10min Tango Practice on legs and balance

Legs are our base and our connection to the earth.
It wasn’t always like that though…

Lets take a trip back in time…
Imagine having 4 points of contact with the earth… hands and feet or better said front legs and back legs…

When on all fours, our hands are equally responsible for our movement as much as our legs
Our survival depends on moving fast and with efficiency–yes we did travel waaaay back!
For this reason the relationship between our arms and our ribcage iss strong, very strong..!

Time and time went by and we got on our two feet…well… that relationship changed….
It evolved to a connection that is a lot more flexible, allowing us to use our arms to communicate, to reach, to grab…and of course to hug!

What does all that have to do with Tango..?

It has nothing and everything to do with Tango..!

Tango is a very technical dance; and that can be a challenge or an opportunity..!
An opportunity to get to know your body inside out.
To learn how you can free up the upper body so fully hug a loved one.
Or how to chase your child down the street when they surprisingly take off after hearing the ice cream truck chiming by..!
But also on the dance floors, how to fully give in to your partner’s embrace without losing your axis and without tensing up

Practicing Tango and working on the lower body will give you stronger legs of course… but it will also allow you to free up your upper body–core and chest–which is tensing up to keep you balanced.

It is an opportunity for you to reach further, move freer and hug deeper..!

10min practice focusing on legs and balance

One last tip to help you out:
Focus on the connection between the lower and the upper body not though through muscle but through the bone structure.
Feel how your bones are built to move and avoid squeezing, pushing, pulling, pressing etc.
Muscle is level #1 lets grab the opportunity to experience our body on level #2 which is an experience of our bone structure.

Do you want more..?

If so you can check out our page: Argentine tango technique–don’t leave the gym yet

And if you want even more…
Join us, by subscribing to this page, there is a new practice video every week..!

Enjoy,

Chrisa

“Nobody dances with me… I am too old!”– Tango and the age- issue

“Nobody dances with me… I am too old! All the leaders prefer to dance with the younger, sexier dancers even though they are not good dancers” Many followers, who feel their age is their biggest burden

I have heard this phrase so many times and it always made me feel sad and even guilty.
During every attempt though I made to help  would get a you-are-too-young type of response

And so for years I avoided writing about the matter until today…

The follower’s view on the age- issue

Most followers have a sad story to share, where they have felt left out, ignored and unwanted.
And there are not stories only from the milongas but also from practicas and even classes…

Follower’s will tell you things like:

“Leaders avoid me. They won’t even look at me” OR
“Dancers that I have known for years, even friends of mine… dance only with the young, sexy dancers who can’t even dance properly, and completely ignore me” OR
“I have been taking classes for years only to go to milongas and get to dance 2 tandas maximum during which I would be dancing with the worst dancers, who don’t even smell good..!”

They go on to blame their age, their not so-revealing outfits and… of course… Mother Nature…
Yes leaders…
Followers believe it is in your nature to go after the first young, sexy thing you see in the room

But is this the truth..?

A leader’s view on the age- issue

I am not a man and therefore I can’t say if this is true or not…

Most men though will tell you that this is not the case at all… at least not in Tango.

** DISCLAIMER: Here we are talking about decent men who are not using Tango as the last resort to get close to a woman..! **

Hahaha
(Not a joke… though)

What they do say though is things like:
“The attractivity of a dancer is made up of several ingredients. First and foremost the dance skills. But what makes here a pleasure to dance with is more than that. Sympathy is important, that young sparkle in her eyes, an empathic connection aside from tango. A tasteful dress and a personal attitude that matches her age doesn’t do harm, either. These are the same things that make a women attractive in general. I am not talking about romantic thoughts, I mean character and identity. It’s the very same for men, by the way, although they admittedly have the minority advantage in tango.” ( a thoughtful comment found under this article: In search of Tango: The age prejudice in Tango)

Or from the same article:
“Men get avoided and turned down for dances because of their age, grey hair, appearance, height, skill, clique membership, position in the hierarchy, etc. We don’t know why we’re refused; it’s uncomfortable for everybody if we ask why, so we don’t ask. Sometimes our invitations to dance are turned down, and then we see our invitee on the dance floor with somebody else thirty seconds later. This is very unpleasant. We too endure tandas with followers that are not very enjoyable.”  Or

“Its not so much age as the lack of beauty and isn’t this just the story of life? We all seek beauty in various forms and tango is no exception.”

I am not too old… I don’t get asked by the best dancers… And I DON’T care!

As I said I am not attracted to women and therefore I can’t tell you if the guys are using the above and more as excuses for not dancing with you… But I truly don’t think that this is the case….

