How have you made your Tango dislikes WORSE?

I was listening to this podcast, this past Friday for the 3rd time…haha…yes I liked it a lot and among many other things I found this little gem question, by Jerry Colonna:

“How have you contributed to your dis-pleasures?” (approximate quote but you get the idea)

Isn’t that an awesome, counter-intuitive question?

Think about it, people usually either ask what we did to make things better or they throw their advice right in our face…

Like the 30th time you had a massive fight with your boyfriend and you ran to a friend furious and complaining, only to see them throw their hands in their air and say: “Enough already why don’t just break up with him?”

Don’t you want to punch them in the face?
Hahaha

Why you should ask yourself that question?

Personally, I loved this question because it makes us realize of unconscious decisions that make us miserable plus it gives us a place to start fixing..!

I translated to Tango like so: What are your Tango dislikes and how have you made them worse?
And look what happened…

Here is what a student and friend left as a comment under this picture on FB:
(…) I dislike the attitude of various students. Ego has no place in Tango in my opinion, its a patient dance about the happenings between steps; not a race, show or exercise but a dance. I’ve seen many many kind beautiful souls give up over a bad experience. I don’t really know how else to describe what i see, its like flashy politeness. That classy private sense of creativity and understanding that was once so captivatingly palpable has started to look shallow.

I’ve made this worse by not being the best dancer i could be;  at times, I’ ve compromised rhythm to create smoother movement and connection but it creates a clutter on the dance floor cultivating a subculture of mediocrity rather than learning better leading. I’ve been known to do flurries of ochos, attempt sacadas from strange positions, shirk away from a suddenly really intimate embrace, and not give the lady room or time to completely transfer onto her steps. And all is considered generally uncaring behavior, uncharacteristic of the Tango. (…)” Boris

See the full answer here: My Tango likes & Tango dislikes and how I’ve made them worse

Isn’t it now so much easier for Boris to progress? Knowing what causes the trouble and how he has messed up?

My Tango dislikes and how I have made them worse
My Tango Dislikes:
  1. It looks like a very mature and serious dance BUT for most of us, it takes a lot of time to reach a true maturity physically and mentally
  2. There is no challenge towards the teachers. Meaning students will hardly ever challenge their teacher. They hear the rules and just do them, without judgement.
  3. There is no challenge for the students, because teachers usually–not all–don’t invite the students to question anything… They don’t pose any questions and they rush to give answers. But that is no way to grow
How I’ve made my Tango dislikes worse:
  1. I have been that student and I have been that teacher
  2. I wasn’t asking my teachers any challenging questions
  3. Assumed that every teacher I’ve had, knew it all
  4. Even the questions I did ask, I wasn’t always fully listening
  5. I didn’t appreciate the teachers who really pushed me
  6. When I practiced I didn’t keep any record of what I did, what worked and what didn’t, for my teachers to have something to work with
  7. I researched at a minimum extent
  8. Pretended I was serious and deep spirited instead of spending REAL time growing my knowledge and feeding my spirit
  9. As a teacher I was afraid of my students getting better than me–NOT consciously of course
  10. I wouldn’t allow myself to face all the things I didn’t know
What I like about Tango:

The fact that it has allowed me to rediscover myself.
My passion for Tango made me push my limits, face my fears, take risks and grow.
It challenges me to become better not for someone else but for ME.

I like Tango because of how it makes me feel on and off the dance floor

How to reverse the damage?

Start from yourself!

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • What you like about Tango
  • What you dislike about Tango and
  • How have you made it worse

Be honest with yourself and you will then know EXACTLY how to proceed…

Look at this video for example of me before and after:
3 ways to go from good enough to great and beyond

Also if you have followed this blog or are a subscriber you will know that I share podcasts, articles and videos on various themes that I find inspirational, motivational and helpful for people who want to change and progress

If you have watched videos such as this: Heels Vs Toes
or taken any of my classes you know that I ask more questions than the answers I give…

Lastly, I ASK my teachers and peers questions–better late than never, right? hahaha
https://bautanz.com/2017/10/22/meet-mentor-ermis-karaboulas/

There is still a long way to go BUT the path is bright and clear!

