Tag Archives: Argentine Tango teachers

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

“Find your passion. Find your love!” Veronica Toumanova

When I asked Veronica Toumanova what would be one phrase that she would like to write on a billboard she said to me:

“Find your passion. Find your love!” 

And then added a phrase of the great Eric Franklin:
“In dance the most important technique is the love of dance”

What I loved about my chat with Veronica Toumanova

You know between Toronto and Paris there is a time difference of 6 hours–they are ahead…! We got this chat set up for Sunday morning 8:30am… What you might not know is that I am not a morning person and that it was Greek Easter on Saturday so I got to bed rather early… in the morning…hahaha

If you are now thinking:
Boohoohoo! Poor Chrisa she didn’t get her beauty sleep..!

You are ABSOLUTELY right!
Because this lady gave me so much energy, so much inspiration, so much power and will and love that I am now empowered for months!

That is what I loved about our chat: her passion and her sharing personality, which I am sure all of you who have taken classes with her have already experienced.

So even though this is a bit longer than all the other Tango chats, I want to encourage you to listen to it, it will make time stop!

If you are looking for inspiration, for answers on why you are suffering in the milongas and classes, for how we learn and why you feel like you are progressing too slow and most importantly how you can keep going when the frustrating moments come..? Then I believe you won’t be disappointed.

So, click on the video above and enjoy!

Chat notes:

How you can reach Veronica Toumanova: www.verotango.com
or through Facebook: Veronica Toumanova
or through Tango Mon Amour: http://www.tangomonamour.com

Read her book “Why Tango”: https://www.amazon.com/Why-Tango-learning-dancing-argentino/dp/1517189470

El Corte milonga/ classes/ workshops: http://www.elcorte.com

Eric Franklin: https://franklinmethod.com

 

 

Timing is Everything

I got an Apple MacBook Pro… for Christmas

timing apple 2
picture by: techkoalas.com

Perfect gift! Perfect timing..!
Just look at those clean, fine lines. That great attention to detail.
This box is saying: “I am here to put your life in order”

Well… We are still getting to know each other…haha

timing apple

Timing is everything

I am sure I wouldn’t be able to truly appreciate such a gift a year ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have been super happy to get it last year, but I wouldn’t really be able to acknowledge the value of it and the possibilities it creates.

Timing is everything. NOW, I was ready for it!

What does all this have to do with Tango?

Think of that pair of Tango shoes that are just too high.
How about that Tango show you saw last year, that you found so boring..?
Do you remember thinking: “They are only walking”
Or that class with this big Tango teacher, everyone was going crazy about, but you felt it was a complete waste of your time…

Timing is everything..!

The truth is, you like me, were probably not ready for those super high heels or for that high end professional couple that visited your city or for that Tango teacher who has spent years and years mastering his/ her craft but all you thought you got was “really beginner stuff”

Timing, timing, timing…

THE biggest question you should ask yourselves

Why am I doing all this?

I am serious and I am not trying to play artistic here…
Seriously, answer this question

If your answer is: I don’t want to be a Pro I just want to enjoy my dances more!

Then WHY are you rushing?
Why are you not enjoying it every step of the way?
You are learning something new, have fun with it. Don’t rush.
When the timing is right, EVERYTHING will click, and believe me it will feel magical.
More magical than those fleeting moments of bliss you are now getting once in a while during your dances.
Simply, because they won’t be fleeting anymore, they will be here to stay!

If your answer is: To become a Pro..!

Then always remember, THAT is a never ending journey.
The moment you say to yourself: “I did it… I am great… I don’t need to improve anymore…” You have lost.

So again work hard, actually no… work harder… BUT still enjoy the journey!

Chrisa,

P.S: And because I know you too well… And I know, part of you is fully agreeing with me, but another part is saying: “Does it have to take this long..?” haha

No it doesn’t have to take this long… Join Bautanz and we can practice together. I make it my mission to send you weekly fun, fresh, and focused practices that can propel you forward!
A few ideas: https://bautanz.com/argentine-tango-technique/musicality/

Ready to CRUSH 2018, on the dance floors?

via GIPHY

!HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Have you set up your dance resolutions yet for 2018?
If not, why don’t we all boldly state: we are going to CRUSH 2018?!?!

