Tag Archives: tango embrace

The embrace – a place to yield to!

In this week’s Live tango practice, we worked on the suspension created in the embrace. It was an attempt to connect the dots, between the message received through the hands/ arms and the action taken from legs.

Taking the time to yield

I wanted to take the opportunity to explain a bit more in depth the element of suspension, pulse and yielding. These are all words used during this practice and sometimes words don’t communicate in the best of ways what we can communicate through movement.

Let’s start from the latter, yielding, because if we don’t yield we can’t efficiently suspend and create a pulse.
Yielding shouldn’t be confused with relaxing or letting go. We are reaching for the ground, the sky, our partner prior to taking action. In that state we are ready to act, but we have already established our connection, our support.

It is that connection and support that we don’t want to loose while moving. Instead we want to carry it along with us as we go.
And so the lead and follow shouldn’t be described as press and resist, but more as a coming together, as supporting each other. Therefore the frame needs to be elastic, and absorbent without collapsing though. It is that elasticity, that spring that transfers the message through the arms to the body while keeping us connected.

It is in our anatomy

All of this we see it supported by the human anatomy. Even in the most solid element of our body, the bones, there is moisture, there is fluid and elasticity. One of the contractions our muscles create is actually the elastic recoil. Our breathing has a pulse, a spring in it.
We have experience from yielding to the earth, feeling grounded, secure, calm and confident before acting. Or when we immerse ourselves in a conversation with a dear friend where there is a continuous effortless connection. 
We also have experience of things not happening not efficiently. When we try to lift something without the necessary preparation. Or when we are angry and our movement becomes rigid and out of our control. Also, when we are stressed and not breathing properly.

So we have the experience of yielding, connecting and elasticity. It is indeed  in a different context but we still there for us. We can be further explore through Tango and all other dance forms and movement practices.

Leading and Following through the arms

Speaking in Tango terms, I would encourage you to think and practice leading/ following through the arms and not with the arms.

And though it is not easy to explore partnership alone, it is essential. Practicing on your own, allows you to spend time experiencing your body moving and allowing for that experience to inform your knowing. 
In parallel practicing with a partner is equally important. It has to be though someone who is honest and able to share with you their experience. Still though that doesn’t undermine the importance of your personal practice. 
If you don’t spent time self-exploring you can’t have a discussion with your partner, you simply adjust to satisfy them. In order to progress, you need to be able to build on solid grounds, grounds of understanding and awareness. Then you can make conscious decisions on how to progress instead of adjustments on the spot. 

More resources below… 😉

So if I have inspired you to further explore the embrace here are some extra videos to do so:

  1. Finding the embrace: https://youtu.be/EOYvbesyQio
  2. The power game in the embrace: https://youtu.be/GRxD9WYMgKs
  3. Suspension in the embrace: https://youtu.be/5n6XVrUWcEU
  4. And if you would like to see more live practices visit this page: https://bautanz.com/online-tango-practice/

Enjoy,
Chrisa

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

Embrace-Go beyond the push and pull

The embrace is where Tango lives… In all practical ways the Tango is created within and through the embrace.

There is a lot Do(s) and Don’t(s) out there on the embrace, so I was hoping to create more of an opportunity for everyone to explore the different body parts that form the embrace, and bring forward more experiential knowledge than Tango-specific advice

Relationship of the Individual Fingers with the Shoulder Girdle and Ribs

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen of Body Mind Centering

In this video Bonnie, founder of Body Mind Centering (https://www.bodymindcentering.com) talks about the process of creation and specifically how are hands are created from the pinky to the thumb while at the same time our ribs are formed from top to bottom. She then goes on to explore that relationship.

When I first came across the video, I found it fascinating! It completely changed my understanding of my body in space and my relationships with others.
Everyday we reach and touch with our hands, almost everything around us; multiple times a day we are making a choice whether this touch may or may not be reflected in our posture, our movement, our mood.