Leave your comments below or send me an email with your thoughts, questions and answers, I would love it if I could help you out!

Best,
Chrisa

 

 

 

 

Dance and the Fear of becoming an advanced dancer

“One of the things I dislike about Tango is that many people settle in routines… I have settled too” J
“I am afraid that if I become a really advanced dancer, I will have nobody to dance with”, M

No no these people are not snobs, quite the contrary…

Translate to: “What if I spend all this time and money and end up dancing the same way?” OR “What is the point of learning new things if I am not going to use them?”
And you will see that you have probably fallen into the same trap!

The fear of becoming a truly advanced dancer

Think of yourself going to your local milonga. You walk in expecting to see familiar faces and looking forward to dancing with dear dance partners.
There are a few people who you love to dance with, because your dances are just amazing. There are others that your dances are fun but not amazing.
And then there is that extra category of people… The really advanced dancers. The dancers you wish danced with you, because they look really spectacular on the dance floor…

Now lets think a few months from now… Say you have taken some more classes and put some hours of practice in.
You are starting to feel more confident. There are all these new things that you have learned and you want to use them during your dance.
Maybe you have learned some new sequences, or you have refined your musicality or technique.

You are now walking in the milonga feeling inspired, in high spirits and with high expectations.
First dance is with a good friend and a good partner… Usually an awesome way to start the night…

But things are not going as you expected…

You are feeling restrained.  Something is off.
Things are working but you are just feeling disconnected. You are trying to use the things you have learned but nothing is working…

This is terrible! And the worst part is that your partner is feeling the same way.

Next tanda no change. Things are just getting worse and worse.
The milonga ends and you feel frustrated: “I took all these classes, I practiced for all this time and for what? What on earth is going on?”

A few milongas go by and bling here is a thought: “Of course I have to adjust my dancing to the level of my partner. Of course nobody is as advanced as I am now”

And down the rabbit hole you go!

via GIPHY

Why this marks the end?

Here are a couple of reasons that you need to pull yourself out of that mindset:

  1. It is not very nice to start with.
    It sounds a bit like you are doing people a favor. Your intention is of a kind and gentle nature but still people might feel you pity them. If they pick up on a vibe like that say bye-bye to those partners.
  2. The above statement might be true when it comes to intricate sequences, musicality games, or demanding routines…But YOUR technique, and how much you are enjoying YOUR movement has nothing to do with your partner–nasty, rude weirdos excluded
  3. It leaves you with no incentive to get any better. If you aren’t going to be using any of the new things you learn then why learn them in the first place, right?
  4. It enhances on the fear of: “What if I spend all this time and this money and end up dancing with same people the exact same way”
  5. It instills the idea that Tango is action-reaction when in fact it is a 2 people coming together to create something beautiful
Stop sabotaging yourself..!
Become the dancer you know you can be

Action Step #1: Change of mindset

Stop counting your level in how many classes, dances, festivals, hours, years you are in…

Action Step #2: Accept the responsibility for being advanced

It is not the years nor the sequences, the embellishments or the number of festivals.
But being able to take responsibility for the overall experience of the dance.

An advanced dancer knows if their dance is bad, why it is bad and what to do to fix it.

In Tango an advanced dancer knows very well that:

  • When things work out it is on THEM
  • But when things DON’T work out it is AGAIN on them

Action Step #3: Go from action-reaction to connect and create

How you connect with someone is a marker to how advanced you actually are.

Beginner way of connecting: My partner pushes and I push back
Advanced
way of connecting: Energy offered, absorbed–>movement created and energy is offered back and absorbed

Leading and following are interrelated at a much higher level than just action-reaction

Action Step #4: You CAN inspire

People are not only inspired by great teachers. They are also inspired by someone who puts in the effort, the time and the courage to push his/her limits and grow to a really advanced dancer.

By “ordinary” people who commit to something they are passionate about. People who want to be great at a hobby because it is valuable time spent on themselves.

