Category Archives: progress in dance

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

A beginner in Tango in the times of Covid

Well, you know how at the beginning of this craziness everyone was saying this lockdown is an opportunity?
Now you can learn anything you like but never had the time…you can take better care of yourself…listen to you..etc.etc…So I am wondering if any beginner in Tango or in anything really, kept at it?

I had a few people reach out to asking whether through the class I have online (https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/online-tango-classes-live/) they can learn Tango…
What was I supposed to say…? The obvious answer at least for my class is no! And that is what I would say in the beginning…
But then I gave it some thought, and said well there so many benefits in one learning how the body is built to move through a dance… so why not…and so I then said… No but you can learn how to move and believe me you will be ahead of the game when things get back to normal..! Oh my goodness..! haha

Would this have really worked?

Honestly, I don’t think so! And not only for a technique class but for any online class.

Let me explain why, and feel free send me your thoughts on the matter.

In a normal situation, even if we were following classes/ videos/ practices online we had the opportunity to go to a class with other people, to go to a milonga or practica. To embrace, to touch, to feel, to move together. This all was part of the process! So our online learning was in addition to that, not subsidizing that.

Now what do we have..?
In some places with a partial lockdown still in place we don’t have access to any group activity. While in place where measures have been lifted we have very small groups of people, with masks, staying with the same partner and overall being overwhelmed by worry if not fear.
In both cases we are not in a place where we can learn… Either because there is no really human contact or because we are still unsure whether we can trust the human being next to us.

And that is for any beginner in any dance, not only Tango.

See something is missing…

You see dance at least for me is supposed to liberate you. To help you open up to another human being, to share the moment with them. In Tango we do in an embrace, in ballet you are standing next to each other, but we are still there together, breathing the same air, sweating on the same floor and briefly or not so briefly touching.
Can we do all that while constantly thinking: “Stay 2m away”?

No I don’t think so…And please don’t tell me to wear a mask in class, because guess what breathing your own CO2 for 2hrs while dancing is equally unhealthy..!

I have been thinking about this for a long time. It was actually the reason why I didn’t start doing online classes right away.

You see bautanz is an online community for practicing and enhancing and developing your Tango and your movement. But it was always meant to move in parallel with in person class. The reason for this is that we, as in people, are social animals. We learn from being touched by others, touched is used here literally and figuratively of course. That is what I felt was missing from doing all this online.

So as a beginner or not what do we do?

One of my teachers Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, from Body mind Centering (https://www.bodymindcentering.com) says: “The mind of the room has changed” when the group shifts their perspective on something. There is this communal thinking, this communal understanding that builds from each individual’s thinking but also informs each individual thinking.
That is what is missing..!

So if we can get a glimpse of that through the web, we would have won something that could teach us all, being a beginner or a teacher.
Will we magically become Tango champions in one night? Will we go the next milonga–whenever that happens–and just hop on the dancefloor no problem..?
No of course not…but this is what I think we will have… A sense of the other! A sense of gathering, a sense of touch without touching, a sense of a network that moves together.
Currently alone-together, but soon simply together

I believe this experience as whole is only achievable by in-person classes, but a little drop of it, might be possible. And that possibility is my hope… I hope we will get past this worry and fear. That we will trust each other again. And that by being a beginner not in Tango but in socializing we can get even closer together.

I am thinking therefore of a new format for a class, where we take moments to listen and share. Share not only in words, but also by acknowledging the time we are spending with all these other people from around the world. I hope that by the end of this class session, I will have something to report form this little experiment!

If you are already able to do in-person classes, what ways are you finding to hold the space for each other?

Send me your thoughts,

Chrisa

Why practice now?

So do you WANT to practice?
I am not being sarcastic or playing any tricks nor have I prepared a crazy Tango bootcamp practice routine… I am really asking.

Everyone says you HAVE to practice…
We even have the appropriate cliches for it: “Practice makes perfect” 
Not to mention the set mastery time frames: 10,000 hours to mastery 

Nobody has stoped to ask: Why aim for perfection? Why aim for mastery? What is the purpose in aiming and practising for those things?
Especially now in this world that almost everything seems to have been put on pause!

