Tag Archives: tango basics

Different Body-Different Style

How can one-size-fits-all apply in a social dance setting when we all unique in terms of body type, age, fitness, cultural background etc?

A great question!

After our mid-week Tango practice on Wednesday I a question via Youtube that I felt it is an excellent question for us to discuss how different body types can or cannot fit in certain Tango rules; and overall how the one-size-fits-all doesn’t quite work in social dancing.

Following is the video, from our practice and the question right after that, lets see:

“Chrisa, something that no one ever talks about, and I can’t get non fat dancers to understand, are the techniques needed by the fat dancer. Now, I do not use fat as a bad word, I reclaim it, and refuse to make it synonymous with wrong. And also, I need to accommodate my roundness. It is so awkward to be in class, and have an instructor remind me not to swing a hip, not to arch my back, when the real reason I do these things is because of my large belly. When you have substantial thighs, it changes your stance, collection, even the ability to flick a swift secada. I realize this is off topic from your video, but do you have any insights for the fat dancer? Tricks to maintain tango posture when you have extra curves to work around? Thank you <3″ F.L

The truth of the Style Vs The truth of the Dancer

I want to thank again our commenter for this question and dissect the matter in two parts:

  1. Diversity of styles
  2. Biomechanics Vs Tango Style

Diversity of Styles

There is an unavoidable conflict between the truth carried through by the rules for each style and the truth stemming from the dancer’s experience. Of course there are many ways to train dancers to perform and look a certain way, many types of dance achieve that, with ballet being one excellent example. However there are certain expectations to be met by all ballerinas in terms of looks, body structure and analogies. This is why there are certain restrictions apply in terms of age, body type, body shape, fitness etc. That is also why the choice to follow a career as a professional ballet dancer happens very early in one’s life when the body and character are very adaptable to change. That is also why ballet dancers retire at a very early age.

Social Tango is not like that though. Quite the contrary it is dance that is danced by 90 year olds with very different body analogies, with loss in muscle etc etc. So would we say for example that Oscar and Nina are bad dancers?!?! I highly doubt it!
See them in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQotX3sFahI

So as I perceive it, a style is a place to start learning but then we have to take into account the the experience of our body. And those two things are equally important and equally true.
Everyone of us is unique in some way, and that uniqueness needs space, a lot of space in a social dance.

Biomechanics Vs Tango Style

We can’t judge a style, a style is based mostly on aesthetics. It is a design. A beautiful design but still a design that one person or a group of people came up with based on their personal goals, experiences, expectations and so on. So it wouldn’t be possible nor fair. But we can judge movement based on anatomy and biomechanics. Then each of us can make an informed decision whether you want to pursuit a specific tango style despite the possible strain or risk due to inconguence with anatomy and biomechanics.

So firstly, based on anatomy and specifically the structure of the human skeleton in order to balance the forces going through the joints and to have an effective distribution of weight when standing on two feet, the placement of the feet should be such to support the hips. Having the feet together 100% doesn’t meet that requirement since the pelvis flairs outward. Similarly, the flair of the feet, meaning the turn out, depends on the structure of your hips, how wide or narrow the hips are.
So overall some people will have their feet closer together, not though fully connected, than others and also for some people the turn out will be bigger than others.

Walking and biomechanics

Now when we walk our hips are not supposed to be square, they are supposed to swing, it’s scientifically what we call: locomotion.
And it is not the only movement happening in our hips when we walk. In fact walking involves the whole body and the more chaotic it feels the more efficient it most likely is.
There is the “C” shape movement we talked about in our practice session and there is also a wave in the spine. You can see all of this here:

Can you stop all this from happening ?
Sure you can! But why would you? If you actually look a little closer and dig a little deeper, these movements actually help you connect with your partner in much more efficient way..!
You can see it in our previous practices here: https://bautanz.com/online-tango-practice/

And of course along with all that goes posture and centre of gravity. Your posture changes depending on what action you wish to perform. As you can see in the video above maintaining a specific upper body position works against your intention to walk forward or backward and would therefore require more muscle work to make it all happen.
Lastly our center of gravity, will be different depending on the shapes we create or have in our bodies. It is not a fixed spot and how could it be? By physics that would be impossible.

