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Tango responding to COVID: An opportunity to reconnect

During the tango renaissance, the tango community unthinkingly inherited and perpetuated a model of teaching, learning, and community that is ill-suited to the unique qualities of this dance. Although COVID is a catastrophe on so many levels, it also gives us an incredible opportunity to correct this.

Here are what I believe COVID gives us an opportunity to do:

  • Identify the minimal requirements for meaningful tango learning and socializing and focus on providing resources to support these

  • Discover all the ways that great tango learning can happen outside of the group class format (which, as I’ve said on many occasions including here, has many problems)

  • Find ways to collaborate across communities in order to develop new business models, access funding, improve marketing, and tackle thorny, complex problems each organizer has struggled with individually until now

  • Develop systems to help our communities become safer; develop educational resources to help prevent incidents between community members, and proactively design restorative processes for when problems do occur

  • Invest in communication skills so that the tango community raises the bar on compassionate communication between learners, between partners/teachers, between organizers, between community members

  • Develop all kinds of new learning materials and aids that can be used all over the world

  • Carry out research to understand what’s been missing in our marketing communications, and find ways to articulate the benefits of tango to new communities

I am excited to see how the tango community rises to the occasion to engage with all the possibility. I see this generation of practitioners as incredibly creative, brilliant, and resourceful. Today we have a chance to reflect on what we don’t need anymore — and tune into who we really are and what we really want to bring into being. We have an urgent incentive to create the new, because we can’t do the old any more. And we have the time to do it.

Let’s seize the moment! And let’s think really deeply, and collaboratively, and not be satisfied for the most superficial and temporary fixes. Yes, sure you can put your curriculum online. That’s maybe the tiny tip of the iceberg.

Finally, I believe this moment gives us a sweet and priceless opportunity to show how much we love and care for one another. To share our affection and concern for one another as we each go through difficult and challenging circumstances. And to share our gratitude for the people who have touched us through this mystery of tango. I hope we’ll each find our own unique ways to do this too — to continue to embrace one another from our own homes.

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