Find us on Google+ TANGOFIX: 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Floorcraft for Followers

Followers Floorcraft? YES!

On a crowded floor, or when following a leader you are unfamiliar with your feet should remain close to the floor during any boleo to avoid injuring someone during such conditions.

It brings to mind an incident that happened while I was dancing at a milonga in Buenos Aires where I led a very small close circlular boleo, and my follower did a rather large whipping switchblade like thing that caused the follower from the couple in front of us to let out a blood curdling scream (More for effect than becuse of real pain I think). Talk about an embarassing moment.

I'll never do that again, no matter how good I think my follower is! (or will I?)

Floorcraft is the responsibilty of both dancers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Breathing and Tango

Being centered is essential to good tango, and breathing and self awareness are essential to being centered.

I have found that breathing in the way of Tai Chi, is the most effective way to create this internal self awareness.

To start with you should be relaxed and stacked up, head, over heart, over pelvis over feet, like a stack of blocks. Secondly your head should feel suspended as if it were filled with helium, or hung by a string from above. Your feet should be very grounded as if they grow roots into the earth each time you take a step. Finally the tip of your tongue should lightly touch the pallet just behind the ridge.

To describe what I am talking about think of it this way (I am only a casual student of Tai Chi and do not consider myself more than a beginner, but I have gleaned some very useful insights even through this limited study). First of all think of your breath as being able to go down much further than your diaphragm, think of it being able to reach the area near where your bladder is. When you breath in try to visualize the air taking a path down the inside of your sternum and reach the area I have described (Tan t'ien), you "belly" should be relaxed and expand outward (this allows more room within your abdomen for your diaphragm to deflect downward as well as lowering your center of gravity, a very good thing when it comes to maintaining balance). Additionally you pelvic floor should relax and expand downward during the inhalation.

Visualize the air following the path I have described and gathering into a spinning ball in this area maybe the size of a large tomato or small cantaloupe, this is your center in my thinking, and where your movements should initiate from, the position is not static and may be moved in many directions, for example forward, backward, diagonally, up, down, or sideways.

When exhaling the opposite of what I have described should occur with the air flowing up your spine, your "belly" contracting (exhale from the bottom up, never completely retract your abdominals), and your pelvic floor rising to complete the cycle(all our muscles should remain just right, that is to say nothing too tight nothing too relaxed). One should always think of this ball I have described as being in position and spinning (down in front up in the back) with some amount of weight (not floating as a balloon would, more like a ball of energy sand, if you will). By maintaining the position of this ball of energy a person will be able to control weight transfer more effectively.

This is a very simplified description of what I want to get across but I think it is sufficient to get a person thinking in a positive way about breathing control and centering.

When leading I try to always be aware of my breathing and use it as an indicator of when I am about to do something for example taking a deeper breath before doing a traspie, or sacada etc... I'll also try and tune in to my partners breathing as another level of connection, very satisfying!

Enjoy the experience, and I hope you get as much out of it as I have.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Leading from the Ground, Up

All energy in tango comes from the ground (it is what we push against to move and it is what we push against to stop or change our acceleration/deceleration to remain smooth), this is why we strive to remain grounded.

I have found that foot placement is one thing that is very seldom taught to leaders, or followers, in the workshops and lessons that I have attended. What I am talking about is placing your foot in a way that pre-leads your body to be in tension (read as twist energy) to lead your follower to do the thing that you are going to lead next, Leading from the ground up.

Many times teachers will tell their students to place their foot in a certain way with out explaining the reasons for doing so. For example they may say place your foot at a ninety degree angle to you other foot, or to the direction of your secada.

What is needed is to make people understand the idea of circular movement (you around her, her around you, each of you around the other, her around her own axis etc...) and the role that creating torsion in your body to make the lead work in a dynamic fashion, this is also true when it comes to creating the same type of forces in your followers body to make the lead "irresistible", in other words getting your follower to do what you intend without pushing or pulling her, make her think that what she did was the only natural thing to do (of course it is).

This being said it is also possible and desirable to put the tension in your body by leading from the top down,(this is what we as leaders usually do with our followers and something that followers should strive to intensify in their dancing, Following from the top down, Another topic often neglected). Leading from the top down is far more difficult but can be done.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reviewing Old Video from Former Workshops

I recently was going trough some old videos stored on my hard drive in an attempt to get rid of some junk there, and I came across a few old files that show workshop demonstrations from years gone by.

I have a few observations about these old videos;

Most of the material has been incorperated into my dance even though at the time the material seemed difficult.

The videos show the material that these instructors went over in the class and to me it doesn't seem like enough material to occupy an hour and a half workshop.

It always seems like the instructors were trying to get to a more advanced concept but were stopped due to limitations of skill of the attendees. (The tango community where I live is small and often classes are made up of a very wide range of abilities often streching from very advanced to brand new).

There are things that I do not recall in the videos that are extremely important concepts and were discovered through trail and error later.

Sometimes it seems as if the instructors left things out that may have helped the students.

I need to do this more often as a refresher, it was a very usfull excercise.