Reflections on Tango

Scapula Affecting Posture and Embrace

Are your scapula affecting your posture and your embrace?

I am convinced that the form of our bodies, our auto-body-graphy, really shapes how we dance and also how we teach dance. If I am tall or short or wide or whatever will greatly impact how I move. It will also have an affect on how I embrace. We know that there could be other factors influencing embrace but what I want to talk about today is a phenomenon that I see and experience in Tango, which is a posture with scapula close together.

Where / what are your scapula?

They are the lovely triangular shaped bones on your back that are your “wings”! They connect your upper arm (humerus) to your clavicle.

The shoulder girdle is very dynamic and complex. Just take a moment to imagine all the different things you can do with this part of your body. Attaching to the arms and sliding along the ribcage (at your back) they assist in so many different actions: pushing, pulling, lifting, throwing, carrying, holding. Yes, those actions are done with your arms but try them and see if you can feel your scapula moving too. They move when you shrug, possibly deeply sigh, if you’re cold and your shoulders move to your ears … you get the picture!

Shoulders Back

So for the sake of “good posture” people have lifted their chest – thrusting their ribs forward and forcing the shoulders back, pinching the scapulae. There are about 17 different muscles that attach to the scapula allowing for the movement in your shoulder girdle: allowing you to “stand up straight”, “stop slouching”, “pull your shoulders back”. Yes, culture helps to shape us too! So how does this affect our dancing? Happy you asked!

What I have been feeling with some leaders and followers is that with the scapula pinching or moving towards each other, the arms pull me into them or the arms are not being used at all, which leaves me trying to find my place in this embrace that is not a circle and leaves me being pushed. I guess one way to counteract would be to assume the same position and push back into my leader but this would, as I say in the video below, would put me in a position to greatly damage my spine and other muscles as well as put extra pressure into my other joints, as in my knees. Not to mention being off axis.

Again, the most efficient use of the body is one that doesn’t stress it and uses it dynamically. I’m not advocating dancing one way but if the one way is 1) causing you pain or your partner pain 2) is not allowing you to execute figures dynamically and efficiently, well, maybe there’s a better way!

Here’s my video blog. Let me know your thoughts! Leave me your comments and discoveries!

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What are those legs doing? Are they social or not?

Are those legs being social or not on the dance floor?

I’m talking about those frog shaped legs at the milonga. After a long slash along the entire length of my calf from a heel at a milonga I have been compelled to write about this. And leave you a short video.

After the slash, I sat and observed this particular woman as I wondered how she could have managed such a feat. She was clearly having a great time dancing with the same guy, giggling and enjoying their unskilled tanda. AND I am not here to criticize her enjoyment of being completely manipulated by her leader. But no wonder she was off balance at one point committing some version of a front boleo with a wide gap between her legs that resembled a #4 stretch with the heel in question facing straight out towards other unassuming victims.

LADIES, those legs are meant to come together for a reason. EVERYTHING in tango comes from your understanding of walking, which translates to your understanding of the relationship between your 2 legs, which will translate to your pivots and to your boleos and all decorations.

Your weighted leg, your standing leg is YOUR responsibility and through your connection to your partner you are given information on what the other, the moving leg, is to be doing.

In general throughout my teaching in the US and Europe, I have found a general misunderstanding about this 2 legged relationship. I find those who are extremely fixated on KLT Keeping the Legs Together and those whose LEA Legs are Extra Appendages that they have seemingly no control over!  With the KLT group this fixation renders them remarkably tight to the point they can hardly move their legs. I am not denying that the adductors (a group of muscles of the thigh that bring legs together) are at play here but what IS missing is the understanding that your legs still have to move, and they move because, just like in walking, the thigh bone, the amazing femur, is a ball and socket joint. Those thigh bones are meant to roll in their places, in their sockets, in your pelvis. If you are so tight in your musculature here, you can’t move easily – which hinders many things, including balance. And the same is true with the LEA group. Meaning, they lose their balance too because the appendages are so far away from their home.

There is a way to manage both of these groups to have beautiful functioning dance legs without risk of injuring those around you or yourself!

So I leave you with a little video!

