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gancho | October 16, 2019

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The Girl Who Builds Bridges to Lost Happiness

Joana is a 28-year old designer who wants to be a leader in tango. She is fresh, honest and intense and spoke candidly about her reasons to learn tango, how the dance touches her soul and helps her find harmony.

Why did you decide to dance tango?

This is a very long and strange story. Nine years ago I was looking for a job, my first job actually. The person who interviewed me for a position at a big company was this incredible woman. From the moment I met her I felt a connection with her. For the next six months I worked at the company where I met her and I felt our connection deepen. Unfortunately, due to the restrictive environment at the company and some pressure from fellow colleagues I quit that job. I said my goodbyes to that special lady and I didn’t see her for the better part of the next decade. Years later, I accidentally stumbled upon her profile on Facebook. I didn’t know how to contact her and decided to send her a link to the video of Santana’s song “Black magic woman”. The reason – for me this lady is like the aforementioned black magic woman. She responded and gradually we started a relationship. I was very happy to have her in my life. Sadly, her boss was a homophobe and issued an ultimatum – she needed to break up with me or she would lose her high position in the company as well as everything she had worked for there.

After she received the ultimatum to end the relationship, which she didn’t do, one of the safe places where we could see each other was a tango studio. These were my last moments with her. She suggested that we learn tango together. Unfortunately, I had no time to react and make it happen because she left me soon after that. Later, after she disappeared, I decided to learn how to dance tango for myself. I think this is a way to resolve an unresolved situation. For me, tango is like a bridge to something that has passed and is no longer a part of the present. It is like choked love and sadness, like something that has never been fulfilled. That is what I feel when I hear tango music.

All in all, tango is a like a bridge to that person I have lost.

Do you wish to meet that person on the dance floor some day and what would you do if that happened?

I do not think that is possible. I build my future with love and respect for the past, but I do not mix past and present. What’s done is done. I do not want the present to send me back to the past. The dance is like a bridge to the past, but it is not a teleportation from the past. To be honest, dancing is like a personal gesture to myself in an attempt to restore something that was taken from me (by the person who issued that ultimatum). I know I could not overcome that situation and all those emotions unless I try to compensate what I have lost.

Moreover, I am not sure that this woman still dances tango and goes to milongas bearing in mind her busy schedule. Nevertheless, if I met her, I would say hello and invite her to dance – I don’t hold a grudge. I understand the position she was in. But, as I already mentioned, I believe such a situation is highly unlikely.

What does tango give you?

Everything I do is a way to look for peace and equilibrium. Tango gives me peace in a perfect way. Of course, the music also helps. The funny thing is I had never realized I liked tango music before I started dancing.

Did you expect some backlash as a result of your decision to train as a leader? What is it like to be a woman in the role of the leader?

I am pleasantly surprised. I didn’t know what to expect. I was prepared for some backlash, but so far both the leaders and the followers are OK with my decision.

When I am in the role of the leader, I try to really feel what happens to the person in front of me, even if only to avoid any injury to that person.

You also try to dance as a follower – do you feel overloaded with information when you change roles?

Actually, I feel that following comes naturally to me. It doesn’t feel like I am being overloaded with information. When I learn the leader’s steps I always try to imagine what the follower is supposed to do. I think it comes easily to me because I assume that it is possible to do both. Most people ask me if I find it confusing, but I think it is like looking in the mirror, the energy is similar. Both roles are equally challenging, though.

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