Category Archives: embrace

Practicing alone-together!

So when I starting practicing alone aka without a partner it was because I could feel that something was missing, that I could be a more active and expressive dancer but I didn’t quite know how to do that.

After some time things settle and I found my ways and Bautanz was born but this is not an article about Bautanz but about one great question I got from a member of our community, Mandy: “Do you have any suggestions for incorporating these ideas [on balance, alignment etc] into a partnership?

Is individual practice the problem?

Mandy explained that though while practicing without her partner everything is great but once they come together to dance things start falling apart.

One of the things, amongst others of course, that causes these off-balance moments is that each partner is working on figuring things out in his/her body and fails to pay attention to what the other person is doing. It is not on purpose that we are ignoring our partner but there are so many other things we need to focus on from one step to the next, that we fail to pay enough attention to our partner.

Many people say point exactly to that in fact to prove that one shouldn’t be practicing alone. That argument however can be defeated when we see soccer players, tennis players, ballerinas you name it training on their own.

Individual practice is not what causes the problem in connection, it is what reveals it! Once you start exploring further a creative process of change starts to happen and that is when start to realize trouble with moving with another person.

Also, as with any change, change in movement habits takes time! For us to realize what we are doing wrong, to explore the suggested other options, to understand how each suits our bodies and then to replace what we don’t need anymore with a new habit; This is a lengthy process, very creative but also lengthy! So it will take some time for things to settle, for new habits to get established so we can then focus more on our connection and how our movement affects our partner.

That is in fact why I created Bautanz and an online course called Intelligent Tango PROGRAMS & COURSES–INTELLIGENT TANGO, to speed the process of creating new habits through an individual practice.

Practicing on how to listen

You are probably wondering if I am actually suggesting that you just keep at it and hope for the best..! haha
Thankfully not, as there is a way to get more connected to your partner and explore movement at the same time and that is through touch, observation and feedback. And that could happen in two ways

Let’s use the above video as an example, if you are not practicing with a partner, during your individual practices you can get feedback from surfaces you can possibly lie down on or lean against. Once on the ground as in the video above you can get bodily feedback on how your head, back, hips and feet are moving on the floor.

You start gathering information on how these body parts move when you move your arms. But also there is the opportunity to observe how your movement changes as you release more weight, or as you turning, if you adjust your head etc.

In this video, all of the above apply of course, but I want to use as an example when you practice with your partner. Aside from the feedback you can gather from meeting the floor you can also ask your partner to place a hand on your shoulders, back, your head or hips, and just observe how you move without affecting your movement, only observing almost like passively following. Touch will reveal to both of you how that specific spot of the body moves and how part affects the other. It will give both you more information about movement that you can then take it with you when you are leading and following. Then of course you change roles, you will be touching and observing 

Time to give feedback…

Last but not least in the process is the exchange of feedback. This is an important part of the process and a rather difficult one. It is very easy to fall into the trap of not expressing how the movement felt. So again using the video above as an example you want to go deeper and describe what your hands felt, for example: “as you were settling in the tabletop position, your shoulder blades felt like they were sliding and turning, as the spine was reorienting. You back muscles felt like they were expanding as your sides and core were condensing.”

Avoid staying on the surface with feedback such as it felt good, or strong or smooth. Try to go a deeper and describe the movement. Make sense out of what your hands felt. Then you try the exercise again focusing on each of the elements your partner noticed and guiding each other through touch. 

Could I do this with Tango drills..?

Absolutely! This process can happen with any movement, only you would probably need to move a bit slower than usual if you are doing walks or ochos. But surely your partner can place their hands on your shoulders, back, chest, stomach, head etc and go through the same process as above.

It will heighten your awareness of your own body and movement but also of your partner’s. Touch is though an excellent way to practice “listening” through touch. Tango is based on touch and the feedback we receive through it. If we are not able to listen through touch and respond then it becomes difficult and the movement has a very mechanical almost robotic quality.

Every practice session needs to be rewarded

Extra bonus… a Dance! I would to encourage you to dance one song after your practice or at a random time without the intention to practice but with the intention to dance and enjoy moving with or without a partner.

It is not however an easy task. You will be putting yourself to the test trying to put all the things “you should be working on” to the side and letting the experience of moving inform your knowing.