Personally, and I hope you will believe me, I am not one of those followers who won’t stop dancing all night, and not because I am picky…

I will dance with everyone except from people who rude and/ or hurtful.
This is my standard and I won’t take one step back from it simply because dancing with someone hurtful or rude makes me feel worse than sitting, enjoying the music and chatting with a friend.

Having standards is important as it will save you from physical and psychological pain PLUS it shows good dancers and most importantly good people that they are in your niche instead of some rude bum looking do all the crazy moves he has picked from the web…

How do you ensure you choose correctly..?
This is what I do…
When I am not dancing, I am looking at the people… how they approach their partners, how they reach in the embrace, what they do between the dances, how the finish the tanda and get off the dance floor…. Overall, how they treat their partners…

MEN..! Be nice!
It goes a long way…

And because I know you are probably thinking…” I AM nice!”
Here are a few extra tips…

  1. Practice on things that matter on the dance floor
    For example, posture, proper clear leading, good listening, embrace and musicality over fancy moves
  2. Be respectful but not too serious
    For example, allowing people to chat and excusing yourself when you interrupt them is not old school, it is good manners.
    Properly asking someone for a dance and not creeping up on a follower, again good manners
  3. Be presentable.
    It always wins over being young… That is why women still like George Clooney. He has style and he doesn’t pretend he is still 20
    So if you are 50 dress like a 50 year old living in 2018..!
  4. A fresh scent
    Now I am not saying you smell bad, but that doesn’t mean you smell good..! Sooo, try to smell good without overdoing it
Now back to you followers…

Practicing will give your better technique and therefore confidence… but you don’t only need confidence you also need to stick to your standards even if it means that for a little while you will be dancing less…

But you know what because I know you are probably already thinking things like:
“You are still young and good looking” or
“Everyone wants to dance with you, you are a teacher…” or
some combo of the two comments above…

So since I can’t win, and I don’t want to make you feel sadder and myself guiltier I will let a man do the work for me… haha

Now, don’t start with, “I am looking to get more dances not more dates”
Of course Tango is Tango and life is life… but hear Matthew Hussey out first..!

Can you… or better said… can WE become:

  1. Practice on things that matter on the dance floor
    Meaning technique, listening, posture, embrace, musicality
  2. Be more social
    A smile, between dances goes a long way. And a friendly chat or even a joke goes even longer.
    But even when you are sitting out, chat with the people next to you, relax back in your chair and enjoy the music, look at the dance floor being genuinely interested
  3. Be presentable
    Your outfit must say that you care about that night.
    That you put some effort to find something nice to wear. And not for others but also for you, choose things that make YOU feel good and then you can project that outward
  4. A fresh scent
    Something light, soft and elegant such work. It doesn’t even have to be perfume, it can be body lotion..! 😉

So can we become, as Matthew saying that video, playful, sexy, nurturing and independent..?

I think so and if you think so too just hit subscribe.
We can do together..!

Chrisa

10min Tango Practice on posture, rotation and ochos

How we can make our ochos better or easier or better and easier…?
Classic question, asked by possibly all Tangueros and Tangueras around the world.

At the end of this post, there is a practice video that can surely help in that direction…
You can scroll straight down to it if  you like…
But if you want some extra tips keep reading through my quick story of a light bulb moment I had, while swimming in the Greek blue seas

A central glow…

I love to swim!
Generally I love being in the water… but I hate just sitting there. I want to move, to feel like I am cutting through the water.

My swimming skills are not really anything special, I make my way across with some success–aka not feeling super comfortable but still having fun.
So I started looking into Total Immersion Swimming Technique and started breaking it down to little exploration tasks for each swim.
For example, one day I was trying to really feel how my legs are moving my hips and what effect that has to the rest of my body and my swimming experience. The next day I would focus on a different body part and the third day I would explore the two together.

And then magic happened..!

When all the bits and pieces of my explorations fell into place…
Once each part of my body was moving in balance with all the rest…
My laps became so smooth, so effortless; I was just flowing through in the open sea

It was truly beautiful… But also a valuable lesson!
It gave me the opportunity to feel how movement can be rearranged if we manage to share equal amounts of energy in every direction starting from our bellybutton outward, creating a central glow!

How this applies to ochos and Tango in general..?

It doesn’t only apply to ochos, and Tango but to movement in general; as it helps us understand and experience our axis as a 3dimensional element.

