Category Archives: Emboying the rules

Ochos as part of a healthy movement diet

These last three we are working on ochos.

We got fitness exercisestips for building a smart practice and of course technique tips

But today I want to take a moment to talk to you about the life-tango connection.

Tango is like life and vice versa

No that is NOT what I am going to talk about…hahaha…but you thought I would didn’t you?

You felt that cliche coming your way! Haha

Don’t worry you are safe!

I want to talk about how this practice like all the other practices you can find in this blog can help you move better in life as well as in Tango

Keep moving

One of the biggest problems people have today is that they are not moving enough.

As a species we were made to move…In fact we survived because our movement became more efficient and we managed in this way to “outrun” our opponents and get food!

Now, this species that it’s whole survival was based on movement is stranded on a chair only to move once or twice a week.

Our bodies thinking that this is the new way of doing things, rearranges our muscles to support it and slowly but surely we start losing range of motion, flexibility and power in our hips, shoulders, spine and all around… We start losing ourselves!

Does any of this sound familiar?

If not, think about the last time your tried to bend over to grab something off the floor aaaand…”OUCH! My back…” came out

Or the last time you thought to yourself: “I am too old for this”

Well, what if Tango was here to help you keep on moving even if you have to take things a bit slower or with a bit more caution.

Follow the tips below for healthier body… they WILL make your ochos better as well!

Space and movement in the hips and spine is something that many of us have lost with time. But you can definitely get some back with the exercises above

Only have the following tips in mind:

  • Find your own rhythm, maybe I am going to fast for you, slow it down if you need to
  • If at any time during the seated exercises you need to put your hands on the floor go for it, just don’t drop your weight on them
  • And if you a friendly wall for your adult ochos, go for that as well, balance also gets built with time
  • Focus not on how big of a twist you can create but on identifying all the movements your body is creating from the outside in, meaning from the skin all the way to the organs and the inside out from your breath, from your blood to your skin.
  • If you can’t twist as much, or can’t have the legs fully extended, that is OK! Not being flexible is not always bad same as being flexible is not always good. Look for safety, for smoothness and flow and flexibility will come with time.
  • Breathe! Yes I know you are doing that already…But breathe into every inch of your body and out of every cell.
  • Notice points of tension and see if you can get rid of it. I am saying if because sometimes that is not possible, no matter how much we might want it. But acknowledging it is the first step towards getting rid of it
  • Do your ochos noticing how the movements you explored in the exercises underlie them. Like the leg-hip-leg-body circuit we explored
  • Without changing any of your current habits, notice how these movements underlie your everyday life. Examine your comfort zone to become more aware of your movement, your limits and your potential

Aaaaand last but not least…. Have fun with it!

I want to take a quick second to thank Jeffrey Posner for the hips rotations he shared on instaInst that inspired this video!

Chrisa

P.S: if you like practices like this one, I think you will love this: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/

10min Tango practice on leg strengthening, alignment and side steps

Okay! Now there is tip-heavy video coming up on leg strengthening and alignment so I don’t want to take time here to give more tips instead I would like to use this space to suggest a few Practice combos; a few other videos that could work extremely well with this newer video so you can grow your practice

First things first though… Your video for the week…

10min Tango practice on legs, alignment and side steps

Sometimes 10 minutes are more than enough.
Especially when you are starting to build your individual practice it is better to start small and expand steadily as the time goes by.
Why?
Simply, because you are still unsure of what you need to work on, what you should focus on, what your strengths are, what you should invest more time in and how…

You also need to consider this: if you START with a 1 hour practice where are going to go from there?
How will you grow beyond that, when your body and mind starts asking for more..?

When you are building your practice therefore you need to make sure that your short-term goals are not shadowing your long-term goals.