Leading and following is what we call these very choices in Tango. In the following video using the exercise Bonnie shared above and adding walks and ochos I am inviting you explore the movement chain through the embrace

This was a…bad…experience

Bad experiences… moments we have sworn never to dance with THAT person again… pain, discomfort, frustration… Yes, I know…some memories can be haunting! We now though have a chance to fix it; or some of it

First, we need to understand where the pain and the discomfort we experience in the embrace comes from; and then hopefully though this video you will know how to avoid putting yourself in unsafe positions and how to mitigate the impact of an improper action coming from your partner

Seeing the big picture of the hug

So the videos above will help you immensely in acknowledging dangerous positions and finding healthier ones for the joints. Also, it will help you recover faster if you are experiencing pain or discomfort after a milonga

What though doesn’t recover as fast as the body–and we know that can be rather slow–is our psychology.
I as many other followers have fallen in the trap of avoiding to dance with anyone new because I didn’t want to risk another sore shoulder or back.
it took a long time before I could trust what my eyes could see, in terms of who is a partner who will “listen” to subtle body cues and adjust his/her position.
So, the issue here is not to simply find the right embrace for you BUT to find the way to be flexible and adjust your position to help yourself and/or your partner. Usually the necessary adjustment is very subtle but it seems huge
The feeling of relief though when you find that sweet spot where your embrace is genuine and your movement is free it is even greater!

Trust your body to find it!

Chrisa

P.S: For more videos such as this, on weekly subscribe to bautanz.com and if you want to organize your own practice at home at your own time maybe you would like to take a look at this: https://bautanz.com/intelligent-tango-programs-and-courses/

How to practice Tango even when you are busy

We are all busy, always in a rush. By the time we get home from work it is like 7pm already, and we are just drained, the last thing we think about is Tango practice

Part of us really wants us to practice our Tango. There is that little voice inside our head that says: “Come on, you have to…Plus it you will feel so much better afterwards”

We usually face 2 problems:

  1. Time. There are just so many things to work on and so little time left in the day
  2. Not knowing where to start from

I hope that I will be able to show how you can overcome these 2 problems, by sharing with you 3 videos of jam-packed practices touching on most of the fundamental elements of Tango.

When there is a will, there is a way…. Even for busy people!

Time is really not the problem here…. But how we relate to time, how we experience it.

The most common misconceptions with time and practice are directly related to how we perceive time and not with how much time we actually have.

Most people either believe they need hours on their Tango practice to get better and even if they find somes time the rest of their life takes over.

When I first started practicing Tango, I remember I had booked a studio for 1 hour and I was soooo excited, I couldn’t wait…!
The time came for me to hop in the studio…
10mins later, I look at my watch… and I was soooo disappointed…
Those 10mins had felt like 20 to me…haha

That first day I really had to push through, make myself focus and stop the frustration from taking over. The next time though I knew… I only needed the room for 20mins.
And I stayed at the same time-level for a long time until I naturally one day, felt the urge to stay longer.

So you don’t need hours. Instead start with 10mins of focused practice and build your way up from there.
As you build your practice, you are building your awareness as well, making sure you stop BEFORE your technique fails you.

And of course I have a story for the second time-trouble element…haha…simply because it naturally comes with adulthood

There are other things that are more important than Tango in life, like making lunch for the next day or doing laundry.
And no matter how much you try even those 10mins of Tango practice can easily get sidekicked by something more important.

This is what I did…. I put my practice in my calendar as another class. As another business thing I need to do. I scheduled it in as work.
Making it equally important as a class or a show.

Now you might say that IS part of your job… Which of course is true… BUT… taking care of yourself is YOUR job.
Nobody can do it for you and if Tango is something you are passionate about, practicing for it will bring a special feeling of accomplishment in your life plus it will give better posture and balance–important things for a comfortable life

The only time I wouldn’t do my practice is when I felt stressed about something that needed to get done or when I was too tired to focus… In cases such as these I really think the best thing to do is either go and deal with the stressor or rest

But what if you don’t know where to start from?

Well the answer to this one is rather simple…

Start from HERE…hahaha:

Enjoy,

Chrisa

“Nobody dances with me… I am too old!”– Tango and the age- issue

“Nobody dances with me… I am too old! All the leaders prefer to dance with the younger, sexier dancers even though they are not good dancers” Many followers, who feel their age is their biggest burden

I have heard this phrase so many times and it always made me feel sad and even guilty.
During every attempt though I made to help  would get a you-are-too-young type of response

And so for years I avoided writing about the matter until today…

The follower’s view on the age- issue

Most followers have a sad story to share, where they have felt left out, ignored and unwanted.
And there are not stories only from the milongas but also from practicas and even classes…

Follower’s will tell you things like:

“Leaders avoid me. They won’t even look at me” OR
“Dancers that I have known for years, even friends of mine… dance only with the young, sexy dancers who can’t even dance properly, and completely ignore me” OR
“I have been taking classes for years only to go to milongas and get to dance 2 tandas maximum during which I would be dancing with the worst dancers, who don’t even smell good..!”

They go on to blame their age, their not so-revealing outfits and… of course… Mother Nature…
Yes leaders…
Followers believe it is in your nature to go after the first young, sexy thing you see in the room

But is this the truth..?