You can inspire someone by living a richer–in experiences–life on and off the dance floor!

If you want to be an advanced dancer, we can do it together..!

 

 

 

 

Meet my mentor, Ermis Karaboulas

I met Ermis Karaboulas years ago and I learned a lot from him as he is my first Tango teacher.

Today I want to share with you a glimps of his valuable knowledge along with a few tools that can help you find your own mentor.

“Tango is  a couples dance; if you learn one role, you only know half of it”Ermis Karaboulas

Quick intro so you can get a bit of perspective…
When I started Tango I had no particular interest in the dance itself… I had done some American Ballroom in the past but really not any particular interest in Tango per say.

So, I wasn’t one of those people loved and hoped, and dreamed and wished they could learn this dance of passion.
I was simply someone who loved to dance and loved Argentina. So in my head the easiest way to get closer to Argentina from Greece was to learn the Argentine Tango.

When I saw a poster on the door of a dance school advertising Tango lessons I persuaded a friend to join me and we just signed up.
We didn’t do any reasearch on the best dance school or the best teacher or the different Tango styles, we just went for it…

Hell! I didn’t even know you had to wear normal clothes… My first class, I was like I came out from the 70s! haha

But when we got started, I still remember thinking: “I really want to learn this dance and I am going to learn it with him”.

Afterwards, we found out from all our dancing friends that he was in fact the best in town..!

So, yes, Tool #1  to find your mentor: Listen to your gut! Trust your instinct!

Who’s Ermis Karaboulas?

Currently he is the founder and teacher of Tango Project, a three year Tango training program, that brings together the practises of Tango, Qigong, Yoga and the rules of anatomy and Kinesiology.

(Anybody who has followed Bautanz knows that we are all about understanding and building movement patterns, so you can see how even from a far this person is still a teacher to me)

He has been teaching Tango and other dances for many years and has an extensive background in dance, martial arts, music and chinese medicine studies.

In all he has helped a great amount of students all over Greece and other countries, embody the basic principles of Tango and grow into dancers with curious minds, expanding movement vocabularies and distinct personal dance style.

With no further a do, Ermis Karaboulas

When I started taking classes with you, you taught different dances, and not only Tango. How did you decide to stay in Tango and not follow Salsa?

Ermis: When I started learning Salsa and Tango, music wise I preferred Salsa but dance wise I preferred Tango. As time went by and as my knowledge on Tango music expanded, I started to understand it better, appreciate and like it. I think this is the reason why I decided to stay in Tango.

You don’t only have a great experience in other dances, but also in martial arts. Did that help you with Tango, and if so, how?


Ermis:
Absolutely! I was in martial arts from a very young age and that  helped me develop my physical abilities. That, along with extensive musical studies, made Tango rather easy for me. Being able to progress rapidly thrilled me, and kept me going.
Martial arts gave me great body awareness and control over body movement. Let me give you an example; The last few years the term “center” is used a lot in Tango. The term is eminent in the eastern martial arts. In Tango, in my opinion, they present as something simple and easy for any dancer to tap into. It is, in reality, rather demanding for someone–who has only been taught Tango–to deeply understand the meaning of the term. Besides, we have been exploring biomechanics through Tango for a few decades while energy techniques such as Qigong have been looking into the human body for more than 2 millennia.

You studied chinese medicine recently, what led you to that decision? What did chinese medicine teach you about the human body and how do you apply that knowledge to Tango    

Ermis: I was to led to study chinese medicine through Tai Chi. Through chinese I gained a different understanding of how energy flows in the human body. Making use of that knowledge along with eastern energy techniques, one has the opportunity to manage that energy in various ways, at different levels and in various activities–Tango is one of them of course.

You have experienced various pivotal moments and shifts in your career. How do you manage change and how is that connected to your philosophy about Tango?

Ermis: My philosophy about Tango is not any different than my philosophy about life. Therefore, I believe that changes do not need management. I accept them and I keep on going.