If though you are ready to invest a bit more time here are few directions you can take your practice towards…

1. Focusing on leg strengthening and balance

Add on the video we were working from 2 weeks ago if you want to work more on leg strengthening and establishing a stronger base:

10min Tango Practice on legs and balance

2. Focusing on biomechanics–how our body was built to work

Many of the tips in our video for this week have to do with how our legs move inside our hips and our hips move around our legs.
Understanding anatomy through movement not only will give you greater freedom when you dance/ move but it will also allow you to get to know your body and yourself better.

So if you want to take it into that direction, you can add this video along:

Followed by this video:

3. Making it a well-rounded practice

Depending how much time you have and how much time you can spend on your Tango during the week, you can schedule your practices in two ways:

  1. Every day you focus on something different, ex: one day on legs and balance and the other on ochos
  2. You only practice a couple times a week and so you need to work on all the fundamentals in one go, ex:
    A 20min Tango practice on posture, walks and ochos
4. Focusing on musicality

You can even take this into musicality. Technique and musicality are not at all separate. Aside from the obvious connection–aka the stronger your technique is the easier it will be to focus on the music–there is a more physical connection as well.

How you step, how you twist, how you hold your body and overall how you move will allow you to express yourself differently on the music.
Therefore after this week’s leg strengthening video can do this one:

And then this one:

It all started with leg strengthening…. But you have many choices

We started with a video on legs and alignment and look at where we are now..! haha

You have so many options, the above are only a few examples of the plethora of options that you have.
It all depends on what you want to focus on, what are your strengths and what are shortcomings.
No option is better from the other. All of them have something equally important and interesting to offer you. So it is really up to you where you want to take this!

And that is the beauty of Tango overall..!
You start with leg strengthening but from there you can grow in many many different directions all of which will make you a much better dancer and most importantly a better human.

If you decide it is worth investing your time in moving better on and off the dance floor, Tango is a great dance for that. It is heavy on technique and it throws in your face the question:

Do you want to Tango only for fun OR do you want the opportunity to move freely, get to know your body and yourself better and even become happier?

If you want the latter you should also check this out: Intelligent Tango

Let me know how your practice is going and don’t forget to have fun while you are it!

Chrisa

P.S: I read every email so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email with your questions. If I don’t answer you right away, please don’t get offended… instead give me about a week max..! 😉

 

 

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

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

 

How to become more creative on the dance floor

{Fear} less in the dance floor * Escape the dance of boredom * Be bold be beautiful be YOU

“I want to feel creative, I want to share the moment with my partner… Isn’t that what Tango is really about anyway…?” H

One of my students Mr. H, was really frustrated when he joined Intelligent Tango. During our welcome call, he shared his passion for Tango but also his deep disappointment of how he felt stuck, nervous, and robotic while on the dance floor.

Knowing that Tango is an improvisational dance he was hoping to be “creative and expressive” on the dance floor and able to enjoy his dances with his partner.

This is one of the biggest Tango- pains… Longing for THAT moment of freedom, for when we will be able to just dance, and be ourselves, that never comes…

Why we are not creative on the dance floor?

Most people will say that it is lack of confidence. And that is partly true… I mean, of course the more you dance the more comfortable you will get with it and therefore you will be able to enjoy it more

BUT are you going to be creative, or are you just going to be preforming more moves with ease..?
They are two very different things!

So, lets take a step back and look at the big picture, here for a moment. What do we have..?

We mostly have classes and workshops that are based either on technique or on sequences.
Personally, after having spent a few years teaching sequence-based classes and then switching over to technique-based classes, I came to realize that both are deficient in one of many ways: they are strictly instructional!

Now why is that a problem, you may wonder… we need instruction after all, no?

Yes of course we do!
At the same time though, we need a bridge from instructional, to improvisational, to spontaneous, to creative.
If we as teachers do not provide our students with that bridge they will always feel stuck in the instructional phase.
Even if they know enough sequences that they can put them together and dance a full song, they will still not feel/ be creative.

A bridge between instruction and improvisation

The first step towards improvising, towards creating is noticing

It doesn’t matter if the class is technique or sequence based, as long you start paying attention to how a movement–as it is developing–is changing your body, what it feels like, whether your senses are picking up any feedback.

