Tag Archives: advanced tango dancers

Tango Misconceptions and how to dance through them

We have shared a lot of practical tips and drills on Tango and that this post can be a bit different and focus on misconceptions about Tango. We will get a chance in this way to exchange thoughts and ideas on things that we thought worked but actually didn’t or vice versa we thought they didn’t work and we realized they worked wonders.

If you have Tango misconception stories, share them with me, either by commenting on this post or by filling out this survey..!

Tango misconceptions and the “one-size-fits-all”

We usually start Tango or any type of dance really, to learn something new, to have fun, to have a social yet productive evening out, to share some time with a friend or partner etc. In general, it is for a social/ fun reason that we get into it. And so we don’t expect to feel stuck, frustrated, tired and like failures…haha…while we are at it..!

There are many reasons why this might have happened and may happen to us, but one of the many reasons, is actually the one size fits all approach that is followed some times in teaching dance in general and Tango in particular.

Now, let’s clarify one thing before we carry on, I am not saying that no rules apply and that everyone should find their own Tango. 
What I am saying is that the way one teaches those rules, whether they are related to a specific Tango style or not, needs to be adaptable to the group and the individuals in that group. 
Every one of us has a different body, different movement habits, a different background and therefore a different understanding of dance and movement. As such we can not be expected to all learn in the same way.

Therefore, when something is presented to us as “this is how it is”, and even worse when body mechanics are thrown into the mix to support purely stylistic rules, it is highly possible that many of us will not be able to work it out in our bodies; or if we do, it might still feel uncomfortable. 

So with all that in mind, lets take a look at our first video on Tango misconceptions where we explore what is actually a stylistic rule compared to body mechanics rule. 

A misconception is not a lie and doesn’t imply complete ignorance..!

Before we carry on, I wanted to add a note here for all of us that might be struggling with a specific element and may now be thinking that they have been let down by their teachers and/ or by themselves.

A misconception is not a lie nor does it imply complete ignorance. A misconception is a different understanding maybe even a misunderstanding. So if you are feeling a bit frustrated now, think that this how we learn, how we progress. We make assumptions, some of them will stand and some will need to be reassessed. This whole process is what brings us to knowledge. So you haven’t wasted your time! On the contrary you have been learning! And most importantly, you have been engaging in something that you are passionate about!

As you will see in our video below, we start with the misconception of ochos being a stand-alone Tango step; but we don’t stop there. We will then see a different perspective, where the ochos are simply “walks in different directions”. We are exploring a different perspective and we are acknowledging the shift from how we were approaching ochos before. This way we are 2 things:

  1. That ochos are really walks and not a special step and
  2. How to learn and progress. In the beginning we see and practice ochos as a stand alone step; that may be necessary to reduce frustration. After a while though we need to reassess and start connecting the dots between walking and ochos, for Tango as a whole to make sense.

Making the healthy choice

Before I let you go, I would like to share 2 insights with the group:

  • When you find that a movement is uncomfortable or even worse painful, take a moment to assess. I know this might sound obvious but it is not really obvious when we are in action. Usually we see other people following through and we think we should push through the discomfort. Take a moment to consider whether this movement is rewarding for you at the moment. The end result may be something you want to work towards; but if you experiencing discomfort, you still haven’t found the right path to get there.
    Misconceptions may be hiding in the end result or in the path or in both. If any part of the movement feels wrong to you, it probably is..!
  • Sometimes progress comes not from practicing Tango itself. It can some from a shift in our understanding of movement in small everyday type of movement habits. 
    Posture is great example! If you introduce in small dosages of mindfulness and awareness on how you carry your body through your everyday life, this will make your day more enjoyable and change your posture in Tango inevitably. It doesn’t apply to every Tango element but it captures a fair bit!

So what Tango misconceptions have you tackled..? Share your great stories with me I would love to hear them! And don’t forget to subscribe for more content such as this

Enjoy,

Chrisa Assis

P.S: Completely unrelated but it will brighten your day… Check out Pro Dancer Shoes, they have an amazing collection for all Tango shoe lovers. I got a pair of my own, I loved it and now I am proudly affiliated with them. Take a look! 😉

Rhythmical Variations – Creating Options

We practice on musicality, on rhythm, rhythmical variations of steps, on matching sequences to specific musical textures, orchestras, styles… Overall we practice on listening and understanding the music. So what are we really practicing here? Options! Creating options or better yet having options readily available while we improvise.

Rhythmical Variations that create options

One of the most fascinating exercises I have been taught, was by Mariana Montes and Sebastian Arce in a festival in Kalamata Greece, quite a few years back now. It was around the ocho cortado, and how one can perform the step in different rhythms.

The rhythmical variations we were taught back then were so fascinating to me, not only because they offered me different ways to do the same step, and therefore match it to different music but because I got to reshape the step.

