Posts Tagged: technique

Geneva to Istanbul

On the road again from Geneva to Istanbul.

I attended a marathon in Geneva and stopped in Zurich and have one day in Berlin.Perce Oreille Marathon Geneva

I most recently learned that if you approach a leader and tell them that you would like to dance with them it is assumed that you are at a lower level! how about that… So many of these marathons are really hard to get dances with dancers you don’t know already. So how else will a girl meet new dancers?? I did try approaching the apple slices at a recent marathon and asked the gentleman in question (who I had noticed not only at this marathon but elsewhere too.. ) if he’d like to finish the tanda. That seemed to work out ok and I had a nice end of the tanda and another one! And he actually smiled.

Speaking of smiling – what a concept sometimes. I had heard this before that Americans smile too much or the smile is interpreted as fake. Well, in contrast I can see why! I also learned that women do not pay compliments to one another. I commented on one woman’s beautiful haircut, she giggled and thanked me. And another woman had on a lovely necklace and I said so, she was the one who remarked that women don’t pay compliments to each other. I said I enjoyed receiving them so why not give them out! Ah yes, the culture differences continue!

I had the most surprisingly remarkable dances with 2 leads from France. Turns out that one of them was a contemporary dancer – NO WONDER! He was tall (not difficult) and so integrated in his body and his embrace – how refreshing! Simple in his dancing and lovely in his musical interpretations! I was so surprised….. and so happy! The second was from the same city and he had spent some time really immersed in Buenos Aires. His integration wasn’t at clear but he was musical, he was energetic, really Genevareally lovely to dance with.

I spent another week in Zurich where it was sunny and warm for 2 days and then winter returned with rain and cold temperatures. I enjoyed more delicious chocolate from my favorite Chocolatier MAX. I went to 3 milongas and mingled with Argentines and Australians, Greeks, Chileans, Germans! I had several fantastic tandas with a young Australian doctor. I was able to share some Restorative Exercise and some Ladies Technique while there and sparked some more interest in what I love doing – Helping you to change your life!

I wanted to also stress that although from the outside we see and love embellishments (ladies decorations), that they are not generated as a leg somewhere “out there”, apart from the body. That leg that is generating a decoration, is inspired by the music, yes, but also from its connection to the standing leg/pierna de base. The decorations come from a clear understanding of the technique of tango, it all ties back to this. Just like the arms in the embrace aren’t separate parts but connected to your torso/back. You create a lot of tension when you are working these appendages separately than supported by your whole.

I have a one day turnover and I’m off to Istanbul. I am excited to be sharing a 3 x 3 as we are calling it. 3 main themes (walking, Train to Zurichsacadas, boleos) and immersing in them for 3 hours (not all at once!) I will also be doing 3 hours of Ladies Technique and 3 hours of Restorative Exercise. It is an action packed several weeks. My partner for this event is Irfan from TangoJean who I met in 2008 and his lovely partner Begum.

I feel like I need to say something profound on how dance can help and impact people’s lives, that it advocates for peace inherently but I have none really… I can only hope that as I share ideas about being aligned within oneself and that those who share time with me will recognize the strength and confidence that they can bring to any situation by understanding more about themselves.

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Axis: the W’s and the H!

Accessing your Axis: the W’s and an H!

Where is it? What is it? How do I use it ? maintain it? Who has an axis? When do I need to use it? Why do I need to know about it?

In a class recently a student was having a hard time with a “barrida” or a “drag”. And after many tries and different versions of the same concept, the question came up: Why can’t I do this? Or what am I doing wrong? And I replied, “The same concept that gets the follower to move in a walking situation is the same mechanics at work here.” He stared, not really blankly, but with a slight grin to his face!. I said, “So explain to me how or why my follower moves when I am walking in front of her?” He said, “I don’t know actually.” A HA – herein is where the problem lies.

He continued, “Well, in beginner classes you don’t get feedback and it’s hard to learn so now I need the fundamentals and I don’t want to go back to a beginner’s class”. (Actually, I’m not sure that’s exactly what he said but basically this is how I interpreted it!)

This is not only a rant about axis but also about pedagogy. What are teachers teaching if not a very basic fundamental concept in tango, AXIS. Sigh….

I guess cuz it’s not “cool” and not really what students want. But we as teachers do a disservice to the students without tackling this concept somehow! Because it shows up over and over and over again regardless of style.

Where is it?
Some teachers like to talk about the spine as the axis. I like this because even though you might never have had your spine purposefully touched you have an idea of what it is and where it is. The next level is imagining this line being in the middle of the body. I have also tried to access the idea by mentioning buttons on a shirt – your midline. Something to give students an idea of their dimensionality or, as I remember Los Dinzel saying, “your volume”.

What is it?
Axis is a fundamental tool for understanding how tango works with your partner. Your own individual movement relates to your own axis and to your partner’s. Some think of it as a “line” in the middle of the body but for me it’s more than a single plane or place.

How do I use it?
I like to think of the axis and moving through my body across my foot by using the articulation in my ankle. Did you get all that? Try this: stand on one foot (try barefoot first) and bend your ankle. Or move your spine across the length of the foot. Those who have taken my classes (or Rommel’s) think of 1, 2, 3 on your foot.
So you can use your axis along this transverse plane as well as combining the sagittal plane which would begin to add a spiral dimension along this axis.

Axis (PSF)

By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By maintaining it. I think awareness is a big step in the right direction. Are you falling over? Did you stick your butt out too far? Is there still a relationship between your sternum and your pubic bone (or your 2 centers as I like to call them!)

Who has an axis?
Aw! I know you know the answer!

When do I use it?
All the time.