There are so many resources now online, everyone is doing a class, a practice even a virtual milonga; and that is amazing!
I have been doing this for a few years now; you can find so many practice videos here: https://bautanz.com/2020/02/23/argentine-tango-practice/
You can even do a course: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/
But things have changed…

I feel a shift, a very strong shift in what we call practice in what we mean by practice.

Practice has almost lost its meaning… but it can get a different meaning, different substance and presence in our lives.

Before we were practicing to enjoy our dances more, to be more free and creative on the dance floor… to be more confident in the milongas.
To dance more. To become better dancers.

Not much point in all of this is there? 
And this is sad and strange…
So I think that our practices now, can truly help us BE
Be more patient , more present, more grounded, more focused, more calm, more ready
Can help us keep moving and keep growing despite the haul
Become aware of what the human body is about… what it can do! Fascinating!

We can’t dance with others. But we can dance with ourselves.
And that will make us that much better when the time comes to go back out there and really HUG!

I suggesting you practice to be more YOU. Spend this time practicing and really enjoy moving. Use this time to throw away the stress and the insecurity by establishing a strong body awareness. Now that every little thing in our lives has changed, we can take a few moments every day, to find peace in what has been here with us for million of years and that is a body through motion.

You don’t need to practice. You need to invest!
Invest in yourself!

Join us on Saturday for a practice on Balance. We will be LIVE on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/652610942205175/
Or on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuFlahLQPTMONLqjNV_qkjw

Practice your Tango not to just get better at it, not to forget, but to refocus, to energize your spirit, mind and bod

😉
Chrisa

P.S: Subscribe for the extra goodies! 😉

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

Embrace-Go beyond the push and pull

The embrace is where Tango lives… In all practical ways the Tango is created within and through the embrace.

There is a lot Do(s) and Don’t(s) out there on the embrace, so I was hoping to create more of an opportunity for everyone to explore the different body parts that form the embrace, and bring forward more experiential knowledge than Tango-specific advice

Relationship of the Individual Fingers with the Shoulder Girdle and Ribs

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen of Body Mind Centering

In this video Bonnie, founder of Body Mind Centering (https://www.bodymindcentering.com) talks about the process of creation and specifically how are hands are created from the pinky to the thumb while at the same time our ribs are formed from top to bottom. She then goes on to explore that relationship.

When I first came across the video, I found it fascinating! It completely changed my understanding of my body in space and my relationships with others.
Everyday we reach and touch with our hands, almost everything around us; multiple times a day we are making a choice whether this touch may or may not be reflected in our posture, our movement, our mood.

Leading and following is what we call these very choices in Tango. In the following video using the exercise Bonnie shared above and adding walks and ochos I am inviting you explore the movement chain through the embrace

This was a…bad…experience

Bad experiences… moments we have sworn never to dance with THAT person again… pain, discomfort, frustration… Yes, I know…some memories can be haunting! We now though have a chance to fix it; or some of it

First, we need to understand where the pain and the discomfort we experience in the embrace comes from; and then hopefully though this video you will know how to avoid putting yourself in unsafe positions and how to mitigate the impact of an improper action coming from your partner

Seeing the big picture of the hug

So the videos above will help you immensely in acknowledging dangerous positions and finding healthier ones for the joints. Also, it will help you recover faster if you are experiencing pain or discomfort after a milonga

What though doesn’t recover as fast as the body–and we know that can be rather slow–is our psychology.
I as many other followers have fallen in the trap of avoiding to dance with anyone new because I didn’t want to risk another sore shoulder or back.
it took a long time before I could trust what my eyes could see, in terms of who is a partner who will “listen” to subtle body cues and adjust his/her position.
So, the issue here is not to simply find the right embrace for you BUT to find the way to be flexible and adjust your position to help yourself and/or your partner. Usually the necessary adjustment is very subtle but it seems huge
The feeling of relief though when you find that sweet spot where your embrace is genuine and your movement is free it is even greater!

Trust your body to find it!

Chrisa

P.S: For more videos such as this, on weekly subscribe to bautanz.com and if you want to organize your own practice at home at your own time maybe you would like to take a look at this: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/