And so here we are, with Tango Project. What is Tango Project exactly?
Ermis: It is a series of workshops, timely structured in three years of study. The one vital characteristic of Tango Project, is that students train in both roles–leading and following–in order to gain well-rounded knowledge of the dance.
As I like to say: “Tango is a couples dance, if you only know one role, you only know half of it”

There were 2 key observations, that sparked the idea. One from my own training and the other from the Tango community.
Since I was a student, I trained in both roles. It was later on that I realized how much that had helped me. I gained a better understanding of the dance along with a better understanding of what my partner expected of me.
On the other hand, every time I went to milongas I would see followers show up, change their shoes and leave without getting to dance. The reasons might vary for every case, but for me that was saddening, and so I thought things might change if they learned how to lead.
In Tango Project therefore everybody learns to lead and follow.
They learn to accept the duality of human nature and effectively communicate better in the dance, through understanding their partner in the best way possible; by putting themselves in their shoes.

The teaching of Tango Project follows the rules of anatomy and kinesiology and incorporates knowledge from Qigong and Yoga. 

That allows for the kinetic behaviour of Tango to be perceived to the fullest. It is much easier, in this way, for the basic principles of Tango to be  introduced to an untrained dancing body; While, advanced dancers have the opportunity to enhance their personal styles by discovering “tools” that broaden their interpretation of the dance
Ultimately, each student acquires a well-rounded knowledge of Tango, and of course, they are able to dance and enjoy themselves in a milonga, regardless of their gender, dancing as a leader or as a follower.

You are not only teaching though, you are doing shows as well. What are you looking for in a dance during a show and what in dance during a milonga?

ErmisI am deeply satisfied in a show when I manage to offer pleasure to the people watching. When I dance in a milonga though, what I am looking for is a giving, a sharing embrace.

Is there a song, you just can’t resist dancing to?

Ermis: Not in one particular song but surely to specific composers, D’Arienzo and Pugliese

I remember once you said to me: “I will go where there are people who want to learn Tango” and that is what you have done for many years. How has that affected your progress in Tango and your life outside of Tango?

Ermis: My teaching has surely been greatly influenced. Through these many years that I’ve been traveling I’ve had the joy to meet many new people of different temperaments and cultures–different relative to me and to each other. Thanks to the broad and heterogeneous audience, I learned to adjust my teaching so I can be understood by everyone. Plus, I discovered what it is that brings people together, no matter where they are coming from. Inevitably, the frequent moving means that I spend a lot of time in some sort of means of transport … Over time this becomes more tiring, but I have gotten used to this way of life.. (hahaha)

When you are not teaching or dancing, what do you like to do? How do you spend the valuable free time that you get?

Ermis: In my free time I truly enjoy doing nothing… I read a lot, bicycle and watch movies.

Is there one or more people whose work has inspired your work and your philosophy, someone who you’ve been following?

Ermis: The dancer who influenced my initial decision whether I want to continue dancing Tango or do something else, was Pablo Verón. My philosophy was generally influenced by several philosophers (hahaha) – and not Tangueros. Today, of course, I think I only follow my love for what I do in ways that express my own experiences.

What advice would you give your beginner, your intermediate and your advanced self?

Ermis: To the beginner: “Observe”, to the intermediate: “Think” and to the advanced: “Don’t think”

If we had a huge board here now, and you could write one phrase, what would it be?

Ermis: Observe without thinking

What does your schedule look like for now, any planned classes and shows, and how can someone contact you?

Ermis: Till July 2018 every weekend is dedicated to Tango Project, with workshops running in different cities in Greece. There are also a few festivals and workshops that I will be participating, in Greece and other countries. Anyone can reach me through my profile on Facebook and through the Tango Project page of course.

Ermis Karaboulas: https://www.facebook.com/panagiotis.karaboulas.7

Tango Project: https://www.facebook.com/TangoProject

How to choose a good mentor?

