Last week we were talking about progress.
What is progress, how you can monitor your progress and a quick way– “The Hotshot Rule”– to set up a system that will keep you in control and active.
I received a few messages, where number 1 on the list of their imaginary Tango Hotshot was, practice.
The problem though is that they don’t have a partner plus they have no idea where to start.
Why do we skip practice?
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
Inspired by someone you admire– teacher, performer, partner, fellow instructor– you decide to starting your own practice.
You book a studio for an hour or two, you get your training AND your dance shoes, you set up your playlist.
You get to the studio nice and early, to change, get water, have some fruit, focus, turn your phone off. It is time for some serious practice…
….Ten minutes later….
Ok! I am going to try something else, maybe some ochos.
…Ten minutes later….
Is this it? I have booked the studio for two hours…What do I do now?
Maybe musicality…Yeah, that is what I need. here we go!
…Ten minutes later…(If you have gotten this far)
DAMN! This is not working!
You get the idea?
What is the problem here?
There is no plan for this practice. There is a schedule, aka practicing for 2 hours on Tuesday, but there is no plan.
Why are you practicing? What are you practicing on? How do other people practice? Where do you want to be after this practice, dance- wise?
How to practice to ensure success
So before you begin, ask yourself: Why do you want to practice?
Not acceptable answers:
- Because my teacher told me so
- I got this guide from Bautanz and I want to start using it finally
- I want to get better
These are not acceptable answers because they are not personal and they are not detailed.
I started practicing because I felt like shit, really awful when I danced in milongas.
I know, I know, you, who know me, are going to say: No Chrisa. Your dances weren’t shitty. I love dancing with you!
Thank you! hahaha
They were shitty though, or they weren’t good enough any more.
And I am not going to lie. In the beginning I thought the leaders I was dancing with, weren’t good enough.
BUT what are the odds, that I am doing everything correctly and it is ALWAYS the other person’s fault, especially when I am dancing with different people, in different cities or even different countries?
Highly unlikely. So I got to work
I booked a studio, for 1 hour, knowing that I will probably won’t last in there for that long. How did I know I wouldn’t last that long?
Because, before I started practicing, I read this book: “Talent is overrated”
It is a great read not only for Tango, but for everything you want to get better at.
You will get to understand, not simply how other people practice, BUT how GREAT performers work and practice.
Their mindset, the set up, the risks they take and much more.
After you have figured out WHY and HOW now it is time for WHAT.
After a few failed attempts I realized, I needed to understand what it was specifically that felt so shitty about my dancing.
Initial response: “I don’t know it just doesn’t feel right. It feels very restrained, stiff. I don’t feel that I can express my self through the dance” Not very specific…
BUT words can lie, MOVEMENT never lies.
So, I started working on the most basic element of Tango, the walk. Only I slowed it down a lot and waited for the problem to be revealed to me.
Symptom #1: Off balance
Back I went, to balance exercises, trying to figure out WHY I am off balance.
Misalignment, that little DEVIL!
Always remember this: The fact that you are not falling, doesn’t mean you are properly balanced, aka aligned
So I went through the same exercises again, focusing on alignment, instead of focusing on trying, tensing, compensating in order to keep my balance. Found spots of tension, found ways to release them, and then tried again.
When I started feeling somewhat better I tried my walks again.
By that time– half an hour max…– my brain was fried! haha
The rest of the time in the studio, I stretched and wrote down the problems, the possible answers, some thoughts, concerns and questions.
I left the room happy, having a clearer vision of what I wanted to get out of this.
I wanted to be able to create movement without creating tension, feeling strong but also flexible, in control but also relaxed. The first thing I would work on the next day would be the smallest, most personal movement one can make in Tango, creating the posture.
Practice makes perfect only if you know what you are doing
So bottom line here my dear friends
- Be brutally honest with yourselves when responding to the question WHY you want to practice.
- Ask your teacher for suggestions on WHAT to practice on. Study HOW great performers practice– they must be doing something right after all
- If you haven’t gotten the Ultimate guide on Tango practice for leaders and followers download it, with your subscription, here
- Don’t go ALL or NOTHING. Start with a few minutes of practice, maximum 30mins and then gradually scale up– you can find great exercises in the guide and a path to follow in order to scale up your practice.
- Practice is NOT the goal, practice is a system for success. So get in there trying to figure out where the real problem is, in your movement. What have you been doing that is not working anymore and what is just right. How the smallest of changes effect your movement and what does that mean for the rest of your Tango.
- Don’t over intellectualize it. Remember words lie, movement will tell you the truth, if you are willing to hear it.
- Write me an email, with a detailed question of your troubles and I will be more than happy to assist you especially if it is something that will benefit many other people on the dance floor.
- Don’t forget to have fun!
P.S: I know it can be scary being in a room on your own, not knowing where to start and what to do, feeling like a weirdo. But, remember when we were kids..? We would just dance, sing, act, play, just because we could. That is a child’s way of understanding the world. Instinct and trial-and-error . Give yourselves the chance, to become a child again in Tango, through Tango.
https://Photo credit: Shopping Diva via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND