Category Archives: Emboying the rules

Different Body-Different Style

How can one-size-fits-all apply in a social dance setting when we all unique in terms of body type, age, fitness, cultural background etc?

A great question!

After our mid-week Tango practice on Wednesday I a question via Youtube that I felt it is an excellent question for us to discuss how different body types can or cannot fit in certain Tango rules; and overall how the one-size-fits-all doesn’t quite work in social dancing.

Following is the video, from our practice and the question right after that, lets see:

“Chrisa, something that no one ever talks about, and I can’t get non fat dancers to understand, are the techniques needed by the fat dancer. Now, I do not use fat as a bad word, I reclaim it, and refuse to make it synonymous with wrong. And also, I need to accommodate my roundness. It is so awkward to be in class, and have an instructor remind me not to swing a hip, not to arch my back, when the real reason I do these things is because of my large belly. When you have substantial thighs, it changes your stance, collection, even the ability to flick a swift secada. I realize this is off topic from your video, but do you have any insights for the fat dancer? Tricks to maintain tango posture when you have extra curves to work around? Thank you <3″ F.L

The truth of the Style Vs The truth of the Dancer

I want to thank again our commenter for this question and dissect the matter in two parts:

  1. Diversity of styles
  2. Biomechanics Vs Tango Style

Diversity of Styles

There is an unavoidable conflict between the truth carried through by the rules for each style and the truth stemming from the dancer’s experience. Of course there are many ways to train dancers to perform and look a certain way, many types of dance achieve that, with ballet being one excellent example. However there are certain expectations to be met by all ballerinas in terms of looks, body structure and analogies. This is why there are certain restrictions apply in terms of age, body type, body shape, fitness etc. That is also why the choice to follow a career as a professional ballet dancer happens very early in one’s life when the body and character are very adaptable to change. That is also why ballet dancers retire at a very early age.

Social Tango is not like that though. Quite the contrary it is dance that is danced by 90 year olds with very different body analogies, with loss in muscle etc etc. So would we say for example that Oscar and Nina are bad dancers?!?! I highly doubt it!
See them in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQotX3sFahI

So as I perceive it, a style is a place to start learning but then we have to take into account the the experience of our body. And those two things are equally important and equally true.
Everyone of us is unique in some way, and that uniqueness needs space, a lot of space in a social dance.

Biomechanics Vs Tango Style

We can’t judge a style, a style is based mostly on aesthetics. It is a design. A beautiful design but still a design that one person or a group of people came up with based on their personal goals, experiences, expectations and so on. So it wouldn’t be possible nor fair. But we can judge movement based on anatomy and biomechanics. Then each of us can make an informed decision whether you want to pursuit a specific tango style despite the possible strain or risk due to inconguence with anatomy and biomechanics.

So firstly, based on anatomy and specifically the structure of the human skeleton in order to balance the forces going through the joints and to have an effective distribution of weight when standing on two feet, the placement of the feet should be such to support the hips. Having the feet together 100% doesn’t meet that requirement since the pelvis flairs outward. Similarly, the flair of the feet, meaning the turn out, depends on the structure of your hips, how wide or narrow the hips are.
So overall some people will have their feet closer together, not though fully connected, than others and also for some people the turn out will be bigger than others.

Walking and biomechanics

Now when we walk our hips are not supposed to be square, they are supposed to swing, it’s scientifically what we call: locomotion.
And it is not the only movement happening in our hips when we walk. In fact walking involves the whole body and the more chaotic it feels the more efficient it most likely is.
There is the “C” shape movement we talked about in our practice session and there is also a wave in the spine. You can see all of this here:

Can you stop all this from happening ?
Sure you can! But why would you? If you actually look a little closer and dig a little deeper, these movements actually help you connect with your partner in much more efficient way..!
You can see it in our previous practices here: https://bautanz.com/online-tango-practice/

And of course along with all that goes posture and centre of gravity. Your posture changes depending on what action you wish to perform. As you can see in the video above maintaining a specific upper body position works against your intention to walk forward or backward and would therefore require more muscle work to make it all happen.
Lastly our center of gravity, will be different depending on the shapes we create or have in our bodies. It is not a fixed spot and how could it be? By physics that would be impossible.

My suggestion to you

If you have learned Tango now spend some time learning your body through movement. Understand how one thing relates to the other, what kind of relationships they have and what kind of movements they create due to those relationships and structure

A great place to start is this video by Frey Faust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy6tJZOQ0Ws&t=102s
And also the Youtube page of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen of Body mind centering: https://www.youtube.com/user/BodyMindCentering

Start learning about your body to better dance with/in/through it. Understanding how our body was built to move for me is the number one step to take when you really want to free up your social dance but also when you want to structure your dance training knowing, acknowledging and weighing in the risks you take compared to the choices you have

Enjoy and thank you again,

Chrisa

Spiral–Defining our humanity

If you had the opportunity to practice with me on Wednesday you probably noticed that a big part of the class was about this wave-like, this spiral movement our body follows when walking that can help us transition smoothly to ochos.