Tool#2: Find out their perspective on change
Tool#3: Find out their perspective on Tango 

Look for people who embrace change, you grow and evolve.
Avoid people who believe they know the “REAL” Argentine Tango.
Look for people who have learned different styles and have approached movement and Tango through diverse paths
Avoid people who are egoistic, who are not  curious. And look for people who ask more questions than the answers they give.
Look for people who inspire and challenge their students. And people who build communities and not just good dancers.

That is a good start for a Monday don’t you think?

Tell me about your teachers in the comments, below!

Chrisa

 

 

Dancing and the Fear of making mistakes

Hi, Chrisa here,

I was teaching a beginner’s class last Thursday. At the end of the class I said to the leaders: “Practice this little routine, but don’t worry if you make a mistake… Tango is improvisational! Routines don’t matter, they are just tools”

I look at them and as I expected (after having said and heard THAT same phrase for years) they are looking at me like this:

via GIPHY

hahaha
In the past I would have gone through all these terrible and overused cliches, you find on the internet:
“There are no mistakes in Tango, only surprises”
“You must embrace the opportunity mistakes create”
“Mistakes are a way to success”

Instead I said something a lot more reassuring:
“You know what, I know I just made this even worse. I know you just want me to give a sequence, ask you to practice it a million times and send you off to the dance floors of the world reassured…. We will learn sequences, many beautiful sequences. BUT when you start making mistakes while practicing, remember IT DOESN’T MATTER!”

A mistake is NOT failure, it is a LESSON

The truth is we all hate making mistakes.
It is not really the mistake itself, but everything else around it.
The confrontation, having to start over, not knowing how to fix it and looking stupid…

The problem is, mistakes are unavoidable. They are bound to happen…
It is not a matter of if but when you are going to make a mistake.

So the best way to deal with them is to prepare for them, first, mentally.

Making a mistake DOESN’t mean you are a failure. It will only become a failure if you give up.

So with that in mind let’s see how we can prepare and bounce back from mistakes.

Action Step#1: Keep a record

When you are practicing keep a record of it.
I used to take notes. Writing down everything that was happening during my practice
Recording what exercises I did, with what intention and how I executed them.
I wrote down what worked, what didn’t and what changes I made for it to work. How the movement felt before and after the change… Everything!

This is actually how I came up with Intelligent Tango

Now I use a camera as well, but that notebook, and 2 more after that, have been my faithful friends during for many years

How that helped me?
Anytime I made a mistake and felt lost, I could go and trace my way back to where I started from and find possible mistake points which I would then revisit, and attempt to fix them.

Action Step#2: Mistakes turned into sequences

Our biggest fear, especially as leaders is that we will not be able to lead our partner, we will ruin the other person’s dance and we will end up looking like fools in front of everybody.

Be proactive!
Take any sequence. Practice it the same way you learned it in class. Then think of all the possible mistakes that can happen, and use them one by one to create a new sequences.

This is how I got the idea for these 2 videos on Improvisation:
Argentine Tango Improvisation #1
Argentine Tango Improvisation#2

And this is a great practice for followers too, as they can have a better idea of the many different paths a leader can choose from during the dance.

Action Step#5: Practice Smart–>Combining Tango drills to an activity you are very good at

Bet on diversity

Tango might still be “Under Construction” for you but there are other activities you are really good at.
Maybe you are doing other dances, or swimming or martial Arts… All these activities have ONE thing in common they are all MOVEMENT.

Find things that all of them have in common and focus on them while doing your activity.
For example say you want to practice your back steps and you are really fit because you love exercising.

Instead of just walking around the room getting frustrated because you are loosing your balance or you are breaking your posture… Make a COMBO of a Tango drill and fitness, like this:
Argentine Tango Technique– Don’t leave the gym yet

While you are doing an activity you are good at, you can notice the details of the movement that are valuable for your Tango progress. Then you take those details and you use them while doing your Tango drills.

This way you will shorten the frustration period and save yourself from going around in circles, because you will know what you are looking for!

Action Step#4: Build a good a network of teachers you can reach for advice

So first of all, talk to your teachers local or visiting. Reach out to them, ask them questions, use their suggestions in your practice AND follow up with them.

