Category Archives: progress in dance

Is Tango a priority? Do the Tiny- Tango habits test…

I got this idea from Dr. BJ Fogg who has created a very interesting and fun method called, Tiny Habits
So I thought I should share the method with you all and give a Tango version of it, the Tiny Tango habits.

This is what I got from Dr Fogg’s method. I am more focused, it makes me more responsible with my time and I have come to realize that sometimes you just need to get started. Also, I am really feeling victorious…haha…even if I am having a bad day at least I know I stuck to my new habits, at least I still did those..!

So give the Tiny habits method a look. I think you are going to have fun learning how to create habits, plus you will get to  learn a lot about yourself too.

Now the Tango spin..!

How does Tiny Tango habits work?

It is very simple!

  • First you start choosing 3 very basic Tango elements, for example: forward ochos. This element needs to be as straight forward as possible, aka it can NOT be the latest triple gyro sequence you learned in class
  • Then you attach your new tango habit AFTER something you regularly do, for example, getting out of bed, or brushing your teeth. It has to be something you will most definitely do.
    Depending how often you want to do your Tango habits during the day, you will chose the activity to attach it to.
    For example, this is what I chose for Dr. Fogg Tiny habits 5-day method:
    After I get out of bed I will do 1 sun salutation.
    Everytime I brush my teeth, I will floss 3 teeth after.
    After I go to the loo, I will do 3 push-ups”
  • As you can see all these are very short time-wise, and that is why they are called TINY! So whatever you decide to do you will only do it for 30secs.
    You don’t have to set your watches, that will spoil all the fun…
    Instead just say: After brushing my teeth, I will do 4 forward ochos.
    It shouldn’t take you more than 30secs to do 4 forward ochos.
    So, you brush your teeth, you grab hold of the sink and you step, pivot, step, pivot, step, pivot, step, pivot. DONE!
  • It shouldn’t be something you feel unsure or afraid to do. It should be something you feel secure trying out on your own, that will not cause any pain or strain in your body.
    You are not ONLY trying to practice the ochos. You are trying to check if you can/ want to create Tango habits for yourselves.
    So basically you are practicing on the ochos and on the creation of habits at the same time.
Why do I believe this to be effective?

Usually what happens with most of us, we go ALL or NOTHING.

We believe that if we don’t spend at least 1 hour in practice there is no point. So we end up not doing nothing but look at other people getting better, progressing in Tango, feeling envious, when we could have started small.

So the idea behind all this is to start small, to start tiny and to scale up on your habit.
30 secs NOW can become 1 hour in the very near future.
0 secs and many decapitating excuses will only keep you feeling jealous
Not to mention that if you frame your Tango habits like this:

After I go pee-pee, I will do 4 forward ochos

hahaha
Normal (pee-pee) frequency is 6-7 times…24-28 forward ochos…not so bad after all!

Lastly, consider this. All high end professionals do not depend on motivation. In fact no one  can depend on motivation, because it is not a steady marker, it fluctuates and changes depending on our mood, on how tired we are, on how much sleep we got, on how we eat… the WEATHER.

You can though depend on HABIT.
Think now of all the things we do everyday out of habit. Now we don’t even give them a second thought we just do them  but remember how long it took you to get used to them?

Exactly!
It will take time to build on them but after you do you won’t even have to think about them, you will just do them.

What is the big bet with your Tango habits?

To DO them for 5-days!

This is the test.
Are you going to write down 3 Tango habits and never do them?
Are you already thinking this is ridiculous and you are not even going to write any potential Tango habits?
Do you still believe that 30secs is NOTHING?

OR

Are you one of those who grab on every opportunity to invest in themselves?
Will you see this as a fun game through which you get to practice your tango and you learn a new skill– building a habit?
Are you already thinking that after those 5-days, if everything goes well, you might keep it up and slowly scale, adding a few more seconds everyday?

Can you take this BIG tiny step?

-Chrisa

P.S: Send me an email with your 3 potential Tango habits and I can keep you accountable for the 5 days following the email..! 😉

Is Tango a priority? Do the money and time quiz…

Alright! Pop-quiz time…

When we have money, we usually do not have time and when we have time we usually do not have money.
But what if you had both? What if, in a miraculous way  you got 2 months of absolutely free time and 1million dollars?

So starting Monday you don’t have to go to work for two whole months, plus you have an extra 1million dollars in your bank account– just enough to get you in trouble…LoL
How are you going to spend your money and time?

