Category Archives: Advanced dancer

Show must go on Or taking a moment to figure things out?

This is the video from the latest Live Tango practice that we run every week. This week things didn’t go quite as planned…
In retrospect nothing terrible happened but I did lose my balance a couple of times and got into show-must-go-on mode! (haha)

Show must go on–when is it useful?

One would think, like I did until today, that especially when you are teaching, dancing in general performing, then there is only one mode, the show-must-go-on mode…

And I can surely agree on certain performance types, such as a dance show, that of course you keep on going. However teaching and practicing, even if it is streaming live, have a different purpose, as during those times we have the opportunity to learn!

So if you notice in the video above there are some imbalances from the beginning of my dance. To which I reacted with stubbornly doing more back ochos, but to no avail. It was only after I slowed things down and then added rebounds that things started actually getting better. However from beginning to end my focus was to keep going and not to take some time to find out why I was off balance.

That of course takes us to nearly the end of the video where there are some more balance issues… Where once more, time is not given to address the issue. So even now that I writing this I can only speculate why I was off balance.

Someone might ask: Well what is the big deal? It only happened once or it happens to everyone or you just kept going…
Well it is not really a big deal but more a missed opportunity!

A missed opportunity to figure out what is really wrong

These were moments where I could have paused or I could have at least slowed down.

When we do that we are more able to pay attention, to listen, to stop the fear and the anxiety that are building up and focus on what we are attempting to do. Had I done that, I would have gotten a list of various different things that could have potentially caused the imbalance. However now I got nothing!

So you see what the problem is… Now there is no way to learn from this experience, the opportunity for deeper exploration is lost. Along with it, a step to progress and potentially not being in the same boat again is also lost.
In this way I see this as a missed opportunity.

It is a missed opportunity to deepen our understanding, to explore different options and possibly come up with more ideas and variations for exploration. So it is actually a missed opportunity to learn!

My suggestion to you…

If you find yourselves in a similar situation whether it is a one off or a regular case then pause or slow down and try to see if there are different ways to approach whatever it is giving you trouble.

Don’t see it as a moment to push through but an opportunity to go deeper.

That is my suggestion, of course you can decide for yourself how you want to manage those moments while going through one of our other practices for example…haha…which you can find here: https://bautanz.com/online-tango-practice/

😉

Enjoy

Chrisa

P.S: No time for a 30min practice? No worries try out the Tango exercise of the week:

Dance: The essence of movement

Dance, dancing, movement in space..!

Today I wanted to share with you an idea…I am not sure if it will come through as I want it to but I surely hope it does. You can tell me, later in a message if you like..!

Dance… Space

Dance I believe has to do with space. How we stand in space. The space we create when dancing. The space we share.
Are we reaching towards the other aiming to bring them close or to push them away? Aiming to get close to them or move away from them?
How much of our personal space do we want to give up when getting in an embrace? Are we bringing our hands together or are we hugging?
In both cases what does that shared space look like? What does the left-over space look like?

So any time we make a movement no matter how big or how small, we shift the space around us.

There is also the opposite notion, how the space forms our movement. Either literally, meaning that you move differently when you are in crowded or small room compared to an empty or big room.
Or “metaphorically”, and I am putting that in quotes as I am not sure if it would be equally literal, meaning that you allow the space to move you. You feel the earth, you feel the sky, you feel YOU somewhere there in between, you feel the air around you and you let all that move you.

Lastly, there is seeing the human body as space. Feeling our 3d-ness(I just made up this word..haha..). But feeling how we are not defined but one axis but 3, and embodying that through movement.

The shapes we make!

Some basic anatomy will teach you that no part of our body is actually straight nor set perpendicular to any other. We are comprised by curved surfaces set in oblique positions to one another.
See the hip joint below as an example;
 
Also the muscles wrap around the bones, curving and embracing them, see for example the muscles of the back
 

Even in the most intimate of places we can see curves and spirals; This is the golden rule revealed here in the structure of our ear and face:


The shapes therefore we create are curvy and bendy and not rectilinear. Our movement is defined more by spirals than straight lines. And spirals can be better expressed through triangulated movement structures than rectilinear structures.

The essence of movement

The essence of movement should therefor capture both points made above. Consider the quality of a spiral. Endless flow of energy, defining space through, within and around it. A vibrating energy, condensing and expanding, relating to the space around not through shooting energy away from it but through yielding, condensing and expanding.

You can see if you look at the picture below that spiral form of the muscles

The question now is how do we explore all that? How do we explore the essence of the spiral?
Exploring the mechanics would be one necessary task of course, as it will help you do things efficiently, be more balanced and save energy while moving. It will help you identify the risk of your movement choices, and identify paths to avoid injury.
But the essence of the spiral… is a bit of a different thing!
You probably have experienced this in those sublime moments when you are dancing and you are you, you are the space, you are the music, you are time, you are body and spirit and soul. Those magical moments that are rare and special
It could be the same simple movement, like lifting an arm, only when you dance, you are filling the whole room with that one arm-lift…or that the room itself, the space around you is lifting up that arm.
The space is defined by your movement and your movement is supported by the space around you. And when that happens the energy of the spiral flows endlessly, from one movement to the next.

