Tag Archives: Teaching

Frey Faust- on movement

Frey Faust has been a teacher and mentor to me and many others around the world.
When you visit his personal website https://www.freyfaust.org you will see his bio titled as “dancer, choreographer, teacher, writer, artisan… etc.” so the first time we attempted this chat I had to ask the question what would the most appropriate title…
And he said to me: “I am a person… human… animal. All these titles are things I do, not who I am. I am working towards my potential as a person, trying to have a quality existence and also make the world a better place for me and however many people I can. Everything I do has these underlying motivations.

I got to know Frey through his work, the “Axis Syllabus” for which you can find more about here http://www.axissyllabus.org.
I was at a frustrating curve in my Tango practice when I took a class with Pablo Veron; the greatest thing I was reminded of in that class was that I need to look past Tango to look at movement holistically… And so here we are!

What is this chat about?

This chat is not specifically about Tango; it is not even about dance. It is more about movement, how to learn, how to practice, how to explore and how to inspire others to explore along with you.
If you are teacher you will have the opportunity to hear some strong advise on how to approach a class, how to observe and how to listen
And if you are a student you will get some starting points on practice, acquiring knowledge and building awareness of your body.

If you inspired to learn from Frey Faust directly he has a great list of events taking place all around the world which you can find out under “events calendar” on his personal site; If you have the opportunity you should grab, it is truly rewarding!
You can find some really exciting events such as Traces: https://allmecen.com/main/contents/projects/339
or this one-week event taking place right here in Toronto: https://dianebruni.com/mri-with-frey-faust-2020/

I hope you will enjoy this chat as much as we did and if you wish to listen to more chats such as this one, visit: https://bautanz.com/tango-chatting-dancers-grab-coffee/

Enjoy,

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

 

 

My Tango community is so unwelcoming… or it might be just me

“It might be just me, but I really feel that the Tango community here is not very forgiving. And it is actually a bit unwelcoming..!” Many many people

Classic NPS case!
New to the Playground Syndrome

What is NPS or New to the Playground Syndrome?

New in the Playground Syndrome, is a Tango disorder. The patient relives the scariest childhood experience—aka walking into the playground without mommy, daddy or a friend.

It is typically associated with awkwardly walking in the milongas, not talking/ dancing with anyone other than his/her group/ partner and wishing that somebody else will make the first move to come and greet them.

It is something almost ALL beginners will experience and plenty of other-level dancers when entering a new community.

I should send this in to Wikipedia and make it a thing! Hahaha

But first… lets explore the most common cures for NPS, why they usually don’t work and what you should do instead!

The most common cures to NPS and why they usually fail
  1. Don’t rush to hit the milongas. Wait until the time is right..!
  2. Stick to the practica/ milonga of your school
  3. Make a new practice/ milonga that is going to be better than all the others
  4. Try to persuade oneself that he/ she is NOT really interested in dancing but mostly learning— it can be true, but you probably know that before you even start taking classes…

Why these common cures do NOT usually work?
Well, simply because they try to avoid the problem than fix it.

Let’s start with #4: I don’t really like social dancing, I mostly enjoy the classes, learning the Tango

Most people, want to learn a/ another dance and that is how the end up in Tango. Maybe they saw it in a movie or in Dancing with the Stars and it looked interesting…

How did you start Tango?

If it was something similar to the reason above, and it wasn’t because you were on mission to discover the fundamental relationship underlying the development of perception—aka the dialogue between movement and touch… mmmm

I am pretty sure you are in it for the dance.

So stop wasting your time trying to persuade yourselves that you don’t care about social dancing, because that in itself will bring more bitterness and frustration.
As your knowledge and Tango vocabulary grows, the feeling of all of it being pointless will grow along with it. At some point, you will have no real incentive to keep learning.

Same goes with #2: Stay in your own playground…

We all know deep down why that is problematic. You are only dancing with same people, who know the same sequences as you, following a specific style of dancing and music.

After a while you are on autopilot. There is NO challenge which inevitably leads to 0 progress.

And I know what you are now saying to yourselves…
“Buuuut all these other places the music is not that good and the dancers are a bit snobbish, the space is not well- arranged, the host is obnoxious” …  And all that jazz!