Money and time define our priorities

As my mentor Ramit Sethi once said: “Show me your schedule and expenses and I will tell what your priorities are”

People often times say:
” I know I should practice tango, but by the time I get home, I am too tired, I get LAZY”
“I would loved to join this class but I am just so BUSY…”
“If I had the money I would definitely go down to Buenos Aires and train with the best teachers”
Notice how people use time to create a label for themselves “tired”, “lazy”, “busy”. This way they have an excuse ready for them– aka I am lazy. That is me. Therefore I won’t practice…
Or they use a logical limitation, “money”, to hide the fact that they haven’t really exhausted all other options

In these cases obviously Tango is NOT a priority.

Now every “normal” person will probably SCREAM at the computer:
“Of course it is not a priority! What on earth are you talking about? My family, my job, my kids, my friends, my health…those are my priorities..!”

I won’t disagree with you. You are absolutely right.

But remember the time, years ago probably, when you started Tango? When every week you were waiting, for the Tango-class day?
Maybe, it was something you did with a significant other and it was the special thing you did together. Or maybe you wanted to meet new people, make new friends, so you were waiting for the milonga so can go out and share your passion with like- minded people.

Sometimes, the non-vital, the unnecessary things are the ones that inspire us, motivate us, even keep us sane!

But now all this fire, all this passion is gone out and you are left thinking:
“I am not getting any better, I am not having fun, I am not dancing with good dancers. Is this even worth it?” BUT
“I’ve spent all this money and time on this, I can’t just quit now”

DON’T quit yet! DO this instead
  • Answer this question: What would you do if you had unlimited free time and 1million dollars for 2 months?

Make a list answering the question above and define your priorities. See where Tango is on that list, if at all.
It doesn’t matter how you do it. It could be in the form of a wish list or in a super analytical budget based list.

Just DON”T lie! Be honest with yourselves. If it is not on the list, then no need to stress or feel guilt about it. Move on

  • Free your schedule from things that are NOT on the list.

Which means that maybe you need to start saying “NO” to things you are genuinely not interested in.
If it has to do with other people, find a nice and politely way to disengage yourselves from activities that take up your time without giving you back the reward and/ or satisfaction you expected

  • Put Tango on your schedule– if it is in fact on the list… 😉

This is how it works with me: If it’s not on my schedule, it doesn’t exist. It won’t happen!
If you hate calendars, like I do, at least keep a clear schedule in your mind.

For example this is Monday for me:
9:00- 10:30: Teach a class
11:00- 1:00pm: Home, having breakfast, making coffee and working on this blog
1:00-2:00: reading on the subway (DON’T laugh! You know how long it took me to REMEMBER to put the damn book in my bag..?!?!)
2:00-4:00: Tango practice
5:00-8:00: Teaching classes

Do you need to have 2 hours of practice a day?
No! On the contrary you need to  start small and then scale from there…30mins are enough to start with.

Is it really a matter of money and time..?

Yes and No!

It is true, unfortunately, in our society of 2017…”No money no honey” rules
It is NOT true that you need 25hours a day- 8 days a week, to make your Tango– your life– better! You probably need 30mins at a time. Starting small and simple and scaling up.

The truth is:

You can dance more

Practice more

Get better at Tango

You can enjoy your dances more

Upgrade your overall milonga experience

Take care of your relationships

You can build your own community of like- minded Tango- lovers

You can do it all, and much more– and you can do it now

-Chrisa

 

 

 

How you can practice Tango without a partner

Last week we were talking about progress.
What is progress, how you can monitor your progress and a quick way– “The Hotshot Rule”– to set up a system that will keep you in control and active.

I received a few messages, where number 1 on the list of their imaginary Tango Hotshot was, practice.
The problem though is that they don’t have a partner plus they have no idea where to start.

Why do we skip practice?

Tell me if this sounds familiar…
Inspired by someone you admire– teacher, performer, partner, fellow instructor– you decide to starting your own practice.
You book a studio for an hour or two, you get your training AND your dance shoes, you set up your playlist.
You get to the studio nice and early, to change, get water, have some fruit, focus, turn your phone off. It is time for some serious practice…

….Ten minutes later….

Walks…DONE!
Ok! I am going to try something else, maybe some ochos.

…Ten minutes later….

Is this it? I have booked the studio for two hours…What do I do now?
Maybe musicality…Yeah, that is what I need. here we go!

…Ten minutes later…(If you have gotten this far)

DAMN! This is not working!

