Category Archives: progress in dance

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 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..! 😉

 

 

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!

The Art of choreography– learning and remembering sequences

How many times does a teacher need to tells us…?
Tango is an improvisational dance. Remembering sequences is not important!

And yet here we are… in another milonga doing the same thing over and over again, dance after dance and getting frustrated!

The truth about improvisation in Tango

Just for the record, I want to say that I fully agree with you!

Now that we set the record straight…haha…
Why are talking here briefly about improvisation?
Because the first step to improvising is putting sequences together on the spot..!

Nike’s “just do it” doesn’t apply in milongas or better said it doesn’t apply in the beginning of any activity and for a long time after that…

I will say this though, with no intension to avoid the question, but only to provide some comfort…
In Tango you can do whatever you want as long as you can lead it or as long as you are following
Does this mean that we are in a deep chaos, with no beginning or end?
No, of course not!
It only means that doing something different than what you learned in class, is NOT wrong especially if the other person is still there with you… It is simply different
And it also means that you need to be a bit more courageous and try things, because very few things in Tango are actually wrong…!

You have already taken the big risk of walking into a class and starting something new. That is always a stressful moment, where we feel out of our comfort zone, exposed and vulnerable. But you did it!
You pushed through the taboos, the excuses, the time restrictions and you did it… Isn’t it only fair that you will allow yourself to have fun while growing and learning more and more things in activity you love?

This is therefore what I would like to inspire you to do…. to see that initial step as a big, as a HUGE step. To congratulate yourself for taking it and for not giving up. And lastly to realize that the hardest part of over and that now it is time to have some fun!

Then next time you make a mistake following the tips below, laugh it out and try again!
Learning and practicing Tango can and should be FUN!

Ok! Now it is time for some tips for learning and remembering sequences
  1. Identify the following categories of steps in Tango, as per Pedro Farias*
    1. Linear steps
    2. Circular steps
    3. Off- axis steps
  2. Based on this categorization, rethink of all the sequences you know and use often in Tango
  3. Break each sequence down to 2 parts:
    1. basic building blocks
    2. transition moves
      Your blocks or your transitions will be in one of the above categories–linear, circular or off-axis.
  4. Bring intention into the sequence.
    Try to understand why the teacher chose that block or that transition. You can do that in two ways–which actually work very well together

    1. ask the teacher why..?
    2. find the answer by trying other possible transitions or building blocks.
      Play with it to understand why it works the way it does.
      Lets use an example here… say part of a sequence is a back ocho, could you possibly do it with a back step, and if so, where would you end up on the dance floor?
  5. Practice the blocks and the transitions separately
  6. Practice the sequence itself and then practice the same sequence only with the blocks mixed up.
The Art of choreography

The plan above might not be the easiest-6-steps-to-remembering-sequences list, despite the fact that it works… Because though Bautanz was created to make the balance between practice-time and fun-time shift to our favour and therefore make our Tango life easier, I have and extra tip for you…

What does artistically remembering sequences stand for?
Meaning if “remembering sequences” is a skill what is the activity that is based on that skill?

… Learning choreography

Learning a choreography and dancing a choreography, is an activity based on “learning and remembering sequences”. Of course, there is more to choreography than remembering sequences, but this is a story for another article.
For now what is crucial to realize is that our brain doesn’t differentiate Tango steps from contemporary dance steps, for example.
It is all steps to be remembered and therefore exactly the same skill.

If therefore, you want to build on remembering sequences faster you need to add a choreography based activity to your schedule.
This way you are adding extra practice time on the very skill of remembering sequences, avoiding though the burn-out that focusing solely on 1 activity causes.

What kind of activity can you do..?
It can a choreography based dance class (contemporary, hip-hop, jazz etc), a cardio dance class, cardio Hi-lo class, a Zumba class or some types martial arts classes.
And if all of the above sound like too much… you can start with something simple and fun straight from Youtube in the privacy of your own home:
https://youtu.be/RzYegenvzRE

Have fun!
Chrisa
P.S: If you do use the video, follow Andy a couple of times, then try to do it without looking at your screen. When you can do the whole thing without taking a glimpse at the video, it is time for a new song!

A 20min Tango practice on posture, walks and ochos

When we hear “tango practice” what is the image that comes to mind?
Most popular answer: “Hours in a studio practicing with and without a partner on things we suck at..!

Does it have to be this way though? NO!

Tango Practice can be enjoyable and motivating!

Tango practice doesn’t need to be that painful.
It can be hard work, but if it is structured correctly and timed properly it can actually be short, sweet and fun!

As you will hear me say in the beginning of this video, a Tango practice can’t start before we identify what the problem really is… Going in a studio to practice just because someone said you have to, will only get you frustrated.