A leader’s view on the age- issue

I am not a man and therefore I can’t say if this is true or not…

Most men though will tell you that this is not the case at all… at least not in Tango.

** DISCLAIMER: Here we are talking about decent men who are not using Tango as the last resort to get close to a woman..! **

Hahaha
(Not a joke… though)

What they do say though is things like:
“The attractivity of a dancer is made up of several ingredients. First and foremost the dance skills. But what makes here a pleasure to dance with is more than that. Sympathy is important, that young sparkle in her eyes, an empathic connection aside from tango. A tasteful dress and a personal attitude that matches her age doesn’t do harm, either. These are the same things that make a women attractive in general. I am not talking about romantic thoughts, I mean character and identity. It’s the very same for men, by the way, although they admittedly have the minority advantage in tango.” ( a thoughtful comment found under this article: In search of Tango: The age prejudice in Tango)

Or from the same article:
“Men get avoided and turned down for dances because of their age, grey hair, appearance, height, skill, clique membership, position in the hierarchy, etc. We don’t know why we’re refused; it’s uncomfortable for everybody if we ask why, so we don’t ask. Sometimes our invitations to dance are turned down, and then we see our invitee on the dance floor with somebody else thirty seconds later. This is very unpleasant. We too endure tandas with followers that are not very enjoyable.”  Or

“Its not so much age as the lack of beauty and isn’t this just the story of life? We all seek beauty in various forms and tango is no exception.”

I am not too old… I don’t get asked by the best dancers… And I DON’T care!

As I said I am not attracted to women and therefore I can’t tell you if the guys are using the above and more as excuses for not dancing with you… But I truly don’t think that this is the case….

Personally, and I hope you will believe me, I am not one of those followers who won’t stop dancing all night, and not because I am picky…

I will dance with everyone except from people who rude and/ or hurtful.
This is my standard and I won’t take one step back from it simply because dancing with someone hurtful or rude makes me feel worse than sitting, enjoying the music and chatting with a friend.

Having standards is important as it will save you from physical and psychological pain PLUS it shows good dancers and most importantly good people that they are in your niche instead of some rude bum looking do all the crazy moves he has picked from the web…

How do you ensure you choose correctly..?
This is what I do…
When I am not dancing, I am looking at the people… how they approach their partners, how they reach in the embrace, what they do between the dances, how the finish the tanda and get off the dance floor…. Overall, how they treat their partners…

MEN..! Be nice!
It goes a long way…

And because I know you are probably thinking…” I AM nice!”
Here are a few extra tips…

  1. Practice on things that matter on the dance floor
    For example, posture, proper clear leading, good listening, embrace and musicality over fancy moves
  2. Be respectful but not too serious
    For example, allowing people to chat and excusing yourself when you interrupt them is not old school, it is good manners.
    Properly asking someone for a dance and not creeping up on a follower, again good manners
  3. Be presentable.
    It always wins over being young… That is why women still like George Clooney. He has style and he doesn’t pretend he is still 20
    So if you are 50 dress like a 50 year old living in 2018..!
  4. A fresh scent
    Now I am not saying you smell bad, but that doesn’t mean you smell good..! Sooo, try to smell good without overdoing it
Now back to you followers…

Practicing will give your better technique and therefore confidence… but you don’t only need confidence you also need to stick to your standards even if it means that for a little while you will be dancing less…

But you know what because I know you are probably already thinking things like:
“You are still young and good looking” or
“Everyone wants to dance with you, you are a teacher…” or
some combo of the two comments above…

So since I can’t win, and I don’t want to make you feel sadder and myself guiltier I will let a man do the work for me… haha

Now, don’t start with, “I am looking to get more dances not more dates”
Of course Tango is Tango and life is life… but hear Matthew Hussey out first..!

Can you… or better said… can WE become:

  1. Practice on things that matter on the dance floor
    Meaning technique, listening, posture, embrace, musicality
  2. Be more social
    A smile, between dances goes a long way. And a friendly chat or even a joke goes even longer.
    But even when you are sitting out, chat with the people next to you, relax back in your chair and enjoy the music, look at the dance floor being genuinely interested
  3. Be presentable
    Your outfit must say that you care about that night.
    That you put some effort to find something nice to wear. And not for others but also for you, choose things that make YOU feel good and then you can project that outward
  4. A fresh scent
    Something light, soft and elegant such work. It doesn’t even have to be perfume, it can be body lotion..! 😉

So can we become, as Matthew saying that video, playful, sexy, nurturing and independent..?

I think so and if you think so too just hit subscribe.
We can do together..!

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