Tag Archives: social dancing

I was almost right..! Is this the best way to communicate?

Communication some times can be tricky! Especially when it is in a dance where we mainly communicate in body language and not verbally.

So here is how this post came to be. It is actually a funny story though it involves a doctor, and it goes like this.
I met with a friend after her doctor had called to say that it wasn’t an emergency she needed to face after all. Only he didn’t say “I was wrong”. He actually said “I was almost right!” only he wasn’t right at all… haha
Good news for my friend and a very interesting situation for anyone working on communication skills.

Mis-communication in a dance

I am sure you have been in a similar situation, where the other person sort of admits they were wrong. Either by saying “I wasn’t entirely right” or even worse “I was wrong but you …. (fill-in the gap with something equally wrong you did)”

In dance the same verbal communication can take place sometimes but physical cues are more common. There can be a power battle between the partners. In such cases nobody enjoys the tanda even if they managed to get things to go their way.

The issue though is not to explore who is right and who is wrong in a given situation. The issue here is to see how we can communicate better.

So think of the last time, that you had this mis-communication with your dance-partner. Maybe it was a different perspective on the music, or they led something and you did something else or vice versa.
How was that expressed? And what happened next?

Where you pushing and pulling on each other for the rest of the song? Did you use some leading or back-leading trick to correct the situation? How did your partner respond? And did any of you accept responsibility? Did you let go of the tension and admitted in body language that the other was right?

It is not a very easy thing to do actually, especially as you are improvising. But maybe now, after the fact, you can explore the situation. There is actually a simple exercise you can do.
List 10 circumstances where you felt that you were wrong but instead you acted as if you were almost right. And then 10 circumstances where your partner was wrong and again they acted as if they were almost right.

It might subtle. And it could only have been for a moment and then you changed back to your ordinary sweet self..! 😉
But think back to uncomfortable or even painful dances you have had. Bring back to your memory nasty milonga nights, or frustrating practices and/ or classes. See if somewhere in there you reacted or you were faced with the attitude above.

How to communicate instead

Now as you know, I really like to share some practical advice to a problem. At least, share thoughts on options that one can explore in order to make their Tangos more enjoyable.

This is not an easy one, but I will do my best to share some thoughts. I hope you will find them helpful!

If you have the “It takes You to Tango” guide, you can find in there some tips on how to handle situations in the social environment of a milonga. This specific situation was not clearly included therein. There is though a note on leaving in the middle of the tanda. Let’s start from this “extreme” option.

As you will see in the book, from my perspective, leaving someone on the dance floor is to be reserved for extreme situations. Situations where you are in pain, or you are in extreme discomfort and you feel this is harmful to you.

Though it is not the option to use all the time, have it at your back pocket for emergency situations. Still though, there is a way to do it. No need for drama!
Simply saying “thank you” will do the trick most of the times. In the rare, you might need to add a “I need to take a break”.

Now lets look at other options, that may come a bit more handy

Here are a couple, from my personal experiences on the dance floor:

  • Firstly, especially if I am dancing with friend, I simply say “sorry”. Quite obvious but an easy way to communicate that I was wrong.
  • Once I realize a mistake, I try to get where my leader wants me to be in an embellished way. Adding a gentle giggle, if you are that kind of a person, can also work.
  • In cases where the other person has messed up, I usually follow the previous pointer. Making a little moment out of the mistake always releases the tension. Plus you might actually come up with a new move after some refinement.
  • Further to the above, when a leader actually whispers “sorry”. Respond with an embellishment or make something out of the “mistake”; it shows kindness.
  • Where we are not talking about a mistake but a necessary adjustment, for example speed or orientation etc. we need to keep the dialog open through the embrace. Leaders will need to listen to followers. Followers will need to be able to communicate a message to their leaders. For example, if you are about to bump into someone behind you. Followers use the embrace to stop your leader from taking a back step. Or if the leader is going too fast for you; use the embrace and maybe even an embellishment to show that a change in speed is necessary. Leaders listen to your followers!
  • For cases where I can feel tension building, because of lack of communication, personally I choose to let it pass. I prefer not to continue the power struggle so I adjust to make it work no matter who is right. Then when the tanda ends I can decide whether or not to dance with that person again.

