The Blog

Embracing Connection

Embracing is your connection!

A Chilean living in Amsterdam, A Norwegian, an Argentine living in Nice, A Portuguese and me, an American living in Berlin all dancing tango in the same place! This is only one of my European experiences …..and it reminded me of this email message from a dear student who asks:

Would you consider discussing strategies for facilitating forming connection with tango partners within the short span of a typical tanda? I was dancing recently with a leader who made this observation: “You’re like me, it takes a while for you to relax and connect with your partner.”
Often, I feel like I’m just figuring it out when the tanda ends and I have to start the process all over! Is this normal? Does it improve over time, or?

I love this email. And here’s my answer:

I bring all my tools with me that I have learned up until now on how to be a follower. And I think the most important one is to embrace honestly and really embrace. I immediately hear my dear Maestra, Graciela Gonzalez’s voice in my head, ENTREGARSE. The woman has to give herself over to the leader, by really placing trust from that first embrace.

During my recent visit to Budapest I was conversing with one of their lovely local teachers, Bela Barabas, and he said, I like how you really fit into my embrace. The idea that he embraces me and I situate myself with him. Versus, a static idea of how I will embrace him. (or entering into the embrace the same way with everyone.)

I have some physical things I do to attempt to find that connection from the very first moment. I start inside my body first – I imagine my legs deeply rooted into the floor and from the floor I create an imaginary circle up to my arms that are reaching into the embrace and both sides of my back in the embrace reach, as if they could reach completely around my partner, and they connect into the embrace with him, I continue my circle of energy above and around him as I grow a little taller diagonally but still maintain my grounded-ness into the floor. My circle is transmitting information to my partner about where my legs are and that I am ready. I might inhale into my back space, as I call it – I inhale and allow my back to fill his embrace, his container that he has provided for me. I am meeting my partner where he is. And I give him opportunity to find me where I am.

It all is in the embrace 🙂 So Embrace!


To sign up for a private lesson please go to this google doc link click here


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October 2015 Workshops in Arizona

I just came back from a beautiful week in Budapest! It was hot and it was such a picturesque city. I coulBudapest 1d not believe how much of it reminded me of Buenos Aires. No wonder they used it as a backdrop for the Madonna version of Evita! I had the pleasure of being the Master of Ceremonies of  their El Sabor de Hungria Festival! I wandered the city aimlessly, took a sunset boat tour on the Danube, and took A LOT of pictures.

With that being said, I am one month away from returning to Phoenix for a week! So please be sure to connect with. I am really looking forward to it, as it appears that autumn is just around the corner here in Berlin! (60 F already here! Burr!)

Workshops in AZ and Hosting the Tuesday night Practica (like old times!)

Join me for Workshops in Scottsdale, AZ on October 10th & 11th

SATURDAY is for BEG/INT Dancers
3:30 – 5:00 Technique & clarification of tango concepts to improve understanding for social dancing
5:00 – 6:30 Taking what we practiced in the previous class we will expand it with more vocabulary for social dancing

SUNDAY is for INT/ADV Dancers

3:30 – 5:00 Technique: walking, embrace, axis, posture, presence and Tango attitude
5:00 – 6:30 Advanced Phrases and musicality for Social Dancing

All classes are at SNAP 4425 N. Granite Reef Rd Scottsdale, AZ
$35 for 2 classes or $20 / individual class

PLEABudapest At NightSE RSVP and consider bringing your favorite dance partner.

Although I am in Berlin until September 30th, you can leave a message or text on my google voice number: 
480-442-9550 or send an RSVP MESSAGE EMAIL TO ME

I will also be available for a limited number of
(Currently there is availability on Friday October 9th between 3:30pm- 6:30pm at SNAP and other times please contact me directly to arrange).

I will host the Tuesday night Practica on Tuesday October 13th also @SNAP.

And FYI, I am also working on hosting a milonga! SO stay tuned for all that information! But it will be a great weekend for dancing!



