Why are you dancing..?
Let me guess… Mmmmm… For an opportunity to be yourself, to express yourself?
And it is indeed a beautiful opportunity, a safe and colorful way of meeting oneself!But this is exactly where the trouble begins…haha…
If we just wanted to go out and spend time with friends, or be in the milongas just to practice our moves, things would have been pretty straight forward and a lot less stressful and painful.
The fact though that we are looking for ways to “dance like nobody’s watching”, if I may be allowed the cliche… 😉 means that our nights at the milonga mean a lot more
What stops us though from meeting and expressing ourselves, from just dancing?
Simple answer… The RULES!
For most people Tango is a difficult because it has so many rules that make them “(…) get so anxious on the dance floor trying to remember all of them”
So how can we make rules part of our dance so we don’t have to think about them anymore? How can we EMBODY the rules?
Embody…mmmm…such a fancy word..haha… How about we try to make a bit more sense of the word by writing down at least 10 things that come to mind when you think of “embodying”. Ready? GO!
- Be yourself..maybe?
Here is my list:
In the Moment
Ok? So if you have come up with your list which would probably be different than mine, lets see how it works in dancing.
At this point I want to call in an expert on the matter, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen with excerpt from her book “Sensing, feeling and Action”
“ The process of embodiment is a being, not a doing process, not a thinking process. It is an awareness process in which the guide and witness dissolve into cellular consciousness. (…)
Embodiment is automatic presence, clarity and knowing without having to search for it or pay attention. As they say in Zen, “When you eat, eat. When you sleep, sleep” (…)”
There are 3 steps in the process of embodiment: VIsualization, Somatization and Embodiment.
“Visualization is the process by which the brain imagines aspects of the body and, in doing so, informs the body that it (the body) exists. (…)
Somatization is the process by which the kinesthetic (movement), proprioceptive (position), and tactile (touch) sensory systems inform the body that it (the body) exists. (…)
Embodiment is the cells’ awareness of themselves. You let go of your conscious mapping. It is a direct experience, there are no intermediary steps or translation. There is no guide, no witness.
There is the fully known consciousness of the experienced moment initiated from the cells themselves. In this instance, the brain is the last to know. There is complete knowing. There is peaceful comprehension. Out of this embodiment process emerges feeling, thinking, witnessing, understanding. The source of this process is love”
So based on this excerpt does it sounds like you need more Tango classes, more milongas or hours and hours of practice?
Not really, right? Bonnie’s description feels like more natural, more personal, and one that depends more on us and getting close with ourselves and less on others.
So lets do exactly THAT instead:
Look for the images that can fuel visualization. Go to milongas not for the dances, but for the images. Observe, try to find the Tango rules in other peoples bodies.
Before you start to practice on anything, from posture to embellishments, take one moment to visualize what you want your body to do.
Movement, Position and Touch
You would have to go through the movements noticing not what makes them right, but what makes them feel good.
Attempt to find that same comfort in different positions. Compare for example the comfort of your posture when simply standing to when you are walking or doing ochos.
Then go deeper than that and find the “rules” of posture in other positions in your everyday life, in your other activities–like walking to the supermarket.
Somatic dance is the holistic approach to moving and by becoming 1% better in your everyday life activities, you will become better in your Tango too.
Lastly touch is extremely important to understand who you are, who the other is and what you are together through movement. So practice on that awareness either with a real partner and with an artificial one–the floor or the wall…
Explore with Love
Explore your movement for the chance to find yourself no matter how cheesy this may sound to you.
Embodiment as Bonnie says is experiencing movement initiated from within. Not just doing the proper steps, but allowing for “feeling, thinking, witnessing, understanding” to emerge.
Creating a practice based on exploring the rules instead of imposing the rules, not only feels more natural and more enjoyable but also it allows to be yourself in practice
Avoid practicing for hours
It is absolutely pointless!
As you can gather from the above, locking yourselves up in a room aimlessly going from drill to drill, without any focus or goal, is absolutely pointless and it will actually get you to quit sooner than later.
Instead build on your ability to stop BEFORE your technique fails you
TRACK all this down
A quick note, a little video, something to help you when you decide to revisit that day’s practice
Avoid tracking your progress based on other people’s reactions or feedback alone, and tap into your emotional, mental and psychological state before and after your class/practice or milonga.
Are you feeling better, stronger, calmer, more focused or more aware? Your body knows better sometimes..!
You can use metrics as well, like how many of my ochos felt good today? Or how many milongas felt great this month?
Give yourself a BREAK
When you are dancing, dance! You can’t correct anything on the dance floor
Allow yourself to make mistakes. Laugh at your mistakes. Enjoy your dances with all their flaws. Dance for the sake of feeling alive, for that very opportunity to be yourself and not for hitting every point on your checklist.
This will be your only true motivation on practicing again the next day!
Grab the opportunity to BE yourself, you deserve it!