I wasn’t doing that for a long time. Instead every chance I got I practiced trying to get things right, trying to get better faster. It was very frustrating, and made my dances really hard to enjoy. So though being in the unknown, without an outline of what needs to be taken care of, of what you need to focus on, can be discomforting, it can also help you understand your body, your movement and your partner at a deeper level.
Plus it is a great reward to allow yourself to dance after spending time practicing!

Touch, observe, listen and don’t fear the unknown!

😉

Chrisa

P.S 3rd week of September we will be starting session of live online classes. If you are interested check it out here: Online Tango Classes- Live

Are we going back to Tango?

After many months of online chatting I got together friend and also a Tango teacher. We were wondering if we, as a collective of people, will be going back to Tango. And we were sharing experiences from our communities, as she is in a different city, noticing many common reactions from the two communities. Of course there are people already dancing, others that are not taking the risk and a small group of people willing to go back but trying to imagine what would they be “going back” to.

Going back by moving forwards?

So the question we stumbled upon was whether we could possibly be going back by moving forwards? Paradox..? Maybe not..!

This conversation started from the moment we saw each other… It was such a relief seeing each other in the flesh and bone again! And we jokingly said to one another: “Oh! You still exist in real life!” haha

Along with all that there was this great urge to hug and greet each other like any two people would have done under normal circumstances. We didn’t… you know, being in a public space and all..! See hugging is currently a no no and I personally don’t disagree

However, think about the time when going back will happen with no masks, no partner restrictions, no lysol wipes all over the place… Do you think that longing for a hug will express itself through the dance? Is there a possibility that we will be looking for more connection through our dances after this isolation, restrictions and fear? In this way would this actually be moving forward and not going back?

A deeper connection

Someone might say that they were always looking for a deeper connection and I think this to be true for most people. I imagine this though will be multiplied by this great distance we had to keep for such a long time.

We will probably be more like the kids we all saw on the videos online, where they ran to hug their friends after not seeing them for a couple months! haha

You know sometimes on the dance floors you would see the struggle and the persistence at the same time to achieve that connection in the faces of dancers. I imagine this will be effortless, a connecting power coming from within, along with unimaginable joy!

That is my post-covid, going back while moving forwards in Tango plan and the next question would be how would we then maintain that feeling?

That deeper connection can easily fade out once we get back to absolute “normal”. How could we possibly maintain and build that up though?

And I think, without having the experience of course, there are various steps. One being during those first few milongas, where we have the choice of diving in deep to that feeling that we take the dive and allow it to take over.

Then after the milonga, the same evening at home or the next day, there is the opportunity to wake up to the details of that experience and then start analyzing it. After the awe, we can start gently allowing for our mind to make sense of the experience. In other words allow for the experience to inform our knowing. That happens when we start describing in words how the experience felt. For example a dance can be light, intense, heavy, powerful, energetic, grounded, visceral but also spicy, salty, sweet. All great words and the more descriptive and detailed we can get, the better.

Lastly, the bits and pieces we think we have figured out can go into our practice. Not in a forcing way, not for example thinking: “Oh! We have to hold exactly the way we did it last Saturday at the milonga!”. Instead more in an explorative way, as an observer looking for clues of where these words came from. In practice therefore new experiences are created and the cycle starts again.

So I guess I am thinking of this endless spiral of creativity…! Hmmm…what do you guys think? Are we going back to Tango or are we moving forward to new Tango experiences?

Send me your thoughts! 🙂

Chrisa

P.S: Looking at working on the embrace but you doing have a partner?
Try this practice:

And for our Live practices you can check this link out Online Tango Practice

P.P.S: Join the Bautanz community by subscribing for more Tango inspiration, motivation and news on our online program

The embrace – a place to yield to!

In this week’s Live tango practice, we worked on the suspension created in the embrace. It was an attempt to connect the dots, between the message received through the hands/ arms and the action taken from legs.

Taking the time to yield

I wanted to take the opportunity to explain a bit more in depth the element of suspension, pulse and yielding. These are all words used during this practice and sometimes words don’t communicate in the best of ways what we can communicate through movement.

