Tag Archives: tango styles

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

Tradition Vs Modernism — Tango Traditional Vs Tango Nuevo

“I think tradition is something living not something dead. It is the opposite of habit (…) It is not a habit; If a tradition is alive, it is a living thing and it helps.
That is one side. The other side is modernism;
Modernism is the result of an area of experiences. And one has to grow his way, so to say, in this field which is more or less unknown, un-proved and un-checked.
So I don’t see why the two things should be opposite; They both belong to life” Giorgos Seferis

Tango Traditional Vs Tango Nuevo

I remember back in 2008–when Tango Nuevo had taken over Europe–I was in a festival and the Dj during one of the milongas was playing the oldest recording of the oldest Tangos possible…

We were about to kill ourselves!

2018… Anything Traditional is the true Tango and we can’t even think of listening at another Gotan Project song…

hahaha
Well isn’t life funny..?

In milongas, practicas even classes around the Tango world there is this debate on what kind of music should be played–traditional Tango or Tango Nuevo?

With the underlying question being, which one is the authentic Tango; the REAL Tango?

For years, I had a role in this game…
In the beginning, I was defending the Nuevo music bands, like they were my own…haha
You see… I had learned Tango listening to those very bands; and though I became a great defender of traditional later I have to say, on THAT music… I learned Tango well, VERY well!

And so maybe that was why I was saying things like:
“The beat is a lot more clear than the traditional songs” or
“This is the kind of music younger people can connect to” or
“This is 2000 and 8!” (all this was me, but maybe it was you too)

Then, slowly I started reading about the music, the roots, the tradition, the history of Tango. I got to learn and later understand and love that very tradition which in the past, I had so easily pushed away.

But I hadn’t learnt my lesson…
Yet again, now on the opposite side, I defended traditional Tango against Tango Nuevo…haha…
Saying things like:
“You have to learn the tradition, you have to at least attempt to understand what created Tango” or worse
“This isn’t even real Tango, it is club music” (all this was me, but maybe you too)

Now, I am asking myself, why..? Why do we have to choose one versus the other? Is this even a logical and healthy debate? Why can I NOT like both?

Tradition & Modernism — “They both belong to life”

When I heard this very old interview of Giorgos Seferis two days ago, I saw more clearly the answer to the questions above.

He says: “I don’t see why the two things should be opposite; they both belong to life”

Why waste time debating between traditional and Nuevo music when we can spend that time to discover and enjoy good music
And why debate over which is the real Tango when we can instead learn the tradition and explore the endless creative options we have in a modern society.

But most importantly instead of creating more and more separation in our communities why not work together to explore and learn from the past and take the tradition further by keeping it alive; by giving it new shape and breath; and most importantly by sharing it

(Photo by karurosuros on Trend hype / CC BY)