Learn to stay centered within yourself while connecting with another. Discover how Self-in-Presence can grow with each step you take.
Join us for this unique blend of Focusing and movement and learn a new way to relate to how you see yourself, others and the world. No dance experience necessary. No partner required.
Space is limited to 20 participants.
Our Next Class
This workshop is not currently scheduled. Please contact us if you are interested in being informed when this workshop goes on the schedule.
What People Are Saying
“To dance the Tango challenged me to look at how I relate to another while remaining centered in myself. What does it mean to lead and follow? (Or to ‘invite’ and ‘receive,’ as Tom and Lucinda have reinterpreted it?) How do I carry my longing for contact? How do I be kind to myself while learning something new and making mistakes? All of this came up for me, and how wonderful to then be able to exchange Focusing with another participant, and move into deeper Presence with all of that. (The combination of Focusing and Tango was just exquisite. I highly recommend Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion!”
About the Course
Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion gives you the opportunity to gently and deeply explore how you can move freely, playfully, joyously while sharing connection with another.
True Argentine Tango, unlike the dramatized Hollywood version, is all about subtle non-verbal communication between you and a partner, whether that is a life-partner participating with you in this workshop or a new person that you are meeting for the first time.
Every step you take expresses exactly where you are in your life right now. All of your history is in every move. And all the ways you could become more present to yourself and in your connection with others can be sensed directly in your body and learned right now in your body, beyond words.
What We’ll Be Doing
A Unique Blend of Focusing and Movement
Unlike traditional dance with the roles of leader and follower, this workshop is designed first to explore ourselves as energy bodies before we move in relationship with another. Men and women will play both the roles of “inviter” and “receiver” of the energy as we learn to move together.
Focusing offers a way to experience and practice:
- finding and strengthening Self-in-Presence, your grounded center
- keeping company with emotional reactions that arise while learning something new
- going beyond your familiar ways of moving with kind support
Tango offers a way to experience and practice:
- maintaining your grounded center as you move
- communicating clearly and respectfully – without words
- claiming your own space while offering space to another
Tango and Focusing together create a perfect way to explore how we relate to ourselves, others and the world.
'Why Tango? Find out what inspired Lucinda to create this workshop...
To read this article click on the '+'
I went to Argentina in June of 2012 to present a session at the International Focusing Conference and then stayed in Buenos Aires for an additional six weeks to improve my fluency in Spanish and my Tango dancing. The work I did with Damián Buezas de la Torre, President of the Fundación Tango Argentino (Argentine Tango Foundation) was so transformational that I returned to Buenos Aires in November 2012 to co-lead my first Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion workshop with him. We offered this to the Argentine Focusing Community, composed entirely of therapists and counselors who didn’t do Tango. Here is what we shared with them about what makes Tango such powerful therapy:
For me, dancing Argentine Tango is like a moving Focusing practice. I need to be as fully present as possible, listening to my “partner” with my whole body, available to respond to whatever occurs, whether that be through movement or stillness in the moment, with no agenda. My body – which, as Gendlin says, really includes my “whole self” — gets to learn this over and over again. And the learning is through a physical practice (like yoga or a martial art), that is playful and set to music!
When I was a child, I usually got in trouble for making mistakes, so it was deeply healing for me to be held in a strong, safe embrace, and for it to be okay to stumble while learning to walk backwards. Learning Tango from Damián has been some of the best therapy that I’ve ever experienced. Although he’s not trained in Focusing, he naturally knows how to hold the larger container of Presence that creates a safe space to be and learn, to make mistakes and to grow.
Damián was always saying in my ear…”It’s ok, it’s ok…don’t worry…you’re fine…” This was a kind of reprogramming-in a very physical way-of the young part of me that was afraid of making mistakes. I now feel so much freer to walk with confidence and power in my life. I am more capable to stay connected to someone else because I can stay connected with my whole self – even the unsure and shy parts.
Tango is a metaphor for life and a great vehicle for practicing many life lessons and relationship skills, such as learning how to carry your own weight without depending on another – while at the same time, staying connected. It is about staying centered and present in your own self, listening with your whole body to another’s whole body, and then moving together in harmonious partnership.
'The Tango Embrace' by Barbara McGavin
To read this article click on the '+'
But this was so much more than just learning the steps to a beautiful, elegant dance. It was a door to entering the world of the Embrace. Of learning how to embrace my own energy and that of another and to create a dance together that is full of communication, mutual respect and care.
In Focusing, I can be very inner directed, not really paying a great deal of attention to the other person with me. They need to take care of themselves. This is My space!
In Tango I need to stay fully present to myself, grounding myself in my centre. However, I have a further challenge. From there I need to be open to the other. Sensing the energy flowing between us.
There are two possible roles that I can take in life. I can create an intention or I can respond to another’s intention. How I do both of these becomes magnified when I dance Tango. Whether I am the ‘Intender’ or the ‘Receiver’, my habits, my impulses, my insecurities become transparent. What an amazing opportunity to see these aspects of myself so clearly.
I’ve been leading workshops for many years. That essentially puts me in the position of Intender. I’ve been aware of ambivalent feelings about that role as long as I have been doing it. As we moved across the dance floor and I tried to be the Intender, I got how that is such a tricky edge for me.
As we practiced, I could feel so clearly how I hesitate, or push, or wobble. How wonderful to have a generous and caring space where I could fail and fail and fail again. And each failure brought me more experience that I could then sense into more fully.
And then, even more wonderful, I was able to have Focusing time to sense even further into the intricate, delicate, sensitive complexity that “intending” is for me. It gave me the gift of sensing how it is now… and how it could be different.
I started to be able to really feel in my body how being an Intender means taking responsibility – for myself, making sure that I am centred and grounded and claiming my space. It means being willing to direct my energy, to take responsibility for how to bring it into relationship. For noticing the effect that it has on others. For creating invitation. Shall we go here? For being clear. It means taking responsibility for creating safety for the person that I invite on the journey. If I am choosing the direction, I need to make sure that the path is safe. It meant really listening to my Receiver. Being sensitive to their needs, abilities, desires. Responsive. Flexible. Strong. Gentle. Kind.
And then I got to practice, to experiment, to notice more and further and deeper.
This weekend I learned that I am more naturally comfortable as the Receiver. And I learned some challenging lessons about that as well. I noticed that I was wanting to direct things sometimes when I was in the Receiving role. At first I thought that meant that I wanted to be the Intender. Then I realised that it was not that. It meant that I wasn’t really willing to trust my Intender. And that meant that I wasn’t really trusting myself. Hmmm… Something to look at there.
What is it for me to be a Receiver? What does it take? Trust, yes. But not blind trust. It takes being in my centre, really grounded there, just as much as if I was the Intender. It means that I need to claim my space, just as much as if I was the Intender. It means that I need to show up, to really be there. To meet my Intender with my full being.
The Embrace is a perfect example of what this means. In the Embrace, when I am the Receiver, I rest my left arm on my partner’s arm. His hand connects with the centre of my back. Our other hands meet between us. His hand supports mine. I receive his support. I meet his energy with mine. He needs to be able to feel my presence. We dance within the circle of our Embrace.
There were so many delicious moments. When Tom invited me to step forward into a Front Ocho and my body flowed into it without thought or hesitation though I had never done it before. When Guillermo showed me exactly how to put my arm so that we could have relaxed, stable connection. When Tom invited us to “Just walk! Go!” and I could feel the ease and flow of energy between me and my partner. Wow! When Guillermo showed me how I can be even more connected without staring at the other person – much more heartful.
Such wonderful support throughout the whole weekend. Tom opening out the possibilities of being able to embody being grounded, centred and in connected movement with another. Guillermo, with his gentle precision. Helping with just a simple word or gesture to show me – “Oh! this is how I can do it. Oh! That’s easier. Yes. Thank you. Mmmmm…..” And Lucinda held the whole space with generous, loving energy. Helping us to stretch past our limitations, both literally (with Yoga) and with her gentle Focusing reminders.
There were so many deep and valuable lessons that I received over those two and a half days. What was the most important? Perhaps it was this. When I take responsibility for my own centre, I naturally create a space where I support you in being fully yourself. Effortless communication arises when I, from my centre meet you, from your centre in a gentle Embrace.