My suggestion to you

If you have learned Tango now spend some time learning your body through movement. Understand how one thing relates to the other, what kind of relationships they have and what kind of movements they create due to those relationships and structure

A great place to start is this video by Frey Faust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy6tJZOQ0Ws&t=102s
And also the Youtube page of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen of Body mind centering: https://www.youtube.com/user/BodyMindCentering

Start learning about your body to better dance with/in/through it. Understanding how our body was built to move for me is the number one step to take when you really want to free up your social dance but also when you want to structure your dance training knowing, acknowledging and weighing in the risks you take compared to the choices you have

Enjoy and thank you again,

Chrisa

Spiral–Defining our humanity

If you had the opportunity to practice with me on Wednesday you probably noticed that a big part of the class was about this wave-like, this spiral movement our body follows when walking that can help us transition smoothly to ochos.

The spiral as an experience

I wanted to share some extra information on the idea behind this practice and a few extra videos that you can practice with.
The idea behind all this is the defining element of the spiral.
The spiral is not just some random shape that happens to appear in certain parts of the body. It is not just a shape that allows for efficiency of movement.
The spiral is our existence, it is literally our DNA. And DNA being the carrier of hereditary material it is experience!
The spiral in this way exists in our every move from our cells to our highest boleos!

Therefore, finding the spiral in your movement, even in the ones that look fairly straight, will heighten your awareness of your movement and it will energize your whole body with it’s vibrancy.

An important characteristic: progressive wholeness

When picturing a spiral of any type, we associate it, and rightfully so, with continuous energy. However, I would like to add to that and say that there is also the element of progressive wholeness
A spiral always moves switching between condensing and expanding, with continuous transition between the two and a continuous coexistence.
Try to feel the movement through your body when you walk and when you ocho–in the latter it is of course more evident–as a transition and coexistence of condensing and expanding. Instead of thinking how each muscle body part should move try to feel whole. And specifically a wholeness deriving from the continuous flow of the spiral and not through squeezing, pulling, pushing, holding etc.

And so to make it more specific let’s look at our practice. We explored forward and backward ochos feeling how the back and core muscles condense and expand and how one can create a different quality of movement making one or the other action (condensing-expanding) primary.
This is an excellent practice to follow if you wish to explore different Tango styles but also if you want to work on expressing yourself better on the music.

Some extra resources

Ok! Lets see videos to practice on all of this:

In the Spine:

In the psoas:

A brief overview of the body

I hope you will enjoy aaaall of this!
And if you would like to dive deeper into all of this Session #3 of our online classes, will be a great match.
Here is the link: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/online-tango-classes-live/   

😉
Chrisa

P.S: If you prefer Facebook here is the link to our Live practice: https://www.facebook.com/bautanz/videos/2679043972416304/

Dance: The essence of movement

Dance, dancing, movement in space..!

Today I wanted to share with you an idea…I am not sure if it will come through as I want it to but I surely hope it does. You can tell me, later in a message if you like..!

Dance… Space

Dance I believe has to do with space. How we stand in space. The space we create when dancing. The space we share.
Are we reaching towards the other aiming to bring them close or to push them away? Aiming to get close to them or move away from them?
How much of our personal space do we want to give up when getting in an embrace? Are we bringing our hands together or are we hugging?
In both cases what does that shared space look like? What does the left-over space look like?

So any time we make a movement no matter how big or how small, we shift the space around us.

There is also the opposite notion, how the space forms our movement. Either literally, meaning that you move differently when you are in crowded or small room compared to an empty or big room.
Or “metaphorically”, and I am putting that in quotes as I am not sure if it would be equally literal, meaning that you allow the space to move you. You feel the earth, you feel the sky, you feel YOU somewhere there in between, you feel the air around you and you let all that move you.

Lastly, there is seeing the human body as space. Feeling our 3d-ness(I just made up this word..haha..). But feeling how we are not defined but one axis but 3, and embodying that through movement.

