About Your Core and Tango

About Your Core and Tango

As you can imagine, I have a lot to say on this topic of the core almost as much as I have to say about your feet! I have to thank Anne from TangoSpace for her blog on The Tango Dancers Guide to Core Muscles for inspiring About your and Core and Tango!

It is true, as Anne says, that depending on who is speaking about the core there might be different definitions of what the core is or what a teacher might be referring to (I like that she includes the pelvic floor).

Anatomy of the abdominal wall

http://fit-screen.com/mlb-and-the-obliques/

1) Let’s Define the Core

For the sake of this post I will use the Restorative Exercise definition of THE CORE as everything the arms and legs are attached to. So this would include musculature in the pelvis, the back, the ribs, and the shoulders, too. That’s quite a lot of territory to cover! Therefore, the understanding of the core goes way beyond just those 4 abdominals muscles that are usually referred to from deep to superficial as:

  • TRANSVERSE
  • INTERNAL OBLIQUES
  • EXTERNAL OBLIQUES
  • RECTUS ABDOMINUS

2) More to your Core

Because the trunk is void of solid bony structure(s), which allows for mobility between the pelvis and the ribs, the core musculature attaches in layers to something called the aponeuroses which also connect to raphe. You have 3 beautiful raphe in your body – the linea alba, and the 2 linea semilunares. So in picturing the most gorgeous six pack you can, you will see a major line down the middle of that 6 pack and 2 on the sides – these are raphe. I bring up the raphe because these collagen structures provide strong attachment points for the abdominals. The linea alba, for example, is the raphe that runs vertically down the midline of the body, roughly from the sternum to the pelvis. It connects not only to these bony structures but to all the other abdominal musculature there as well. The whole abdominal structure is a woven basket of layers of muscles, tissues, connecting to the aponeurosis and raphe. In order to work or generate force, a muscle needs something strong to attach its ends to, in terms of your abdominals, this will include your raphe.

6 pack abdominals

http://theseanpritchard.blogspot.com/2016/01/shape-your-6-pack-with-these-varying.html

In the case of the abdomen it is the lineae that can have a bone-like function, providing a strong point of attachment and offering resistance to a working muscle— essential for producing force.
Bowman, Katy (2015-12-29). Diastasis Recti: The Whole-Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation (Kindle Locations 227-229). Propriometrics Press. Kindle Edition.

And why do I have this lovely woven basket of muscles in my midsection? Oversimplified, to support the contents of it – the spine and the organs (lungs, kidneys, heart, sex organs) and to allow for mobility (to squat, to reach, to climb, to turn, to bend, to rotate, to roll).

 3) So how is alignment going to affect abdominal strength?

You knew it had to come back to alignment right? The length of those raphe will affect your potential strength. If they have been lax all day they will not be effective because they are not being used or being called upon to be used.
You have heard me say in previous blogs that what you do with your ribs and your pelvis will influence your alignment. And the direction of your rib cage relative to the pelvis also dictates how tense/ taught those raphe are.

4) And those high heeled shoes

Maybe the blog should have started here! How are those shoes affecting your core musculature?

A heeled shoe forces a change in the geometry of your ankle joint, which in turn forces a change at the knees, which forces a change at the hips and to the tilt of your pelvis, which forces a change in the position of your ribcage, all of which alters the length and force-production capability of your core muscles.
Bowman, Katy (2015-12-29). Diastasis Recti: The Whole-Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation (Kindle Locations 767-769). Propriometrics Press. Kindle Edition.

So no wonder we have so much trouble in tango with our cores! We spend the bulk of our day sitting or slouching at a desk, maybe wearing heeled shoes the bulk of the day and then we go to our tango classes and expect our cores to work for us. How can we possibly manage?

5) Solutions

Well, I’m again not here to tell you to throw away your favorite CIFs or to get your buns to the gym but you can remember to notice your alignment throughout the day and make sure to do some Restorative Exercise calf stretches. We are big fans in Restorative Exercise to take alignment breaks throughout our day.

Take stock of how you stand and how you sit during your day. How often do your arms or legs do something other than what they have been doing the majority of your life? Ie: arms in front of you, sitting at a computer, then at the gym in front of you in the same position riding a bike. The arms in one position means that they are limited in their range of motion – which too affects your core musculature – (extend your arm over you head as if to reach for something on a high shelf – do you feel your ribs move and your mid section? hello abdominals!)

In conclusion, check out your pelvis and your ribs’ relationship and your feet throughout your day. And if you are trying to hold your stomach in hoping you are getting an abdominal workout, you are actually doing more damage to your internal organs and your spine, so remember to keep breathing. And as always, 

Call or SKYPE Me to discover how to integrate your body
 

And try this class with Katy Bowman
https://vimeo.com/194905510/134effd84a


*T
hanks again Katy for all the great books and info.