The second step would be mapping or tracking that experience

It could through a mechanical tracking device…haha… a video camera. Or through a physical tracking device, your own nervous system.
Part of what our nervous system does is to record patterns.
This way you can come back to those experiences, revisit them, and see if you want to build on them or if you want repeat them.

Ok! I am feeling I need to share an example here…
creative walk
by Anais Gomez: https://anaisgomez.deviantart.com/art/Walking-Cycle-thumbnails-556119469

This image above shows us the efficient way to walk, how our body was built to walk.
Notice on the top row  right in the middle, how the manikin’s body has a forward intention. The chest is open, the hips are back, the spine is long… Do these remind you of anything..? Tangoooo Class! haha

Notice#1: your body goes through these cues every moment of your day that you happen to take a step
Notice#2: as you are practicing your walks pay attention to all the other positions of transition
Notice#3: get a sense of how it is to walk in the way your body was build to walk
Notice#4: how does it make you feel? And how it affects your dance?

Track#1: instead of trying to confirm the rules of Tango, and what you already know, trust and dive into this with an explorative mind, let every practice make a mark in your unconscious
Track#2: Write down or share your experience with a friend in great detail
Track#3: make videos, look at yourself going through the motion without being judgemental but trying to identify the patterns of movement

How do you know it is working?
If the next time you go in, to practice on your walk, and the first thought that comes to mind is: “Remember yesterday when you did X and your walk felt like Y..?”

When you can ask yourself: Remember yesterday…?
You are on the RIGHT path!
And when you start feeling you actually have the awareness to answer: “YES! Lets explore further”
You are actually progressing towards being creative

What does being creative really mean?

Many people when they hear creative the first word that comes to mind is: FREE!

And I am one of these people..hahaha
But what does being free means?

Free doesn’t mean absence of rules. Being free means you have such a deep knowledge and such a great understanding of the rules, that you can revisit them, you can break them, you can change them and you can create your own.

As the Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen has said in her book “Sensing, feeling and Action”: “Our creativity flows out of our unconscious–an unknown giving birth to knowing as our consciousness listens. Our conscious mind can then discover the form or pattern that emerges from the unfolding of the creative process. The insight into the pattern of the process can further open and expand the awareness of unconscious expression

As you may understand it is a beautiful dialog, between our conscious and unconscious mind. and though it seems abstract and like a long way there, it is TOTALLY worth it!

We can do it together if you want to… the only thing you need to do is to subscribe!

Hope to see you in the Bautanz Community,
Chrisa

P.S: More on getting more creative: The penultimate rules on being more creative– by James Altucher

 

 

Want to Tango for an opportunity to BE yourself? Then..dance the rules

Why are you dancing..?
Let me guess… Mmmmm… For an opportunity to be yourself, to express yourself?

And it is indeed a beautiful opportunity, a safe and colorful way of meeting oneself!But this is exactly where the trouble begins…haha…

If we just wanted to go out and spend time with friends, or be in the milongas just to practice our moves, things would have been pretty straight forward and a lot less stressful and painful.
The fact though that we are looking for ways to “dance like nobody’s watching”, if I may be allowed the cliche… 😉 means that our nights at the milonga mean a lot more

What stops us though from meeting and expressing ourselves, from just dancing?

Simple answer… The RULES!

For most people Tango is a difficult because it has so many rules that make them “(…) get so anxious on the dance floor trying to remember all of them”

So how can we make rules part of our dance so we don’t have to think about them anymore? How can we EMBODY the rules?

Embody…mmmm…such a fancy word..haha… How about we try to make a bit more sense of the word by writing down at least 10 things that come to mind when you think of “embodying”. Ready? GO!

  1. Be yourself..maybe?
  2. ….

Here is my list:

Freedom

Safety

Awareness

Present

In the Moment

Past

Knowledge

Truth

Expression

Unison

Logic

Realization

Ok? So if you have come up with your list which would probably be different than mine, lets see how it works in dancing.