You think I am joking?
Let me tell you, I am dead serious!

I know I am not dancing as much as I used and as much as I would like to dance… And unfortunately, we all know there are many people like me around

It might be because of the winter— I hate the cold, it makes me miserable.
Or the economy, it is true, things are getting tighter as time goes by….
And some people feel they don’t really have any incentive to go out dancing— unwelcome communities, repetitive playlists, unsurprising dance invites etc etc

Think for a moment our grandparents… They lived through tougher winters, economic crisis and plenty unavoidable annoying neighbours… They were dancing way more, they were getting together a lot more… hahaha… Right?

So what happened..?

Are we a generation that doesn’t like to dance that much…?

Some people blame the big cities, some people social media but could it be that we are a generation of no- dancers..?

Let’s take a moment to look at Scientific American and their article about why people dance:

Scientists aren’t sure why we like movement so much, but there’s certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest we get a pretty big kick out of it. Maybe synchronizing music, which many studies have shown is pleasing to both the ear and brain, and movement—in essence, dance—may constitute a pleasure double play”

Interestingly enough even when you are watching someone else dance your brain’s movement areas are activated…

“(…) if you’re watching someone dance, your brain’s movement areas activate; unconsciously, you are planning and predicting how a dancer would move based on what you would do

And we can’t ignore the psychological benefits of dance.

As Psychology Today notes in this article that dance is a necessary and unavoidable human action. Humans dance because they CAN and because they NEED to.

“(…) sensory awareness that changes us. We are now the person who made that move. When such an impulse courses through us, it relates us to ourselves and our worlds in a new way. It aligns, it touches, it frees. It is dance(…)”
“(…) We humans are movement. We are the movement that is making us able to think and feel and act at all (…)”
“(…) understanding of dance as human, also provides us with ways of evaluating whether and how a given technique or tradition is helping people learn to move in life-enabling ways. (…)”
“(…)If dance and movement in general, is a vital part of what we describe as human nature, are we then doing something wrong..?(…)”

Are we missing something here..?

I think we are really missing something here…

We all love Tango, we all know and have felt the benefits of dance. And yet we don’t seek out to dance more…
Most of us won’t experience the milonga as a response to a natural calling… BUT

WHAT, the REAL Tango dancers do..! Or…
As an opportunity to practice, to get our dances in
Or possibly as a way to escape our reality

Don’t get me wrong, practicing, learning the Argentinian culture and being able to let free on the dance floor, ALL are vital elements for your progress as dancers.

On the dance floor though you DANCE, you don’t torture yourself trying to go by the rules.
You make the culture part of your life, instead of wearing like a tall-hat once a week.
Lastly, why make a milonga just a place to escape reality… When like any artistic moment it is one of the greatest opportunities for us to SHAPE reality.

This is how we CRUSH 2018!

Teachers, performers and organizers aim to create opportunities for dance to be shared with as many people as possible.

Dancers make every milonga a social hub, a true community.
One that shares and offers, that changes and evolves, that listens and observes. A community that is TRUTHFUL and OPEN and HONEST and INSPIRING!

Share your thoughts on all this even if you think it sucks..! Right here… with the  Bautanz community

Happy New Year! Lets CRUSH 2018!

Chrisa

P.S: “Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought” Henry David Thoreau— Walden

Meet my mentor, Ermis Karaboulas

I met Ermis Karaboulas years ago and I learned a lot from him as he is my first Tango teacher.

Today I want to share with you a glimps of his valuable knowledge along with a few tools that can help you find your own mentor.

“Tango is  a couples dance; if you learn one role, you only know half of it”Ermis Karaboulas

Quick intro so you can get a bit of perspective…
When I started Tango I had no particular interest in the dance itself… I had done some American Ballroom in the past but really not any particular interest in Tango per say.

So, I wasn’t one of those people loved and hoped, and dreamed and wished they could learn this dance of passion.
I was simply someone who loved to dance and loved Argentina. So in my head the easiest way to get closer to Argentina from Greece was to learn the Argentine Tango.