 

 

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Alignment, Posture, and Tango

Alignment and Posture and your Tango

What is the difference between these 2 words? When I hear alignment I think of my car: when it is aligned it functions properly. Posture makes me think of someone “posturing” a presentation to the world that may or may not be alignment.

We talk about our tango posture – how we configure our body to be able to dance tango.

But what about alignment – can we be aligned and dance tango?

Thanks for the picture https://www.funnyjunk.com/Posture/funny-pictures/5597251/5

I bring these ideas up, yes, because of my Restorative Exercise Certification and current obsession but also because I have dancers who come to me in a lot of pain thinking that is the end of their tango careers or that they need new shoes (which maybe they do) or that they will only dance with certain followers/ leaders (which might be good, too) but with some suggestions regarding alignment versus posture they’ve been able to change their dancing for the better.

So how can we define alignment?

The online dictionary offers us this: arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions.
That’s the direction we are headed but still not how I want to contextualize Tango and Alignment.
In the Whole Body Alignment course I took for the certification we spoke about alignment in these terms:

Alignment is NOT for the purpose of aesthetics, conveying an emotion, or to identify culture. It is the required skeletal position to achieve the desired outcome of accessing your full potential energy. Alignment is for cellular regeneration. We want to use our skeletal position for cellular regeneration. In order to get cellular regeneration we use our alignment to maximize the potential energy into kinetic energy. The best geometry = the least amount of joint friction or compression (which would cause pain or injury.)
(Daniela’s notes from lecture Whole Body Alignment )

amanda standing barefoot

Thanks Amanda

Alignment from the Restorative Exercise standpoint is a necessity to obtain optimal health. If your cells are regenerating they are healthy, they are receiving oxygen and expelling toxins and are essentially happy. (That’s the very short form!) And in reality this is not a new idea. Think about what chiropractors do, Alexander technique, or other similar modalities. They try to line you back up! So the concept is not new… but the approach might be.

In Restorative Exercise we use alignment markers, which are essentially boney landmarks on the body, that we want to align in relation to each other and, in whatever position we might be in, we are looking to have the best possible alignment of these markers. For example: If I am sitting on a chair, on the floor, or standing, my pelvic markers can be aligned, my feet, my knees, my head, ribs, etc, can all join in.

Ashlee dumping

Thanks Ashlee and Erick

I believe that we need POSTURE to dance tango.

Posture as defined by Merriam-Webster:
the position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose

But how much POSTURE is too much? Is there such a thing as too much posture for tango? And can you use alignment markers to help your posture? I SAY YES! If you are in a lot of pain at any point in your dancing, then I say, clearly something is wrong.

I think we all need a tango coach and we all most definitely need an alignment coach. Alignment is needed for our overall health and well being as much as tango is needed for our health in other ways. For me they work synergistically.

Get in touch and peruse online videos for Restorative Exercise Nutritious Movement(TM).

 

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Advice: Traveling for Tango

Traveling for Tango 

I recently received a message from a young colleague who was asking for some advice on becoming a traveling teacher and expectations on traveling for Tango.

I know some of you are experienced in traveling for tango and some are just starting out on the great adventure. Those of you who are my longtime students will come to understand all that goes into traveling for tango.

I have put together a list of things that I have learned that you might find helpful.Traveling Norway 2015

As most of you already know, Tango for me is about connecting with others, it is essentially about relationships, and when you decide to host someone or to ask to be hosted you are forging another level of relationship with someone and their community.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always as glamorous as it might seem. And again I can’t emphasize enough, that you want your experience to be win / win for all parties involved. It does not pay to burn bridges. And in this day of social media, word gets around FASTER than before!!!

So here’s how I go about it…and I know more experienced teachers might have things to add (so please feel free to comment).

1) THE INITIAL CONTACT  

It could be via email or Facebook, with an invitation to me or with me requesting to visit.
If I am making the initial contact I try not to put too much information in this message, and of course depending on whether I know them or not, I also include my website. If I have dates in mind I put those, if there is something special I want to do, I will include that. If a host contacts me first it might take several emails before I actually get all the information I need to make a decision. I use my experience from my Executive-to-the-CEO days for these introductions and requests, i.e: be polite, make it clear what I want, check my grammar, etc.

So

2) FROM CONTACT TO CONTRACT
Whether it be a formal contract or an informal email outlining my understanding and my expectations, this is a must.Train Station 2016

Things to consider

Obviously the goal is to teach, to work, to make money. For some it is also about networking and building relationships. Sometimes I have had to weigh the pros and cons. Will I make enough money or is it best that I go to build a new network. Is it more about networking or about working?