How do I know? Hahah

Because I have said those EXACT same things myself!

No place was good enough for me… Until I realized that all these other places where perfectly fine but I was just too comfortable were I was and afraid to exit my comfort zone…
I mean they do call it comfort zone for a reason! Hahaha

But if you want to keep getting better, you need to step out of it!

So we are left with 2 more cures…

#1: Wait for the opportune time to go the milonga..!

And I ask you this; How can you tell?
And say, ok… your teacher will tell when it is the right time to go—if they are not involved in the crazy Tango politics that is…

But do we really want to make this grade 5 or a work environment were if you do your home work or if you work hard enough you get A+ or a promotion?

That is why I think this doesn’t really work… because it brings in the very ONE thing we are ALL looking to escape from when picking an artistic hobby— running after performance goals!

And
#3: Doing YOUR very own event that is going to be better than any other event in town…

EVERY beginner in the world has thought and/ or attempted to set up an event that would shake the WHOLE Tango scene to its foundation..!

Even the person writing this article, thought that her ideas were so unique. That she was of the very few artistic and courageous dancers to lead the change in her Tango community..! UNSUCCESSFULLY! Hahaha

Not because people sabotaged me but because I was an idiot!

So this one doesn’t usually work, for a number of reasons:

  1. What WE think is better, might not be better for everybody else.
  2. We have no idea on how to actually host an event and we don’t even ask anyone who has done it before.
  3. If we ask for people’s opinion, we usually ask people we know will agree with us OR fail to really listen to their feedback.
How to cure New to the Playground Syndrome

After extensive research, endless talks with leaders and followers and some s****y experiences of my own this is what I would do if I was a beginner again:

  1. I would ask my teacher what is the biggest mistake a beginner makes when starting to dance the Tango socially.
  2. Ask my teacher what are the fundamental elements of Tango
  3. Find out who are the best Tango professionals to look out for
  4. At the end of each class I would ask him/ her how what we did can be used on the dance floor.
  5. I would make notes of what we did, how they fit the fundamentals and how avoided or not the common mistake in class
  6. Watch A LOT of videos of high end Tangueros- as, OBSERVING. Not copying, or trying to learn sequences but observing their dance and noting anything that I find interesting
  7. Go to the milongas after maximum a month. BUT I wouldn’t participate, I would only OBSERVE. The etiquette, the rules, the mood, the atmosphere… Everything!
  8. I would try to spot or ask the person at the door or the organizer who are the best dancers in the room and focus on them
  9. If I had the opportunity I would chat with them in a very relaxed way about their experience so far—not for technique, or drills or anything like that… keep things general and cool
  10. Go to different milongas and repeat those same steps for a good period of time.
  11. Chat with my teacher and fellow dancers about all the things I have found interesting, from week to week.
  12. Ask good questions and give sincere and good quality feedback.
  13. After a while Video tap myself… REALITY CHECK! haha

If I came for a different dance community or another city/ country where we had some different layout for the milongas which I thought it would work. THIS is what I would do:

  1. I would first examine the constraints and obstacles closely. Being brutally honest with myself, see if by changing my attitude towards the obstacles can actually make your experience better.
  2. Talk to the organizers about hosting events. How do they do it, what troubles have they been facing, what they have tried in the past, what worked and what didn’t, how did they even end up doing what it is that they are doing… LISTEN very closely BUT take everything you hear with a grain of salt
  3. Chat with dancers—other than your friends—and tell them in full detail your idea. Look for their REACTION to it.
    If they say: “Yeah great idea…” Don’t do it… They won’t even show up.
    But if they say something: “OMG! Are you in my head, I have been thinking about something like this for days. So how to WE start, how can I help”
    THAT is true hope that your idea might actually be able to stand..!
  4. And maybe instead of doing something NEW, try to help something older get better..!

So, I don’t mean to discourage you, on the contrary I want  you to see your community with different eyes.

Aside from the constraints there is always room for more creativity, for more freedom and a lot more fun.

It is up to YOU though to see past the constraints, to create opportunities, to chat with people, to give and learn from your community before you earn from it—not necessarily in a monetary way of course.