When I saw a poster on the door of a dance school advertising Tango lessons I persuaded a friend to join me and we just signed up.
We didn’t do any reasearch on the best dance school or the best teacher or the different Tango styles, we just went for it…

Hell! I didn’t even know you had to wear normal clothes… My first class, I was like I came out from the 70s! haha

But when we got started, I still remember thinking: “I really want to learn this dance and I am going to learn it with him”.

Afterwards, we found out from all our dancing friends that he was in fact the best in town..!

So, yes, Tool #1  to find your mentor: Listen to your gut! Trust your instinct!

Who’s Ermis Karaboulas?

Currently he is the founder and teacher of Tango Project, a three year Tango training program, that brings together the practises of Tango, Qigong, Yoga and the rules of anatomy and Kinesiology.

(Anybody who has followed Bautanz knows that we are all about understanding and building movement patterns, so you can see how even from a far this person is still a teacher to me)

He has been teaching Tango and other dances for many years and has an extensive background in dance, martial arts, music and chinese medicine studies.

In all he has helped a great amount of students all over Greece and other countries, embody the basic principles of Tango and grow into dancers with curious minds, expanding movement vocabularies and distinct personal dance style.

With no further a do, Ermis Karaboulas

When I started taking classes with you, you taught different dances, and not only Tango. How did you decide to stay in Tango and not follow Salsa?

Ermis: When I started learning Salsa and Tango, music wise I preferred Salsa but dance wise I preferred Tango. As time went by and as my knowledge on Tango music expanded, I started to understand it better, appreciate and like it. I think this is the reason why I decided to stay in Tango.

You don’t only have a great experience in other dances, but also in martial arts. Did that help you with Tango, and if so, how?


Ermis:
Absolutely! I was in martial arts from a very young age and that  helped me develop my physical abilities. That, along with extensive musical studies, made Tango rather easy for me. Being able to progress rapidly thrilled me, and kept me going.
Martial arts gave me great body awareness and control over body movement. Let me give you an example; The last few years the term “center” is used a lot in Tango. The term is eminent in the eastern martial arts. In Tango, in my opinion, they present as something simple and easy for any dancer to tap into. It is, in reality, rather demanding for someone–who has only been taught Tango–to deeply understand the meaning of the term. Besides, we have been exploring biomechanics through Tango for a few decades while energy techniques such as Qigong have been looking into the human body for more than 2 millennia.

You studied chinese medicine recently, what led you to that decision? What did chinese medicine teach you about the human body and how do you apply that knowledge to Tango    

Ermis: I was to led to study chinese medicine through Tai Chi. Through chinese I gained a different understanding of how energy flows in the human body. Making use of that knowledge along with eastern energy techniques, one has the opportunity to manage that energy in various ways, at different levels and in various activities–Tango is one of them of course.

You have experienced various pivotal moments and shifts in your career. How do you manage change and how is that connected to your philosophy about Tango?

Ermis: My philosophy about Tango is not any different than my philosophy about life. Therefore, I believe that changes do not need management. I accept them and I keep on going.

And so here we are, with Tango Project. What is Tango Project exactly?
Ermis: It is a series of workshops, timely structured in three years of study. The one vital characteristic of Tango Project, is that students train in both roles–leading and following–in order to gain well-rounded knowledge of the dance.
As I like to say: “Tango is a couples dance, if you only know one role, you only know half of it”

There were 2 key observations, that sparked the idea. One from my own training and the other from the Tango community.
Since I was a student, I trained in both roles. It was later on that I realized how much that had helped me. I gained a better understanding of the dance along with a better understanding of what my partner expected of me.
On the other hand, every time I went to milongas I would see followers show up, change their shoes and leave without getting to dance. The reasons might vary for every case, but for me that was saddening, and so I thought things might change if they learned how to lead.
In Tango Project therefore everybody learns to lead and follow.
They learn to accept the duality of human nature and effectively communicate better in the dance, through understanding their partner in the best way possible; by putting themselves in their shoes.

The teaching of Tango Project follows the rules of anatomy and kinesiology and incorporates knowledge from Qigong and Yoga. 

That allows for the kinetic behaviour of Tango to be perceived to the fullest. It is much easier, in this way, for the basic principles of Tango to be  introduced to an untrained dancing body; While, advanced dancers have the opportunity to enhance their personal styles by discovering “tools” that broaden their interpretation of the dance
Ultimately, each student acquires a well-rounded knowledge of Tango, and of course, they are able to dance and enjoy themselves in a milonga, regardless of their gender, dancing as a leader or as a follower.

You are not only teaching though, you are doing shows as well. What are you looking for in a dance during a show and what in dance during a milonga?

ErmisI am deeply satisfied in a show when I manage to offer pleasure to the people watching. When I dance in a milonga though, what I am looking for is a giving, a sharing embrace.

Is there a song, you just can’t resist dancing to?

Ermis: Not in one particular song but surely to specific composers, D’Arienzo and Pugliese

I remember once you said to me: “I will go where there are people who want to learn Tango” and that is what you have done for many years. How has that affected your progress in Tango and your life outside of Tango?

Ermis: My teaching has surely been greatly influenced. Through these many years that I’ve been traveling I’ve had the joy to meet many new people of different temperaments and cultures–different relative to me and to each other. Thanks to the broad and heterogeneous audience, I learned to adjust my teaching so I can be understood by everyone. Plus, I discovered what it is that brings people together, no matter where they are coming from. Inevitably, the frequent moving means that I spend a lot of time in some sort of means of transport … Over time this becomes more tiring, but I have gotten used to this way of life.. (hahaha)

When you are not teaching or dancing, what do you like to do? How do you spend the valuable free time that you get?

Ermis: In my free time I truly enjoy doing nothing… I read a lot, bicycle and watch movies.

Is there one or more people whose work has inspired your work and your philosophy, someone who you’ve been following?

Ermis: The dancer who influenced my initial decision whether I want to continue dancing Tango or do something else, was Pablo Verón. My philosophy was generally influenced by several philosophers (hahaha) – and not Tangueros. Today, of course, I think I only follow my love for what I do in ways that express my own experiences.

What advice would you give your beginner, your intermediate and your advanced self?

Ermis: To the beginner: “Observe”, to the intermediate: “Think” and to the advanced: “Don’t think”

If we had a huge board here now, and you could write one phrase, what would it be?

Ermis: Observe without thinking

What does your schedule look like for now, any planned classes and shows, and how can someone contact you?

Ermis: Till July 2018 every weekend is dedicated to Tango Project, with workshops running in different cities in Greece. There are also a few festivals and workshops that I will be participating, in Greece and other countries. Anyone can reach me through my profile on Facebook and through the Tango Project page of course.

Ermis Karaboulas: https://www.facebook.com/panagiotis.karaboulas.7

Tango Project: https://www.facebook.com/TangoProject

How to choose a good mentor?

Tool#2: Find out their perspective on change
Tool#3: Find out their perspective on Tango 

Look for people who embrace change, you grow and evolve.
Avoid people who believe they know the “REAL” Argentine Tango.
Look for people who have learned different styles and have approached movement and Tango through diverse paths
Avoid people who are egoistic, who are not  curious. And look for people who ask more questions than the answers they give.
Look for people who inspire and challenge their students. And people who build communities and not just good dancers.

That is a good start for a Monday don’t you think?

Tell me about your teachers in the comments, below!

Chrisa

 

 

Dancing and the Fear of making mistakes

Hi, Chrisa here,

I was teaching a beginner’s class last Thursday. At the end of the class I said to the leaders: “Practice this little routine, but don’t worry if you make a mistake… Tango is improvisational! Routines don’t matter, they are just tools”

I look at them and as I expected (after having said and heard THAT same phrase for years) they are looking at me like this:

via GIPHY

hahaha
In the past I would have gone through all these terrible and overused cliches, you find on the internet:
“There are no mistakes in Tango, only surprises”
“You must embrace the opportunity mistakes create”
“Mistakes are a way to success”

Instead I said something a lot more reassuring:
“You know what, I know I just made this even worse. I know you just want me to give a sequence, ask you to practice it a million times and send you off to the dance floors of the world reassured…. We will learn sequences, many beautiful sequences. BUT when you start making mistakes while practicing, remember IT DOESN’T MATTER!”

A mistake is NOT failure, it is a LESSON

The truth is we all hate making mistakes.
It is not really the mistake itself, but everything else around it.
The confrontation, having to start over, not knowing how to fix it and looking stupid…

The problem is, mistakes are unavoidable. They are bound to happen…
It is not a matter of if but when you are going to make a mistake.

So the best way to deal with them is to prepare for them, first, mentally.

Making a mistake DOESN’t mean you are a failure. It will only become a failure if you give up.

So with that in mind let’s see how we can prepare and bounce back from mistakes.

Action Step#1: Keep a record

When you are practicing keep a record of it.
I used to take notes. Writing down everything that was happening during my practice
Recording what exercises I did, with what intention and how I executed them.
I wrote down what worked, what didn’t and what changes I made for it to work. How the movement felt before and after the change… Everything!

This is actually how I came up with Intelligent Tango

Now I use a camera as well, but that notebook, and 2 more after that, have been my faithful friends during for many years

How that helped me?
Anytime I made a mistake and felt lost, I could go and trace my way back to where I started from and find possible mistake points which I would then revisit, and attempt to fix them.

Action Step#2: Mistakes turned into sequences

Our biggest fear, especially as leaders is that we will not be able to lead our partner, we will ruin the other person’s dance and we will end up looking like fools in front of everybody.

Be proactive!
Take any sequence. Practice it the same way you learned it in class. Then think of all the possible mistakes that can happen, and use them one by one to create a new sequences.

This is how I got the idea for these 2 videos on Improvisation:
Argentine Tango Improvisation #1
Argentine Tango Improvisation#2

And this is a great practice for followers too, as they can have a better idea of the many different paths a leader can choose from during the dance.

Action Step#5: Practice Smart–>Combining Tango drills to an activity you are very good at

Bet on diversity

Tango might still be “Under Construction” for you but there are other activities you are really good at.
Maybe you are doing other dances, or swimming or martial Arts… All these activities have ONE thing in common they are all MOVEMENT.

Find things that all of them have in common and focus on them while doing your activity.
For example say you want to practice your back steps and you are really fit because you love exercising.

Instead of just walking around the room getting frustrated because you are loosing your balance or you are breaking your posture… Make a COMBO of a Tango drill and fitness, like this:
Argentine Tango Technique– Don’t leave the gym yet

While you are doing an activity you are good at, you can notice the details of the movement that are valuable for your Tango progress. Then you take those details and you use them while doing your Tango drills.

This way you will shorten the frustration period and save yourself from going around in circles, because you will know what you are looking for!

Action Step#4: Build a good a network of teachers you can reach for advice

So first of all, talk to your teachers local or visiting. Reach out to them, ask them questions, use their suggestions in your practice AND follow up with them.

Every teacher wants to work with people who care. Show your teacher that you care and then they will share all their resources with you.

Be careful though, you don’t want to take advantage of them.
This is where your records can be of great help.

  • Make notes of your teacher’s suggestions– their actual words, not what you think they said, classic mistake
  • Compare what they are saying on a matter to your experience so far
  • Practice in the way they suggested. Make notes of the experience
  • Compare the before and after
  • Talk to your teacher, presenting specific actions and results.

The more specific and clear your questions are, the easier it will be for your teacher to guide you.

Lastly, offer something back. Now this doesn’t have to be some monetary exchange, but maybe you can find an interesting article on something you know your teacher would enjoy. Or a book or a video of another dancer you found interesting.

I have gotten book suggestions, TED talk suggestions, practice videos even movies sent to me by students and I love it!

I am sure your teacher will appreciate it too!

Action Step#5: Find a community that supports experimentation and diversity

Learning Tango is one thing. Having a community, a group of people you can rely to when you make a mistake and you feel stuck is something different.

I am sure you can find teachers who create a inclusive spirit in their classes if you look for people, who:

There is no way you can avoid mistakes… But you can at least build system that will allow you to predict them, prepare for them and swiftly bounce back from them.

We can be there for you if you want us to, just join the community of bautanz.com by subscribing below..!