The Tango Effect

By Kate Swindlehurst

Parkinson’s and the healing power of dance

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


You will see them dancing above the water of rivers and ponds, not just in May but on any warm summer's day. Famous for their brief lives - some live as adults only for a few hours - they were one of the first winged insects, their fossils dating back over 300 million years, A vital food source for fish and other freshwater creatures, their presence is a marker of a clean, unpolluted environment.

I'm wondering if the incidence of people dancing is similarly a sign of a healthy society.  With a briefer history than the mayfly, still there is evidence that dance has been around for at least 9,000 years, with links to story-telling, healing and shamanic ritual. Although for 13th-centry mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg dance was a symbol of the holy life, her invitation might equally be addressed to a tango partner:

I can not dance unless thou leadest. If thou wouldst have me spring aloft, sing thou and I will  spring into love...

At its best Argentine tango nourishes body, mind & spirit, enjoying its 'twelve minutes of love' an extraordinary gift for any dancer. For a dancer with Parkinson's, it can be transformative. My experience of tango as part of an inclusive community has been a precious one and I wrote Parkinson's & the Tango Effect to share the secret to living well with Parkinson's. So my heartfelt thanks to the supportive tango community in Cambridge and to all those who have contributed to the funding for the book so far, with especial thanks to everyone who helped to make last Friday's quiz such a success; also to the Cresset Group for their generous and invaluable support, to Alexandra and others who have upgraded their original contributions, to most recent contributor Sally and to my fairy godmother Di, a source of repeated and delightful surprises! This is the fifth month of funding, with just 39% still to raise. No big chickens have landed yet. Time presses. Please do continue to spread the word. Next month will see a major event - watch this space...

(for a taste of the potential for inclusivity in tango, check out the video below - as one dancer comments, 'magico!' )

(with thanks to Buglife for the mayfy info

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