So before you start your practice, take a moment to:

  1. think of any struggles you might be facing regarding, posture, walks and ochos (or Tango in general if you are not following the video above)
  2. find what you are REALLY good at regarding posture, walks and ochos
  3. draw the connecting line between what makes you good and what makes suck…
  4. build your practice based on #3… like a story that builds on a narrative.

So even though most people will tell you to just practice to correct your shortcomings, I want to encourage you to do almost the opposite!
Double down on what makes you good.
Figure out what is that ONE thing that makes you good. And then see if you can use that to correct what you suck at it….

*Note: I said “if”…
We all suck at something and we are all really good at something else. Nobody is perfect at everything. There maybe somethings you can’t fix… Accept them and bet on your strengths instead!

Tango practice can be short, sweet AND fun!

There is also another myth, around the length of practice…

For some reason most people think that the more the better. But really what is the point of practicing  for hours if you are going to be on your phone or on autopilot..?
And most importantly… what is the point of practicing when your technique is failing you?

As Terry Laughlin, swimming coach and founder of Total Immersion had said: “Stop when you realize your technique is failing you
And Luis von Ahn, the founder of Duolingo suggests around 20mins of practice a day to avoid burn- out..!

So why do we think dancing is any different than swimming or learning a language..?
Going past a certain time- limit, just for the sake of being in a studio will offer zero results and bring only disappointment and frustration.

What should we do instead?

Remember step #2 mentioned above?
*find what you are REALLY good at regarding posture, walks and ochos*

After you go through the Tango scan in your mind on what makes you good at posture, walks and ochos, change ochos to pivots and then revisit ANY activity you are really good at.
All activities have some version of posture, walking, and pivoting.

Bring drills from those activities into your Tango practice.
Everything is connected… believe me! The only thing you need to do is identify the connecting path.

By doing that you are not starting from 0.
You are starting from something you are already good at, you are already confident with and you are taking the details you find are common to Tango, into your Tango practice.

Not to mention how much more motivating this strategy is…
You are not practicing in the dark, you can actually have a plan. Then you are not starting from 0, even if you are a beginner in Tango. And lastly, you start from a place of confidence, from a place of power and that allows you to explore more and at a deeper level.

Is this something super easy to do..? No, but it is totally worth it!

And if you need help, subscribe to bautanz and you can get videos just like this one weekly in your inbox… Along with other inspirational goodies every Sunday..!

😉
Chrisa

P.S: Did you know we have an online course based on these very principles?
Check it out here: Intelligent Tango

 

 

 

 

 

I am not just sitting… I am Being!

Wednesday 12:00pm… (a regular day turned to an experience of being)

It was an amazing day outside. And so I set out to go for a quick walk… 5mins… A quick breath out of the studio..!

The sun was bright and warming and the little sitting “garden” where I spent my summers last year, had expanded and looked beautiful and so I walked straight to it  for a few moments of peace..!

But alas… The moment I sat down my fingers were reaching for the phone… I resisted and instead I looked at the other people,  some in groups chatting, some alone reading the paper, having lunch or tapping on their phone.

I am not going to lie, it did feel uncomfortable, being there alone, doing nothing…

My fingers reached for the phone… I resisted…!
This time I focused on everything else around me…
The trees
The flowers
The people passing by
The squirrels chasing each other…

I listened to the sounds of the city coming, to the song of the birds, to the people chatting next to me…
(…turns out my Spanish have gotten better after all! haha…)

I just sat there…

I did nothing else aside from taking all of this in… And somehow through listening to the environment, to everything around me somehow that made me aware of where I was in that environment, made me feel a part of it.

My phone buzzed… I ignored it…
Instead I closed my eyes and turned to face the sun!
Feeling the warmth, listening intently, and doing nothing more than being present!

My phone buzzed again… Again, I ignored it…
I knew I only had one minute before I had to head back inside! So I allowed myself to just BE for that one minute.

I am not just sitting. I am Being..!

You are probably wondering what does all this have to do with Tango…
But for years, when I heard people saying things like: “I can just sit there and listen to the music…!”
I thought they were being pretentious, because I couldn’t figure out how someone can just sit there alone and not feel like a loser or at least feel embarrassed or frustrated…

But this experience was a little light bulb moment for me.
It was tough in the beginning to push away the discomfort of sitting there alone doing nothing and so I started doing something…

I listened actively, looked intently, and allowed myself to be present in that moment.

And so I am hoping to inspire you to do the same.  To  allow yourselves to BE in the environment of your garden, your home, your dance studio, your weekly milonga.

To listen actively to the music, to look intently at the dancers on the floor. And to hear the whispers, the laughter of the people beside you, the glasses ticking and the wine pouring.

Listen to the environment to find yourself present in that environment. You are not just sitting. You are BEING!

😉
Chrisa
P.S: If you want a drop of inspiration such as this one, you can get them now through Alexa: Drops of inspiration