Ok! Before I get into that, let me share with you a video where I have reproduced that ocho cortado rhythmical variation exercise so we can actually have a point of reference

Reshaping the ocho cortado

Usually we see the Ocho Cortado as one whole sequence consisting of 6 steps. When we go through the rhythmical variation #1 where we step on the downbeat, every one of these steps, by having its own beat, becomes an entity of its own.

Then when we add the pauses on step #3 and #6 the ocho cortado breaks into 2 sequences instead of 1 and the same happens when we syncopate it.

When we go slow, though we are now playing with one sequence, the sequence is now very flexible, greyed out around the edges almost. And lastly, taking a step on beat #7, shifts the beginning and ending of the sequence around, so we really end up with 6 different sequences.

See how much richer our dance vocabulary has become just by playing with only one of the most basic Tango sequences. Now think of all the other sequences you have learned over the years, can you do something similar? Can you possibly come up with ideas on how shift and reshape those sequences?

Creating options is another skill!

I have learned this from James Altucher who is not a Tango dancer but he is surely an explorer..! So he said, that he practices on his idea muscle daily! Fascinating right?

He uses it for business. We can use it for Tango… and for business of course if you like.
So here is my suggestion, and believe me it is fun..!
Now that you have an idea of how this can work out, take one of the basic Tango sequences, such as the box step or even just walking, write down 5 different ways that you think you can perform that step and then actually try those ideas out with music!

If you need some inspo we will be doing something similar in a Tango Movement Lab on Wednesday 12:15pm going on live through Facebook and Youtube. And if you are looking for even more inspo join our classes that will be full of rhythm and music..!

Hope to see you soon,

Chrisa

How have you made your Tango dislikes WORSE?

I was listening to this podcast, this past Friday for the 3rd time…haha…yes I liked it a lot and among many other things I found this little gem question, by Jerry Colonna:

“How have you contributed to your dis-pleasures?” (approximate quote but you get the idea)

Isn’t that an awesome, counter-intuitive question?

Think about it, people usually either ask what we did to make things better or they throw their advice right in our face…

Like the 30th time you had a massive fight with your boyfriend and you ran to a friend furious and complaining, only to see them throw their hands in their air and say: “Enough already why don’t just break up with him?”

Don’t you want to punch them in the face?
Hahaha

Why you should ask yourself that question?

Personally, I loved this question because it makes us realize of unconscious decisions that make us miserable plus it gives us a place to start fixing..!

I translated to Tango like so: What are your Tango dislikes and how have you made them worse?
And look what happened…

Here is what a student and friend left as a comment under this picture on FB:
(…) I dislike the attitude of various students. Ego has no place in Tango in my opinion, its a patient dance about the happenings between steps; not a race, show or exercise but a dance. I’ve seen many many kind beautiful souls give up over a bad experience. I don’t really know how else to describe what i see, its like flashy politeness. That classy private sense of creativity and understanding that was once so captivatingly palpable has started to look shallow.

I’ve made this worse by not being the best dancer i could be;  at times, I’ ve compromised rhythm to create smoother movement and connection but it creates a clutter on the dance floor cultivating a subculture of mediocrity rather than learning better leading. I’ve been known to do flurries of ochos, attempt sacadas from strange positions, shirk away from a suddenly really intimate embrace, and not give the lady room or time to completely transfer onto her steps. And all is considered generally uncaring behavior, uncharacteristic of the Tango. (…)” Boris

See the full answer here: My Tango likes & Tango dislikes and how I’ve made them worse

Isn’t it now so much easier for Boris to progress? Knowing what causes the trouble and how he has messed up?

My Tango dislikes and how I have made them worse
My Tango Dislikes:
  1. It looks like a very mature and serious dance BUT for most of us, it takes a lot of time to reach a true maturity physically and mentally
  2. There is no challenge towards the teachers. Meaning students will hardly ever challenge their teacher. They hear the rules and just do them, without judgement.
  3. There is no challenge for the students, because teachers usually–not all–don’t invite the students to question anything… They don’t pose any questions and they rush to give answers. But that is no way to grow
How I’ve made my Tango dislikes worse:
  1. I have been that student and I have been that teacher
  2. I wasn’t asking my teachers any challenging questions
  3. Assumed that every teacher I’ve had, knew it all
  4. Even the questions I did ask, I wasn’t always fully listening
  5. I didn’t appreciate the teachers who really pushed me
  6. When I practiced I didn’t keep any record of what I did, what worked and what didn’t, for my teachers to have something to work with
  7. I researched at a minimum extent
  8. Pretended I was serious and deep spirited instead of spending REAL time growing my knowledge and feeding my spirit
  9. As a teacher I was afraid of my students getting better than me–NOT consciously of course
  10. I wouldn’t allow myself to face all the things I didn’t know
What I like about Tango:

The fact that it has allowed me to rediscover myself.
My passion for Tango made me push my limits, face my fears, take risks and grow.
It challenges me to become better not for someone else but for ME.

I like Tango because of how it makes me feel on and off the dance floor

How to reverse the damage?

Start from yourself!

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • What you like about Tango
  • What you dislike about Tango and
  • How have you made it worse

Be honest with yourself and you will then know EXACTLY how to proceed…

Look at this video for example of me before and after:
3 ways to go from good enough to great and beyond

Also if you have followed this blog or are a subscriber you will know that I share podcasts, articles and videos on various themes that I find inspirational, motivational and helpful for people who want to change and progress

If you have watched videos such as this: Heels Vs Toes
or taken any of my classes you know that I ask more questions than the answers I give…

Lastly, I ASK my teachers and peers questions–better late than never, right? hahaha
https://bautanz.com/2017/10/22/meet-mentor-ermis-karaboulas/

There is still a long way to go BUT the path is bright and clear!

Leave your comments below or send me an email with your thoughts, questions and answers, I would love it if I could help you out!

Best,
Chrisa

 

 

 

 

Dance and the Fear of becoming an advanced dancer

“One of the things I dislike about Tango is that many people settle in routines… I have settled too” J
“I am afraid that if I become a really advanced dancer, I will have nobody to dance with”, M

No no these people are not snobs, quite the contrary…

Translate to: “What if I spend all this time and money and end up dancing the same way?” OR “What is the point of learning new things if I am not going to use them?”
And you will see that you have probably fallen into the same trap!

The fear of becoming a truly advanced dancer

Think of yourself going to your local milonga. You walk in expecting to see familiar faces and looking forward to dancing with dear dance partners.
There are a few people who you love to dance with, because your dances are just amazing. There are others that your dances are fun but not amazing.
And then there is that extra category of people… The really advanced dancers. The dancers you wish danced with you, because they look really spectacular on the dance floor…

Now lets think a few months from now… Say you have taken some more classes and put some hours of practice in.
You are starting to feel more confident. There are all these new things that you have learned and you want to use them during your dance.
Maybe you have learned some new sequences, or you have refined your musicality or technique.

You are now walking in the milonga feeling inspired, in high spirits and with high expectations.
First dance is with a good friend and a good partner… Usually an awesome way to start the night…

But things are not going as you expected…

You are feeling restrained.  Something is off.
Things are working but you are just feeling disconnected. You are trying to use the things you have learned but nothing is working…

This is terrible! And the worst part is that your partner is feeling the same way.

Next tanda no change. Things are just getting worse and worse.
The milonga ends and you feel frustrated: “I took all these classes, I practiced for all this time and for what? What on earth is going on?”

A few milongas go by and bling here is a thought: “Of course I have to adjust my dancing to the level of my partner. Of course nobody is as advanced as I am now”

And down the rabbit hole you go!

via GIPHY

Why this marks the end?

Here are a couple of reasons that you need to pull yourself out of that mindset:

  1. It is not very nice to start with.
    It sounds a bit like you are doing people a favor. Your intention is of a kind and gentle nature but still people might feel you pity them. If they pick up on a vibe like that say bye-bye to those partners.
  2. The above statement might be true when it comes to intricate sequences, musicality games, or demanding routines…But YOUR technique, and how much you are enjoying YOUR movement has nothing to do with your partner–nasty, rude weirdos excluded
  3. It leaves you with no incentive to get any better. If you aren’t going to be using any of the new things you learn then why learn them in the first place, right?
  4. It enhances on the fear of: “What if I spend all this time and this money and end up dancing with same people the exact same way”
  5. It instills the idea that Tango is action-reaction when in fact it is a 2 people coming together to create something beautiful
Stop sabotaging yourself..!
Become the dancer you know you can be

Action Step #1: Change of mindset

Stop counting your level in how many classes, dances, festivals, hours, years you are in…

Action Step #2: Accept the responsibility for being advanced

It is not the years nor the sequences, the embellishments or the number of festivals.
But being able to take responsibility for the overall experience of the dance.

An advanced dancer knows if their dance is bad, why it is bad and what to do to fix it.

In Tango an advanced dancer knows very well that:

  • When things work out it is on THEM
  • But when things DON’T work out it is AGAIN on them

Action Step #3: Go from action-reaction to connect and create

How you connect with someone is a marker to how advanced you actually are.

Beginner way of connecting: My partner pushes and I push back
Advanced
way of connecting: Energy offered, absorbed–>movement created and energy is offered back and absorbed

Leading and following are interrelated at a much higher level than just action-reaction

Action Step #4: You CAN inspire

People are not only inspired by great teachers. They are also inspired by someone who puts in the effort, the time and the courage to push his/her limits and grow to a really advanced dancer.

By “ordinary” people who commit to something they are passionate about. People who want to be great at a hobby because it is valuable time spent on themselves.

You can inspire someone by living a richer–in experiences–life on and off the dance floor!

If you want to be an advanced dancer, we can do it together..!