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Haptics and connection

In my previous post, I was writing about how Tango forces us to realize our need for connection. I continued by writing about how impossible it is to feel and experience the dance as a whole entity since we are flawed to only sense and experience the dance only from our own unique perspective. In this post, I was using as a trigger the book and recent series by William Gibson called “The Peripheral”. In this book, apart from the peripheral as a technology, which I explained in the previous post, there is also another kind of technology presented. It is called “the haptics” or in the future world the “connection”. It is a technology that allows someone to connect and experience somebody else’s senses and thoughts. It allows groups of militaries to act as a whole entity without the need of speaking or signing to each other and people to connect and talk with each other without saying a word. Just by thinking.

In a recent seminar I followed, some of the classes had to do with what we call… connection in Tango. How can someone get connected with their partner and what it actually means? As Alexis (the teacher in those classes) put it, connection means being able to sense the reactions of your partner’s body within your own body. The main tool for that is the embrace and even more so the close embrace. Given its structure, it is very hard to see your partner’s legs and know which one is free and which one has weight on it… but you can get all this information from the embrace… from your chest… your center… your core. Have you ever had the experience of leading a cross and sensing the syncopation of the step in your chest as a leader? Have you stopped on a musical bridge and sensed your partner quickly change weight between legs to emphasize Biagi’s surprise on the piano? You know… those tiny vibrations in your body telling you that something is happening on your partner’s side.


In a previous post, I was writing about how difficult it is to break the embrace after a super nice tanda. Those who had the experience know what I am talking about. Tandas that the embrace is not breaking even between songs… where no words are spoken… where you seem to have immersed to your own little universe… a place where nobody else apart from you, your partner and the music exists. A friend of mine commented back then, that it is hard to break the embrace because you feel like your body is now extended with your partner’s and it is like amputating yourself. Like cutting off a piece of your own body.

How can this happen? How can our brain feel like we have an extended body? Is this level of connection even possible? Well… yes. It’s all wired in our brains. Have you ever seen this experiment with fake hands? There is an experiment where a person places their hands on a table. Then one of them is hidden from the person’s view and a plastic one is placed in their place so that it looks like your hand is now the fake one. The experimenter then stimulates somehow (feather, ruler, touching, etc.) both the plastic and the real hand. After some time… they stop stimulating the real hand but the person still feels the sensations. In the end, they try to hurt the fake hand and the person reacts as if they did it on their real one. The brain after a few seconds is adjusting and considering the fake hand to be the real one and this triggers the reaction in the end. Many of the prosthetics technologies are based on the exact same principle. People can control prosthetics with their minds as if they were part of their own bodies.

So if our brains can adjust so easily and consider fake or prosthetic body parts as their own, why not adjust and consider a whole second body as an extension of our own? This… the ability to sense your partner’s body within your chest, your core, your own body and eventually feel it as if it is part of your own body, is maybe the answer to the incompleteness of the previous post which satisfies our deep need for connection. A connection in such a primal, instinctive way, that is rooted so hard and deep in our brains, that when we experience it, it feels so magical and natural at the same time. Like the prosthetic arms or legs of amputees.

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

This connection is what sets us free from the limitation of incompleteness and inability to sense the dance as a whole. This connection makes this dance both a realization of our limitations as well as an answer and a way to liberate ourselves from them. Therefore tonight’s Goodnight Tango is nothing else but “Emancipacion”.


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