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What I Remember by Patrice Davison

During my years at ASU I was really really blessed with so many creative and talented students. I’ve read poems written about tango, short stories, photographs taken inspired by tango, paintings made, illustrations, buildings designed for tango, boardgames for tango, songs written and played, you name it! All these things were presented as part of the Tango course and submitted for a grade. Tango clearly inspiring the young! I have also been lucky that some of them keep in touch, and on occasion I will get a message or see their lives on Facebook. (Those who follow me on Facebook may have seen some of the comments they post.)

Although this assignment wasn’t submitted as part of a grade, I was so moved by how intensely and clearly she captured her tango journey that I asked her if I could share it on my blog.

So with Patrice’s permission and initials used instead of names of others, I give you a beautiful write up of what Patrice calls What I Remember:

Looking back at this year (2014), I thought I should write my What I Remember About Tango. But half the problem is I don’t know how to translate it for you guys. Tango is its own culture, its own vernacular, its own celebrities, its own family drama.

How do I explain how long it takes to walk, to extend, to stay on your own axis? How hard it is to listen to someone else and translate that in your own body? To understand your body, the spiral in your core, the lengthening of your spine. To know the music so completely that you stop at the end of the song whether you’ve heard that specific one before or not.

How do I express the joy of dancing the perfect tanda with A to live music in Albuquerque? The first time E cracked a boleo on me and I felt it spiral down my spine and through my leg and foot? The shock and amazement of G leading me into a seamless volcada after hours and days and months of trying to strengthen my core and trust enough to make it happen? The joy of following every tiny movement T makes in a milonga tanda and not missing a single traspie? The humor behind the tanda with D in Albuquerque and why I couldn’t stop laughing? The jump some random guy led me in San Francisco? Finally fulfilling my dream of Chacarera on the beach?

Patrice and Juana 2013How do I impart what amazing people I’ve taken classes with and how I have grown so much from them? Chicho and Juana, Martin and Maurizio, Maxi and Jessica are some of the best in the world, the most influential, and the most creative. And yet the names can mean nothing to you.

It would take hours to explain, pages of definitions, and still, when you aren’t in it, you can’t understand the obsession. How it feels like a drug; the need to dance constantly, to dance with “your” leaders, the high highs and the low lows. Not saying that there isn’t mediocrity, there is. Trying to teach the new generation as you were taught only a short year and a half ago. Knowing exactly what someone is going to do before they even lead it on you because of repetition. And a hundred meaningless tandas in between that one amazing one of the night.

All I can tell you is that it has consumed me and changed me and I can’t live without it. Sometimes I wonder how I got here. If it was B in my African Dance class telling me about tango, or the first day of class when T told me I was a natural, or Daniela and her brilliant teaching, or finally, feeling how great it felt to dance with T, or A at Comic-Con telling me I had to take tango two, or him asking me to take the Chicho and Juana workshop with him. I think it was all those things and none of them. The one thing I distinctly remember is standing in my bathroom one night after a practica, my feet feeling like they wouldn’t stop moving, and being unable to imagine not having tango in my life. This was before I had tango friends, before I had traveled, or done any of the amazing things that have since defined me as a dancer. I simply knew deep down that I had to continue. Now, after tears, frustration, sweat, anger, joy, laughter, and friendship, I wouldn’t change that decision for the world.

Patrice is now in the Peace Corps in Ecuador and she has actually shared tango with some fans in Quito! She hopes she’ll make it to Buenos Aires before her time there is up!

Daniela and Patrice 2014

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Hip Dropping

Dropping your hips?
A student came to me recently and shared with me that another teacher had told her that to find her balance (which had been a problem for her), all she had to do was “drop her hip”.  And well, as you can imagine, I have some issues with this.

Now, this isn’t the first time I had heard about dropping the hips, for whatever reason, aesthetic or for balance. Many years ago (2006) was probably one of the first times I had heard a follower talk about how she used her hips when she danced. Back then, I thought, WHAT? use your “hips”, how??
Fast forward a few years, and dear friend and world traveling teacher, was talking about how she drops her hips in the dance. She and I had a short heart to heart, where I shared with her that I didn’t think that was very stable or healthy for her joints. I also shared with her some of my Restorative Exercise (TM) information. (She told me a year later that she had thought long and hard about our conversation and had chosen to do it less).

