Tag Archives: tango sequences

Rhythmical Variations – Creating Options

We practice on musicality, on rhythm, rhythmical variations of steps, on matching sequences to specific musical textures, orchestras, styles… Overall we practice on listening and understanding the music. So what are we really practicing here? Options! Creating options or better yet having options readily available while we improvise.

Rhythmical Variations that create options

One of the most fascinating exercises I have been taught, was by Mariana Montes and Sebastian Arce in a festival in Kalamata Greece, quite a few years back now. It was around the ocho cortado, and how one can perform the step in different rhythms.

The rhythmical variations we were taught back then were so fascinating to me, not only because they offered me different ways to do the same step, and therefore match it to different music but because I got to reshape the step.

Ok! Before I get into that, let me share with you a video where I have reproduced that ocho cortado rhythmical variation exercise so we can actually have a point of reference

Reshaping the ocho cortado

Usually we see the Ocho Cortado as one whole sequence consisting of 6 steps. When we go through the rhythmical variation #1 where we step on the downbeat, every one of these steps, by having its own beat, becomes an entity of its own.

Then when we add the pauses on step #3 and #6 the ocho cortado breaks into 2 sequences instead of 1 and the same happens when we syncopate it.

When we go slow, though we are now playing with one sequence, the sequence is now very flexible, greyed out around the edges almost. And lastly, taking a step on beat #7, shifts the beginning and ending of the sequence around, so we really end up with 6 different sequences.

See how much richer our dance vocabulary has become just by playing with only one of the most basic Tango sequences. Now think of all the other sequences you have learned over the years, can you do something similar? Can you possibly come up with ideas on how shift and reshape those sequences?

Creating options is another skill!

I have learned this from James Altucher who is not a Tango dancer but he is surely an explorer..! So he said, that he practices on his idea muscle daily! Fascinating right?

He uses it for business. We can use it for Tango… and for business of course if you like.
So here is my suggestion, and believe me it is fun..!
Now that you have an idea of how this can work out, take one of the basic Tango sequences, such as the box step or even just walking, write down 5 different ways that you think you can perform that step and then actually try those ideas out with music!

If you need some inspo we will be doing something similar in a Tango Movement Lab on Wednesday 12:15pm going on live through Facebook and Youtube. And if you are looking for even more inspo join our classes that will be full of rhythm and music..!

Hope to see you soon,

Chrisa

Bring your NEW moves on the floor! (remembering sequences vol.#2)

Last week we were talking new moves, about the Art of Choreography and  the art of learning and remembering sequences.

The 6 six steps outlined in last week’s article focused more on helping you learn and remember new sequences and therefore they can help you build a strategy for picking up new steps faster and remembering them for longer.

Today we are taking this a step further…

Bringing your NEW moves on the floor

After being more strategic about how you receive and store the new knowledge coming in the form of steps… (haha)… sooner than later you will start noticing that picking up new moves is not the issue anymore… Building a great vocabulary will not be really a problem anymore…

What will be a problem is bringing all the new moves on the dance floor and integrating them with the routines and sequences you already.

Man is a creature of habit…

I am sure you have heard it said many times before… “Man is a creature of habit”… and like everything in life dance too is based on habits
Those habits will support effortless technique, mindful movement and of course creativity.
Though good technique might seem to be a very difficult habit to pick up on, I think creativity is much more challenging, simply because it pushes us to step out of our comfort zone and therefore make us feel exposed, weak, unsure, uncomfortable and even afraid at some level.

For these very reasons we will avoid 2 very common cliches:

  1. Just Do It! 
    Yes, you will need to take action at some point. Ideas and words will not take you there, you need actions. But having a recipe that you can follow instead of throwing in every ingredient available is also very important AND very comforting.
  2. Be present/ be in the moment/ don’t think
    It goes usually hand in hand with cliche #1.
    Though often times it is a good advice, unfortunately it only works for people who can by will erase the past– aka a very small percentage of people.
    Being creatures of habit our past strong affects our future. Habits being built over years and years of good and bad experiences, are very tough to break–and movement habits are no different. There are some people who can disconnect from the past and therefore redirect the present but personally I haven’t met one yet…

What we will do instead, is acknowledge where we are now and then start making tiny changes one step at time.

5 steps to help you bring NEW moves in your Tango

Starting with realizing where we are, what we are really good at and where we are lacking. And then building new habits around our strongest anchors!

  1. At a practica or at the end of a class, dance a couple of different–in style– songs and get it on video
  2. Write down the sequences those videos have in common. The sequences you used the most in all your videos. These are your anchors!
    The default sequences, the sequences that have become habits and therefore you do them without even thinking about them
  3. Choose 1 of those sequences… You will later add more to the mix, but start small
  4. Then during your next practice: Say: every time I do Sequence X(the one you chose) I will be doing Y right after it (Y being the new step you want to introduce to your dance)
    Example: After every giro I will be doing a colgada
    And actually DO it for the whole practica!
  5. When you start doing Y at free will, meaning without the need of the anchor–the old sequence you had it attached to–you can move on to another new sequence you want to include in your dance

Before you know your repertoire of moves will have grown immensely!

