Tag Archives: Argentine Tango practice

Proper Alignment and Improper Alignment

It all started from this short video on Improper Alignment:

Ido Portal, the importance of improper alignment

As Ido Portal says in the video, “improper alignment is a certainty not a possibility.”
Practising therefore for those moments of improper alignment is crucial for our progress but also for our understanding of our body.

Managing the weight transfer

As you can tell from the video when I first introduced this exercise, it was the first step towards better alignment.

Here though I want to invite you to change your focus…instead of looking for the perfect communication path between the different parts of the body, focus on feeling every little tiny bit of your foot; even to the expense of that communication.

For example, see how far out you can take your heels out before you drop to the floor. Notice how that improper alignment makes you feel. Or the reverse how far in you can bring your heels…and again notice how that makes you feel.

Don’t try to fix it! 
Only exaggerate as much as possible without, of course, causing harm to yourselves, and notice, make mental notes of the experience.

A yummy practice for our feet

In this video, we are exploring the limits of our base of our feet. We are creating and playing with improper alignment.

Because if you don’t know where the edge is, what improper alignment feels like. How will you find the centre, a safe place where you can just be without any tension or uncertainty?

And as Ido Portal says there is no proper alignment, but proper preparation… for misalignment.
We can get off balance any second of the day… lets prepare for THAT!

Feet: Alignment and Misalignment

This third video explores transitioning; changing our level, shifting our weight, and moving in space.
Personally, I don’t believe that standing on one leg or doing calf raises endlessly will make your steps steadier, smoother or more powerful and secure.
Becoming aware of the how your feet manage the transition from the right to the left and the front to the back, definitely will though.

Does that mean, that you don’t need to ever to do balance drills again..?
NOPE!
haha
It means that you will have to include them in a more holistic practice, one that focuses on the transition and not solely on the drill itself. One that focuses on improper alignment as a certainty. One that explores the edges and the limits as much as the centre

Tango Technique made Fun; Embellishments

Embellishments…hmmm… for some an absolute no-no and for others a must- have!
The good thing about this article is that whether you will use the embellishments in your dance is completely irrelevant…

How embellishments can shape your practice

Especially one of the embellishments that I chose can NOT be done in a milonga. It is the kind of embellishment, you can only do if you show up really early or leave really late.

We will by-pass therefore the debate on the appropriateness of embellishments and we will focus on what we can learn from them, if we let them shape our practice

Aside from the obvious first step; of figuring out how to actually do the embellishment, here are the next levels we can take our practice to:

  • Exploring the balance between tension and relaxation. To do an embellishment, you need to free the “free” leg of any unnecessary tension that will slow it down.
  • Becoming aware of our body position. How does our posture need to change, so we can spare that leg, and still feel good, confident and strong
  • And timing. When is the right time to start the embellishment, and when should it end. How can we transition smoothly into the next step

These are the key elements we will be focusing on in this article. If you can of any more leave a comment below, to start up a chat..!

Relaxation Vs Tension

In this first video, we are focusing more on the first two pointers, from the list above.
We start by relaxing the legs and the arms. And our goal is to keep them relaxed as we gradually create tension in the core.
When we make our way to standing, we shift our focus to body alignment. How do shift the body to allow for one leg to move freely in space?

Becoming aware, of the balance points available to us and the lines of alignment being formed in our bodies, we can create freedom and power without jeopardizing balance and strength.

Embellishments in their purest form

In this video, the second one of the series, we are getting more and more analytical, with our movement. We are breaking the embellishments down to movement blocks and we take each one and create an exercise around it.

This helps us dive a bit deeper into all the elements on our list, even timing… As we begin to notice where and when the movement starts in our body and where and when it ends.

Perfect timing

And last but not least, a video that focuses on body position and timing.

When our body is positioned properly, we are ready to act, that is quite obvious. What is not obvious is the opposite… being aware of time and opportunity to act. Timing therefore and body position are intimately tied together. We need to be ready WHEN the opportune moment comes our way.

Practice smart, might mean, work on embellishments

Maybe you think embellishments are a waste of time. That they won’t let you focus on what truly matters. And that they are superficial unnecessary elements, that most dancers tend to use when their technique is in fact poor.

I don’t blame you, I believed all that myself and still do to some extent. I would like though to invite you to see embellishments, for what they are. Off the dance floor and outside the dance studios, they are nothing more than movements. And we can be taught from any movement as simple or as complicated it may be.

And if you want to keep practicing smart with movements then visit this page: https://bautanz.com/argentine-tango-technique/tango-technique-workout/

But if you don’t want to wait for the next video and you want set your practice now then this link is more appropriate: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/

Till next time, tango on! 😉

Chrisa

Ochos as part of a healthy movement diet

These last three we are working on ochos.

We got fitness exercisestips for building a smart practice and of course technique tips

But today I want to take a moment to talk to you about the life-tango connection.

Tango is like life and vice versa

No that is NOT what I am going to talk about…hahaha…but you thought I would didn’t you?