So I want to encourage you to go through this video at least 3 times, following different paths:

  1. The first time you focus on the lower body, noticing any trouble, any blocks, any pain but also moments of comfort
  2. Then the second time you focus on the upper body again looking for glues, for ways to make the movement as effortless as possible
  3. And the third time focus on connecting the upper and lower body through your bellybutton. Specifically exploring the axis as a 3dimensional element, growing upward, downward, to the left and the right, to front and the back.

You can of course narrow your explorations down even more if you like.
Especially if you are feeling discomfort in a specific place in your body, it is always good to take the time to understand what it is that is causing the discomfort and if there is way you can move that can make things a bit more comfortable for you.
Always though finish your practice, with step #3 noticing how all things are connected.

Enjoy

Chrisa

P.S: Join the bautanz for more tips and drills like this one that are only shared with our subscribers

 

It is all connected– Tango, Yoga and beyond

My Tango chats are usually with other Tango professionals… like the recent one with Veronica Toumanova.
This time though I decided to do something different… or is it actually the same..?
Hmmm… We shall soon find out, I guess..!
But today I chatting Tango, Yoga, learning strategies, teaching approaches, social and life skills

Tango, Yoga and everything in between

Jill Newberry Evans of jillyoga.ca is a friend and great coworker.

For a very long time now we have been talking about how we teach movement, how our students express their needs and goals and how we can help them get closer to their goals by exposing the different paths they can follow to get there.

Every time we got started that kind of a chat we always found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences and sharing stories that had so much in common that “it is all connected” became like  our little slogan

And so we thought… since it is all connected and since we can learn from one another why not bring this chat to world of the web so other people who are involved in different and seemingly unrelated activities can start connecting the dots and finding this way other more efficient and fun ways to get to their goals.

It is all connected…

We believe that there is a connecting thread, not only between Tango and Yoga but between all activities.
As Jill told me during one of our chats: “I don’t teach Yoga… I teach movement and life skills!

There are times that narrowing down and focusing on your ONE favorite activity will help to boost your progress…
But there is also the time when you need to revisit the principles of that activity under a different light and approach it following a slightly different path to be able to experience it in its totality; to be able to grow in it

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments along with your struggles and stories so we can get back with more!

Embellishments that go beyond spicing

We’ve talked about sequences, we’ve talked about technique, we’ve talked about the embrace… so how can we possibly leave embellishments out of the game?

Many dancers look down on embellishments. They see them as fluff; as something secondary and unimportant.
Today though I will attempt to change their mind by using an embellishment to practice on:

  1. Balance
  2. Posture
  3. Timing
  4. Effortless movement
  5. Listening and connecting to our partner
Embellishments that go beyond spicing

The video is heavy on technique tips, tips on how to make this beautiful embellishment fit your dance as seamlessly as possible and tips on how to transfer the details of this experience into the rest of your dance.
So I will grab the opportunity to elaborate more on the hidden message of the video… which is NOT Intelligent Tango…haha… but the relationship that can be created between partners because of this and many other embellishments

When the specific embellishment is successful and spicy, there is a feeling of a slight delay in the pivot. It is not really a delay but a change in rhythm.
Here is why…
The leader drives the pivot BUT it is the follower’s free leg the comes rapping around first and then the actual pivot happens.
So leaders… it feels like your follower is stuck… but THAT stickiness will create the momentum, the power that we want for the embellishment to come to light!

How do we mess this up…
The followers are either exaggerating, slowing the pivot down and/ or they are not using the embrace to let their partner know they want to do something fancy with their feet.

The leaders on the other hand having not received any cue that something different is happening push their partners around because they think they got stuck on the pivot… OR if the follower did communicate her wish to do an embellishment, it is very likely that the leader didn’t hear it…

Tango is a partner’s dance

I heard me say it the beginning of the video as well.
I was thinking of doing a practice on embellishments but I wasn’t really sure which one to choose and how to structure the practice so we get massive knowledge from it.
So when one of my students of Intelligent Tango told how delighted he was by the support built in the program, that was gave me the idea to structure around which I structured the video.

In Tango we are building up a conversation and yet I clearly remember taking women’s technique classes where the teacher would focus almost exclusively on how to keep the action on the feet; how we block what we do with our feet from getting transmitted to our partner.
Why..?
So we won’t disturb the leader…

You can imagine what happened afterwards right?
Frustraaaation! haha

Followers trying to do embellishments without giving any indication to the leader that they are attempting an extra movement.
And leaders complaining that they didn’t know where the follower was and that they felt disconnected because of the embellishments
But the followers came back at them with: “You don’t give any time to do an embellishment!”

Unfortunately the leaders are right on this one…
How do expect for someone to give time for an embellishments when they don’t know you want to do one…?
If you don’t communicate with your leaders, they can’t possibly know you even need more time..!

