Tango is relaxing

some activities deliver more energy then they cost, simply because they stop us from carrying around the weight of our worries and fighting the friction caused by doubts.

Do you recognize the feeling that you have to be more then you are? Better then you are? That you constantly have to perform at your top level or even above that? Modern society is indeed consequently putting pressure on us to ‘add value’, to be worthy, willing and successful. In other words, to perform. And almost everybody encounters the same, even those who seem to wander through live without any effort and those who are in better financial, familiar or health situations then you are. Undoubtedly some of us are luckier than others in life, but even the most fortunate among us will ‘grow’ their position, possessions and expectations until they rise to a level that causes stress.

The first reaction of most people usually is to try and beat this stress by working harder or getting better. But this doesn’t garanty the wanted result and might even work counter productive: Getting better, our expectation level will grow just as hard as our abilities, and exactly that expectation level is one of the leading parameters for our stress. Working overtime will get us more tired and consequently more sensitive for stress…

And even if you would succeed to beat all the challenges you face, society will adjust itself to the ‘new and improved you’ faster then you can change yourself…. Growing perfection will raise expectations and a higher income will raise your expenses (after all that’s what money is for, and only few of us are able to resist this tendency…). The space you are trying to achieve to live a bit more comfortable will soon be filled with new challenges, unstoppable like water.

But neither does it work to simply accept your current situation and fail. Society is moving forward and we also get stressed from missing the train and staying behind. So what should we do to feel better and be better at the same time?

The answer might seem unfulfilling, especially if you are programmed in the ‘competing modus’ like most of us are, but big part of the solution lies in learning to enjoy the moment, to accept your body and soul just as they are right now, in other words: in relaxing. Relaxing creates instant quality and improves your performance. After all our body and soul perform best if they manage to alternate stressful and intensive period by regular relaxation…

So to improve your performance in an endurable way, you better first set your goals on the amount of time you will spend on sleeping, relaxing and eating healthy. It will make you smarter, nicer, more attractive, more effective at work and less likely to make mistakes. And it will improve your life starting today instead of tomorrow. And who knows how long life will last?

There are many ways to insert ’relaxation’ into your life in a more or less ‘purse neutral’ way, such as yoga, sports, hiking, sex etc. But for me personally, the necessary ‘relaxing’ came when I started to DANCE TANGO. Tango requires an ergonomically efficient use of the body, and before to long it took away the physical problems I had with my back and arms due to an overload of stress and office work (repetitive strain injury, RSI). Besides it proved to be a pure flow activity, giving my brains the chance to playfully and unconsciously change focus and to ’reset’ after a hard day of work. No matter how tired I was, after some dances my physical and mental batteries would be completely reloaded.

Now that’s interesting, because tango is still a dance, and objectively it requires at least some attention and physical effort. My hypothesis on this is that I believe some activities deliver more energy then they cost, simply because they stop us from carrying around the weight of our worries and fighting the friction caused by doubts.

Another great thing about tango is that it is by definition a private, custom made dance. The best person to dance ‘your tango’ is you! And your tango is the only tango that should matter to you. In the proces to learn and dance, your personal tango style, physical and mental limits and mistakes are not only a powerful source of hilarity and joy, but also a condition to create the variety of tastes we are all looking for in the tango kitchen.

All in all, the proces of learning tango had the effect on me that I found more pleasure in going to work, while in the mean time I started performing better, delivering more output, making wiser decisions and being more flexible in dealing with difficult situations and people. As a cherry on the cake I got more confident and happy, which had positive effects on my personal life and feelings.

Now, if you are very lucky, your boss does understand that you and your colleagues perform best if you feel good. It sounds like a no-brainer, but many bosses don’t seem to get it and keep stressing their people. Focussed on performance as they are, these same bosses are likely to be intrigued by the impressive innovation and growth of companies in Silicon Valley. Indeed, the home of power naps, table tennis, free working times and ’making people feel at home at work’. And focussed on excellence as they are, they probably also admire the persistence of top atletes, who happen to sleep more hours then they train…

But in the more likely situation that you are not lucky enough to work for an enligthened boss, you might want to invite the board of directors (or the whole company?) to a tangoworkshop, to experience the relaxing and recharging power of tango!