Every teacher wants to work with people who care. Show your teacher that you care and then they will share all their resources with you.

Be careful though, you don’t want to take advantage of them.
This is where your records can be of great help.

  • Make notes of your teacher’s suggestions– their actual words, not what you think they said, classic mistake
  • Compare what they are saying on a matter to your experience so far
  • Practice in the way they suggested. Make notes of the experience
  • Compare the before and after
  • Talk to your teacher, presenting specific actions and results.

The more specific and clear your questions are, the easier it will be for your teacher to guide you.

Lastly, offer something back. Now this doesn’t have to be some monetary exchange, but maybe you can find an interesting article on something you know your teacher would enjoy. Or a book or a video of another dancer you found interesting.

I have gotten book suggestions, TED talk suggestions, practice videos even movies sent to me by students and I love it!

I am sure your teacher will appreciate it too!

Action Step#5: Find a community that supports experimentation and diversity

Learning Tango is one thing. Having a community, a group of people you can rely to when you make a mistake and you feel stuck is something different.

I am sure you can find teachers who create a inclusive spirit in their classes if you look for people, who:

There is no way you can avoid mistakes… But you can at least build system that will allow you to predict them, prepare for them and swiftly bounce back from them.

We can be there for you if you want us to, just join the community of bautanz.com by subscribing below..!

 

 

Dancing and the Fear of Rejection

Does any of this by any chance sound familiar?

Leader: “I go to the milonga to dance. I hate small talk… why we can’t just dance.” or
“I just can’t deal with rejection.There are all these scenarios of what might go wrong going on in my head and I end up stuck. The cabeceo doesn’t work for me, btw…it just doesn’t!”

Follower: “I can’t say NO to someone, even if I know dancing with them will be unsatisfying. What if I end up sitting there all night?” or
“I have been dancing for a while and I have  been told to be a good dancer… I really put an effort to look good, happy and confident… but except for some  leaders that I know nobody else asks me to dance…”

The Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection, is in fact part of our genes. It is something we have inherited from our ancestors who formed and valued tribes.
Being part of the tribe was extremely important since being a cast off could easily lead to death.

In those good old days, you had to actively pursue being part of the tribe if you didn’t want to end up in exile…and possibly…hm…dead!
Thankfully, that is not the case anymore! haha

Our bodies and our minds though being  super clever have kept this very fear, still in us to keep us active AND safe.
Being afraid of getting rejected from a group we care about, is THE very thing that will make us take action to become better and stronger within our group.

You, right now…: “So this is a good thing?
YES! But only if you don’t let the fear blind you.

The biggest problem for most of us though is that we started dancing for that very reason:
“it is a great way to overcome shyness, anxiety, insecurity, etc… The structured environment allows us to be someone else or a different part of ourselves, helping us work through these issues”

Only to find out that for us to successfully “work through these issues” we need to fight the battle with rejection face on. 

Lets put a scenario together…

We have our leader, Tom, who walks in a milonga alone, rushes through to the bar, sharing some shy hellos.
He is orders a drink and looks around on the packed floor, thinking: “Ok, here we go… You can do this!
An hour and a few mediocre dances later… He is looking around on the dance floor, thinking I have no idea how to this… Why am I putting myself through this s@$t..?

Tom is now starting to feel bewildered… The place is getting crowded, his partners seemed unsatisfied and the last time he tried the cabeceo nobody matched his gaze.

Tom (thinking): “I don’t get it… There are followers here who look completely unavailable. If you don’t want to dance, why are you here? Or they would rather dance with some horrible dancers… I mean I am not great but I am not THAT bad! Maybe Tango is not for me…”

At the same time at the other end of the pista….

Mary, has been sitting for 3 tandas straight. She is feeling devastated.
It is another Saturday night, that she has put in all this effort to find the perfect outfit, put make-up on, come in with a good vibe, smiling to everyone… And FOR WHAT?
To get asked only by her friends and some horrible dancers who copy ridiculous patterns off Youtube and then push-and-pull you on the dance floor to show off..?