So those are my ways to communicate with my partners. I am sure that you have probably discovered many others that have worked for you. The main element here though is when you are wrong admit it and work with your partner to fix it. When you are right don’t hold a grudge and work with your partner to fix it. Painful or uncomfortable situations excluded of course.

Chrisa

The element of Surprise

Surprise! Don’t you miss it?
I know I am speaking only for myself here, but here is the thing, I feel that even if we went to the same milongas every week, there was always the element of surprise. We didn’t know who was going to be there, what music would be playing, which song we will be invited to dance to, how our partner is going to dance to the tanda… And as you can see I left out not knowing who your partner will be because that is something you actually have a choice on. There are so many things in a milonga that are complete mysteries!

Surprise… how do you respond to it?

Now, in contradiction, days have become quite predictable, in our everyday life. I don’t know about you but, I am in an area where there is a lockdown, so my day is predetermined most days of the week.

So there is not much of a surprise, but mostly stressors, like a nasty email, or bad news on TV. Depending on your environment the stressors might actually be part of the day. So somehow all days mesh together… where did 2020 go?

I really miss those social surprises… Going out and having a____(fascinating, unexpected, fun, strange, interesting, boring… you fill in the blank) dance wondering what the next one will be like..! And honestly, I don’t think I can keep it a secret anymore, I don’t want to practice anymore! haha
Not though because practicing is pointless, but because there is something else missing and it is not skill.

Hey! I know there is always skill to be acquired, but there will be time to practice on that later… Surprise though and how we/ I respond to it, has been missing for a long time now.
What will urge us/ me to get off the chair/ couch/ bed whatever you spend most of your day sitting on.

So I thought we could work on this theme last week during our Mid-Week Tango Practice

Finding New Patterns

The great thing though about “indulging” in surprise is that you can capture feedback, on how you respond to a surprise. How does your body react to an unknown piece of music? Do you tense up or do you go with flow? Are you moving slower or faster? Is it frustrating and why? If it is frustrating how do you get past the frustration? Were there any reactions that surprised you?

All of these and more questions can lead us to so many more options for movement. And as we are about to jump head first into discovering something new….our habits hit the breaks! And so another series of questions starts… What habits do you recognize? For how many of those do you have a recollection of how they were established? Do you need them all? Are they all helpful? Would you consider leaving some of them for a bit to explore more movement options?

All these questions and more can lead us to deeper and more surprising explorations! And you know how it goes… more surprises, more questions, more explorations, more options aaaand loop around again.

So I have put a video together suggesting a path to recognizing habits and building new ones, which I hope you will give try to and enjoy

Surprise yourselves! See what comes out of it! The opportunity for you to express your unique strengths might be just around the corner

😉

Chrisa

P.S: We have a workshop full of surprises coming up on Feb.6th check it out here

Art and its place in the online world

I have been thinking the last couple of weeks, as things don’t seem to be heading back to normal, what is the place of Art in this online world.

We can’t go out to dance, we can’t go to museum, theatres, concerts… we are social animals but we are not allowed to share anything anymore. So why keep practicing our hobbies, or pick up new ones?

If we can’t go out have a drink, relax with friends, dance, listen to music, then what is the point of doing dance classes, or taking music lessons? As friend told me over the weekend, isn’t it boring taking Tango lessons without a partner?

Isn’t it boring taking Tango online classes without a partner?

Honestly… I don’t know… maybe it is or if not boring others might find depressing or miserable or pointless.

And that probably applies to any artistic endeavour, that is supposed to be shared with other people. However, I think it does have to do with the focus set by the teachers and by the students. And there are many aspects here I would, probably as many as the teachers and the students… haha

Lets see a few of the pros of online classes:

  • It is a form of activity, and it is good to keep active especially at times of lockdown
  • Along with the above it is an activity, that allows your mind to decompress, so it helps with mental health
  • You have a long lasting passion that you want to keep the fire going even if at these challenging times
  • Tango and all other movement practices, in partners and/or groups rely a lot on personal progress, training and practice along partner/ group practices
  • It is a different way to explore your hobby
  • Opportunity to learn for teachers who are at the other end of the world
  • Or to support the teachers you love at home

Should I keep going? All these are amazing reasons no?

However, I think there is a special place for Tango, for dance, for Art in general in this online world… That reminding us of our humanity.

