Tag Archives: musicality

Musicality Vs Technique–One of the most common Tango debates

Usually we see Tango technique classes being offered separately from musicality classes and that is not a bad approach, on the contrary, as long as it is not the ONLY approach.

Sometimes you need to put the 2 together..!

Like Joey in Friends:

musicality together
Joey Tribbiani, Friends

hahaha

Musicality OR Technique– Put your hands together!

Remember the last video we did on Ochos- Realign from toe to HEAD

There we were being very technical, focused on finding the proper alignment for our heads.
We were going slow, giving ourselves time to notice what we are missing, what we know and how the details are feeling. Because this is indeed part of how we learn.

At the same time though you need to put things into perspective.
Why are we doing all this?
To enjoy our dance more!

How is that going to happen?
If we manage to put this new technique element into our dance!

Is this difficult to do?
Yes, most of the times it is. Anything new takes some time to sync in… To make the process faster you need to practice THAT new element with… MUSIC

And so with no further ado, here is your video:

Have a prism- based practice

The cool thing about this, is that you have more than one options on how to execute it.

You can keep your focus on both musicality and technique–like I am doing in the video, or move closer towards one end or the other.
If want to work more on musicality, using the same drills, you can change songs and notice which option best matches the song you are listening to each time
Whereas, if you want to focus more on technique then you can choose ONE song that you know well, and that is NOT too fast, and possibly spend more time going slower than faster to give yourself time to work out the technical details.

And of course you can mix and match. You can go through the same drill a couple of times, shifting your focus accordingly, keeping your practice fresh and interesting!  Making something like a Tango cross- training system!  Haha

What to do after every practice, for better results

This is something most dancers, miss… Tracking their progress..!

Whether you are working on musicality or technique or improvisation or partnering or anything else for that matter you need to find a suitable way to track your progress.

After every practice take a few minutes to think how, what you just did, can help you in your very next milonga.
Take a few moments to think of how it made you feel, to recognize your emotional, psychological and physical state before and after your practice. And lastly try to notice if you did better than last time…!

There is really NO point going through different drills without tracking whether you are in fact getting better and feeling better–that is a vital part of an artistic practice– and  without making the connection with real-time dancing.
If you are practicing and you are getting more overwhelmed, more frustrated, more unaware, more unable to put those things in your dance… Then what is the point?

Keep it real, keep it interesting, keep it fresh and keep it fun!

Chrisa

P.S: Want more on musicality? Visit: https://bautanz.com/argentine-tango-technique/musicality/

My Tango community is so unwelcoming… or it might be just me

“It might be just me, but I really feel that the Tango community here is not very forgiving. And it is actually a bit unwelcoming..!” Many many people

Classic NPS case!
New to the Playground Syndrome

What is NPS or New to the Playground Syndrome?

New in the Playground Syndrome, is a Tango disorder. The patient relives the scariest childhood experience—aka walking into the playground without mommy, daddy or a friend.

It is typically associated with awkwardly walking in the milongas, not talking/ dancing with anyone other than his/her group/ partner and wishing that somebody else will make the first move to come and greet them.

It is something almost ALL beginners will experience and plenty of other-level dancers when entering a new community.

I should send this in to Wikipedia and make it a thing! Hahaha

But first… lets explore the most common cures for NPS, why they usually don’t work and what you should do instead!

The most common cures to NPS and why they usually fail
  1. Don’t rush to hit the milongas. Wait until the time is right..!
  2. Stick to the practica/ milonga of your school
  3. Make a new practice/ milonga that is going to be better than all the others
  4. Try to persuade oneself that he/ she is NOT really interested in dancing but mostly learning— it can be true, but you probably know that before you even start taking classes…

Why these common cures do NOT usually work?
Well, simply because they try to avoid the problem than fix it.

Let’s start with #4: I don’t really like social dancing, I mostly enjoy the classes, learning the Tango

Most people, want to learn a/ another dance and that is how the end up in Tango. Maybe they saw it in a movie or in Dancing with the Stars and it looked interesting…

How did you start Tango?

If it was something similar to the reason above, and it wasn’t because you were on mission to discover the fundamental relationship underlying the development of perception—aka the dialogue between movement and touch… mmmm

I am pretty sure you are in it for the dance.

So stop wasting your time trying to persuade yourselves that you don’t care about social dancing, because that in itself will bring more bitterness and frustration.
As your knowledge and Tango vocabulary grows, the feeling of all of it being pointless will grow along with it. At some point, you will have no real incentive to keep learning.

Same goes with #2: Stay in your own playground…

We all know deep down why that is problematic. You are only dancing with same people, who know the same sequences as you, following a specific style of dancing and music.

After a while you are on autopilot. There is NO challenge which inevitably leads to 0 progress.