She is now looking around, half smile on her face, thinking: “There is no point to this… Nobody wants to dance with me”.
Her eyes are glazing over as she is trying to figure out, what she is doing wrong…!

So what do we have here?

We have 2 dancers struggling with rejection.

Tom is afraid to step away from the bar, start talking and meeting new people or even just holding his gaze long enough until the followers get it.
And Mary is afraid to step away from her group, and start meeting new people. PLUS she is afraid to say no, in case she doesn’t get a chance to dance at all.  Without realizing that she is missing the chance to say yes to other dancers.

In the end they are both so frustrated and bitter, that no matter how much they try to be part of the party, it looks as if they are not even there.

Tom and Mary have a choice to make:

  • Either they start poking their heads out of their comfort zone, taking action against being rejected
  • Or they sit there watching all those other people doing that very thing and enjoying their time in the milonga.

If you are a Tom or a Mary ask yourselves:

“Cabeceo is hard. Getting more dances is hard. Becoming part of a community is hard. BUT what is the alternative?

If you love Tango and therefore you still think it is worth becoming part of a Tango community,  there is NO alternative. You need to deal with rejection and that means bringing in a strong combo of social and dance skills!

Action Steps for happier Milongas?
  • Change your mindset about what a milonga is.
    You shouldn’t think of the milonga as solely the place to dance. The milonga is where you see Tango in action. It is where you get inspired by other dancers and inspire other dancers. The milonga is the place to meet new people and reconnect with friends through a chat or a dance.
    Getting there with a altered mindset will help you reevaluate how you spend your time in the milongas
  • Find a good way to socialize, whether you are going with a group or without
    Here is a video that could spark a few ideas: Tango Festivals Networking Vol.1
  • Focus on your strengths! What are your strong points, is it musicality, is it smooth embrace, is it a good walk…? What is it?
    Find it and bet on THAT! The milonga is NOT the place to practice or correct the things you are not good at, it is the place to have fun with the things you do well!
  • Find a way to bounce back from rejection. Nobody likes hearing NO, or sitting there for hours before someone asks them for a dance.
    Rejection SUCKS! It happens though to everyone and you have to find a way to bounce back from it.
    One way to do so, is to focus on how are YOU are feeling when you are dancing Tango. What YOU are doing to get better and why YOU are doing it. Instead of looking for other people’s approval.
    Here an article on how to deal with shame: Dancing and the fear of shame
    And a video to make you feel a bit better: Focus on what you have
  • Practice smart! After you have pin-pointed what you are having trouble with, start building diverse practices around it. What I mean by diverse?
    Practices that are not strictly based on Tango BUT include elements from other activities that you do. This way you will get better, faster.
    A quick example: I have a student you has trouble with finding the beat. But he is a very good windsurfer. So I asked him: How to manage to follow the rhythm of the water and wind when you windsurf?
    And he said: “I listen to it with my body and then I let it guide me”
    Then here is your answer, forget about downbeat, upbeat, 1,2,3… Listen with your body and let the music guide you.
Is this worth it?

I think it is… Obviously! haha
Jokes aside though, if you do want to learn how to handle rejection better, if you want to be able to connect with more people, battle shyness and get more confident not only in the milonga but in life, learning and doing a social dance is a great way to do that.

I think it is worth it therefore, not only because I love Tango and dance but because I think that it can open up doors for you to great opportunities.
Opportunities that don’t stop on the dance floor or the door of your dance studio. But expand to asking someone out on a date or asking for a raise by building up the courage to create change!

If you want to learn how to practice smart, in order to enjoy your Tangos more but also to get more confident, courageous and creative, join our community of Bautanz by subscribing below and share your thoughts, experiences and troubles. I will be delighted to help!

 

Dancing and the fear of shame

Dance like nobody is watching

What are your thoughts on this overused phrase..?

  • Absolutely agree, you have to be yourself on the dance floor
  • Yeah right!
  • This is probably how advanced dancers feel
  • All of the above

I personally think, it is baloney!