Tango is a mirror that gives you suggestions for change

Did you know that tango is a fantastic metaphor for life? Whether your own character, your position in life, or cooperation with others: in the tango you are, both literally and figuratively, confronted with both yourself and others! It’s a mirror, but one that gives you suggestions for change
The skills you need for tango are a seamless fit with what is expected from the modern-day human. Not that long ago, the emphasis was to survive, as an individual or a business, based on efficiency and effectiveness. Mainly the left part of the brain was being queried. Currently, it is much more important to continuously adapt to changing circumstances. Be flexible, be fast, be nimble. Important themes are innovation and adaptation. For that you need the right part of your brain, where creativity and flexibility rule!
For many of us, especially the ones who have been in the ‘old world’ for a while longer, it is tough to develop these creative activities. This is why it is a good idea to wake up that right hemisphere and re-connect to the possibilities that are underneath the surface, even when that might be a bit outside of our comfort zone. But how?
In this process, the Argentine tango is a truly appropriate tool. The right part of the brain is being stimulated and activated in a concrete and gentle way (intuition, music, creativity, flexibility). Moreover, tango’s emphasis – as a pure flow activity – is almost completely on the process, and not (contrary to many creative endeavors) on the goal to create something that can be presented to others. And that is a good thing. The expectation of necessarily having to create something presentable is often a major burden, and getting in the way of being able to give and concentrate, especially for those who have taught themselves that they are ‘not creative’. Just be in the moment.
Besides creative and flexible, the tango is also an activity that is inherently social. Not just in the sense of being in a room with others, but also in the sense of true cooperation. Together, you are as good as the sum of the parts and optimizing both how you function yourself, how you can anticipate and respond to others, and seeing how others respond to you, all adds directly to the joint result. Learning is instantaneous.
If you want to have a peek in the ‘tango mirror’ yourself, or if you are interested in a tango company workshop that will wake up your colleagues or employees in a refreshing  and sympathetic way that connects to the demands of the current age, feel free to contact us through the contact form or email.
Of course, you can give us an old-fashioned ring as well; in all likelihood you are behind a computer screen for more than enough of your time!
Hasta tango!
Bas Knuttel

Our little footwork improvisation captured on video…

Tango is passion. It ‘happens’ in the embrace with another person. So without a nice embrace, we might as well stop dancing. Nevertheless we express a lot of musicality and grace with our feet too! Here a little video of an improvisation of Mariyana and me in February 2017 in Amsterdam.

What you see is – to a high extend – the result of pure right brain hemisphere activity: music, creativity, intuition, interpretation of space… Embedded though in a system that shows a lot of similarities with a language, which activates the left brain hemisphere…

Not surprising that tango is such a super flow activity!


Thanx for reading (and sharing?!) my blog!


Hasta tango!


Want to learn to dance ARGENTINE TANGO? Starting this Thursday, may 4th, Mariyana Aksu and I teach 3 levels (1, 3 and 4)…

Geplaatst door Bas Knuttel op dinsdag 2 mei 2017


My 10 favourite tango metaphors

Over the years I’ve gathered some metaphors for my students that I think are very helpful when learning to dance tango. Some of them I’ll share with you now!


-Tango is like painting. On day one you get yourself the basic material to work with… (for painting: a canvas, pencils and 4 colours… for tango: balance, 3 stepping directions, dissociation of the upper body and pivot…) and the rest of your life you’ll be busy to try and make something nice with that… But no matter how bad you are: it’s fun from day one!


-Riding a bike, you won’t be able to give a lot of attention to the police officers, traffic lights, children and other traffic on your way, unless you are first in balance yourself. In tango it’s just the same: if you are not in balance yourself, you won’t be sensitive to receive signals from your leader or follower and to react on it.


-Dancing tango is like a mirror. You can’t (learn to) dance without looking yourself deep in the eyes and you will notice the changes you’re going through.


-If you don’t want your partner to look like a tennis racket, you shouldn’t wave your arm around as if you are holding one.


-Leading is like being the director of an orchestra and giving signals to the first violist: You can give directions and suggest changes of tempo. But following is like being the violist: you might get directions and suggestions… but you’ll have to play your own instrument (body) and create your own sound.


-Tango is like slow cooking: it takes time to be good, but it will never be good without the right ingredients (e.g. the music, the embrace, floor craft and social do’s and don’ts, a refined system of leading and following) and a patient chef (you).


-Just as in real life, you have to make sure that potential partners like to hang out with you… If you are not a brilliant dancer, you better compensate somewhere, for example by being extra nice, smelling great, or being patient, funny or rich…


-To built a castle, you do not need much more then some basic elements like cement and stones. In tango it’s more or less the same. There are only a few basic moves for every individual dancer, such as stepping forward, backward and sidewards, changing the weight, dissociating and pivoting. With these elements the variations are infinite, you can make your dance as beautiful, simple or complicated as you wish.


-It’s more interesting to be able and make one step in 50 shades of grey then to make 50 steps in 1 shade of grey…


-On the dance floor you’ll have to be agile and to improvise, just as in real life. If life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans (John Lennon), then tango is what happens while your busy making other steps.


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Hasta tango!



The Tangophiles…

Hi there,

Thanx for tuning in to my new tango blog, the State of Tango TANGOPHILES!

I have been writing about tango quite a lot on facebook, but found out I started repeating myself too much in discussions and that I was merely reacting then choosing my own subjects.

In this blog I will write about my personal experience with tango, my own ‘state of tango’ so to say. I will write about almost anything here, as long as I feel it’s worth writing about and it has a link with tango, tango culture and Argentina. Text, photos, video… just everything that keeps me busy.

So have fun and if you think it’s interesting: subscribe to out State of Tango NEWSLETTER and/or share our the blogs on social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest etc.). Because in the end my goal with this blog is to get many more people interested in the magic of tango!


Hasta tango!

Bas Knuttel