Why do I need to know about it?
In order to dance and communicate affectively and clearly with your partner. (this is in both directions – as a leader and a follower)

Definition thanks to Merriam Webster
: the imaginary straight line that something (such as the Earth) turns around
: a straight line that divides a shape evenly into two parts

Back to that student: open and willing to understand he is now ready to practice and actually wants to work on this to get it more into his body. He knows it’s boring but willing to put in the effort in order to improve his tango skills.

Come explore more about the axis with me on Tuesday nights in the technique classes in Budapest. Or take an individual session to explore this concept directly with me.

Happy dancing!

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Eyes Open vs Eyes Shut

Does the title give it away? Do you know what I’m talking about? When are yours eyes open in tango and when are they shut?

Has your tango teacher told you, as a follower, to close your eyes? Close your eyes so you can feel more? so you can be more receptive? If so, I’m commenting on this.

I, too, have told my followers, my friskier follower babies, to shut their eyes. I might recommend this if the follower is particularly frisky or anxious or running away from the lead. At a milonga I have been known to close my eyes in order to pay more attention to my lead, as I DO get distracted! And I think sometimes at a milonga depending on my leader I am inclined to close my eyes.

HOWEVER, as followers grow up (in tango yearsI ask that they open their eyes for many exercises. I hadn’t thought too much about this until, during my training with Graciela Gonzalez, she spent almost an hour yelling at me to open my eyes. We have to not only be receptive with our bodies but also our eyes. The eyes can help us to become more present in our dancing.

Skull with lines from eye socketThis brought me back to my work with Dr. Pam Matt and what is referred to as The Thinking Body, (after the book by the same title by Mabel Todd, founder of the somatic form Ideokinesis). The idea behind the work is that the body’s posture and movement can change with mental focus on imagined actions, like visualization. The images used are creative, active and endless, and the body reacts to what the mind’s eye sees.

So I bring the idea to you for deciding to dance with your eyes open vs shut!

Imagine your eyes resting in your eye sockets and allow information to come into the eyes. I think our eyes spend so much time actively seeking information as opposed to passively absorbing what comes before them.

In the drawing of the skull I have added 2 lines, that ideally would make a cone shape with the circle where the eye would be at the far left position. If you imagine that the eye is supported by its bony structure of the skull, the eye socket, and then the muscular supports for the eye move diagonally back into the head (which they do). So if you could visualize the eyeballs resting in a relaxed state with the images that come before you moving into your skull where your brain and information processing lies! The eyes then become passive but your body still is receptive in well, almost the same way. Try this next time you are working hard on your technique and you have chosen to close your eyes, try opening them for a time and see what happens to your dancing. The real goal of the follower is not to “check out” while dancing, see if your passive vision can support you. And as a side note, check out what it does to your posture.

Thanks to Flickr photos for the skull drawing.
M
ore on Ideokinesis at http://www.ideokinesis.com/

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A Great Technique Class

On Sunday I conducted a technique class that was nicely attended by ladies from the Austin community. I am really enjoying my time in the Austin tango scene – Austinites are very friendly and this carries into the tango world as well.

Sharing technique and body mechanics to receptive and eager dancers is such a pleasure. I am seeing that there is a desire to understand the dance at a more profound level so having a forum for that is very rewarding for me as a teacher.

I remember when I first started dancing tango some female dancers in a class asked a adornos 1male visiting teacher whether ladies should practice anything alone to improve their dancing. His response was very clear, he believed no, that the dance is a couples dance and should focus there. I remember agreeing with him at the time because I think he was trying to stress the obvious importance of the couple, their connection, and the mechanics of how to make Tango work: how to lead, how to follow. After all it does take two as we know! My how times change and how 10+years can change my mind!

Now I find great value in studying my own body mechanics for tango, knowing that I need to understand something about my own body first, before I share it with someone else. I see this in my students as well. I like taking time in all my classes to have dancers find their own bodies before spending time connecting with partners.

In Sunday’s class, during the hour of drills, I spoke about the followers’ pivotability or pivotness. I speak of this both in The Tango Workbook and in my classes. The follower has to know that she has the ability to create a pivot, yes, generated from the lead but manifested in her standing leg. The pivots are also easier when the knee of that pivoting leg is soft or a bit bent. She controls her standing / working leg. It was great to take the time with the dancers to dissect the movements.

Remember, a coach can always help remind you of how the body can work more efficiently and that you can continue to work on the technique both alone and inside your tango embraces. Tango Coaching – love it!

Thanks Austin for a great class! We’ll do a similar repeat class on March 15th!

 

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WELCOME 2015

It has been 2 weeks since I left Arizona. I have been visiting with my parents, sharing alignment tips with them, and working feverishly on my Car in TexasTango Workbook for the upcoming tango newbies who will be enrolled at ASU. I have been going through old boxes that my parents had stored as well as registering my car in the state of Texas. It has been a busy couple of weeks and the weather has been as emotional as I have been!

In preparing to Welcome 2015, it has been fun to come across new ways to bring in the New Year by goal setting and making resolutions.

3 of my favorite:

1) From David Wolfe: get colored slips of paper and write 20+ goals for the new year in a jar and put the jar away. Open them at the end of 2015 and see what magic you created.
2) From Liz Gilbert: almost like a vision board but more of a mood board. Cut out colors and textures that you want for yourself in 2015 and create a collage. Takes some of the stress off the vision board thing!
3) Forget the resolutions, make a list of those things you are most grateful for, wonderful things that happened to you in 2014, go for at least 10. The End.
What will you do to prepare a great new blank set of 365 days?

Have a Happy New Year!

And a gift to you: the following video from my Ladies Technique Class summary that I did in ABQ after 6 hours of private coaching. Of course, the material has been pieced together from all of my great teachers. I thank them.

See you at the end of February 2015 in Phoenix.

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