At this point I want to call in an expert on the matter, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen with excerpt from her book “Sensing, feeling and Action”

“ The process of embodiment is a being, not a doing process, not a thinking process. It is an awareness process in which the guide and witness dissolve into cellular consciousness. (…)
Embodiment is automatic presence, clarity and knowing without having to search for it or pay attention. As they say in Zen, “When you eat, eat. When you sleep, sleep” (…)”

There are 3 steps in the process of embodiment: VIsualization, Somatization and Embodiment.

Visualization is the process by which the brain imagines aspects of the body and, in doing so, informs the body that it (the body) exists. (…)
Somatization is the process by which the kinesthetic (movement), proprioceptive (position), and tactile (touch) sensory systems inform the body that it (the body) exists. (…)
Embodiment is the cells’ awareness of themselves. You let go of your conscious mapping. It is a direct experience, there are no intermediary steps or translation. There is no guide, no witness.
There is the fully known consciousness of the experienced moment initiated from the cells themselves. In this instance, the brain is the last to know. There is complete knowing. There is peaceful comprehension. Out of this embodiment process emerges feeling, thinking, witnessing, understanding. The source of this process is love”

So based on this excerpt does it sounds like you need more Tango classes, more milongas or hours and hours of practice?

Not really, right? Bonnie’s description feels like more natural, more personal, and one that depends more on us and getting close with ourselves and less on others.

So lets do exactly THAT instead:

  1. OBSERVE

    Look for the images that can fuel visualization. Go to milongas not for the dances, but for the images. Observe, try to find the Tango rules in other peoples bodies.
    Before you start to practice on anything, from posture to embellishments, take one moment to visualize what you want your body to do.

  2. Movement, Position and Touch

    You would have to go through the movements noticing not what makes them right, but what makes them feel good.
    Attempt to find that same comfort in different positions. Compare for example the comfort of your posture when simply standing to when you are walking or doing ochos.
    Then go deeper than that and find the “rules” of posture in other positions in your everyday life, in your other activities–like walking to the supermarket.
    Somatic dance is the holistic approach to moving and by becoming 1% better in your everyday life activities, you will become better in your Tango too.
    Lastly touch is extremely important to understand who you are, who the other is and what you are together through movement. So practice on that awareness either with a real partner and with an artificial one–the floor or the wall…

  3. Explore with Love

    Explore your movement for the chance to find yourself no matter how cheesy this may sound to you.
    Embodiment as Bonnie says is experiencing movement initiated from within. Not just doing the proper steps, but allowing for “feeling, thinking, witnessing, understanding” to emerge.
    Creating a practice based on exploring the rules instead of imposing the rules, not only feels more natural and more enjoyable but also it allows to be yourself in practice

  4. Avoid practicing for hours

    It is absolutely pointless!
    As you can gather from the above, locking yourselves up in a room aimlessly going from drill to drill, without any focus or goal, is absolutely pointless and it will actually get you to quit sooner than later.
    Instead build on your ability to stop BEFORE your technique fails you

  5. TRACK all this down

    A quick note, a little video, something to help you when you decide to revisit that day’s practice
    Avoid tracking your progress based on other people’s reactions or feedback alone, and tap into your emotional, mental and psychological state before and after your class/practice or milonga.
    Are you feeling better, stronger, calmer, more focused or more aware? Your body knows better sometimes..!
    You can use metrics as well, like how many of my ochos felt good today? Or how many milongas felt great this month?

  6. Give yourself a BREAK

    When you are dancing, dance! You can’t correct anything on the dance floor
    Allow yourself to make mistakes. Laugh at your mistakes. Enjoy your dances with all their flaws. Dance for the sake of feeling alive, for that very opportunity to be yourself and not for hitting every point on your checklist.
    This will be your only true motivation on practicing again the next day!

Grab the opportunity to BE yourself, you deserve it!

Chrisa