Art is here to remind us, we are still human

Humans are social animals, so no matter how well you are managing the isolation, we are really meant to thrive through community.

Think of our great accomplishments, as a human kind, all appeared in societies that were blooming. Unique figures in Art, Science etc were supported and came out of strong communities. It is through our communities that we are supported to explore and express our unique strengths.

In this vast, impersonal space of the web, it is hard to find a community and not get lost. It is hard to identify and express your unique strengths when instead of a community you have an ocean of users.

And so I think this is where Tango, dance, Art comes in. Art comes in to create an actual web, an actual network with real connections. A web that can’t replace real life, but can remind us of what it is like to be human aka what it is like to build communities.

Our anatomy actually supports this

The fascinating thing in all of this is how this balance between a singular entity and a community, between the I and the WE, as well as the relationships weaved between the two are supported by our anatomy.

We identify as humans due to our anatomy, we have some common characteristics that makes us all identifiable as humans. However, from the obvious characteristics of our face to our bone shape and DNA we are all unique.

And when we say unique, we mean very different… take a look here: https://paulgrilley.com/bone-photos/
As Paul and Suzee Grilley mention in their post: “These images [included in the post linked above] show the normal variation in human bones. None of them are pathological.”

Different bones, different ranges of motions, different aesthetics, sensations, expressions, experiences.

Let’s learn THAT!

Learn how we are Unique

Learning how each of us is unique, we can be more accepting in the other person’s perspective of things. It is also possible that we are more open and understanding to someone experiencing something different.

We can be more kind and accepting with ourselves. Looking at our teachers, we can now understand that we will never look like them, nobody will!
But we can learn from them how we can be us. We can learn how to express more our unique strengths, body structure, past experience, sensations, emotions, thoughts.

We started working with this theme already last week in our Mid-Week Tango Practice:

And we will continue with this theme through our Online Workshops and Online Classes, with our goal being to allow us to be more us, despite the very challenging situations that might be pushing us to the edge

I hope that in one way or another I will have you with me in this journey so please any thoughts you would like to share send them, I would love to read them! Next stop, Mid-Week Tango Practice on Wednesday

😉
Chrisa

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

It is unfair to treat loneliness with Tango

What does loneliness feel like?
When you are lonely, how is your body feeling?

I think it feels like extreme hunger…
After not having eaten for hours, after your stomach has stopped gurgling and your hands have stopped shaking, after you’ve gotten used to feeling weak, and you are just feeling empty

You can still carry on with your day, but at the same time you feel empty, and you are hoping to find some kind of support.

If and when you get the opportunity to eat you grab anything offered to you, anything placed in front of you!

After having filled your stomach though you can be feeling anything from relief and happiness to fear, sadness and desperation, depending on how you got to experience extreme hunger.

That is what loneliness feels like, to me; like emotional hunger.

Tango to meet new people Vs Tango to feel closer to people.

Notice the difference….

Tango being a social dance is indeed a great place for meeting new people.
We start with classes where usually we find a group of people that we get closer with. Then we start going to milongas and there slowly but surely we get to meet more and more people.

It is a good and healthy way to expand our circle of friends and acquaintances 

Going to Tango though because we want to feel closer to another human being, to feel connected; because we are lonely, is something completely different.
Empty and deprived of human connection, when the opportunity to feel connected presents itself we just grab it. We take any dance we can get, no questions asked…

Best case scenario; our dances are just ok, not terrible, not great, just ok. This way they fill some part of the gap, leaving us asking for more… Under the sweetness of having been emotionally fed, it is possible that we will feel confident enough to take this further, and connected with our partner after the tanda ends. It is likely that we will actually make a new friend..!

If the dance is bad then it will make us absolutely miserable.
Not only because we hate the dance or the partner or both but mostly because we expected to hate, we knew we would probably them but we couldn’t refuse them. Proven right, we step off the dance floor, more disappointed with ourselves than ever! 

This though is NOT the worst case scenario…

In fact, the dances that are great are the WORST!
I am referring to the dances that a bit of magic happens… Where you feel that you and your partner are the perfect match… And the whole tanda is just an endless flow, that unfortunately is bound to end..! You finish the tanda and you are in a dreamy state… Feeling so full with emotion, you almost feel….shhhh…in L.O.V.E.

You leave the dance floor and reality starts to kick-in. And again you might anything from relief and happiness to fear, sadness and desperation depending on what got you so emotionally deprived.