Even as an advanced dancer you are fully engaging with the people around you. Not because you feel that they are judging you but because you are all sharing that moment

How many times haven’t you left a milonga thinking: “well I had some really good dances but the energy in that place is just sooooo unwelcoming?”
Or think of the last time you went to a concert, for example, and the audience was just sooo out of it, how it dragged your energy down too. Compared to a concert where the audience was feeling it, it was part of the action, and you just couldn’t stop singing!

The truth is it makes a huge difference if you surround yourself with positive, active, passionate people, compared to negative, passive people.

What we can’t confess to ourselves is what is keeping us back

The biggest problem with that phrase is that it is used to cover up a rather big problem… FEAR OF SHAME

The fear of making a mistake in front of everybody.
Looking stupid, incompetent or unable.
Afraid of taking a risk just in case it doesn’t work and you make a fool of yourself in front of everyone!

I was at the OACCPP conference last Friday presenting Transformative Tango with Carolyn Dallman Downes. Very exciting day during which I learned so much, one phrase though sparked the idea for this article: “shame leads to disconnection and disconnection leads to shame“.

You have probably heard leaders say things like: “I am not able to follow what the teacher says, I look like a fool there

Or followers saying: “Oh my God! How terrible did that look? We almost fell 3 times

Or having one or the other partner with this expression on their face:

via GIPHY

While thinking: “You are killing my groove! You are making me look like an idiot!”

(If you are in the last category and you are thinking that the smile at the end will save the day…eeeeh Think again! People can tell! Hahaha)

What to do about it…
Step 1: Accept that people’s opinion matters!

Is it such terrible thing to admit?
A milonga is a social event, it is like a little town, where everyone sees and knows everything!

It doesn’t mean that their opinion will necessarily change the way you dance or your choices on the dance floor but before you say: “ I don’t care what anybody thinks” be ready to back it up with actions…or admit that you actually do care.

Step 2: Deeply get to know your community.

What usually happens is that we waste time trying to fight our fears staying away from milongas…BUT this only makes things worse! It just makes the monster bigger!

Instead, go to the milongas with intention to study them, to understand the community you are about to enter and not only to dance.

Step 3: Focus a big part of your practice on improvising. Instead of practising routines that don’t work on the dance floor.

Now you can understand how important the  a previous step… You need to know the dance floor and the dancers of your community, to know what kind of moves fit best.  Here are a few ideas that will fit perfectly on any dancer floor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2IDoTBcPsA&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCj4JopmCPg&feature=youtu.be

Step4: Followers–though this is something leaders should think about too–really embrace.

Dance is not action-reaction, it is offer, absorb, create movement and give back.

You need to hold your partner. Really hug and that involves your arms and hands.
Especially connecting in the hands, is essential, because there are so many nerves ending in the hands, in the finger tips, if you practice on taking your mind to the hands, you will see, you will become more sensitive towards understanding your partner.
You will get a quick image of how they are feeling at that moment.
Are they comfortable? Are they tensed? Do they have a shoulder problem? Are they going by the book or are they a bit more open to exploration.
It is pity leaving your hands out of the dance. Engage and you will know your partner before you take one step on the dance floor.

Why am I referring to followers?

Simply because worldly accepting to dance with someone is not enough. You have to let them know through body language as well, that you are there to dance with them and you are fully commiting to the dance.

Step5: Leave your ego at the door.

The ego-dog at his own door is like a lion” Rumi, “Little book of Life”

Get into the embrace coming from a respectful caring place.
Come into the milongas with the intention to have fun, to meet new people, to share at least one smile with someone outside your group.
Look at the dance floor seeing only the beauty of communication.
Be on the dance floor with the intention to create and share something from your heart.

You might read these words and think… Yeah yeah, I still remember that time when… ENOUGH!

When we create a safe place people bloom. People express themselves, share. Mistakes become beautiful surprises. Risks become thrilling experimentation.

Steps on a beat become DANCE.

This is an excellent example of the work we do in Intelligent Tango

Constructing Dance

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