You get the idea?
What is the problem here?

There is no plan for this practice. There is a schedule, aka practicing for 2 hours on Tuesday, but there is no plan.
Why are you practicing? What are you practicing on? How do other people practice?  Where do you want to be after this practice, dance- wise?

How to practice to ensure success

So before you begin, ask yourself: Why do you want to practice?

Not acceptable answers:

  1. Because my teacher told me so
  2. I got this guide from Bautanz and I want to start using it finally
  3. I want to get better

These are not acceptable answers because they are not personal and they are not detailed.

I started practicing because I felt like shit, really awful when I danced in milongas.
I know, I know, you, who know me, are going to say: No Chrisa. Your dances weren’t shitty. I love dancing with you!
Thank you! hahaha
They were shitty though, or they weren’t good enough any more.
And I am not going to lie. In the beginning I thought the leaders I was dancing with, weren’t good enough.
BUT what are the odds, that I am doing everything correctly and it is ALWAYS the other person’s fault, especially when I am  dancing with different people, in different cities or even different countries?

Highly unlikely. So I got to work

I booked a studio, for 1 hour, knowing that I will probably won’t last in there for that long. How did I know I wouldn’t last that long?
Because, before I started practicing, I read this book: “Talent is overrated”

It is a great read not only for Tango, but for everything you want to get better at.
You will get to understand, not simply how other people practice, BUT how GREAT performers work and practice.
Their mindset, the set up, the risks they take and much more.

After you have figured out WHY and HOW now it is time for WHAT.

After a few failed attempts I realized, I needed to understand what it was specifically that felt so shitty about my dancing.
Initial response: “I don’t know it just doesn’t feel right. It feels very restrained, stiff. I don’t feel that I can express my self through the dance” Not very specific…

BUT words can lie, MOVEMENT never lies.

So, I started working on the most basic element of Tango, the walk. Only I slowed it down a lot and waited for the problem to be revealed to me.

Taraaaam!
Symptom #1: Off balance

Back I went, to balance exercises, trying to figure out WHY I am off balance.
Misalignment, that little DEVIL!
Always remember this: The fact that you are not falling, doesn’t mean you are properly balanced, aka aligned

So I went through the same exercises again, focusing on alignment, instead of focusing on trying, tensing, compensating in order to keep my balance. Found spots of tension, found ways to release them, and then tried again.

When I started feeling somewhat better I tried my walks again.
By that time– half an hour max…– my brain was fried! haha
The rest of the time in the studio, I stretched and wrote down the problems, the possible answers, some thoughts, concerns and questions.

I left the room happy, having a clearer vision of what I wanted to get out of this.
I wanted to be able to create movement without creating tension, feeling strong but also flexible, in control but also relaxed. The first thing I would work on the next day would be the smallest, most personal movement one can make in Tango, creating the posture.

Practice makes perfect only if you know what you are doing

So bottom line here my dear friends

  1. Be brutally honest with yourselves when responding to the question WHY you want to practice.
  2. Ask your teacher for suggestions on WHAT to practice on. Study HOW great performers practice– they must be doing something right after all
  3. If you haven’t gotten the Ultimate guide on Tango practice for leaders and followers download it, with your subscription, here
  4. Don’t go ALL or NOTHING. Start with a few minutes of practice, maximum 30mins and then gradually scale up– you can find great exercises in the guide and a path to follow in order to scale up your practice.
  5. Practice is NOT the goal, practice is a system for success. So get in there trying to figure out where the real problem is, in your movement. What have you been doing that is not working anymore and what is just right. How the smallest of changes effect your movement and what does that mean for the rest of your Tango.
  6. Don’t over intellectualize it. Remember words lie, movement will tell you the truth, if you are willing to hear it.
  7. Write me an email, with a detailed question of your troubles and I will be more than happy to assist you especially if it is something that will benefit many other people on the dance floor.
  8. Don’t forget to have fun!

-Chrisa
P.S: I know it can be scary being in a room on your own, not knowing where to start and what to do, feeling like a weirdo. But, remember when we were kids..? We would just dance, sing, act, play, just because we could. That is a child’s way of understanding the world. Instinct and trial-and-error . Give yourselves the chance, to become a child again in Tango, through Tango.

https://Photo credit: Shopping Diva via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Test your progress– Define your next step– Take action!

Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you tried you weren’t making any progress?
That despite the classes, the practicas and the milongas you have hit a plateau and you are not really sure how to get out of it?