Tango is a partners dance and there is needs to more than I give you the lead and you do it.
There needs to be support and understanding from both ends.
And for that to happen we both need to use the embrace not only to share a message but also listen to what our partner is telling us and provide comfort.

How can we practice on that through this embellishment
  1. Start with doing simple forward ochos–NO embellishment and notice the rhythm
  2. Add the embellishment and notice the change in rhythm
  3. After figuring out the rhythm and the footwork, focus on what the rest of the body is doing
  4. Do it against the wall and notice how the pressure in your hands is changing
  5. Use your breath to relax any tension you might be holding
  6. Practice both plain ochos and ochos with an embellishment with your partner. If you are a follower make sure that you let your leader know you are going to do the embellishment and if you are leader listen for the cue
  7. Share feedback with your partner and try again

Tango like any dance is based on communication. We all dance to share something with someone. We need therefore to find ways to practice becoming better in listening and in sharing!

Bring your NEW moves on the floor! (remembering sequences vol.#2)

Last week we were talking new moves, about the Art of Choreography and  the art of learning and remembering sequences.

The 6 six steps outlined in last week’s article focused more on helping you learn and remember new sequences and therefore they can help you build a strategy for picking up new steps faster and remembering them for longer.

Today we are taking this a step further…

Bringing your NEW moves on the floor

After being more strategic about how you receive and store the new knowledge coming in the form of steps… (haha)… sooner than later you will start noticing that picking up new moves is not the issue anymore… Building a great vocabulary will not be really a problem anymore…

What will be a problem is bringing all the new moves on the dance floor and integrating them with the routines and sequences you already.

Man is a creature of habit…

I am sure you have heard it said many times before… “Man is a creature of habit”… and like everything in life dance too is based on habits
Those habits will support effortless technique, mindful movement and of course creativity.
Though good technique might seem to be a very difficult habit to pick up on, I think creativity is much more challenging, simply because it pushes us to step out of our comfort zone and therefore make us feel exposed, weak, unsure, uncomfortable and even afraid at some level.

For these very reasons we will avoid 2 very common cliches:

  1. Just Do It! 
    Yes, you will need to take action at some point. Ideas and words will not take you there, you need actions. But having a recipe that you can follow instead of throwing in every ingredient available is also very important AND very comforting.
  2. Be present/ be in the moment/ don’t think
    It goes usually hand in hand with cliche #1.
    Though often times it is a good advice, unfortunately it only works for people who can by will erase the past– aka a very small percentage of people.
    Being creatures of habit our past strong affects our future. Habits being built over years and years of good and bad experiences, are very tough to break–and movement habits are no different. There are some people who can disconnect from the past and therefore redirect the present but personally I haven’t met one yet…

What we will do instead, is acknowledge where we are now and then start making tiny changes one step at time.

5 steps to help you bring NEW moves in your Tango

Starting with realizing where we are, what we are really good at and where we are lacking. And then building new habits around our strongest anchors!

  1. At a practica or at the end of a class, dance a couple of different–in style– songs and get it on video
  2. Write down the sequences those videos have in common. The sequences you used the most in all your videos. These are your anchors!
    The default sequences, the sequences that have become habits and therefore you do them without even thinking about them
  3. Choose 1 of those sequences… You will later add more to the mix, but start small
  4. Then during your next practice: Say: every time I do Sequence X(the one you chose) I will be doing Y right after it (Y being the new step you want to introduce to your dance)
    Example: After every giro I will be doing a colgada
    And actually DO it for the whole practica!
  5. When you start doing Y at free will, meaning without the need of the anchor–the old sequence you had it attached to–you can move on to another new sequence you want to include in your dance

Before you know your repertoire of moves will have grown immensely!

2 side notes that I think will be useful here:
  1. This whole process can be challenging and fun at the same time. Don’t let yourself get frustrated if you start practicing and you forget to do Y after X… haha… Laugh and start again!
    It is bound to happen. It will happen to everyone and the more annoyed you get the worse is going to be.
    So laugh it out and try again!
  2. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in a milonga, but not only for the reason you are thinking about–aka disrupting the flow of the pista.
    A comfort zone is called comfort zone for a reason… You need to be in a state of comfort to indulge yourself to other things that are important in social dancing such as: connection, musicality, the embrace…
    Allow yourself to find a place of comfort in a milonga, without having to think of anchors and steps.
    You will wear yourself down if you don’t allow time for pure fun!

Have fun and if you want more tips and drills and tricks, subscribe to our weekly newsletter..!

“Fun Is Good” Dr. Seuss

Chrisa

Constructing Dance

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