Your transportation – Plane, train, taxi, bus, car rental. Know what your transportation situation is and discuss these logistics with your hosts. This includes will you drive me around? Will I be taking the subway?
Your lodging – What kind of accommodations are you willing to have for the time you will be teaching. Do you need your own room? Are you happy with a couch? Again you don’t want any surprises about this.
Food – Is food included? A food stipend or not. Do you expect to get fed? And how often? When you are teaching? 3 meals or 1 meal ?? do you need access to a refrigerator or a kitchen?
Other important things – for another colleague of mine it is important for her to have her own bathroom, maybe you have allergies. I put it all in writing.
Space – Where am I teaching? I like to be clear about this expectation too. Is it in someone’s home? Does it have mirrors? Do I care? Is it a studio? I’ve taught in homes, studios, churches, cold places, warm places. All good to know. In most communities the studio rental is expensive but an obviously necessary overhead.
Price – such a sensitive subject for some cultures and not so much for others. (A whole other blog!)
I know several teachers that either work a 70/30 for a weekend of workshops after transportation and studio fees. OR others who request a flat fee. I have done both and again it always depends on the situation. However, I still try to have some very clear ideas and goals before I hit the ground running.
I found all this a challenge at first, not to sell myself short and yet wanting to break into a scene and the ultimate goal to be asked to return.
It is important to be clear on what you need – you can always negotiate. And also take into consideration the local climate and the exchange rates. I find it valuable to ask my host for price ranges on private lessons. This gives me an idea of the price ranges the community is used to. Some communities were all about private lessons and some communities, forget it. I was told by someone in one community that “our teachers here are so good that students just don’t pay for private lessons from any guest instructors no matter who they are!!”
And how do you want to get paid? Cash? Deposit to a bank? Do you need to make an invoice to the hosting organization?

3) COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE 

No one likes surprises! It is so important to communicate with your host/s, exchange phone numbers etc. When in doubt call or send a message.
For those who are hosts, remember that if a teacher is traveling a lot consider time zones and when they might be teaching. I don’t want to put a time on what appropriate response time is but depending on the urgency of the matter (and even that can be argued over!) let at least a day go by before assuming that the event is off or that they have cancelled on you.

4) GRATITUDE
You would be surprised at how many of these details are often overlooked by those who are hosting and therefore, I had to take charge of the conversation. And when I didn’t, and I didn’t get paid what I thought or didn’t even know what I was being paid, well, I couldn’t complain now could I? It is so important to protect ourselves as teachers, as artists, as servers to community.
And in turn it is so important for us, as artists, to be gracious. Because if you are not, you kill it for other artists.

During my stay in an unnamed european country, I was warned that if I stated that I was from one part of the world they would not be happy to receive me as they had had so many bad experiences with teachers from that particular region. I was shocked but then understood everyone’s hesitancy about hosting me.

There is a difference between being a diva and treating people well.

I recently heard a shockingly horrifying story from a colleague who was put up in a sparse apartment (including the visiting vermin, yes, rats!) with an empty refrigerator and was told to walk to the local convenient store at night alone for food. REALLY? I was so horrified by this story. I again ask that hosts take a look around and decide if they would want to be treated the way they are treating? And to the teachers on tour, make sure to bring your credit card along and be ready to use it if you need to. In this situation, the host was not willing to assist, or make things better, or move my colleague. My colleague took the matter into their hands and spent the night (awake) looking for a hotel and then moved.

So I leave you with my utmost amazing hostess experience…

My hostess did all my advertising for me, collected fees in advance from participants, communicated regularly with them via Facebook and I was able to see some of that communication and participate by adding my excitement to the event. She picked me up from the airport, took me grocery shopping, fed me as much food as I could possibly eat and then some. I had my own comfortable room and bathroom. She drove me to classes and to the milongas. I felt so comfortable there I slept amazingly! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! – you know who you are. Happy teacher Happy classes Happy community!

May all your travels be joyful and easy!!
If I forgot something I would love to hear from you….We can always help each other to make it easier and safe for all of us.

 

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A Letter

A few years ago I started blogging and dedicated that first blog to my father, Carlos Borgialli. Recently we were in discussion about tango and my travels, isolation, loneliness, why do people want to learn tango, etc. Shortly after he crafted a letter to a doctor friend and he cc’d me on it. I am sharing the letter with you today. (I edited it for grammar and spelling and I took out the parts that weren’t relevant.)

Welcome 2017!

