Why is your butt sticking out so far behind you? Have we decided to embrace the caricature of tango? Your lumbar spine is so curved that I have lower back pain for you. Are you being taught this way?
I have a really hard time believing that other female followers are teaching followers to stick their butts out, compromising their lumbar spines and thus the affect is that their bellies now hang over their own toes. If there is a loss of integrity in the core muscles, this posture compromises the spine and the knees and the ankles and ultimately, I believe, the connection.
So I am not asking that followers keep their stomach muscles tightened for an entire milonga! But I am asking that we take some time to remember that there are 2 of you in this beautiful dance and the only one responsible for you is you. Before you jump on me about lead and follow and what the roles in tango are, let us get back to this dynamic posture question.
Posture in tango is a dynamic entity. It is made up of the embrace, the followers’ commitment to a standing leg and a free leg, and her commitment to her partner and to moving/dancing. Within this dynamic posture, even before the 1st step, many things are happening. For example: Do I know my partner? Have we danced before? Is he distracting because he is handsome, smells good, looks like a good dancer and finally asked me? Is he smelly? Am I unsure about my decision to dance with him?
I think as a social dancer we must wipe the slate and focus on the task at hand – dancing and making a connection. And I realize that there isn’t always 1 way to problem solve if things aren’t feeling comfortable. BUT I do believe it is my responsibility (as it is the male or leader) to be the best follower I know how.
Here’s my personal checklist from all my years of dancing (not just tango). The checklist is a partial inventory of images I use to focus myself when dancing. It is heavily influenced by my training with Mindful Movement Master, Pam Matt and Tango Maestra, Graciela Gonzalez, who I am always grateful to for having helped me change my dancing and keep me growing in the dance. A word about the images – let the images do you! That’s all they are – images – so let your imagination enjoy them, your body will do the rest.
1. Zip up!
I picture zipping up an imaginary zipper from my pubic bone to sternum. Graciela speaks of 2 centers – 1 below the belly button and the other around the sternum and keeping them equidistant from each other.
2. Up the front and down the back!
Just following the zipper image in the front there is an equal image in the back. Allow the tailbone to lengthen to the floor, as if there was a little weight attached to it. This image has been effective for followers who complain about lower back pain. This image is not about tucking the pelvis; it is about working with your proper body to attain proper length in the muscles.
3. Bigger than you are!
Imagine yourself as being taller and wider than you are. Command your presence through your width and your height.
I often invent new words when I am teaching; fountaining is 1 of them! Imagine that you have a fountain sprouting out of the top or crown of the head and it shoots over your partner’s head. If this image doesn’t work think about dropping your chin and elongating the back of your neck.
5. Encircle the embrace.
Imagine that you are a encircling your partner with the embrace. After all tango is circular!
I have seen much success with these images and I believe they need a class to further explain them and embrace the questions that arise from working with them. I hope that Followers in this dance feel supported and STAND UP for themselves in a graceful and elegant way.
For more information or advice on being a Follower contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org