From Flats to Heels–Exercises for Happy Feet

happy feet
Cuba, Varadero

We have been talking about heels and ochos and practicing…at all but coming back from this I am tanned, energized, and sooo ready to fly back! haha
I loved Cuba! I guess it is rather obvious when you check my recent Instagram posts…

Salsa party in Cuba  and the Havana and The real people of Cuba
And guess what I have more…haha
But what I realized while I was there, was how my walk was different walking on sandy beach.

Yes that was usually before the mojitos..!

Happy Feet can be happy in heels

What happens when we walk on a rather unstable surface, like a sandy beach?
Our feet adjust and almost reform to hug around the surface. On the sand specifically, if you don’t run or wear flip-flops of course, you will notice your whole foot attempts to hug the sand, from the outside edge to the baby toe and towards the big toe. The ball of the foot active but not straining and all toes spreading.

https://www.playea.es/7-estrategias-infalibles-para-enfrentarse-al-cooono-como-quema-la-arena/

Aka…Happy Feet!
Walking on the sand therefore not only made my feet happy at that moment but it made me rethink my walk in general, as this is a more efficient way of walking.

I send my mind consciously to my feet, examining not only the shape of them on the sand but also the way my walk had adjusted.
Coming back to Toronto I just couldn’t wait to apply the details of that experience to my tango in heels…

And YES! Happy feet can be happy in heels too!

So next time you are on a sandy beach walk on it with a conscious mind, preferably before any mojito consumption, and you will start to notice that your feeling of relaxation is not coming only by the fact that you are in an amazing warm place or not having to go to work, but also from your feet being happy again.

How can all this be applied to prepare us for our Tango heels

If you can’t be on beach right now you can instead do this: From flats to heels video

Going up to a “releve” as ballet dancers call it, will not only strengthen your legs but it will also make you aware how the weight when transferred forward changes the form of your foot.

As you will in the video, there are two common mistakes that can really throw you off balance and cause strain in your body. Work against but at the same time, feel that every time you are lifting your heels off the floor, the ball of your foot in massaging the floor instead of pressing into it. Like you would do on a sandy beach.
If you have no sandy beach experience, cute kitten paws can do the job:

happy feet in heels
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/210050770092350474/

Have fun you all!

Chrisa

P.S: See the two previous videos and tips here: Tango heels… Own them don’t just wear them and Intelligent tango–5min practice on rotation (ocho focused)

Intelligent Tango-5min practice on rotation (ocho focused)

Rotation Vs Dissociation-Disassociation

Dissociation or Disassociation is a word commonly used in Tango mostly for ochos. If though you do a google search for the word this is what you find on wikipedia:

“In psychology, dissociation is any of a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis

OH MY GOD!!!
hahaha

All teachers have used it. All dancers have heard it. And all bodies hate it!

Make things better through rotation

The word dissociation implies that there is a disconnection, a detachment, an that is why our bodies hate such concepts.

Movement in our bodies is multi-directional and involves different parts of the body. Our movement therefore is more efficient and smooth, and fun, when we we tap the automatic and unavoidable connections happening within. Connections on a muscular level, in the bone structure, through the breath. Through the senses, the organs and the blood flow. Our body is ONE!

So I like to think of ochos through rotation.  A rotation of the lower relative to the upper or vice versa.
This way instead of thinking in isolation we can re-frame the way we get into our ochos allowing the whole body to get involved in creating that rotation. Allowing our upper and lower body to work together instead of looking detachment.

In this series of short practices we will see how we can best practice rotation for a more comfortable, smooth and amazing ocho…

Here is video#1:

Intelligent Tango–5min practice on rotation

I gave myself 5mins for this one but of course you can do it for longer…I wouldn’t recommend that you do it for less time unless you decide to do only one of the exercises.

This is your practice though, you get to decide what feels better for you!

So have fun and let me know if you have any questions/ concerns or comments.

Tango Heels… Own them don’t just wear them

I am not sure where you stand on Tango heels… I hope I am not laughing on my own here..! hahaha
Heels and generally shoes are super important, not only in Tango but in our everyday life.
Shoes protect our foot from the environment. They shouldn’t though, at the same time, restrict the foot from properly moving, and perceiving the environment.

Heels are they that evil?

Personally,  I don’t want to get into the conversation of whether heels are healthy for us physically and psychologically– I won’t even comment on the latter–for 4 reasons.