Inspiring Examples:

  1. One of my most favourite performers…no better said…one of the world’s most favourite performers, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Look at how he builds that relationship with space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i2Mzqrqv0U
  2. My teacher’s video on the subject. Bonnie is the one who taught me all of these things I talked to you about today. And this is a perfect movement practice she has for us here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtU8s-r3-IY&t=3131s

My invitation:

I invite you to explore all of this with me!
Our new set of classes in starting June 27th and it is going to be about the embrace, the connection, leading/ following and timing. We will explore the mechanics and the essence of the frame, our walks and ochos with great focus on sensing, feeling and action. I hope to see you there and then! Let me know if you are interested and if you have any questions!
https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/online-tango-classes-live/

Keep filling the space my friends
Chrisa

Argentine Tango Practice

It takes a few years for us to find a good structure for our Tango practice. In the beginning we just do what we did in a class or a workshop. Then we get together with friends and practice different figures probably attend guided practicas
Some of us will keep practicing in some way or form but most will most likely stop after a certain period time.
Interestingly enough in both cases we will reach the same sticky point which is the moment we realize what we have been or have not been doing, serves us no more and that we are officially stuck!

How a Tango practice works

I have found myself stuck a couple of times, feeling that I am making no progress whatsoever. And it is only recently that I realized that for a practice to work it can’t just be plain repetition of steps and rules.

Cognitively understanding and executing steps and being able to perform well in Tango are two very different things.

And so here in Bautanz we invite you to start looking for efficiency in your movement while practicing instead of reviewing rules

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouC0w31siig&t=6s

Why look for efficiency?

One obvious reason is saving ourselves from unnecessary hardship, injury and pain. The road to efficiency though goes through understanding the structure of our bodies and becoming aware of the way they are built to move. Our practice therefore doesn’t start from the end result but from the structure of the human body.

I know this probably sounds like a lot of work and as matter of fact, it is! However, if you feel that you haven’t found your personal style in Tango; that something just doesn’t fit; or that you are stuck or missing something…wouldn’t it make sense to assess your own body and build your practice on the finding of that assessment?

Every one of us has a slightly different body, so what makes more sense:
1. a one way fits all or
2. identify unique strengths and limitations and build on that

I believe it is the latter… and so the videos above and below are created as suggestions, as ideas. They are based on biomechanics. And they are here as starting points for you. Hopefully as you move more and learn more you will be able to put together practices that better serve your own expectations and needs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwFdwKl9-ws&t=294s

Soooo would you want to learn more?

Start here..!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8QFaJRssEs&t=5s

And then you can go here…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy6tJZOQ0Ws&t=665s

Look people up such as:

Frey Faust: https://www.freyfaust.org
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen: https://www.bodymindcentering.com
Ido Portal: http://www.idoportal.com
Feldenkrais: https://feldenkrais.com

And surely there are so many more but you get the idea. Move! Don’t just practice Tango!

Chrisa

P.S.: if you are looking to get started with a practice visit: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/

A Dance Chat with Mariko Tanabe

I met Mariko Tanabe only a couple of years ago, but a met Body Mind Centering around 10 years ago or maybe more

At that time, it was JUST a cool new thing to learn… and you can imagine what happened when frustration started building.. There were no steps, it was always all improvisational, and slow… and tough..! it like we were always looking for something but without knowing what we were looking for while getting more frustrated in the process… Reminds you of something..? haha
Does any of this have to do with Tango…? (yes…read on..!hah)

The years went by I felt that there more to be discovered, that I hadn’t reached my full potential yet, but I didn’t know how to explore and reach that potential. Thankfully Pablo Veron was in Montreal and I grabbed the opportunity for a private class…

Needless to say the class was amazing..! Of the whole class though there was ONE phrase that changed my Tango-life, “Think about your atlas”…
At that moment, something in mind went: “BOOM! I know what I need to do..!”
As they say though, when the student is ready the teacher will come. And surely enough, Mariko Tanabe was running a workshop in Toronto shortly after. Body Mind Centering was there for me and I  was ready to dive into it!
What I was missing then was not the technique… It was urge, the hunger to explore beyond steps, sequences and technique tips; to discover how the human body was built to move and unlock in this way more efficient and expressive ways to dance.
I would like to extend an invitation
So if you are feeling stuck and you know that you are missing something but you are not sure what that something is. If you want to find ways to make your dances more enjoyable for the body and the mind and to give yourself the opportunity to keep on moving despite any limitations then I think you will enjoy this chat with Mariko Tanabe a lot.
If you would like to take a class with Mariko and you are in Toronto, you are in luck…
https://www.estheryoga.com/application/anatomy-for-yoga-teachers/
If you are in Montreal, you are in even greater luck: https://espritenmouvement.com
Enjoy,
Chrisa
P.S: if you are looking for more chats like this: https://bautanz.com/tango-chatting-dancers-grab-coffee/

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

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