Health Benefits of Dancing Argentine Tango
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- improves coordination, balance, and posture
- increases muscle tone and flexibility
- reduces stress and anxiety
- improves cardiac health
- lowers blood pressure
- improves memory, focus, and multi-tasking
- enables creative and emotional expression
- builds greater ease in social situations
- imparts that dancer’s aura: standing tall, radiating confidence
- is increasingly used as therapy in a wide variety of applications: such as, physical therapy, couples therapy and therapy for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients
Dance naturally promotes health; we all notice the improved posture, circulation, balance, and muscle tone that dancing brings us. But the growing practice of Argentine Tango has led medical researchers to discover added health benefits specifically linked to this particular dance practice.
Parkinson patients, for example, responded better to tango than to standard physiotherapy (Hackney, ME., 2009). In fact, The Fundación Tango Argentino (Argentine Tango Foundation) in Buenos Aires offers free tango classes to peoples with Parkinson’s.
Dr. Federico Trossero was inspired to investigate the clinical application of tango when he noticed that headaches disappeared after dancing tango. Since then, research has shown tango useful in lowering blood pressure and improving circulation, (Peidro, R., 2007); as well as improving cardiac health, and fighting arteriosclerosis. Researchers at McGill found that practicing tango improved balance and coordination in aging patients (McKinley, P., 2005), while studies at Washington University (Finch, J., 2013) showed tango helping balance more than comparable exercises. Research even hints that tango could reduce memory loss for those sufferig from Alzheimer’s (Hackney, ME., 2009).
Mental health can also improve with tango. To begin with, some of the physical changes just listed can reduce anxiety and stress. Tango is now being included as a helpful therapy by practitioners treating social phobia, depression, and even schizophrenia. (Trossero, F., 2006). The dance has also been found helpful for those suffering from trauma and a wide variety of relational problems, and there is growing interest in the use of Tango as couples therapy.
All this has led to the creation of a yearly global Tango Therapy conference in Argentina on the wide-ranging therapeutic uses of tango.
Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the Pre-Requisite?
Level 1 with any Inner Relationship Focusing teacher. We will be doing Focusing exchanges after each movement segment.
Would I have to dress up to dance tango?
Not at all. We recommend that you wear comfortable clothes that you can move freely in…like yoga clothes, sweat pants or loose jeans and comfortable shoes that will slide on the floor, for example with leather soles. If you don’t have shoes that slide, socks are fine too.
Do I need to have a partner to attend?
No, you can come on your own. We will be encouraging everybody, even couples, to rotate and experience practicing with a variety of people, just like we do in Focusing.
Tango seems so dramatic and difficult, would I have to hold a rose between my teeth?
If you are thinking stage shows with feet flying, or the Addams family, Gomez & Morticia dancing cheek-to-cheek, or Rudolph Valentino’s partner with a rose in her teeth… NONE of this is what we are going to be doing. ALL of that is showy Hollywood stuff, not Argentine Tango, which is about the subtle connection and communication between you and a partner.
What if I’ve never danced before and find the idea of dancing scary?
If there is ‘something’ in you that finds the idea of learning to dance kind of scary…great!… this is the workshop for YOU! Having something structured like this is a great way to bring up your ‘parts’ to work with in your Focusing practice. Every day, after each Tango and movement session, there will be an opportunity to sense inwardly and keep company with those places that feel awkward or scared.
And don’t worry, Tango is simply walking in an embrace, so if you can walk, you can do Tango. In fact, someone in a wheelchair attended Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion in Buenos Aires, and she had a profound experience.
What if I already have some dance experience in Tango or other partner dances?
This workshop is more about sensing the energy between people rather than learning steps, so it would not be below your level even if you already know how to dance with a partner. AND, you would have the benefit of Focusing after dancing…that will help you improve your dancing, even if you are already experienced.
How is parking near the San Francisco workshop location?
There are a few alleys in the area with free parking. There is also a Public Parking Lot for $10 a day very close to La Pista. Details about how to find these will be sent to you after registration.
Lucinda is passionate about combining Focusing with movement. Before joining Focusing Resources in 2006 to teach Levels 1 and 2, Lucinda had developed Lighter You, a program using Focusing to improve people’s health and fitness. Simultaneously, she taught yoga and Pilates classes at the YMCA and was also a Personal Fitness Trainer there for 10 years. By creating Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion, Lucinda is excited about bringing the embodied component to Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF).