Let’s start from the latter, yielding, because if we don’t yield we can’t efficiently suspend and create a pulse.
Yielding shouldn’t be confused with relaxing or letting go. We are reaching for the ground, the sky, our partner prior to taking action. In that state we are ready to act, but we have already established our connection, our support.

It is that connection and support that we don’t want to loose while moving. Instead we want to carry it along with us as we go.
And so the lead and follow shouldn’t be described as press and resist, but more as a coming together, as supporting each other. Therefore the frame needs to be elastic, and absorbent without collapsing though. It is that elasticity, that spring that transfers the message through the arms to the body while keeping us connected.

It is in our anatomy

All of this we see it supported by the human anatomy. Even in the most solid element of our body, the bones, there is moisture, there is fluid and elasticity. One of the contractions our muscles create is actually the elastic recoil. Our breathing has a pulse, a spring in it.
We have experience from yielding to the earth, feeling grounded, secure, calm and confident before acting. Or when we immerse ourselves in a conversation with a dear friend where there is a continuous effortless connection. 
We also have experience of things not happening not efficiently. When we try to lift something without the necessary preparation. Or when we are angry and our movement becomes rigid and out of our control. Also, when we are stressed and not breathing properly.

So we have the experience of yielding, connecting and elasticity. It is indeed  in a different context but we still there for us. We can be further explore through Tango and all other dance forms and movement practices.

Leading and Following through the arms

Speaking in Tango terms, I would encourage you to think and practice leading/ following through the arms and not with the arms.

And though it is not easy to explore partnership alone, it is essential. Practicing on your own, allows you to spend time experiencing your body moving and allowing for that experience to inform your knowing. 
In parallel practicing with a partner is equally important. It has to be though someone who is honest and able to share with you their experience. Still though that doesn’t undermine the importance of your personal practice. 
If you don’t spent time self-exploring you can’t have a discussion with your partner, you simply adjust to satisfy them. In order to progress, you need to be able to build on solid grounds, grounds of understanding and awareness. Then you can make conscious decisions on how to progress instead of adjustments on the spot. 

More resources below… 😉

So if I have inspired you to further explore the embrace here are some extra videos to do so:

  1. Finding the embrace: https://youtu.be/EOYvbesyQio
  2. The power game in the embrace: https://youtu.be/GRxD9WYMgKs
  3. Suspension in the embrace: https://youtu.be/5n6XVrUWcEU
  4. And if you would like to see more live practices visit this page: https://bautanz.com/online-tango-practice/

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/

Tango connection–a way to practice it without getting frustrated

Connection in Tango is the #1 thing every dancer, leader or follower, is looking for in every dance.

They feel that the connection in Tango is special, compared to other partner dances, and honestly I feel the same way…
Personally I find it to be a more internal matter, something that somehow speaks through our blood… Compared to other dances that it is more external, more reaching outward in some way…

Does this sound crazy..?

Practicing connection is not as easy as it sounds..!

Crazy or not, I think that because of this internalization dancing and more so practicing can get really frustrating when things are not working out.

Even today’s video is end product of a long “discussion” within the Bautanz community, which started from this video of the great Tango master, Carlos Gavito which brought back some really hurtful memories to some of my students.

The strangest thing though is that Gavitio in this video describes the intimacy of Tango. How special it is to share movement and space with someone through Tango. He describes the touch, the head, the eye contact, the secret dialog between the two partners, which relies on active listening.

And despite all that… the shape of his embrace brought back memories of pain.

Is there really a way to practice connection without getting frustrated?

I don’t want to support my students or followers, but I have to say that I myself have danced with dancers who just copied the shape of Gavito’s embrace and took care of nothing else, resulting to a very hurtful experience.

But I also have to say that I have been in dances where my partner used this very hand hold to make our dance flow better. We shouldn’t therefore assume that it is the hold that destroys the magic, but mostly us, and our level of awareness and listening.

And this is what I wanted to achieve with this video… To find a safe, fun way for us to practice the different forces that go in an embrace and find ways to efficiently respond to them.

I hope you will enjoy it!

Chrisa

P.S: If you are thinking: “Hey! I want to see the previous videos too…” Then subscribe! Join us at bautanz.com and get the full embrace combo and much much more

 

 

 

Dancing and the fear of shame

Dance like nobody is watching

What are your thoughts on this overused phrase..?