Many of the obstacles, are things you have some control over as well.

Like the Cabeceo

Or building up your social skills in general: Networking your way through Festivals

Maybe building up your improvisational skills, to grow your vocabulary without learning new steps: Lets Improvise

Or becoming better in musicality, so you can enjoy your dances more AND give more to your partner even if you have only been dancing for 6 months: Musicality MORE than just steps on the beat

There are many things YOU can do TODAY that can transform your experience in the milongas

And as a subscriber of Bautanz you get even more tools for physical and mental transformation, the only thing you need to do is join us..!

How have you made your Tango dislikes WORSE?

I was listening to this podcast, this past Friday for the 3rd time…haha…yes I liked it a lot and among many other things I found this little gem question, by Jerry Colonna:

“How have you contributed to your dis-pleasures?” (approximate quote but you get the idea)

Isn’t that an awesome, counter-intuitive question?

Think about it, people usually either ask what we did to make things better or they throw their advice right in our face…

Like the 30th time you had a massive fight with your boyfriend and you ran to a friend furious and complaining, only to see them throw their hands in their air and say: “Enough already why don’t just break up with him?”

Don’t you want to punch them in the face?
Hahaha

Why you should ask yourself that question?

Personally, I loved this question because it makes us realize of unconscious decisions that make us miserable plus it gives us a place to start fixing..!

I translated to Tango like so: What are your Tango dislikes and how have you made them worse?
And look what happened…

Here is what a student and friend left as a comment under this picture on FB:
(…) I dislike the attitude of various students. Ego has no place in Tango in my opinion, its a patient dance about the happenings between steps; not a race, show or exercise but a dance. I’ve seen many many kind beautiful souls give up over a bad experience. I don’t really know how else to describe what i see, its like flashy politeness. That classy private sense of creativity and understanding that was once so captivatingly palpable has started to look shallow.

I’ve made this worse by not being the best dancer i could be;  at times, I’ ve compromised rhythm to create smoother movement and connection but it creates a clutter on the dance floor cultivating a subculture of mediocrity rather than learning better leading. I’ve been known to do flurries of ochos, attempt sacadas from strange positions, shirk away from a suddenly really intimate embrace, and not give the lady room or time to completely transfer onto her steps. And all is considered generally uncaring behavior, uncharacteristic of the Tango. (…)” Boris

See the full answer here: My Tango likes & Tango dislikes and how I’ve made them worse

Isn’t it now so much easier for Boris to progress? Knowing what causes the trouble and how he has messed up?

My Tango dislikes and how I have made them worse
My Tango Dislikes:
  1. It looks like a very mature and serious dance BUT for most of us, it takes a lot of time to reach a true maturity physically and mentally
  2. There is no challenge towards the teachers. Meaning students will hardly ever challenge their teacher. They hear the rules and just do them, without judgement.
  3. There is no challenge for the students, because teachers usually–not all–don’t invite the students to question anything… They don’t pose any questions and they rush to give answers. But that is no way to grow
How I’ve made my Tango dislikes worse:
  1. I have been that student and I have been that teacher
  2. I wasn’t asking my teachers any challenging questions
  3. Assumed that every teacher I’ve had, knew it all
  4. Even the questions I did ask, I wasn’t always fully listening
  5. I didn’t appreciate the teachers who really pushed me
  6. When I practiced I didn’t keep any record of what I did, what worked and what didn’t, for my teachers to have something to work with
  7. I researched at a minimum extent
  8. Pretended I was serious and deep spirited instead of spending REAL time growing my knowledge and feeding my spirit
  9. As a teacher I was afraid of my students getting better than me–NOT consciously of course
  10. I wouldn’t allow myself to face all the things I didn’t know
What I like about Tango:

The fact that it has allowed me to rediscover myself.
My passion for Tango made me push my limits, face my fears, take risks and grow.
It challenges me to become better not for someone else but for ME.

I like Tango because of how it makes me feel on and off the dance floor

How to reverse the damage?

Start from yourself!