  1. In Tango women wear heels, that is how the dance is danced– they don’t have to be stilettos, they don’t have to be high, they just can’t be flat. When you are attending a milonga, you need to look that you are part of the party… If you are showing up in jeans, a star-trek t-shirt and all- stars and then you are wondering why nobody is asking you to dance… It is because they think you are NOT there to dance
  2. Bio-mechanically heels are not considered the best of shoes, but a heel in the dance actually helps the dancer find the forward alignment required for Tango
  3. Tango shoes, if they are of good quality, provide support, protection and flexibility, that you can hardly ever find in a street shoe and especially in flats.
  4. I don’t see how wearing-flats-and-dancing-on-your-toes all night is a better alternative… It is actually a lot worse, because there is no support for your heel and your toes take all the load

Extra, ultra personal reason that is secretly admited by almost everyone: They look good!

How can make our experience in our Tango heels as beautiful as the shoes themselves

It is funny but we make many mistakes when it comes to buying shoes and especially our Tango heels.

If you are a little bit like me you probably buy with two criteria:

  1. How it looks and
  2. Whether you can afford it

Then as you will hear me saying in the video, the shoes arrive and it takes you two years to actually feel good dancing in them because you overestimated your abilities and they were actually too high.
Yeah..! To my defence it only happened once, they were really beautiful and now I wear them all the time! haha

I even have proof: Milonga practice in the sun..!

In the video following you will find a few tips on how to choose the right pair, in terms of quality,  size and height. Tips on how to align yourselves over heels without hurting your back and a fitness sequence to get those legs a bit stronger, because the stronger they are the better you can handle heels.

Heels…Own them don’t just wear them!

Have fun!
Chrisa

P.s: If you want more detailed tips for the exercises presented in the blog, subscribe to the newsletter for a bunch of Tango goodies!

P.P.S: If you want a program that has deconstructed Tango to its essential elements–posture, balance, walks and ochos. If you are interested in a program giving you all the tips on making the right selection of exercises, recipes on how to sequence these exercises and suggestions on how to scale your practice and anchor it to things you already know, check out Intelligent Tango at: https://bautanz.com/programs-and-courses/
I put Intelligent Tango together based on my own practice. My intention though is to give you the freedom and the responsibility to make this your practice. To build the dancer you want to be on the dance floor.
I would like to hear your comments and thoughts to make this a great class!

Intelligent Tango– 5min Tango Practice

Intelligent Tango is not only about what you do, but also how you do it and how long you do it for.
We are busy people, and we have limited time
When does that stop being a reason and becomes an excuse?

5min of Intelligent Tango Practice… Are they enough?

Ok! Lets be honest… no of course it is not enough.
It is though a start!

If you sitting at home reading through this thinking what can 5mins do to you… I can ensure you that they will do you a lot more than 0mins!

Firstly, it will get you started
Secondly, it will give you a feeling of accomplishment
Thirdly, you will be able to define what you need to work on
Fourthly, you will get motivated to practice more because you will see results very fast.

A few tips to help you out with setting up your short but intelligent  practice
  1. You don’t have to do as many things as I am doing but I wouldn’t encourage you to do more
  2. You can in fact work on 1 thing. Use for example all your 5mins on posture, or only for walks
  3. Focus on each and every one thing that you are working on.
    On the movement itself but also on all the other smaller movements supporting it.
    Focus on your breathing, to relax any points of tension.
    And lastly, have in mind that you want to be engaged but not tensed
  4. Make sure you have control over your movement
  5. Have also control over what you decide to practice on, instead of hoping from one thing to another randomly
  6. Last but not least, make it about you. Work on things that are important to you, notice your movement with no taboos or do’s and dont’s. Find ways to make this enjoyable and fun.

So with no further a do here is your video:
Intelligent Tango– 5mins Practice

It is simple, fast and sweet! Think about it as the little drop of Tango for your day!

Practice Tango Intelligently! Make your practice an experience

 

Don’t rely on motivation. Rely on results.

Motivation is something vague and completely unreliable. Though, the picture of a dancer being the rough talent, who doesn’t mind really practicing, but doesn’t really need it either because within 1 hour they are dazzeling, is sexier… they are also far from the truth!