You are not alone!
We all go through these phrases. It doesn’t have to do with your talent or dedication– both of which will be challenged during this plateau period– but more with progress itself.

What is progress?

If we do a basic/ quick google search we will find this:

“a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage”
Biology: increasing differentiation and perfection in the course of ontogeny or phylogeny.
forward or onward movement
to grow or develop, as in complexity, scope, or severity; advance
by: Dictionary

What do you notice?

This is what I notice…
Progress doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be getting better CONTINUOUSLY.

You might be moving forward or toward your goal. You might be changing. Or you might be actually reaching a higher level.

So progress is a whole process of continuous change towards our goal, and not necessarily getting better
With this in mind the first thing you need to do is ask yourselves:

Have I spotted any changes in my dancing/ practice/ milongas/ Tango/ body?

Do NOT limit yourself to positive change. Try to find what is and/ or feels different. Positive, negative, neutral, anything at all.

For example:
I have noticed that I am not as confident with my embellishments as I was in the past. I am dong less of them and I put too much effort into them, they are too much work for me now on the dancefloor.
Maybe I was doing too many of them in the past. Or I am now focusing on other parts of my dance. Maybe the way I choose to express myself is different now than before.

This is really not positive or negative, this is probably neutral, but it is still progress. It is a differentiation that might lead to perfection if I work on my embellishments and my confidence in a healthy, open- minded way.

Now it is your turn
What changes have you noticed in yourselves regarding Tango?
Leave me a comment below or send an email!

How can we test our progress and plan the path to reach our goals

Are you thinking…
I have experienced no progress and/ or change. This is BS! I am still dancing with the same people, in the same places, doing the same moves!“..?

If this is YOU. You should be glad this article is not over yet! haha

So, though we are used to thinking progress as a straight line, try to replace that image with the one of a spiral

spiral progress
Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0
As you working your way up to your ultimate goal, you get passed different high points.
You reach a high point, then you start your trip up a steep hill again, until you reach a new high, and so on so forth.
This trip can be very long for some, almost lifetime long– for professional dancers for example– or shorter. But no matter the length it is always a spiral, never a straight line.

So if you are the desperate person, mumbling the quote above, you are probably just starting that uphill trip again and you have to work harder or in a different way to reach a new high.

This is a quick way to find out what you need to change NOW and in which way.

It is called the “Hotshot Rule”.
It wasn’t invented by me but from Kat Cole when she was president of Cinnabon.
This is what she did:
She would spend sometime to think about the state and goals of the company and then she would ask herself:
Let’s say a hotshot takes over my job today. What two or three things would the hotshot look at and say, ‘That’s unacceptable’?
(Find the full article here: Kat Cole’s Hotshot Rule)

So back to you and Tango
Take some time to think of where you are, what your teachers or partners have been advising you on. What are your goals and aspirations?
Then ask yourselves: If a Tango hotshot, took my spot tomorrow what are the two/ three things he/she would face and say: That’s unacceptable?

My personal example

Ok guys, here it goes…Confessions of a Tangoholic…!
My list of  three unacceptable things in my present Tango life

  1. Treatment for my shoulder, that has been bugging me for a year now, maybe longer. No I haven’t been to the doctor. Yes it giving me great trouble.
    So this is now number 1 on my unacceptable list. Especially because my income depends on the well- being of my body.
  2. Go out more often. I used to be able to go to milongas twice a week. I haven’t been out though for some time now. For different reasons some valid and some not.
    So a Tango hotshot would say this is unacceptable.
  3. Change my practice routine. I have been practicing on similar things 2hours a day, 5 days a week, for a year almost. There has been significant change BUT it is time for a new challenge.

What does your list look like? Leave me a comment below.

Bottom Line…

With the hotshot rule, you can find the two/ three most important things, you have been ignoring for whatever reason, and this in itself will reveal to you what you need to do next.
Maybe you haven’t taken a class for a long time. Or you have been meaning to plan a private class for sometime now but hadn’t gotten around to it.
Maybe you are not going out enough or maybe you subscribe to bautanz, got the practice guide but haven’t gotten past the first page yet…haha

Try not to get too comfortable. Look for the challenge. Test your progress and this will help you define the next step you need to take!

-Chrisa
P.S: The greatest thing about the article on the Hotshot Rule is that you can use it in different parts of your life. Business, Tango, relationships, anything really. But you need to be honest and you know see it more like a game than a test…
Enjoy!