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • What you like about Tango
  • What you dislike about Tango and
  • How have you made it worse

Be honest with yourself and you will then know EXACTLY how to proceed…

Look at this video for example of me before and after:
3 ways to go from good enough to great and beyond

Also if you have followed this blog or are a subscriber you will know that I share podcasts, articles and videos on various themes that I find inspirational, motivational and helpful for people who want to change and progress

If you have watched videos such as this: Heels Vs Toes
or taken any of my classes you know that I ask more questions than the answers I give…

Lastly, I ASK my teachers and peers questions–better late than never, right? hahaha
https://bautanz.com/2017/10/22/meet-mentor-ermis-karaboulas/

There is still a long way to go BUT the path is bright and clear!

Leave your comments below or send me an email with your thoughts, questions and answers, I would love it if I could help you out!

Best,
Chrisa

 

 

 

 

3 ways to change your practice to get fun, creative dances faster

Change…
Every time I think about “change” this scene from Friends comes to mind

Go to 1:00 and wait till 1:26 when he says:
“….Nobody likes…change…”
Hahahaha

Hilarious but so true!

A powerful story about change

Floyd Mayweather & Conor Mc Gregor, The New York Times

Do you know who the fellow getting beaten up in the picture above, is?
Mixed Martial Artists and UFC champion or simply the Notorious, Conor McGregor 

And the person who is punching him?
Floyd Mayweather 50-0 winner in Boxing and the winner of this lucrative fight.

Now I am wondering why on earth a mixed martial artists agrees to fight one of the best boxers of our times?

“For the money, Chrisa. Duh!”
I want to remind you he is already rich.
“Well rich people don’t have limits, they just want more.”
The truth is he can get more while winning:
I’ve already been raising the MMA checks, so don’t get it twisted,” McGregor said. “I’m still gonna raise the MMA checks when I go back there.

So why did he do it and why should we even care?

“I have many options in mixed martial arts. I’m sure there are options that will present themselves in the boxing game,” McGregor said. “Right now, I’m a free agent … We’ll see what’s next, but I’m open.”

What do you notice in this statement?
That he is arrogant and wants to keep his fans on the edge?
Mmm…
Maybe!

But also that he is flexible and  looking for the next challenge.
He says: “I have MANY options..” and “options will present themselves in the boxing”… “I’m open”

What else do you notice?
Come on now, stay with me here, you will soon find out why we are doing this. Tell me what else do you notice?

That he didn’t fight just any boxer. He fought the boxer with 49 and now 50 to 0 unbeatable boxing fights! He fought with one of the BEST!

And stated:
30 minutes was the longest I have fought in a ring or cage or anywhere. Surpassing my previous time of 25 minutes. I am happy for the experience and happy to take all these great lessons with me and implement them into my camp going forward. Another day another lesson!” (thenotoriousmma, Instagram)

So what did he do, this notorious Conor McGregor?

At a time when he is at HIS best level of fighting, he went to box with one of the BEST boxers, and could immediately identify at least 1 important characteristic that made his opponent great!
He was just a lot more composed with his shots.” C. McGregor

Now do you see why you should care?

If you want to continue learning and progressing. If you want to see results and creat more opportunities for yourselves to be creative and free on the dance floor.

You need to challenge yourselves. You need to change strategicaly built in your practice.

And this is how you do that:

The biggest mistake you can make in Tango is to limit yourselves to one Tango flavor. To avoid trying different styles, different techniques and different perspectives and approaches.
Challenge yourself not only for progress in general, but also for a chance to feel unique, to feel that you have a style of your own on the dance floor.

Have Fun,
Chrisa

Dance Teachers…What do you want to teach..?

Fellow teachers,

Dance teachers, get to travel a lot and sometimes when you are stuck in the subway, you can be taught a lot…and have fun too!

Downtown, middle of the day, and the subway stops..!
TTC– “We apologize for the inconvenience..!”
And as I am about to turn into a very angry bird…

Teachers--what do you like to teach?
A very interesting conversation is starting right next to me..!

Three teenagers are talking about a book they had to read for school, in order to earn a good mark. One of them says he will only read the summary and that is when it all began as the other two accused him of cheating!!!

Nothing interesting so far I know…wait for it though..!

