My tango teachers, Eric and Cassie, taught me to understand the subtle “sense” of kinesthesia. Kinesthesia is the sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints. This is what happens when my brain gets feedback about the way my body is moving and the way my dance partner’s body is moving. Eric and Cassie helped me remember the late Robert Bryner Sensei. He lectured me in L.A. about how a wooden sword could act as a phantom limb. Sensei taught me how to use my body to detect how to move my opponent’s body.
One morning I was flipping through Instagram and found Cassie. She was lying on the floor, twirling her adult student’s body on her legs. Cool, I had found my acrobatics teacher.
Cassie had tutorship in Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art, as a teenager. She is the daughter of Aikido’s Sensei, who ranks 3rd Dan. Cassie really knows her stuff.
I knew how to sloppily roll backward. Through contact improv, I learned to collapse on my friend’s back while he was standing. But, I didn’t know what Cassie taught me: under and behind the big toe there is a “sweet spot” that balances you when you stand, walk, run, and jump. Who knew?
Thanks to Cassie, post-stroke I can do yoga, dance both the tango and ecstatic dance, and ride a horse.