Talent is not enough. Motivation alone is not enough. Taking action, following a system and feeding off results is what takes you to the next level

A Motivation rant coming from a loving place

I made this video last Wednesday.
It was a long day but still I felt empowered and motivated and I really wanted to share that with you. I had just taken off my make-up and I did my mobility/ stretch exercise, which is one of my recent most enjoyable tiny habits–always brings a  smile on my face–and that is when I decided I should really do the video because it will just paint the whole picture for you.
So this video starts with a bit of desperational rant…hahaha… but it is all coming loving place and the goal here is to show you a couple of things:

  1. That you should act to get motivated and not the other way around. Same goes for confidence by the way
  2. When we say “act” we are aiming more for consistency than intensity or time spent on the action
  3. Urge you to start now with a tiny habit, with just one drop of Tango in day and scale, because I believe you can. I know you have that fire in you and I would love to see you reaching all your goals while having A LOT of fun!
  4. I am actually sharing a specific exercise. It is going to help you relax your hips, something followers often have trouble with, and at the same time help you work on your balance and rotation of the upper body.
What I would like you to remember from this video

What I would like you to take away from this video, is that Tango, dance and Art in general, aside from everything else give you the opportunity to be a kid again. To feel that because you are learning something new, because you have no idea what the rules are, you’ re gaining some of that time back almost… feel as if you have the whole life ahead of you and you can afford to go all in, you can turn not-knowing-the-rules into an advantage, you can take risks and learn without being too harsh on yourselves…

Ok, enough text..! Here is the video:
Don’t rely on motivation. Rely on results

P.S: Learn for Intelligent Tango and share your thoughts here:

Leader’s Technique#1: How to lead anyone…but first YOURSELF!

I am going to start with this:

THIS IS A LEADER’S TECHNIQUE EXERCISE

An EXERCISE that can help leaders, and dancers in general, connect the dots between posture and walking in Tango, and make their walks smoother and their posture a bit more human!

The most common mistake leaders make is that they tend to sepparate their bodies in even more blocks than the followers do.

What do we mean by that?
As we saw in our article Posture as a movement when we break our body’s movement in blocks, posture becomes uncomfortable and stiff. When we consciously try to connect the dots and understand how our body naturally moves more efficiently, we manage to get a posture that is a lot smoother and enjoyable.

What happens with leaders when they try to better their leader’s technique.?
They disconnect the movement in their upper body from the movement in the lower and that causes trouble..!

Leader’s technique through Youtube..!

What? Are you calling me a blashphemer?
haha

No no..It is not what you are thinking..!
Plus don’t tell me you never watch youtube tango videos…

I want you to see this videos Juan Carlos Copes & Maria Nieves especially at 1:53. Notice how he leads her into that back step…
Watch it many many times and you will see that there is a simultaneous movement between his upper body and his lower body. And not a sequencial or block-like motion of: Upper. Lower

Notice how he smoothly transitions from side step into a forward step.
Even if you practice just this in your leader’s technique practices or classes you will become much more aware of your movement, and therefore much more connected with your partner.

Because if you can’t lead yourself into a step how are you going to lead somebody else.

Leader’s Technique: How to lead anyone and firstly…Yourself!

If you can’t smoothly take yourself in a walk how can you lead somebody else?

If you watch that part of the video above closely enough you will notice that the primary part of the body directing Juan Carlos Copes’ movement is, the pelvis.
He starts moving the pelvis and takes the movement into the body and legs.
If you didn’t notice that, because it IS subtle, go back and watch the video again

How can you practice this, since it is so subtle?
The problem with subtle movements and especially subtle movements that our body is used to doing them automatically–like walking forward–is that the more you think about them, the more robotic and frustrated you get.

Instead of doing that we will exaggerate that subtle movement and notice how the whole body is participating, is supporting that movement.

So here is the video: Intelligent Tango: Leader’s technique

One second…what is that intro?
That intro is for your followers to understand that just giving feedback is not enough…
Giving good quality feedback–not necessarily positive– is much more helpful and a lot less frustrating.
It is also to show you leaders that you can’t depend on another person’s feedback. It is their interpretation of your lead.
Therefore, practice with a partner BUT at the same time have a few minutes of solo leader’s technique exercises, like this one, to be able to understand the movement in YOUR body and not through your partner’s interpreatation.

Have fun!
Chrisa

P.S: I am sorry about the watermark, I have been
trying to see how camtasia works before purchasing it. The sound and picture seems quite good though right?

Constructing Dance

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