Lucinda holds a Master’s degree in Teaching from California State University at San Francisco, where she taught English and Writing for five years. She has been in private practice since 1988, first as a hypnotherapist, then as a full-time Focusing practitioner.
Read More About Lucinda
In addition to her tele-courses with Focusing Resources, Lucinda has taught IRF internationally: in Argentina, Uruguay, and Switzerland and has been invited to teach Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion in Europe, Australia and Canada.
Tom Lewis has been dancing tango since 2003 and is the owner of La Pista Tango Studio in San Francisco. He also practices Aikido as well as Mastery Training, which combines Eastern and Western philosophy with yoga and somatic movement.
Tom has a double B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Yale University. Originally from New Hampshire, he moved to San Francisco to study Psychoanalysis but instead started an architectural business restoring historic buildings.
Tom built La Pista in his office building initially so that he could practice tango without taking too much time off of his architectural work. Over the years, La Pista has grown into the premier dance studio for Argentine Tango in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Path to Lasting Change, Part One with any Inner Relationship Focusing teacher.
Continuing Education Credit & Course Completion Certificate
Course meets the qualifications for 11 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. PCE#62524
There is a $25 administrative fee for CE units. Course completion certificates are awarded at the end of the course upon completion of all requirements and the course evaluation. (If you don’t want CE units but would like a completion certificate, the $25 fee does still apply.)
Cancellations, Changes & Refunds
Up to 5 days before the first day of class: We will refund your course fee less a $35 cancellation fee. Avoid the cancellation fee by applying the entire course payment towards a future class. Changing your registration to a later offering of the same course must also occur 5 days prior to the beginning of class.
Cancellations received 4 days or fewer before class begins: No refund. Changing your registration within this window results in a $75 fee.
When Something Doesn't Go As You'd Hoped...
We are always open to discussing experiences with our courses that didn’t work for you or didn’t go the way you expected. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to email your course instructor, the staff member in charge of your course, or Ann Weiser Cornell. Email addresses for all these people will be supplied on registration. We will work with you to find a way to meet your needs.
This workshop is not currently scheduled. Please contact us if you are interested in being informed when this workshop goes on the schedule.
"Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion was so much more than just learning the steps to a beautiful, subtle dance. It was a door to entering the world of the Embrace. Of learning how to embrace my own energy and that of another and to create a dance together that is full of communication, mutual respect and care. And Lucinda, Tom, and Guillermo made that possible. Through their sensitive, gentle, supportive teaching, they opened a whole new world of how to move in my body from my grounded center. There are lots of ways that you can do that - yoga, martial arts, ballet training.
Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion adds another dimension of finding and maintaining your center, while in subtle communication with a partner, whether that be your life partner, or a new person that you are meeting for the first time, to create spontaneous, expressive movement together.”Barbara McGavin, Co-Creator & Teacher of Inner Relationship Focusing, Sacramento, CA & Bath, England
Guillermo García helped me feel at ease just by his Presence. His lead was so gentle and his Tango teaching was like strolling with a friend.
In this workshop, I learned much more than Tango from Tom, Guillermo and Lucinda ...what I really learned was how to be more naturally myself.Jeanette Perez, Social Worker, Contra Costa County Aging and Adult Services, Vallejo, CA
Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion opened me to the beautiful world of Tango. It was so much more than just learning dance steps -- it showed me how to move with passion and presence.
To dance the Tango challenged me to look at how I relate to another while remaining centered in myself. What does it mean to lead and follow? (Or to ‘invite’ and ‘receive,’ as Tom and Lucinda have reinterpreted it?) How do I carry my longing for contact? How do I be kind to myself while learning something new and making mistakes? All of this came up for me, and how wonderful to then be able to exchange Focusing with another participant, and move into deeper Presence with all of that. (The combination of Focusing and Tango was just exquisite. I highly recommend Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion!Jonathan Brown, Counselor and Musician, Santa Rosa, CA
“What a pleasure and delight to join Lucinda and Tom in a weekend exploring Presence in Motion through Tango and Focusing! The combination might seem surprising at first but once we started, it turned out to be something in it's own right - not just Tango and more than just Focusing....a crossing of the two disciplines. Dancing Tango really gets you into the body, which is a prerequisite for successful Focusing.