2 side notes that I think will be useful here:
  1. This whole process can be challenging and fun at the same time. Don’t let yourself get frustrated if you start practicing and you forget to do Y after X… haha… Laugh and start again!
    It is bound to happen. It will happen to everyone and the more annoyed you get the worse is going to be.
    So laugh it out and try again!
  2. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in a milonga, but not only for the reason you are thinking about–aka disrupting the flow of the pista.
    A comfort zone is called comfort zone for a reason… You need to be in a state of comfort to indulge yourself to other things that are important in social dancing such as: connection, musicality, the embrace…
    Allow yourself to find a place of comfort in a milonga, without having to think of anchors and steps.
    You will wear yourself down if you don’t allow time for pure fun!

Have fun and if you want more tips and drills and tricks, subscribe to our weekly newsletter..!

“Fun Is Good” Dr. Seuss

Chrisa

The Art of choreography– learning and remembering sequences

How many times does a teacher need to tells us…?
Tango is an improvisational dance. Remembering sequences is not important!

And yet here we are… in another milonga doing the same thing over and over again, dance after dance and getting frustrated!

The truth about improvisation in Tango

Just for the record, I want to say that I fully agree with you!

Now that we set the record straight…haha…
Why are talking here briefly about improvisation?
Because the first step to improvising is putting sequences together on the spot..!

Nike’s “just do it” doesn’t apply in milongas or better said it doesn’t apply in the beginning of any activity and for a long time after that…

I will say this though, with no intension to avoid the question, but only to provide some comfort…
In Tango you can do whatever you want as long as you can lead it or as long as you are following
Does this mean that we are in a deep chaos, with no beginning or end?
No, of course not!
It only means that doing something different than what you learned in class, is NOT wrong especially if the other person is still there with you… It is simply different
And it also means that you need to be a bit more courageous and try things, because very few things in Tango are actually wrong…!

You have already taken the big risk of walking into a class and starting something new. That is always a stressful moment, where we feel out of our comfort zone, exposed and vulnerable. But you did it!
You pushed through the taboos, the excuses, the time restrictions and you did it… Isn’t it only fair that you will allow yourself to have fun while growing and learning more and more things in activity you love?

This is therefore what I would like to inspire you to do…. to see that initial step as a big, as a HUGE step. To congratulate yourself for taking it and for not giving up. And lastly to realize that the hardest part of over and that now it is time to have some fun!

Then next time you make a mistake following the tips below, laugh it out and try again!
Learning and practicing Tango can and should be FUN!

Ok! Now it is time for some tips for learning and remembering sequences
  1. Identify the following categories of steps in Tango, as per Pedro Farias*
    1. Linear steps
    2. Circular steps
    3. Off- axis steps
  2. Based on this categorization, rethink of all the sequences you know and use often in Tango
  3. Break each sequence down to 2 parts:
    1. basic building blocks
    2. transition moves
      Your blocks or your transitions will be in one of the above categories–linear, circular or off-axis.
  4. Bring intention into the sequence.
    Try to understand why the teacher chose that block or that transition. You can do that in two ways–which actually work very well together

    1. ask the teacher why..?
    2. find the answer by trying other possible transitions or building blocks.
      Play with it to understand why it works the way it does.
      Lets use an example here… say part of a sequence is a back ocho, could you possibly do it with a back step, and if so, where would you end up on the dance floor?
  5. Practice the blocks and the transitions separately
  6. Practice the sequence itself and then practice the same sequence only with the blocks mixed up.
The Art of choreography

The plan above might not be the easiest-6-steps-to-remembering-sequences list, despite the fact that it works… Because though Bautanz was created to make the balance between practice-time and fun-time shift to our favour and therefore make our Tango life easier, I have and extra tip for you…

What does artistically remembering sequences stand for?
Meaning if “remembering sequences” is a skill what is the activity that is based on that skill?

… Learning choreography

Learning a choreography and dancing a choreography, is an activity based on “learning and remembering sequences”. Of course, there is more to choreography than remembering sequences, but this is a story for another article.
For now what is crucial to realize is that our brain doesn’t differentiate Tango steps from contemporary dance steps, for example.
It is all steps to be remembered and therefore exactly the same skill.

If therefore, you want to build on remembering sequences faster you need to add a choreography based activity to your schedule.
This way you are adding extra practice time on the very skill of remembering sequences, avoiding though the burn-out that focusing solely on 1 activity causes.

What kind of activity can you do..?
It can a choreography based dance class (contemporary, hip-hop, jazz etc), a cardio dance class, cardio Hi-lo class, a Zumba class or some types martial arts classes.
And if all of the above sound like too much… you can start with something simple and fun straight from Youtube in the privacy of your own home:
https://youtu.be/RzYegenvzRE

Have fun!
Chrisa
P.S: If you do use the video, follow Andy a couple of times, then try to do it without looking at your screen. When you can do the whole thing without taking a glimpse at the video, it is time for a new song!