January 5, 2017

Dear Dr. M,

Happy New Year to you!
As you well know, I am not a psychologist or a sociologist but I do have over 40 years of experience managing technical teams and the most challenging experience of being a father.

During the last few weeks I was attracted and intrigued by the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, in his 2016 commencement at the University of Arizona in which, among other things he stated:

 … We have stronger internet connections but weaker personal connections… I learned early on in medicine that isolation was the most common challenge my patients faced. It has real consequences. Isolation and weakening social connections are associated with increased risk of heart disease, declining brain function and shorter life spans.

Dad and I in Mar del Plata

Dad and I in Mar del Plata

I thought that these were issues facing retirees or old people but at the same time my daughter forwarded me a video interview of Simon Sinek regarding the millennials. Among the key points of his presentation there is one passage that caught my attention:

Friendships are superficial they will admit to their friends that they don’t count on their friends, they don’t rely on their friends. They have fun with their friends but they also know that their friends will cancel on them if something better comes along. Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practice the skill.

Every generation has its challenges and each generation has found ways to overcome them. However, in all of them, it required interacting with a human being. So social skills were paramount to find a job, a wife, partner, friends, etc. etc. in short, to live in a society.

I drive by a school bus stop every morning and I see the kids waiting and no one is talking, all of them are hooked to their phone. Is this the new norm? They are becoming handicapped because by the time they enter the “workforce” they will need to interact with other humans. However, I am finding that his problem is also affecting the older generations. Watch the mall, lonely people walking alone. Maybe it is an epidemic and we, me, are in denial.

As Mother Teresa said, “loneliness (and the feeling of being unwanted) is the most terrible of poverty”. Are we becoming the richest, most technologically advanced but individually “poor” society?

Technology should be a resource to assist humans and not a vice or addiction just as Simon Sinek stated.

The reality is that technology will continue to evolve and perhaps will make isolation more prevalent. Social media and the likes of Facebook do not create friends, nor do dating sites.

My daughter has a masters in dance and teaches tango, travels all over and she confirmed that loneliness and isolation is one of the reasons why she has so many participants in her classes. Some of them have stated time and again that “tango” has changed their lives. I do not think that tango changed their lives, I think that the mere act of socializing, interacting with others is what Dad and I as toddlermade the difference, a new world for many, perhaps.

And by the way, learning tango is not an easy task but it does promote nonverbal communication and interactions that are not technically assisted. You have to leave your phones, connect with people!!!!

It could be the cheapest medicine for isolation, although insurance does not cover it, but the results could be a longer life.

All the best,

Carlos G. Borgialli

 

 

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Au Revoir Montreal Hello Private Lessons in Phoenix

Au Revoir Montreal! Hello Phoenix!
It is snowing on my last full day in Montreal. It appears that snow opened and closed my trip here. I met some wonderfully Longueil Class Canadawarm and enthusiastic people during my stay. It was such a pleasure to be here and to reconnect with some “old” bodies (!) and new ones!
During my travels, it is always fun to experience running into some of my mentors and teachers who have impacted my life in some way. Here in Montreal I ran into Tomas Howlin and Graciela Gonzalez.  I had an insightful conversation with Tomas and seeing Graciela always brings me great joy.
I so appreciate Tomas’ clarity of the bigger picture and how articulate he is in this expression. In discussing tango and realizing that there are fewer dancers now who were ever in touch with the old milonguer(os) (as); the idea that going to Buenos Aires and being able to get a glimpse of those “greats” dancing is basically gone. A lineage of people to be able to look up to or to emulate or to say, “aha, that’s where that came from”. And now, we ask, what is truth in tango? Is there really permanence at all? You can find all things on the internet, all truths, all ideas, opinions. Youtube shows us how it can all be done without really understanding or knowing or grasping a context for it all. How great on one hand that if you look up how to walk in tango or how to execute a certain move, you can probably find it, done and explained a variety of ways. No real experts, just a sea of voices, bodies. And what gets left behind? Well, probably the next person who outranks you in Google views and “thumbs”!Anca and Jean Sebastien
And Graciela continues to inspire me with her body intelligence in conveying tango in a most natural way, free of tension – THIS IS THE WAY TO BE! just sayin’!!!

I am off to Phoenix, Arizona, arriving on Thursday. Happy to be teaching in familiar places with some familiar faces! I have a week of activity and technique and dancing to share with you! Hope to see you first off at Mijana for the open class at Nostalgias Milonga.

I have set aside some time on Monday, December 12th for private lessons. If you are interested please contact me directly.
I have three 1 hour slots from 4pm – 7pm available. There is some other times available as well just send me a message. If it is to go over material from the weekend or to work on body alignment topics, I am here for you!!! As we all know one on one time can really make a difference in your dancing!

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