The shapes we make!

Some basic anatomy will teach you that no part of our body is actually straight nor set perpendicular to any other. We are comprised by curved surfaces set in oblique positions to one another.
See the hip joint below as an example;
 
Also the muscles wrap around the bones, curving and embracing them, see for example the muscles of the back
 

Even in the most intimate of places we can see curves and spirals; This is the golden rule revealed here in the structure of our ear and face:


The shapes therefore we create are curvy and bendy and not rectilinear. Our movement is defined more by spirals than straight lines. And spirals can be better expressed through triangulated movement structures than rectilinear structures.

The essence of movement

The essence of movement should therefor capture both points made above. Consider the quality of a spiral. Endless flow of energy, defining space through, within and around it. A vibrating energy, condensing and expanding, relating to the space around not through shooting energy away from it but through yielding, condensing and expanding.

You can see if you look at the picture below that spiral form of the muscles

The question now is how do we explore all that? How do we explore the essence of the spiral?
Exploring the mechanics would be one necessary task of course, as it will help you do things efficiently, be more balanced and save energy while moving. It will help you identify the risk of your movement choices, and identify paths to avoid injury.
But the essence of the spiral… is a bit of a different thing!
You probably have experienced this in those sublime moments when you are dancing and you are you, you are the space, you are the music, you are time, you are body and spirit and soul. Those magical moments that are rare and special
It could be the same simple movement, like lifting an arm, only when you dance, you are filling the whole room with that one arm-lift…or that the room itself, the space around you is lifting up that arm.
The space is defined by your movement and your movement is supported by the space around you. And when that happens the energy of the spiral flows endlessly, from one movement to the next.

Inspiring Examples:

  1. One of my most favourite performers…no better said…one of the world’s most favourite performers, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Look at how he builds that relationship with space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i2Mzqrqv0U
  2. My teacher’s video on the subject. Bonnie is the one who taught me all of these things I talked to you about today. And this is a perfect movement practice she has for us here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtU8s-r3-IY&t=3131s

My invitation:

I invite you to explore all of this with me!
Our new set of classes in starting June 27th and it is going to be about the embrace, the connection, leading/ following and timing. We will explore the mechanics and the essence of the frame, our walks and ochos with great focus on sensing, feeling and action. I hope to see you there and then! Let me know if you are interested and if you have any questions!
https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/online-tango-classes-live/

Keep filling the space my friends
Chrisa

Musicality_A Musical Journey to the past

We took a musical journey to the past last Wednesday!
It was part of of our Mid-week tango practice and this week’s theme was of course musicality. 
But instead on the beat or the tempo or the rhythm we used the music to explore the history of Argentina and to draw some connecting lines to the Tango we dance today.
Of course there is the element of the beat, and being able to recognize and count it; but at the same time we need to look at the music holistically and isolating one element or the other

Quick disclaimer here: No I am not saying the beat is not important and you can ignore it, to express yourself..!hahaha

What could being “musical” mean?

What I would like to encourage you, especially if you are having trouble with finding the beat, when you will be practicing with this video at home, is to refrain from jumping right into dancing. Listen to the different music pieces and try to listen to the historical connection, try to listen to the connecting thread.

The next step would be to visualize. For example one of the videos on the playlist (it is attached below) is from a live candombe performance; there you will notice that the posture of those dancers is very similar to the canyengue posture; leaning slightly forward with the knees bent. But with crisp clear movements. And that perfectly matches the music in both dances.

Then dancing, movement can come into play…not copying but embodying the necessary posture and quality of movement.
So to continue with the canyengue example from above, that posture that makes the couple melt in each others arms and towards the ground, it is matched with an earthiness in the music. Something like gravity pulling you to the earth compared to the milonga where you are ready to hop and play and fly.
So the music and the posture and the steps are all coordinated to create a unison. You have a network, instead of separate choices that you need to make under the different Tango umbrellas

So I hope this helps and I hope I didn’t complicate things instead of explaining..!haha
But we have chats like this every week here at Bautanz, just subscribe to be part of the communnity
And if you want to get dancing right away click here: https://bautanz.com/argentine-tango-technique/musicality/

🙂

Chrisa

P.S: Link to the playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uQh5RfE2XA&list=PLllIglFQNLn_UZwZghekc0v9XqF6yEu0_

Partner or Individual practice

Individual or partner practice has been a debate we have been into for a some time now… It usually goes like this; since Tango is a partner dance, you can’t really practice individually but only with a partner.