All of us who participated seemed both seriously and happily engaged in the whole process and the Focusing sessions in this context were a great path for personal discovery!”Arnaud Maitland, Author and Teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, Berkeley, CA
Focusing came together with Tango and helped me embody -- through physical movement -- my own energy and my own presence…and then connect with my (life and dance) partner's experience of that! -- So much came up for us in this new intersection; it didn't feel like we were just learning Tango or just doing Focusing... it felt like being together in a totally new way.
Now, I understand how Tango is a metaphor for relationship, even for life…and how beautifully Focusing fits with Tango. Being together in this new way, with each of us in touch with our own energy and our whole self, deeply connected to each other…while moving and flowing -- wow!
There were missteps and misunderstandings, but we learned to be together with all of that, always coming back to center with the support of Focusing and the support of Lucinda and Tom, who were wonderful and passionate and very grounding throughout this unfolding.Brittany Dean, Focusing Resources Products & Services Director, Berkeley, CA
I really enjoyed the practice of staying in contact with Presence while moving: Tango and Focusing are great complements to practice this! During the Tango practice, issues arose for me around autonomy and fear of intimacy as well as places in my body getting tense and something feeling frustrated with learning something new.
I then had the opportunity to work through those things during the Focusing break-out sessions. I would have liked more than just the weekend because now I have experienced the potential of these two practices together to be a way for me to work through even more of these issues.Marshall Sontag, Internet Business Consultant, Berkeley, CA
At this workshop, I was feeling nervous about where my husband and I were in our relationship. We had been ‘on edge’ with each other for awhile, without being able to get past some level of accusation and resentment.
What the Tango did was allow all of the energetic dynamics of our relationship to come up to be seen and then the Focusing sessions allowed us to talk about those things in an honest way. It feels now as if all that has let us ‘clear the decks’ so that we can move on with a renewed sense of commitment. The Tango also opened some new doors for me in terms of knowing what kind of support I want from our partnership... that is, a structure on which I can choose to lean, vs. being ‘steered’ or ‘managed.’ It was also interesting for me to actually experience in my body how important it is to keep returning to my own center and sense of balance without having to ‘lean’ on my husband.Jane Nelson, Retired Attorney, Seattle, WA
As I considered taking this Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion workshop, I expected that some conflict would come up while dancing, which my wife and I could then process in our Focusing sessions together.
This certainly happened, but what I didn’t expect was also to experience moments of being in touch with ‘oneness’ as we danced. Those moments were fleeting but enough to make me want more!David Steigerwald, Systems Engineer, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Silver Spring, MD
Something in me was RESISTANT. Dancing was one of the activities I always avoided. Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion with Lucinda and Tom shifted that for me. They are gentle and caring. That was good for me—a guy with two left feet.
With some light guidance to sense into the resistance that I've had and the sincere encouragement I received, the block that had been there about dancing loosened up. I had FUN learning. This workshop was more about 'tango-as-energy-between-people' rather than just learning dance steps. I really like the Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion approach.Gerry Benton, Golf Instructor, San Jose, CA
When I was a little girl, I loved to dance with my whole body, but somewhere around second grade, something changed and I never felt comfortable dancing after that. When I took this Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion workshop, I became aware of a sense of being clumsy and ashamed in my belly. Then the memory came of my mother repeating to her friends, "She's so clumsy, we had to give her ballet lessons."
As I acknowledged all this with compassion, I became aware of something else in my belly and chest. It felt like a little girl, so happy and excited to be there dancing, exhilarated by the music and movement. More than just learning the steps, Tango & Focusing: Presence in Motion was primarily about the body sense of Tango—the connection with the floor, my body, my partner. I learned that Tango is about the focused energy of the two people together. My Felt Sense was of two interlinked rings of energy, each with its own center, moving together, inviting and receiving. I never thought I'd be a Tango dancer, but I discovered that I love it, and I can do it when I use my whole body. ‘It takes two to tango’ has a much deeper meaning for me now.Joy Goldblatt, Videographer and Certified Focusing Trainer, San Francisco, CA