I realized some time back that though I am in the tango community, I am no longer part of the Community at large. I am helping to build the local and regional tango communities I am not part of the community as a whole any more. I am a leader. It wasn’t really my plan to take on this role, but I did when I decided to become an instructor and organizer. The title of instructor causes my dancing to intimidate some men and women alike. There are stories that are told about me that people hear long before I enter the room. Some are true. Some are fiction. Some matter. Some do not. Some are flattering. Some are not. I am a very sensitive person and I feel and sense the energy of others in my presence. And in the embrace it is too powerful to ignore.
Where I once experienced welcome and love, frequently feel a wave of disapproval and jealousy or even judgement in a crowded milonga. I never know exactly what I am sensing – I am not clairvoyant – but I do know if it is negative or positive. I am a very good and elegant dancer – I know this because I worked very hard to be so, I am a product of hard work and practice, not talent – and that ruffles some feathers and intimidates others. I suppose I had better get used to it and deal with it too, so it doesn’t make me crazy. And I am dealing with it… a little at a time. Still there is a blunt and painful satisfaction in it.
Blunt: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. I got it. I always wanted to be an elegant and inspiring dancer… now I am and it has consequences.
Painful: The jealousy and the fear it generates prompts fictions and negativity that I must guard myself from… I don’t want to go cutting off an ear or anything. And I am the type that could.
So… I must be very careful nowadays, where I go and with whom I dance – the embrace is so powerful and revealing. I have learned I do not want to be in everyone’s embrace. I rarely get good dances in my home town any more it feels more like one is dancing with a personae of me, not with the man that is me. I feel like some dance with me not because they like me but because it is a conquest or I feel I have an obligation to them. So many of my students that began tango with me no longer see me and it hurts since they once studied with me: stood in my arms using my body to learn from me, but never truly seeing the man. There are a lot out there that studied with me that have never really seen Rusty… I am for them the product of some stories, some true and some fiction… a personae they no longer care to associate with. Or perhaps they fear social ridicule if they chose the wrong side, I am controversial because I will not fake or play political games.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty that support, see and love me as I am. For all them I am extremely grateful. I love so many and they know who they are, I tell them frequently.
I truly mean none of this as negative. It just is. I am a man frequently in the spotlight, both literally and metaphorically and I did ask for this. I just didn’t know that not all lenses would be willing to focus on the man, most focus on a semi-fictional personae instead. I am learning to adjust to this. I think some absence and mystery around me might be a good thing for my career in the end 🙂 perhaps I will learn to foster and nurture it in a positive way.
In the mean time I am grateful for my body’s ability to continue to dance and to take me into the world championships in Buenos Aires… and I am pained and hurt by the rejection of those that are too afraid to actually see me… but… I will get over it. I have many that see me and love me. I just have to remember where to look 🙂
Love and Light
PS In Buenos Aires now as I re-read and edit this note a little… I am so happy to be here feeling like a beginner again. The beginner’s mind is something that tango brings me over and over again. I can not learn what I already know, so I am happy to be here emptying my cup so that I may begin to fill it with yet another, deeper level of tango. What a journey…. what a ride!