The spiral as an experience

I wanted to share some extra information on the idea behind this practice and a few extra videos that you can practice with.
The idea behind all this is the defining element of the spiral.
The spiral is not just some random shape that happens to appear in certain parts of the body. It is not just a shape that allows for efficiency of movement.
The spiral is our existence, it is literally our DNA. And DNA being the carrier of hereditary material it is experience!
The spiral in this way exists in our every move from our cells to our highest boleos!

Therefore, finding the spiral in your movement, even in the ones that look fairly straight, will heighten your awareness of your movement and it will energize your whole body with it’s vibrancy.

An important characteristic: progressive wholeness

When picturing a spiral of any type, we associate it, and rightfully so, with continuous energy. However, I would like to add to that and say that there is also the element of progressive wholeness
A spiral always moves switching between condensing and expanding, with continuous transition between the two and a continuous coexistence.
Try to feel the movement through your body when you walk and when you ocho–in the latter it is of course more evident–as a transition and coexistence of condensing and expanding. Instead of thinking how each muscle body part should move try to feel whole. And specifically a wholeness deriving from the continuous flow of the spiral and not through squeezing, pulling, pushing, holding etc.

And so to make it more specific let’s look at our practice. We explored forward and backward ochos feeling how the back and core muscles condense and expand and how one can create a different quality of movement making one or the other action (condensing-expanding) primary.
This is an excellent practice to follow if you wish to explore different Tango styles but also if you want to work on expressing yourself better on the music.

Some extra resources

Ok! Lets see videos to practice on all of this:

In the Spine:

In the psoas:

A brief overview of the body

I hope you will enjoy aaaall of this!
And if you would like to dive deeper into all of this Session #3 of our online classes, will be a great match.
Here is the link: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/online-tango-classes-live/   

😉
Chrisa

P.S: If you prefer Facebook here is the link to our Live practice: https://www.facebook.com/bautanz/videos/2679043972416304/

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

Mid-week Tango practice

Mid-week Tango… hmmm
That means on Wednesday… and you know how Wednesdays can be a total drag…
And this Wednesday was not any different, so getting up and ready for Tango was not easy!haha

But I when I got going, things were much much different! And it wasn’t only because I got to move, that definitely helped of course. I think though it was mostly because it gave me a sense of doing something with other human beings. Of sharing something with somebody else at the end of that line.

The new “normal”

So I was talking with this friend and we were saying how in 6 weeks we have found a new “normal” and how it will be very difficult to get back into that old “normal” now for one reason or the other…
So normal is clearly something relative and we are probably better off replacing the word with habit, or circumstance or situation… 
Clearly we are as a species very adaptable, probably much more than any of us expected and so I hope that as long as we stay close especially now that are forced to be apart, we will come together again..!

We will dance together, chat and drink together, play together, fight together…we will find a new normal hopefully more humane and more connected from the old normal

I am not one of those people who will tell embrace this moment, and that this is chance…No I am sorry I don’t see this as a chance at all!
But in this limbo state that we are in, feeling frustrated, afraid, unsure taking the time to be together while afar, to be alone-together feels right and empowering

So thank you for being at the other end moving with me, leaving a note or sending an email!
And I will make sure to hold the space for you in our live practices and classes to come.
So stay tuned because we make these mid-week Tango practices a new normal..! 😉

So if you would like to find the next Mid-week Tango practice, click here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/695108597903672/?event_time_id=695108601237005

And if you want extra Tango goodies weekly in your inbox, join our Bautanz community by subscribing!

Thank you,
Chrisa

P.S: And if you want more, like right now, click here: https://bautanz.com/argentine-tango-technique/discover-your-walk/

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/

Frey Faust- on movement

Frey Faust has been a teacher and mentor to me and many others around the world.
When you visit his personal website https://www.freyfaust.org you will see his bio titled as “dancer, choreographer, teacher, writer, artisan… etc.” so the first time we attempted this chat I had to ask the question what would the most appropriate title…
And he said to me: “I am a person… human… animal. All these titles are things I do, not who I am. I am working towards my potential as a person, trying to have a quality existence and also make the world a better place for me and however many people I can. Everything I do has these underlying motivations.

I got to know Frey through his work, the “Axis Syllabus” for which you can find more about here http://www.axissyllabus.org.
I was at a frustrating curve in my Tango practice when I took a class with Pablo Veron; the greatest thing I was reminded of in that class was that I need to look past Tango to look at movement holistically… And so here we are!

What is this chat about?

This chat is not specifically about Tango; it is not even about dance. It is more about movement, how to learn, how to practice, how to explore and how to inspire others to explore along with you.
If you are teacher you will have the opportunity to hear some strong advise on how to approach a class, how to observe and how to listen
And if you are a student you will get some starting points on practice, acquiring knowledge and building awareness of your body.

If you inspired to learn from Frey Faust directly he has a great list of events taking place all around the world which you can find out under “events calendar” on his personal site; If you have the opportunity you should grab, it is truly rewarding!
You can find some really exciting events such as Traces: https://allmecen.com/main/contents/projects/339
or this one-week event taking place right here in Toronto: https://dianebruni.com/mri-with-frey-faust-2020/

I hope you will enjoy this chat as much as we did and if you wish to listen to more chats such as this one, visit: https://bautanz.com/tango-chatting-dancers-grab-coffee/

Enjoy,

Chrisa