  • Absolutely agree, you have to be yourself on the dance floor
  • Yeah right!
  • This is probably how advanced dancers feel
  • All of the above

I personally think, it is baloney!

Even as an advanced dancer you are fully engaging with the people around you. Not because you feel that they are judging you but because you are all sharing that moment

How many times haven’t you left a milonga thinking: “well I had some really good dances but the energy in that place is just sooooo unwelcoming?”
Or think of the last time you went to a concert, for example, and the audience was just sooo out of it, how it dragged your energy down too. Compared to a concert where the audience was feeling it, it was part of the action, and you just couldn’t stop singing!

The truth is it makes a huge difference if you surround yourself with positive, active, passionate people, compared to negative, passive people.

What we can’t confess to ourselves is what is keeping us back

The biggest problem with that phrase is that it is used to cover up a rather big problem… FEAR OF SHAME

The fear of making a mistake in front of everybody.
Looking stupid, incompetent or unable.
Afraid of taking a risk just in case it doesn’t work and you make a fool of yourself in front of everyone!

I was at the OACCPP conference last Friday presenting Transformative Tango with Carolyn Dallman Downes. Very exciting day during which I learned so much, one phrase though sparked the idea for this article: “shame leads to disconnection and disconnection leads to shame“.

You have probably heard leaders say things like: “I am not able to follow what the teacher says, I look like a fool there

Or followers saying: “Oh my God! How terrible did that look? We almost fell 3 times

Or having one or the other partner with this expression on their face:

via GIPHY

While thinking: “You are killing my groove! You are making me look like an idiot!”

(If you are in the last category and you are thinking that the smile at the end will save the day…eeeeh Think again! People can tell! Hahaha)

What to do about it…
Step 1: Accept that people’s opinion matters!

Is it such terrible thing to admit?
A milonga is a social event, it is like a little town, where everyone sees and knows everything!

It doesn’t mean that their opinion will necessarily change the way you dance or your choices on the dance floor but before you say: “ I don’t care what anybody thinks” be ready to back it up with actions…or admit that you actually do care.

Step 2: Deeply get to know your community.

What usually happens is that we waste time trying to fight our fears staying away from milongas…BUT this only makes things worse! It just makes the monster bigger!

Instead, go to the milongas with intention to study them, to understand the community you are about to enter and not only to dance.

Step 3: Focus a big part of your practice on improvising. Instead of practising routines that don’t work on the dance floor.

Now you can understand how important the  a previous step… You need to know the dance floor and the dancers of your community, to know what kind of moves fit best.  Here are a few ideas that will fit perfectly on any dancer floor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2IDoTBcPsA&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCj4JopmCPg&feature=youtu.be

Step4: Followers–though this is something leaders should think about too–really embrace.

Dance is not action-reaction, it is offer, absorb, create movement and give back.

You need to hold your partner. Really hug and that involves your arms and hands.
Especially connecting in the hands, is essential, because there are so many nerves ending in the hands, in the finger tips, if you practice on taking your mind to the hands, you will see, you will become more sensitive towards understanding your partner.
You will get a quick image of how they are feeling at that moment.
Are they comfortable? Are they tensed? Do they have a shoulder problem? Are they going by the book or are they a bit more open to exploration.
It is pity leaving your hands out of the dance. Engage and you will know your partner before you take one step on the dance floor.

Why am I referring to followers?

Simply because worldly accepting to dance with someone is not enough. You have to let them know through body language as well, that you are there to dance with them and you are fully commiting to the dance.

Step5: Leave your ego at the door.

The ego-dog at his own door is like a lion” Rumi, “Little book of Life”

Get into the embrace coming from a respectful caring place.
Come into the milongas with the intention to have fun, to meet new people, to share at least one smile with someone outside your group.
Look at the dance floor seeing only the beauty of communication.
Be on the dance floor with the intention to create and share something from your heart.

You might read these words and think… Yeah yeah, I still remember that time when… ENOUGH!

When we create a safe place people bloom. People express themselves, share. Mistakes become beautiful surprises. Risks become thrilling experimentation.

Steps on a beat become DANCE.

This is an excellent example of the work we do in Intelligent Tango