And I know what you are now saying to yourselves…
“Buuuut all these other places the music is not that good and the dancers are a bit snobbish, the space is not well- arranged, the host is obnoxious” …  And all that jazz!

How do I know? Hahah

Because I have said those EXACT same things myself!

No place was good enough for me… Until I realized that all these other places where perfectly fine but I was just too comfortable were I was and afraid to exit my comfort zone…
I mean they do call it comfort zone for a reason! Hahaha

But if you want to keep getting better, you need to step out of it!

So we are left with 2 more cures…

#1: Wait for the opportune time to go the milonga..!

And I ask you this; How can you tell?
And say, ok… your teacher will tell when it is the right time to go—if they are not involved in the crazy Tango politics that is…

But do we really want to make this grade 5 or a work environment were if you do your home work or if you work hard enough you get A+ or a promotion?

That is why I think this doesn’t really work… because it brings in the very ONE thing we are ALL looking to escape from when picking an artistic hobby— running after performance goals!

And
#3: Doing YOUR very own event that is going to be better than any other event in town…

EVERY beginner in the world has thought and/ or attempted to set up an event that would shake the WHOLE Tango scene to its foundation..!

Even the person writing this article, thought that her ideas were so unique. That she was of the very few artistic and courageous dancers to lead the change in her Tango community..! UNSUCCESSFULLY! Hahaha

Not because people sabotaged me but because I was an idiot!

So this one doesn’t usually work, for a number of reasons:

  1. What WE think is better, might not be better for everybody else.
  2. We have no idea on how to actually host an event and we don’t even ask anyone who has done it before.
  3. If we ask for people’s opinion, we usually ask people we know will agree with us OR fail to really listen to their feedback.
How to cure New to the Playground Syndrome

After extensive research, endless talks with leaders and followers and some s****y experiences of my own this is what I would do if I was a beginner again:

  1. I would ask my teacher what is the biggest mistake a beginner makes when starting to dance the Tango socially.
  2. Ask my teacher what are the fundamental elements of Tango
  3. Find out who are the best Tango professionals to look out for
  4. At the end of each class I would ask him/ her how what we did can be used on the dance floor.
  5. I would make notes of what we did, how they fit the fundamentals and how avoided or not the common mistake in class
  6. Watch A LOT of videos of high end Tangueros- as, OBSERVING. Not copying, or trying to learn sequences but observing their dance and noting anything that I find interesting
  7. Go to the milongas after maximum a month. BUT I wouldn’t participate, I would only OBSERVE. The etiquette, the rules, the mood, the atmosphere… Everything!
  8. I would try to spot or ask the person at the door or the organizer who are the best dancers in the room and focus on them
  9. If I had the opportunity I would chat with them in a very relaxed way about their experience so far—not for technique, or drills or anything like that… keep things general and cool
  10. Go to different milongas and repeat those same steps for a good period of time.
  11. Chat with my teacher and fellow dancers about all the things I have found interesting, from week to week.
  12. Ask good questions and give sincere and good quality feedback.
  13. After a while Video tap myself… REALITY CHECK! haha

If I came for a different dance community or another city/ country where we had some different layout for the milongas which I thought it would work. THIS is what I would do:

  1. I would first examine the constraints and obstacles closely. Being brutally honest with myself, see if by changing my attitude towards the obstacles can actually make your experience better.
  2. Talk to the organizers about hosting events. How do they do it, what troubles have they been facing, what they have tried in the past, what worked and what didn’t, how did they even end up doing what it is that they are doing… LISTEN very closely BUT take everything you hear with a grain of salt
  3. Chat with dancers—other than your friends—and tell them in full detail your idea. Look for their REACTION to it.
    If they say: “Yeah great idea…” Don’t do it… They won’t even show up.
    But if they say something: “OMG! Are you in my head, I have been thinking about something like this for days. So how to WE start, how can I help”
    THAT is true hope that your idea might actually be able to stand..!
  4. And maybe instead of doing something NEW, try to help something older get better..!

So, I don’t mean to discourage you, on the contrary I want  you to see your community with different eyes.

Aside from the constraints there is always room for more creativity, for more freedom and a lot more fun.

It is up to YOU though to see past the constraints, to create opportunities, to chat with people, to give and learn from your community before you earn from it—not necessarily in a monetary way of course.

Many of the obstacles, are things you have some control over as well.

Like the Cabeceo

Or building up your social skills in general: Networking your way through Festivals

Maybe building up your improvisational skills, to grow your vocabulary without learning new steps: Lets Improvise

Or becoming better in musicality, so you can enjoy your dances more AND give more to your partner even if you have only been dancing for 6 months: Musicality MORE than just steps on the beat

There are many things YOU can do TODAY that can transform your experience in the milongas

And as a subscriber of Bautanz you get even more tools for physical and mental transformation, the only thing you need to do is join us..!

