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Currents Magazine - Jeannette Potts, M.D., is Dr. Tango

July 1, 2005

July 2005


By Sali McSherry

In a backless, midnight black pantsuit with side slits up to her thighs, the dancer steps into an intimate glide with her partner on a dance floor in Buenos Aires. She lights up the moon. While she's not aware of us, her audience, she has left the door open to her world. We're taken aback by the beauty of tango.

They call the mysterious lady "Dr. Tango," and she has danced all over the world, even spontaneously in the lobby at Cleveland Clinic where she and Argentinean native Jorge Niedas, who flew in for the day from Chicago to dance with her, stunned patients, visitors and staff with a riveting performance of Argentinean tangos.

Dr. Tango is also known as Jeannette Potts, urologist at the Glickman Urological Institute for the past 10 years. The lobby performance in January followed a workshop for entrepreneurs where she shared "Tango…Lessons for Life" at the InterContinental Hotel.

"Over the last couple of years, I have used the tango as a metaphor for an approach to complicated patients and patients with chronic disorders, specifically pain," she said. "When physicians are too hurried or eager to intervene in a chronic disorder, it reminds me of the novice dancer who, due to lack of experience, is compelled to move on every beat…sometimes even speeding up the dance. The experienced dancer is capable of slowing the dance and savoring the pauses. Translated back to medicine, a physician can become a better listener, and while less aggressive, may be a more effective healer."

Last autumn, Dr. Potts introduced Dr. Tango to companies, social organizations and academic institutions, she said. Workshops she conducts are customized to suit the needs of a specific group and may consist of lectures, dance demonstrations and artistic programs, Dr. Potts said.

"Mental and physical well-being can be enhanced by introducing or maintaining the art of amazement. Awe and wonder can be found in our daily lives. Tango, as well as any art form, reminds us of the priceless treasures we carry within us…our timeless nature to create and experience joy. Keeping your heart in front of the lead or the follower will help create a natural, healthy manner of prioritization. This in turn allows you to harness your energy more effectively for your business and your family," she said.

She offers her workshops to doctors, those interested in team building, parents, corporate leaders and bored executives.

A tango-addict, Dr. Potts has danced many a night away on her frequent trips giving medical lectures in Latin America. While she is exuberant over salsa and cumbia dancing, Argentine tango has become part of her soul. She has studied and danced with master tango dancers in New York City and around the world. Her dance partner and teacher in Buenos Aires is Mario Bournissen, who has told her, 'You must be an excellent pupil to make me forget I am a teacher,' she said gleefully.

A true Renaissance woman, Dr. Potts, who received her bachelor's degree from Lake Erie College for Women, was one of 23 college graduates who were awarded the IT&T Fellowship for post-graduate research abroad in which she decided to study mummification in Guanajuato, Mexico as part of an anthropology research project.

She speaks three languages, studied French in Normandy and conducted research in Barcelona.

But that was just the beginning. She decided to apply to medical school when she returned to the United States while working as an exporter of automotive parts and later of heavy equipment.

Following her medical schooling at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, she did her residency at Grand Medical Center in Columbus and Metro-Health Medical Center in Cleveland. And by the way, during that time, she had one baby, Bradley, who is now 15 and was pregnant with her second child, Ellen, now 13.

Maybe tango is the key to staying up with the moon, and, more importantly, the lessons learned can last a lifetime.

What is business but a dance between two companies?
What is life but a dance between people?
— Jeannette Potts, M.D. - Dr. Tango
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