Why are we having this argument?

I am not really sure why this is a debate to be honest, to me it is obvious that you need both.
Of course you need to practice with a partner but that doesn’t mean that individual work is not equally important. It is almost like saying that a tennis professional never practices alone, or that soccer player doesn’t work out or do drills alone but only in a team setting…g

Instead though of using examples outside of Tango I will use today’s (Wednesday May 6/20) practice to elaborate on the matter

Relationship Vs Individual dancer

So here is a link to the live practice this week:

One of the questions that came up from the chat was whether or not we change weight in order to change from parallel to cross system. And this is the question that sparked this very post, so again many thanks to sender! 😉

Ok! So the easy answer is, that on the dance floor one of you, you or your partner, will have to shift the weight if you want to change system, either partner will do the trick.
So cross and parallel are systems that describe our relationship with the other, it is not something that characterizes your movement but that characterizes the relationship.
In an individual practice, such as this, you can’t practice the relationship, because you need a partner for that. But you CAN practice the movement of your body within that relationship and you CAN find ways to improve how you move while in that relationship; which is what we do in our classes and practices.

You taking action in understanding your movement, your role and stance in that relationship, further informs your understanding of it and changes the dynamics and the relationship itself.

Both practicing with and without a partner are therefore equally important and effect one another immensely

If you are looking for more in depth videos and practices join us by subscribing.

If you are looking for more individual practice videos click here: https://bautanz.com/argentine-tango-technique/tango-technique-workout/

😉

Chrisa

Why practice now?

So do you WANT to practice?
I am not being sarcastic or playing any tricks nor have I prepared a crazy Tango bootcamp practice routine… I am really asking.

Everyone says you HAVE to practice…
We even have the appropriate cliches for it: “Practice makes perfect” 
Not to mention the set mastery time frames: 10,000 hours to mastery 

Nobody has stoped to ask: Why aim for perfection? Why aim for mastery? What is the purpose in aiming and practising for those things?
Especially now in this world that almost everything seems to have been put on pause!

There are so many resources now online, everyone is doing a class, a practice even a virtual milonga; and that is amazing!
I have been doing this for a few years now; you can find so many practice videos here: https://bautanz.com/2020/02/23/argentine-tango-practice/
You can even do a course: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/
But things have changed…

I feel a shift, a very strong shift in what we call practice in what we mean by practice.

Practice has almost lost its meaning… but it can get a different meaning, different substance and presence in our lives.

Before we were practicing to enjoy our dances more, to be more free and creative on the dance floor… to be more confident in the milongas.
To dance more. To become better dancers.

Not much point in all of this is there? 
And this is sad and strange…
So I think that our practices now, can truly help us BE
Be more patient , more present, more grounded, more focused, more calm, more ready
Can help us keep moving and keep growing despite the haul
Become aware of what the human body is about… what it can do! Fascinating!

We can’t dance with others. But we can dance with ourselves.
And that will make us that much better when the time comes to go back out there and really HUG!

I suggesting you practice to be more YOU. Spend this time practicing and really enjoy moving. Use this time to throw away the stress and the insecurity by establishing a strong body awareness. Now that every little thing in our lives has changed, we can take a few moments every day, to find peace in what has been here with us for million of years and that is a body through motion.

You don’t need to practice. You need to invest!
Invest in yourself!

Join us on Saturday for a practice on Balance. We will be LIVE on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/652610942205175/
Or on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuFlahLQPTMONLqjNV_qkjw

Practice your Tango not to just get better at it, not to forget, but to refocus, to energize your spirit, mind and bod

😉
Chrisa

P.S: Subscribe for the extra goodies! 😉