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Boston Classes for September

Boston Classes for September!
Currently in Boston, MA I’m happy to be offering 2 courses and privates lesson packages ready to change your dancing for the better.Boston Beginner September

Join me at Dance Union 16 Bow Street Union Square Somerville, MA

Starting September 11th I will teach a Complete Beginners 4 week series Mondays  7:45pm – 9:15pm

and

On Tuesdays starting September 12th, I will be teaching a 4-week series entitled “Wake up your Body for Tango: get it tango ready, you will discover what it means to be comfortable in order to express yourself fluidly and with elegance”. 7:45pm – 9:30pmTuesday Boston Classes
What we need now in tango is to wake up our bodies and get comfortable to express ourselves fluidly and elegantly. We will work both in flats and in heels throughout the 8 hour series. I will share with you information in the form of exercises from my legendary Maestra, Graciela Gonzalez. I KNOW your dancing will improve.

Please share these Boston classes with anyone and everyone who you know in the area.

Space is limited for improved learning. Registration is now open.

Please send me any questions and let’s get dancing!

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Tango: What the Dr. Orders

I love it when the Dr. orders tango. I know she is not the only one but here is a video from Dr. Christiane Northrup about how to keep your memory healthy and how you’re not losing your mind after 40!

I was first turned on to this leading pioneer in women’s health in the US while living in Boston more than 20 years ago. I met her briefly in NYC at a large conference on health as she was the reason I went! She was one of the first medical doctors to openly talk about the connection between the mind and body and your health. The author of many books, Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom was first published in 1994 and I remember gifting it to as many of my girlfriends as possible.

Of course, in this video, she talks about nutrition but the number one thing she recommends for people as they age is partner dancing and she, I know, loves to tango!

“76% reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s comes from doing partner dancing”!

and if you want to jump ahead in the video – go directly to 8:31 to hear Dr. Northrup talk about it!

ENJOY! And DANCE MORE and with a partner even better!!!

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Norway 2017

I have returned from an extraordinary weeklong stay in Norway. I went to connect with former students and to meet new ones!

This particular part of Norway is quite rainy. Even though it is summer time I had checked the weather reports. They had had a record of straight rainy days for the month of June. (versus August or another month!!!) So I assured them I would bring some sun! And we did have at least one most spectacular warm sunny day. I spent that day with a new tango friend. A fabulous Leading Lady herself, she invited me to her exciting place of work: Troldhaugen, the former home of pianist / composer, Edward Grieg. Amazing. I experienced a lunchtime concert with the fabulous pianist, Tor Espen Aspaas, who shared stories and quotes from Grieg’s life to accompany the 10 short pieces he played for us. I was so moved (yes, to tears!). After the concert, we sat and had coffee with him. What a most special treat! To discuss music in a beautiful setting, outside, it was amazing. And the day just kept getting better and better.

The tours through this small museum, composer hut, concert hall, and Grieg’s house include guides with musical talents! One minute there’s a 15 minute “About my favorite piece” segment where a lovely young tour guide sang to us her favorite Grieg piece accompanied by my lovely new friend on piano. She then explained the piece of music: the motifs, the structure, her thoughts around the piece. It was fantastic. Then later in the Grieg’s home tour, another lovely tour guide accompanied by one of Grieg’s Steinway pianos in the living room sang another song to the tour group!!! WHAT AN AMAZING PROGRAM! This to me was the epitome of a musical experience! It really brings Grieg to life! A Must do if you ever go to Norway for a visit.

We finished off this part of the day with a 360 view from the top of Grieg’s home on the widow’s walk where Grieg’s wife used to have her plants! This was a special treat, don’t expect that on your tour if you do go!!! The day would not have been complete without some tango on the gorgeous wood performance space in the concert hall!

After that luxurious experience, 30 hours of private lessons, and packed group class, I will add that my Tango soapbox about embrace continues. The emphasis for the dancers (of all levels really) was to bring awareness to the connection through their embraces. There’s a lot of 1 sided embraces in Europe and both sides of the body need to be engaged in our dancing.

The week ended with my first attendance at an Encuentro. Another word for 150 tango friends from all over gathered for a milonga all weekend, with strict rules of etiquette enforced. And I’ll leave that for another blog!

Off to Berlin! and enjoy the pictures!

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