  3. Savoring: enjoying mundane sounds
  4. Listening positions: what's appropriate/playing with filters
  5. RASA ("juice/essence"): receive, appreciate, summarize & ask

How to make Julian Treasure's 5 ways into tango exercises

I am not going to talk about music and listening, as I think that is more obvious after hearing the TED talk. Let's stick to the movement parts:

1. Silence/reset your body

Stand with your partner, touching or near each other, without moving, and feel the ebb and flow of energy, breath, slight movements for balance, etc. Tune in to the other person and to your own body in silence.

2. The mixer: find the individual channels of input in dancing

Feel your body in space; feel the floor under your feet; feel your partner's breathing; feel the connection with your partner; feel the space around you as you dance; feel the other people in the room; listen to the music.

What other channels have I forgotten?

3. Savoring: enjoying mundane movement

Isn't this what tango is really about? Savoring a wonderful walking step, or a turn you've done hundreds of times. Enjoying dancing to a song you know inside and out. Taking a partner in your arms with whom you have danced for years. Sitting with friends you see every week.

4. Playing with filters

Focus on the beat of the music; focus on the melody; focus on your breathing; focus on your partner's breathing; focus on the feeling of your feet on the floor. Play with how many ways we can tease meaning out of the dance.

5. RASA ("juice/essence"): receive, appreciate, summarize & ask

Don't forget that you also talk with the people who are your tango partners. Let them know you appreciate them. Be receptive to each other. Thank the DJ, the organizer, the people at the milonga pay desk--let them know that having a nice, friendly place to dance means a lot to you! Ask new people to dance in order to live life even more fully.

Your homework

I invite you to listen to the (short) talk. What does it make you think about in terms of tango? Comment! Let's listen to each other!