A lady, sitting right next to them, jumps to the opportunity, saying she can’t but interfere because she is doing a masters in education so the debate is just too interesting. And if they could please lay it out for her…

She started by saying that indeed it is not cheating, since there is going to be a test with questions. If one can answer the questions, just by reading the summary, then that simply means that the questions are too easy..! (Valid point indeed!)

Then that led into how they are the young blood of society and they need to demand more from the school system. Which led into, the difference between being clever and being intelligent…which led into how clever people use the system to use others like when her father–who is sexist–tried to stop her from going to university…Which led into how Donald Trump is clever and able to use the system, and he may lead US to idiocy…and so on and so forth…

Bottom line: The teenagers should try to become intelligent, should demand more from their schools and they should start by writing an article about all this, which they should send to the “Globe” not to “Toronto Star”, we are keeping things classy! haha
(I am not making this up..!)

What did the teanagers do..? Nothing!

They said, not one word and they probably even stopped listening after the first few minutes of this 15min monologue!

But it got me thinking..!
What is the teacher’s goal, when she is asking her students to read a book?
To get her students to answer the questions right or to get to them to love reading, to love learning?

I want to believe, based on my experience from good teachers during my school years, that teachers hope to teach their students how to love knowledge!

I believe that their wish is to have students, who will grow up enjoying a good book, enjoy learning new things, enjoy getting into new adventures, broadening their horizons, changing their views about life, becoming whole individuals..!

Now obviously the students believe that the purpose of this exercise is to just answer the questions correctly…expected misunderstanding…hah

Haven’t you ever been in a class, teaching a new routine, where your primary focus is getting everyone to experience movement, teach them how to create something beautiful with their partner, teach them to love to dance…BUT…everybody in the class is trying to get their right foot perfectly at a 42⁰ angle to their partner’s foot?!?!?!

As teachers–and as students actually–we have all been there and I know it took me a few years to find the right balance between transferring the essence of the dance and actually teaching the serious technical part of the dance. So I tried to put down a few pointers that helped me get where I am and I am hoping to hear back from you with more ideas!

So here we go:

  • Give them time to dance!
    Though this might sound obvious, before you start introducing a full sequence, allow them to dance. Allow them to have an experience of their own on the element of improvisation and then start building the sequence slowly along with making corrections on their technique
  • Notice how you structure the class. Often times in our attempt to be clear and as specific as possible, we keep the technique exercises separate from the dance/ sequencing part of the class. I am not saying that is always a bad idea, but maybe sometimes you might want to change things up and instead connect your technique exercises to your sequence-building.
  • This can give you an opportunity to make some of the more difficult elements of the dance, easier to explain.
    For example, say you want to work on the posture. Instead of describing the posture and very clearly take the students through different exercises focusing on the posture. Consider putting a sequennce and then asking them to go through it, shifting their focus to different parts of the body. For example, they can initiate the movement from their atlas. Or instead, focus to  the middle of the body–where the kidneys are. Depending on how they are responding to this all, you can ask them to focus internally. Make them move from their heart, their lungs, move from within.
    This way, as they are dancing, they get to revisit their posture multiple times, following slightly different paths each time. The posture then becomes part of the dance experience, instead of just another thing they have to do.
  • Consider changing the music playlist in class more often. Organizing the music pieces based on the sequences you are teaching. This will give you the opportunity to talk about musicality more often instead of waiting for a musicality workshop. Plus your students will view improvisation as a subject, not as challenging, after understanding the logic behind it.
  • Lastly don’t forget to remind them, why they are in your class..! As teachers often times we need to remind our students that they are here to learn how to dance. They are here to have fun, as they are working past the frustration in order to become better!
    In order to do that, as the time passes, we need to focus on getting better and better. This way we will be inspiring and inspired! We can motivate and we are staying motivated! To stay on top of our game, we need to  keep practicing and find time to spend with ourselves.
    So give yourself, the time you need to practice. But also go out, and spent some time within your Tango community! Relax, dance and have some fun!

Take care me fellow teachers and keep on inspiring more and more people to dance!

Looking forward to hearing your ideas..!
Chrisa Assis

Picture:
Photo credit:https://jp3g Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND