Tag Archives: Technique Vs Sequencing

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..!

Make your giros “YUMMY” by bringing them down to the bare essentials

Last week we talked about how we can use embellishments to practice on important Tango elements.
With a simple embellishment, we saw how we can practice balance, posture, disassociation, ochos, timing and much more.
Today we are going to take things a bit further by unweaving our giros step pattern!

What is a giros exactly?
giros
Photo credit: thy khuê via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Oups! Not this one..? haha
Ok!
So a giro is a sequence where, the follower–usually–is moving AROUND the leader.
It can be done in an open or a close embrace. It usually follows slow-slow-quick-quick-slow rhythmical pattern. And it might be of high or low speed.
In terms of footwork, a giro is basically a combination of steps and pivots. Specifically, forward, back and side steps combined with forward and back pivots.

You want the video now, don’t you?
Here you go: A practice drill for some yummy giros
Go to 0:16 to see the actual giros step.

What causes trouble in the giros?

The most common problems followers have in giros are:

“I feel off balance, especially during the back ocho…If I try to make it bigger I fall back, if not, I am moving away from my partner”
“Relying to much on my partner for balance. As I am going around, my partner complains that I am dropping all my weight on him…”
“I am feeling like I can’t keep up…either my steps are too small, or my timing is off, or both…?”

Any of these ring a bell, or many bells..? Mmmm…Yes! I know…
So, what are you noticing though?
The first problem has to do with big back ochos, the second one has to do with body alignment and the third one with steps and timing of the giros…So, aside for the timing, the rest have little to do with the giros itself.

NOW PAY ATTENTION here, this is super important, not only for the sequence we are looking into today, BUT for every sequence in Tango!

The giros reveals the technical problems the followers have. Meaning, you are not having trouble with the back ocho because your giros is not good enough. You are having trouble in your giros because your back ochos are not good enough… Two completely different problems.
Same goes for body alignment, power/ size of your steps, disassociation, posture, even timing!

The giros is not the problem, you are messing these things up even when you are not doing a giros, you just hadn’t realized.

How can we fix it?

All right, lets go back to our video here:
A practice drill for a yummy giros

As you can see I am taking the sequence and I am breaking it down to its bare essential pieces.
Side step, forward step, pivot, side step, back pivot, back step.

When you see it written out this way, it is quite clear what you need to work on:
Walks–forward, side and back
Ochos– front and back

That’s it! If you make those better, your giros WILL be better!

As you can see in the video, in order to practice those elements I put  together, a LINEAR combo of side steps and forward/back ochos.
I start off against the mirror, not only for balance but so I can make sure that I am keeping my distance between me and my artificial partner the SAME throughout the drill.

Not having to go around, I get the chance to:

  1. focus on my footwork
  2. work on the power of my steps, without jeopardizing my balance
  3. alignment and posture
  4. disassociation
  5. transitioning smoothly from one step to the next AND
  6. timing between my steps and pivots

And then I put ALL that to the test…NO partner!
Doing the “NO PARTNER” test will give you great insight. Try to identify which part of the sequence is working out for you and which is giving you trouble.
Don’t just go through the movements, try to see where you are lacking. When you have spotted the culprit, practice on THAT!

For example, say that when you step away from the mirror, during your forward ochos you are having trouble keeping your balance.

STOP RIGHT THERE! Practice your forward ochos ONLY!
Why?
That is what is causing the trouble. If you can’t do it, following  a straight line what makes you think you can do them in a circle?

Do the same thing for any other component…

Don’t go back to the BASICS go back to bare ESSENTIALS

What we did above with the giros you can and SHOULD do for every sequence, from the simplest one to the most intricate!

Why?
First of all, even if you don’t fully remember the sequence–see I know you now ALL too WELL..haha–you can still practice parts of it.

Secondly, to get better at something you need to be able to identify, what it is that is holding you back from progressing. When you have a whole sequence to practice on, it will take a long time and many repetitions to find what it is that makes the whole or part of the sequence go wrong. If you break it down, in a matter of minutes you will know, what it is you need to focus on.

Thirdly, when you break the sequence apart, you can put it  back together in MANY different ways…and work on your improvisation skills too!
Like I am doing with the box/cross/basic step, or however you want to call it.

Fourthly, you don’t have to be an advanced dancer, or to know many sequences to start practicing. Even a SINGLE forward step can be broken down to: Projection, shift of weight and collection.
Work on each one of these elements separately, find the culprit, fix it and your forward steps WILL become better.

Have fun! 😉

-Chrisa

 

 

 

A Drill for a better Ocho!–You need Better NOT More..!

When I started dancing Tango–I am referring to the very first milonga I danced in–I had only taken 4 classes, so I knew–or thought that I knew–how to walk, how to do an ocho and possibly some basic sequence combining the two…That’s it!

Thinking…WHAT? HOW?

The “how” is now obvious to me, though it wasn’t back then…
My teacher cared and taught me to care as well!
I care for Tango. I cared from the very first class. Therefore I wanted to go out, see Tango, hear Tango, dance Tango. I wanted to be part of that community, to be part of Tango.

In my first milonga, of course, I was terrified!
I still remember it…
I went with a friend, we walked up the stairs and backed up a couple of times. Then when we finally made it, we sat at the table at the very end of the room, with our backs pressed against the wall and hoping that no one will notice us..!
Needless to say that didn’t work…haha
Very soon, we were asked to dance…
And guess what?
We had a blast! It was a night full of music, dancing, chatting and meeting new people. Amazing!