See…we can’t win on the dance floor… but we might be able to win off it!

It is unfair to treat loneliness with Tango!

Meeting people through Tango is a good idea. Making Tango the medium through which we experience closeness and connection is unfair!

It is unfair to us. But also unfair to Tango, to Art and to our community.

No dance form on its own can defeat loneliness. But it can empower us to reach out to other people. It can inspire us and give us the confidence boost we need to start expressing ourselves more and connecting to people who are in tune with what we have to say.

Free your dances from that burden…
You only know how to do that because you know the root of the problem.
Accepting there is a problem is step one.
Identifying where the real problem lies is step two Exploring different ways of solving it is step three

And there Tango can help… by being Tango… By being JUST a dance!

Is it easy? NO
Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

Chrisa

P.S.: There is one person I haven’t gotten the chance to thank enough for this, my teacher Ramit Sethi, who taught me the strategy behind finding a way out and gave me the tools to start expressing myself and effectively reaching loads of other people. He gave me the opportunity to create Bautanz. Now I can say “WE” and not “I”

10min Tango practice on leg strengthening, alignment and side steps

Okay! Now there is tip-heavy video coming up on leg strengthening and alignment so I don’t want to take time here to give more tips instead I would like to use this space to suggest a few Practice combos; a few other videos that could work extremely well with this newer video so you can grow your practice

First things first though… Your video for the week…

10min Tango practice on legs, alignment and side steps

Sometimes 10 minutes are more than enough.
Especially when you are starting to build your individual practice it is better to start small and expand steadily as the time goes by.
Why?
Simply, because you are still unsure of what you need to work on, what you should focus on, what your strengths are, what you should invest more time in and how…

You also need to consider this: if you START with a 1 hour practice where are going to go from there?
How will you grow beyond that, when your body and mind starts asking for more..?

When you are building your practice therefore you need to make sure that your short-term goals are not shadowing your long-term goals.

If though you are ready to invest a bit more time here are few directions you can take your practice towards…

1. Focusing on leg strengthening and balance

Add on the video we were working from 2 weeks ago if you want to work more on leg strengthening and establishing a stronger base:

10min Tango Practice on legs and balance

2. Focusing on biomechanics–how our body was built to work

Many of the tips in our video for this week have to do with how our legs move inside our hips and our hips move around our legs.
Understanding anatomy through movement not only will give you greater freedom when you dance/ move but it will also allow you to get to know your body and yourself better.

So if you want to take it into that direction, you can add this video along:

Followed by this video:

3. Making it a well-rounded practice

Depending how much time you have and how much time you can spend on your Tango during the week, you can schedule your practices in two ways:

  1. Every day you focus on something different, ex: one day on legs and balance and the other on ochos
  2. You only practice a couple times a week and so you need to work on all the fundamentals in one go, ex:
    A 20min Tango practice on posture, walks and ochos
4. Focusing on musicality

You can even take this into musicality. Technique and musicality are not at all separate. Aside from the obvious connection–aka the stronger your technique is the easier it will be to focus on the music–there is a more physical connection as well.

How you step, how you twist, how you hold your body and overall how you move will allow you to express yourself differently on the music.
Therefore after this week’s leg strengthening video can do this one:

And then this one:

It all started with leg strengthening…. But you have many choices

We started with a video on legs and alignment and look at where we are now..! haha

You have so many options, the above are only a few examples of the plethora of options that you have.
It all depends on what you want to focus on, what are your strengths and what are shortcomings.
No option is better from the other. All of them have something equally important and interesting to offer you. So it is really up to you where you want to take this!

And that is the beauty of Tango overall..!
You start with leg strengthening but from there you can grow in many many different directions all of which will make you a much better dancer and most importantly a better human.

If you decide it is worth investing your time in moving better on and off the dance floor, Tango is a great dance for that. It is heavy on technique and it throws in your face the question:

Do you want to Tango only for fun OR do you want the opportunity to move freely, get to know your body and yourself better and even become happier?

If you want the latter you should also check this out: Intelligent Tango

Let me know how your practice is going and don’t forget to have fun while you are it!

Chrisa

P.S: I read every email so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email with your questions. If I don’t answer you right away, please don’t get offended… instead give me about a week max..! 😉