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..!

 

 

 

 

Moving Fast in Tango means more than just walking fast…

Moving Fast….

via GIPHY

Maybe not quick as Flash… haha… but fast enough to causes us trouble

So most people, after they manage to extablish a connection with their partner, moving at a regular pace is rather comfortable for them.
And it is usually going faster or slower or changing their speed during the song, that they can’t really control all that well, and that messes their dance and connection up.

So this drill goes somewhat like this…
You will start at a pace that YOU feel comfortable with.
Don’t put any music on, for now.
Instead, start with a speed and a rhythm you feel comfortable with, that you have control over.

The biggest mistake most people make is starting from the rules, starting from where they should be instead of, from where they are.

So start from where you are, and most importantly start paying attention. Start listening!

2 things to look for here:

  1. How the rhythm of your walk matches the rhythm of your breath
  2. Take your mind to different parts of your body and notice how they are moving. Your spine, your head, your hips, your shoulders, your hands, your naval, everything
Moving Fast doesn’t just mean walking fast

This is a very important shift of mindset that you need to create.

Most people have problems, moving fast, because they believe that they only need to move their feet fast.
In reality though, you need to practice on moving your whole body fast through space.

So what usually happens, to most dancers is that they are having a great dance and when they attempt to move a bit faster, they tense up and become robots again.
Or exactly the opposite, there are some people who can move their feet fast enough without tensing up, but they are still missing on the experience of moving their WHOLE body fast, which makes them tense up when they try to slow down.

So as you are practising your walk, find your inner rhythm, notice how that inner rhythm organizes/ directs your body’s movement, and then attempt to change your speed.

When you start to feel confident with this it is time to add the music!
And as you will hear me say in the video, find a song that you like WHICH though starts slow and builds up in speed.

So with no further a do, here is your video:

And if you want more musicality, subscribe to Bautanz to get the Musicality Guide Vol.#1 and other Tango goodies along with that

Enjoy,
Chrisa

 

 

Musicality means embodying the music NOT just being on beat

Last week’ s “failed” Instagram Live attempt (haha) was followed by some beautiful comments such as:

(…) And finally, how do I recognize THAT dancer in my partners? Well, the embrace is the first thing, but also musicality and emotion… but I could write an entire essay for each questionVladana (through Tangofolly)

Musicality as a way to connect

Have you ever had one of those dances where the tanda ends, your feet have stopped moving but you’re still dancing?
Where you and your partner are in sync, hearing the music in the same way!
As a leader, every pausa you made, your partner had the perfect embellishment ready.
And as a follower, you felt that your leader was reading your mind, that pausa coming in at the perfect moment and you finishing it off with the perfect touch.

Aaaah! Magic!

If only it was always that way…

Why isn’t it though?

The biggest mistake most people make with musicality, is making it all about the beat… They are usually satisfied with doing steps on the beat, and therefore their musical exploration ends short, before it even gets started.

Don’t get me wrong here, finding the beat is a great place to start BUT it is only the beginning, and not the end of the journey.
I am sure you’ve heard people saying things like: “I don’t feel the music” or “I don’t feel musical” or “I think my dance is boring” or “My partner is boring..” haha

Then what did these people do?
They ran for more tactics. They took private classes. Maybe went to workshops with big big names for  embellishments, technique, musicality.
If they were anything like me, they probably went to their teacher, local dj and youtube and got every song of the Golden era to listen to.
And then of course they probably learned new sequences on those songs.

And what happened?
It worked… Their dance got way better… Technically speaking! Of course!
But they are still not feeling the music. They haven’t grabbed the essence of it. Their dance doesn’t have the taste of it!
Which makes every dance feel the same, first to their partners and then to them…

How do I know?

Because I did all of those things and I still felt that there was something missing! And, you have probably been there as well..!

What can we do instead?

The goal of this video is to give you an idea on how to practice musicality… Not focusing on technique though, but on how you can match the rhythm of your movement, the rhythm of your body, with the music.
Instead of starting from the feet, we start from the body and take the rhythm down to the feet…

That is not all though…

As you will see in the video, there is a lot of exaggeration  needed..!
Don’t hold back…This is an exercise…Go ALL IN! And have fun with it!
You don’t dance Tango like that… haha
BUT here, you want to move your body to the music before you start Tango-ing.

There is a transition gab though…a secret ingredient..!
An ingredient that can help you create movement in your body–from a simple shift of weight to the most ellaborate Tango move–in an efficient, enjoyable way,  which will set your mind free so you can be creative on the music, with the music in the moment.

As every good chef, I have shared this secret ingredient with my readers… You can get it too, along with other Tango goodies after you subscribe to bautanz.com… 😉

Hope to see you there!
Chrisa