We very soon realized that it wasn’t as scary as we thought. We didn’t need to know every possible step leaders can lead nor have a great technique BUT we did need to care.

Care to become members of this community, to become better in our dancing and most importantly, care to find ONE basic thing that we can enjoyably do while on the dancefloor.
If, for example, we could do an ocho, feeling like we are dancing from head to toe, without struggling, and feeling that our partner can relax into our embrace while leading us…Then THAT was IT for us. We needed nothing more.

If you have spent years, asking and/or getting simply more…More sequences. More steps. More technique. More milongas. More guest instructors. More years. More dances. More experience. More confidence…More, more, more…

STOP IT!

IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!

Think of all these mediocre restaurants out there, where they have a 5 page menu but NOT ONE dish on that menu is worth traveling across town for.
Don’t confuse variety, range, knowledge with quality.
You don’t need MORE, you need BETTER!

As Seth Godin says: “Better is better than more!”

So here is my suggestion for today: PRECISION

ONE basic drill, on a basic Tango element, in this case the ocho, focusing on ONE important characteristic of it, precision.
Argentine Tango technique on ochos

As you see in the video, I am starting with a small traveling forward ocho–very basic, for leaders and followers.
I am NOT doing any big challenging pivots or embellishments. I haven’t placed the obstacles too far/ too close together or tried power my way through…
I am taking my time, focused and with the intention of making the pivot precise enough to pass in between the obstacles. When I can’t make my way through the little balls of paper, I stop and repeat.

Try it out!

Focus on getting better on the ordinary.
Actually…focus on getting EXTRA- ordinary on the ordinary!
You need BETTER not MORE.

-Chrisa

A Tango private that costed 400$. WHAT THE {TANGO} HELL?

A private class with this wonderful teacher, Pablo Veron costed 250$ last year!
250$ PLUS travel expenses  to and from the city he was in…
We are looking at 400$ and a 12 hour round trip, to take ONE Tango private class.
FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS

Common expected reactions:

“Why? Couldn’t you have taken a private with someone from your city?”
“Was it at least 4 times better than other private classes?”
“This is just RIDICULOUS!”
“Did you have a partner to split it, at least?” Or
“Are you…?(Add one of the following: crazy, insane, out-of-your-mind, stupid, a show-off etc.)

Well, we would have the same reaction to a hamburger costing $250…It DOES exist!
See for yourselves…THIS hamburger
Or to $1392.74 Manolo Blahnik shoes…THESE shoes
Or to a $6000 Tom Ford suit…THIS suit

Why would someone pay that much money for 1 hamburger, 1 pair of shoes, 1 suit, ONE hour private class?

I used to think that spending this amount of money is irrational to say the least…But I never stopped to ask myself…WHY are people spending all this money?

I admit I haven’t tried the hamburger BUT I did try on those Manolo’s…
When I looked in the mirror, it was like looking at someone else’s feet! haha
I am not joking the shoes fitted perfectly and they transformed my feet, they made them look like a million dollars.
And I am sure, gentlemen that if someone gave you James Bond’s suit for free, a suit that fits like a glove as if it sown for you, you would have put it on and suddenly you would have felt a few inches taller yourself.

BEFORE the thought: “THIS IS TOO EXPENSIVE! IT IS RIDICULOUS” hits you

Ask yourselves is it just a matter of mere luxury? People with no sense who just spend money here and there?
Or could it be that people who pay 100x more, on something they are passionate about, they get the experience, the taste, the style, the knowledge, the satisfaction of a level of ONE HUNDRED times higher than normal?

Am I saying you should RUN out and buy that pair of Manolo’s you have been eyeing of some time now? No!

I am only suggesting though that we take some time to understand what is going on here, before we label something as ridiculous.
And allow ourselves the question: “Is this something I truly love and, therefore worth, every penny?”

It wouldn’t matter how great this hamburger is, to someone who doesn’t really care about food?
A fancy suit and amazing shoes might mean NOTHING to someone who never wears suits or high heels, right? haha

Going back to the private class…that class gave me:
Material that I worked on, for at least 6 months during my practice.
Elements that I used right away while social dancing that made me feel amazing on the dancefloor on that very same night.
Technique tips that I used to better myself and teach my students.
All that and much more in ONE hour!

Do the math…

1 hour with a fabulous teacher= $400
6 months with an OK teacher= $2400

Despite all that though, hadn’t I been truly passionate about Tango, hadn’t I known this world- famous teacher, hadn’t I been ready to hear him out and ask the right questions, would I still have chosen to take the class?

And if I did, would it be worth it or mere luxury?

SO FOR TODAY: What has been for you the most expensive thing/experience you spent money on?

I am just curious — What was the most expensive thing you ever paid for?

Was it buying an amazing pair of shoes? Treating yourself to Tango holidays? Staying at a 5Star hotel?
Come on! Spit it out!
You can share anything at all, NO judgment here.
Let’s just talk about what it was that you spent your money on and how it made you feel?

And next time I will give you tips on how to spend your money and time in Tango, so you can experience high quality instruction, guilt free and with amazing effects on your progress!

-Chrisa

P.S: Coming UP: I will tell you how to choose your classes, your teachers and the content of your privates depending on your level.
What questions to ask… How to time your classes… When to shift your perspective and towards what… and much more! Stay tuned