By Lori Mitchell & Patrick Marsolek
Missoula is rich with many different forms of art. People come from all walks of life to share artistic expression. We have been dancing, teaching, and hosting events together for over 12 years. Our own unique experiences brought us to tango.
(Patrick) I never thought of myself as a dancer. Sure, I liked to get out and shake it up when listening to live music, but I never learned any steps or went to any dances. Thankfully, at a friend’s suggestion I tried tango and got hooked! In retrospect, it makes sense, I like music. Now, when I listening to music I enjoy, I have this awesome instrument to play – my body!
(Lori) I have always danced; as child spinning in the yard; grooving in the basement as a teen; dancing at university parties and to favorite bands. As a trained dancer I hung from ladders, danced in rainstorms; and even dashed across the Broadway stage. It has been a lifetime of movement and my greatest joy of all is moving with other people to music.
In tango we find a way to enjoy something we both value - to move to music with others. Each step is improvised in the moment – asking us to be totally present and listen fully to the music and our dance partner. Taking classes and participating in regular activities, we get to know others. We share conversation, food and other interests with our tango friends - people from their early teens up into their eighties.
This social connection brings a sense of belonging, safety and creativity. People are switching traditional roles and are free to dance with any gender. Our diversity comes together: the experienced dancer with the person tasting tango for the first time; dancers who have danced together so long they know that Biagi (an argentine orchestra leader) puts a flourish at the end of the next phrase so that together they add a timely adornment in their steps; a couple new to tango focusing and listening to each other as they do their first ocho (a fun twisty step). Off the dance floor, we spontaneously dance at live music, standing on a mountain top, in a friend’s kitchen, in airport terminals waiting for a flight, or in an empty office on a work break. This spontaneous movement brings joy into our lives.
(Lori) In my 20’s I could not imagine someone dancing in her 60’s (I thought 50 was ancient.) Now here I am in my 60’s dancing tango with vigor and joy. I have tangoed with my sweetheart, dear friends, tango professionals, and novices. I dance with my grocery cart, my refrigerator and cat – all with the great joy of being in the moment and moving to the music!
So if you’re reading this and haven’t thought of yourself as a dancer, reconsider. Do you like music? Do you like to be active and connect with others? In Missoula there are many options to choose from including; African dance, contact Improvisation, swing, contra dancing, salsa, tango, as well as the expressive arts like modern dance and ballet. You can let go of the isolation of the digital world, find direct connection with others and be part of a diverse, healthy community. Let’s Dance!