The Blog

Reflections on Confidence

Hello everyone from rainy, wet, windy Wuppertal!
I’m here to report that my stay in Austin has come to an end and I am now in Germany.
I am so grateful for the time I had in Austin. I met some wonderful people, visited with others who have been a part of my tango life, taught some great people and was able to spend much cherished time with my parents. I encourage students to keep on keeping on! You hear lots of seemingly mixed or contradictory ideas but the goal really is to continue to enjoy tango for yourself and find a teacher who you like and invest in that relationship.
I was reminded over the last few months how important confidence is for a student’s self-perception in the dance. I am lucky that my profession provides me the opportunity to educate students about their bodies, their personal biomechanics and then linking that to their tango. From this phello from wuppertallace they can make wise choices about how dancing works for them. I am beginning to think the body and a student’s understanding of it, helps with confidence. Practice does too!!!
All of this jogged a memory of a class I had with Dr. Pam Matt (who I have mentioned before) where the idea was presented about how from a young age, we naturally have a curiosity about our bodies but this curiosity is soon suppressed and from then on we have misconceptions of our bodies: Where things are located, what they are called, how they work, etc. and then comes cultural and environmental impositions of shame or whatnot. And we aren’t really taught much about our bodies thereafter. As we get older usually pain becomes the trigger to learn more about our bodies, which then might reduce our confidence to move in certain ways. Our ability to do it, whatever it is, is curbed by the pain, which of course, naturally, decreases the confidence. Pain can be a natural teacher, making us more aware and guiding us to seek knowledge for prevention and healing.
I think if we have some information about how our bodies function we can use them more efficiently and of course in something like dance, this helps. So back to having confidence. The more we know the more we can move with confidence. It’s about the journey. And that’s where I am now, on a journey… I will learn new things about myself, my body, my strengths etc. This will all influence my dancing and my teaching as well. 

What steps do you take or have you taken on your tango journey to educate yourself about your bodies and its functions?

 

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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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End of February Workshops at SNAP

It has been raining a lot here in Austin and has been cold! Perfect weather to get things done, sleep, eat, and get organized! I have signed up for a German language intensive class and have reunited with some old tango friends, as well as a friend who I knew nearly 30 years ago!!! Aside from doing a little bit of teaching here I have organized a weekend of classes in Scottsdale.

Daniela Teaching with AmandaThe workshops are scheduled for the end of February @ SNAP – Saturday, February 28 and Sunday, March 1st.
Saturday will be geared to Beginners/Intermediate students and
Sunday will be geared to Intermediate/Advanced students.
3:00pm – 4:30pm we will concentrate on technique, drills, and clarifying vocabulary
4:30pm – 6:00pm we will use our technique to refine our dancing for the social dance floor. I will teach vocabulary and musicality.
I am looking for 16 students for each class each day so please register directly to me to confirm your spot. $35/day or $20 for each class.
SNAP 4425 N. Granite Reef Rd. Scottsdale, AZ

Your support by spreading the word is always helpful.

I look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks.

PRIVATE LESSONS:
There is limited time for private lessons and semi-private lessons so let me know ASAP. Private lessons will be held at SNAP and in Chandler. Private lessons are $85 for 45 minutes, $160 for 1.5 hours + $10 floor fee (per hour). Semi-private lesson of 6 persons or less $160/1.5 hours + $10 floor fee (per hour).

CONTACT ME DIRECTLY by Sending Me an Email or by calling me or texting me : 480-442-9550

 

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The Tango Workbook First Edition

The Tango Workbook BookcoverIt has been about 5 weeks since I left Phoenix and I’m happy to report that I finished The Tango Workbook in time for the new semester. The Tango Workbook is a 65 page PDF document geared to the beginning Argentine Tango student. It is NOT a how to dance book – it is however, a supportive text for those students who learn visually and like to read what they might have heard or missed in class. I cover milonga etiquette, leader and follower technique reminders, a short history of Argentine Tango history; I talk about pivots, la cruzada, molinetes and more!

I have spent the last several years writing this workbook and have received feedback from students who have actually used it in their Argentine Tango course. Here are some of their comments:
It’s easy to read and to follow along with the class.
I liked the workbook and the information is super useful.
I sometimes miss things in class so when I read the workbook it helped me remember what we learned.
The section on Milonga Etiquette was very helpful. I was so glad that I read it before my first milonga experience. I was prepared!

 

 

 

 

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