You felt that cliche coming your way! Haha

Don’t worry you are safe!

I want to talk about how this practice like all the other practices you can find in this blog can help you move better in life as well as in Tango

Keep moving

One of the biggest problems people have today is that they are not moving enough.

As a species we were made to move…In fact we survived because our movement became more efficient and we managed in this way to “outrun” our opponents and get food!

Now, this species that it’s whole survival was based on movement is stranded on a chair only to move once or twice a week.

Our bodies thinking that this is the new way of doing things, rearranges our muscles to support it and slowly but surely we start losing range of motion, flexibility and power in our hips, shoulders, spine and all around… We start losing ourselves!

Does any of this sound familiar?

If not, think about the last time your tried to bend over to grab something off the floor aaaand…”OUCH! My back…” came out

Or the last time you thought to yourself: “I am too old for this”

Well, what if Tango was here to help you keep on moving even if you have to take things a bit slower or with a bit more caution.

Follow the tips below for healthier body… they WILL make your ochos better as well!

Space and movement in the hips and spine is something that many of us have lost with time. But you can definitely get some back with the exercises above

Only have the following tips in mind:

  • Find your own rhythm, maybe I am going to fast for you, slow it down if you need to
  • If at any time during the seated exercises you need to put your hands on the floor go for it, just don’t drop your weight on them
  • And if you a friendly wall for your adult ochos, go for that as well, balance also gets built with time
  • Focus not on how big of a twist you can create but on identifying all the movements your body is creating from the outside in, meaning from the skin all the way to the organs and the inside out from your breath, from your blood to your skin.
  • If you can’t twist as much, or can’t have the legs fully extended, that is OK! Not being flexible is not always bad same as being flexible is not always good. Look for safety, for smoothness and flow and flexibility will come with time.
  • Breathe! Yes I know you are doing that already…But breathe into every inch of your body and out of every cell.
  • Notice points of tension and see if you can get rid of it. I am saying if because sometimes that is not possible, no matter how much we might want it. But acknowledging it is the first step towards getting rid of it
  • Do your ochos noticing how the movements you explored in the exercises underlie them. Like the leg-hip-leg-body circuit we explored
  • Without changing any of your current habits, notice how these movements underlie your everyday life. Examine your comfort zone to become more aware of your movement, your limits and your potential

Aaaaand last but not least…. Have fun with it!

I want to take a quick second to thank Jeffrey Posner for the hips rotations he shared on instaInst that inspired this video!

Chrisa

P.S: if you like practices like this one, I think you will love this: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/

A 15min Tango practice on Ochos

Last week we used the gym to practice our Tango, twists and ochos

This week we will take a couple of those exercises and built a more Tango-y practice 

Notice a few NOT so profound details
  • There is a section of preparation, something like a warm-up in gym terms.

Do we really need a warm up?
For Tango not really, at least not for what we are doing today….
So why are doing it? Why are we not getting into our Tango stuff right away?
Well, a warm-up is always beneficial, not only for the body but also for the mind. It is an opportunity to notice how our body feels that day, what we need to be careful with and possibly what we need to focus on based on our goals, level, expectations, mood, past injuries etc.
So use those first few exercises to notice how you are feeling inside and out.

  • It is all connected..! 

Ok this is almost like a joke between me and my good friend Jill Newberry Evans for months any conversation we had would lead to: “It is all connected” until we decided to make a video of it.
And in our video too, from the warm-up to the ochos I am focused on connecting the dots…
Lets take posture as an example; to establish a good posture we need to work on flexion, extension, side bending and twisting of the spine and all of the above combined; and that is what we are doing with the very first exercise that feeds into establishing a strong but breathing posture for the 2nd exercise etc.
Or, to have a smooth dance, we need a smooth transition from walks to ochos so we try to build that in our practice as well; going from walks to walks with a cross to traveling ochos

  • Why traveling ochos?

Because they will allow us to experience the connection the ochos have to the walk.
Plus we should actually be using them more on the dancefloor. Compared to the “stationery”-left-to-right ochos they don’t create any traffic on the pista.

  • If you don’t like the way this practice is set up, using the tips above you can build your own practice.

Choose another exercise from last week’s video, pair it with any video on ochos from my channel on youtube or another teacher’s channel that you follow; making sure that it is a smooth match and it is helping you connect the dots.

Sooo that is it…! Send me your questions, feedback or video requests I would love to hear from you.
Please don’t get discouraged if I don’t get back to you right away you will be definitely hearing back from me; I read every email!

And join the Bautanz community for a fresh practice video every week!

Enjoy,

Chrisa

 

7 exercises for a more enjoyable twist

Coooome on lets twist again…..Oups different dance…!haha

I haven’t done a don’t-leave-the-gym-yet video in a long time, mostly because I haven’t been to the gym for some time…hmmmm…time to change that though.

Turn, twist and pivot

As you might have already gathered from the introduction… I am not really a regular to the gym…I like doing different activities, including going to the gym but I am not a gym freak…

With that being said, please don’t think of these exercises as the only exercises you will ever need, but as great opportunities.

Opportunities? You might wonder…

Yes opportunities for a multi-layered practice.
On a first level you can just do the exercises for a good workout.
Then on a second level you can trust me that they do actually have something to do with Tango
On a third you will think over each exercise and find the connecting thread with Tango
And on a fourth level you can identify the basic principles underlying the exercises and Tango and start exploring those principles in how your body moves generally
Lastly, on a fifth level you can acknowledge how these practices have changed your understanding of your movement, your body, yourself and your relationship with what is you and what is not you.
Etc…

You see..?

On level 5 the exercises don’t matter but at all, they can be any 7 exercise.
But guess what… level 5 doesn’t matter either if you skip all the other levels

And no no I am going to through the journey cliche at you….
You need action, you need a physical understanding of your body through movement to reach a mental and sensical understanding. We understand ourselves through movement not through mental pictures created by others externally.

So I encourage you to try these out notice what they do to your body and slowly make your way to level 5 and beyond..! But first you just have to do it!Haha

Enjoy,

Chrisa

P.S: If you want more videos like this one you can check: Don’t leave the gym yet

 

Tango as a tool towards a richer life

If this isn’t a path towards a richer life then what is…?
We stop “aloneness” becoming loneliness through our ability to form relationships. (…) You may ask what has this to do with Yoga, but I think it has everything to do with yoga. Our yoga practice, if preformed intelligently, is a self-exploration. We learn about the way in which we inhabit our bodies. (…) Slowly we can find more about ourselves(…) [we gain] a sense of being a more complete person (…) Friendships can broaden and deepen, and our capacity to love- the pinnacle of human achievement- becomes greater.(…) ” Pete Blackaby, “Intelligent Yoga
If you take out yoga and replace it with Tango or anything other activity you are passionate about, you will realize that you have more than enough tools to treat loneliness.
Maybe the time is not right just yet… or maybe you hadn’t thought about it this way…
Three weeks ago we were talking about loneliness and how it is not fair to you or to your community to treat loneliness with Tango.
Let’s dive right in today…
First, a vital distinction though between treatment and support
Our expectations are too high when we try to treat loneliness with Tango/ yoga/ any hobby.
But our expectations are levelled when we have pinned down the source of the problem, we have identified possible steps to take and we seek support from Tango/ yoga/ any other hobby.
I am going to use myself as an example. When I first came to Canada, I knew nobody of course.
I started teaching right away and I went to every milonga possible, making Tango my main and only pool of people.
What I didn’t factor in was:
  1. Your students can’t be your best friends it is unprofessional
  2. Entering a Tango or any other long established community is not really easy.  People are settled in groups and you only see them once or twice a week. Depending on your shy-levels it can take you from months to years.
I would go out, feeling uncomfortable because I always had to be careful with my students being around. Plus I couldn’t just ditch them to hang around with anybody else. And honestly, I was starting to feel comfortable despite the discomfort, of at least having a group.
The thing is if you don’t/ can’t make an effort torch out to people, they won’t dance with you, simply because they don’t know you. People like to dance with their friends; they are on a night out with their friends.
Very soon, I came to realize that:
  1. Being confident in your own country doesn’t guarantee you will be confident in another
  2. I wasn’t get asked to dance enough which made me feel left out and like i-wasn’t-good-enough.
And here an endless cycle begins where you go to the milonga, stick with your group; since you are not creating opportunities to meet more people, people are not asking you to dance which makes you feel undervalued and unworthy and so you are even more afraid of reaching out. Feeling lonely, even in the presence of other people, and frustrated you stop going to the milongas altogether, blaming the community for being unwelcoming and with a weird energy…
What does that even mean I don’t know..!haha
Now what was the one thing that could have saved me all this frustration…. but has nothing to do with Tango?
Can you find it?
“Create opportunities to meet more people, is the beginning to a richer life”
Being alone brings you in a very vulnerable state. The moment you find someone to hang out with, you settle, even if you know you shouldn’t.
THAT is where Tango or Yoga as we saw above, can play a supportive role but you have to make that change of mindset off the dance floor and outside of the dance school.
Practicing Tango/ other hobby in a way that allows you to explore yourself and grow your skills and your self-awareness is key to becoming more confident and projecting that confidence outward.
So aim on practicing not just for skill but for mindset.
Get to know and love yourself more and that will radiate outward and attract people who actually love to hang out with you.
On a more practical level, Tango is a rather safe environment compared to a work environment and so there you can try different social strategies, see which works best and then use them it to enter other social groups.
Of course the two pointers are interrelated. The better dancer and the more aware of your value you become, the easier it will be to approach strangers as you will know you have something to share.
You will feel more confident creating opportunities to meet new people but also a lot more powerful to nourish them.
Remember Tango is only a dance. But if you practice it intelligently it can become a powerful tool towards self-awareness, to self-love and to richer relationships.
Chrisa
P.S: Intelligent Tango is here: Intelligent Tango