I see a couple of issues with the idea of dropping the hip: what dropping your hips does to your own body and then what message it sends to the leader.
Hip Dropping

So what am I talking about when I say “drop the hips”? And I know cuz I’ve always been a hip dropper. After all, it was the cool way to stand through most of my puberty! Then hard core training in modern dance entered my life and you had to be able to control the movement of your hips in all directions, on all planes of movement. What I also learned is that the muscles of the leg and the pelvis work synergistically to keep your legs ideally under you to help support the weight of your torso.

Those who have attended my “Pelvis” lecture and read my blog on the generic use of the term hips know that our culture has a general idea of where the hips are. But when I say dropping the hips, I think you understand that I mean that model catwalk of dropping the hips so one side of the pelvis is lower than the other.

Look at the picture I have here (nice cool outfit so you can see my hips): my right hip is dropped. Now look at the shoulders and the diagonal pull of my shirt. My right shoulder goes up to compensate for that drop. Another more subtle thing that you will see on some people, is that when they drop their hip, the other hip will move farther away from the center line order to compensate. In other words, my left hip (approximately at about the level of my wrist) would move farther to the left. (Some followers and leaders experience, over time, pain here. This is why, too much movement to the outside of that leg – the femur – is pushing away from your midline.) Sometimes with this comes a rotation of the thigh bone inwards and well, the pelvis might compensate as well with a tilt. WOW! Who knew all this was going on? And meanwhile the spine is being drawn downwards and depending on your embrace, guess what else is pulling downwards? So could you be hanging on your partner because of this? Possibly. We all know that tango is very individualistic so we can’t generalize too much.

Now with all that being said, when the follower takes forward steps there can be a bit of hip swaggering. I see this as attitude and makes sense with a heel-first step in a forward step.

For me the energy has to be drawn into the midline, your stability and balance are here. Anything, “sticking out” or “moving around” means that the base is compromised. And here is where I think that the language used has lead to misunderstandings in the idea of using the hips. Think of this analogy, like a building, there needs to be a good foundation. And maintaining a solid base doesn’t mean there isn’t any movement, a building is designed to expand and contract, and so are we.

Remember – I’m not telling you WHAT to do but I am asking you, do you know why you do it?

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2 Classes Coming Up

I had the delight of participating in a small tango weekend in a lovely German town about 2 hours from Berlin called Erfurt a weekend or so ago. There were about 100 attendees. The dancing started in the day and went into the evening for 3 days! This happens often here in Europe but this was my first one!
I met one of the DJ’s, Julian, in 2008 in Houston and we hadn’t seen each other since. Amazing how tango can bring together people after so much time.
I think I have mentioned before how hot these milongas get. Well, it was another hot milonga but I took a picture when most of us were still fresh!
Meeting a handful of people living in different parts of Germany including some Argentines who are living in Munich is part of the fun!

I am excited to report that I will be teaching 2 classes (finally) in Berlin. One will be a part of the pre-milonga Practica class at the El Ocaso Milonga on Wednesday, July 15th at 7pm.
The next one will be an Alignment For Dancers class on Sunday July 19th at 12:00pm at Tango Berlin Studio.

I am looking forward to both of these events as most of my teaching up until now has been private lessons. So this will be a nice change.

I am still finding that I desperately need to immerse myself into a German Language class and with all the craziness of my living situation I have had little time and energy to commit to a course. In a nutshell, EVERYONE is looking for a place to stay/live in Berlin. Unbelievable!

The heat and humidity have arrived in Berlin and now most Berliners are heading to nearby lakes to cool off and get some sun(burn)!
That’s the update for now!

Reminders that I’ll be teaching in Scottsdale, AZ in October and in Albuquerque, NM. Let me know if you’d like me to come to your city!


Erfurt Architecture 2 Erfurt Architecture 1 Julian Inram DJ Gabor Afternoon Milonga Erfurt Afternoon Milonga



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