Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

6 ways to boost improvisation while using choreography

Depending on the type of dance you do you will find there is always some contention between the ideas of improvising and set choreography. Often the dances emphasizing social dance and freedom associate a street cred with being able to improvise cool moves on the spot. Tango is just such a dance. But over the last few years a new trend word formed that started to make long figures a taboe. Improvisation has been the kid on the block with a seemingly huge chasm between what people percieve as improvisation and what they actually want for their dance.

For the sake of what is written here improvisation is understood to be 'the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation.' (from oxford dictionary). SO when taking the above quote it implies creativity in coming up with something without previous preparation. This would imply that only someone born dancing tango could improvise. For all the people who had to learn dance at some point, it makes sense that we have in many ways prepared to go out social dancing. Often with the use of repetition of patterns however long or short. Improvisation  is an extreme, as is choreography. Both are tools if used correctly further your dance.

The same dictionaries take on choreography is:

'1. the art of composing ballets and other dances and planning and arranging the movements, steps, and patterns of dancers.
2. the technique of representing the various movements in dancing by a system of notation.
3. the arrangement or manipulation of actions leading up to an event'
Its also interesting to look at the definition of choreography. Coupled with some improvisation exercises, this choreography definition seems to describe the advice i would give to anyone wanting to learn a dance. The first point defines the type of dance, in tango we have sacadas, giros and forward ochos that are mini choreographies combined with improvising for social dancing. If a tango dancer starts locking or breaking is becomes another dance form. These small arrangements of steps help us to build body memory and good combinations of tango ingredients is often where the improvisation lies. While notation is not necessary in Argentine tango it is useful to have a systemised approach to the technique. Keeping in mind how this fits together with the bodies 'natural movement' ability and equilibrium in movement.

With all this i find a single message pertinent. Its the reality that no exercise is perfect and no term like improvisation will make you a perfect dancer. Instead its about remembering that most exercises are good for achieving a specific aim and aren't able to be universally performance enhancing. This is the case with terminology like choroegraphy and iprovisation. They are each tools to be used for the greater good of the dancer. Each individual will need more of one than the other, good and bad doesn't come into it.

1. Musicality building, Make a list of: 3 vocabulary items you would like to improve AND 3 orchestras or pick a music type e.g. waltz, milonga, tango (the more different the easier this is)
Once you have these things listed, go to your three pieces of music. Firstly listen and define what each individual piece means to you as a dancer and secondly how they are different from each other. Next create a short figure including your 3 pieces of vocabulary. The less extra steps and the more close connected your three vocabulary pieces are the easier this next step will be. Take your mini choroegraphy and dance to the first piece of music, express all the things you picked out in the previous steps. Do this for the second and third pieces of music. Once you are done you can change the order of your vocabulary in the figure making a new mini choreography. You can repeat the process again and again with new variations and totally new vocabulary.

2. Mapping exercise - Visualise a line going across the floor from one side of the room to the other. Choose a set of rules that define how you move along this line. The more rules and some combinations are harder than others so mix them up but be aware fo this. Possible rules include
  • The follower always has to step on the line. The leader always has to step on the line. Neither the follower or leader may step on the line but this must remain between the two of them.
  • Follower can only do forward steps, or forward and backwards steps or any mix of forward, back and side steps. This can be applie to leader and the couple as seperate rules.
  • Follower must do 3 free leg movements for every step she takes along the line. 3 free leg movements can be exchanged for shifts of weight or  volcadas, colgadas. Leaders can also take on the use of the rule.
  • Every second vocabulary step must be one of the following: sacada, barrida, giro, gancho, boleo, etc.
  • Laastly you can change the shape on the floor from a line to the line of dance for social dancing or crazy shapes for performances and fun.
3. Copy your leader - When out at a social dance leaders can dance directly behind another leader they admire and for one dance try to emulate the steps and style this leader dances with. 

4. Followers musicality - A musical follower is a beautiful thing, without her its very hard for a couple to be musical and without awareness of this its very easy to blame the leader for not dancing on the music. As a follower if we rely on our leader to give us the music we become passive in the dance and in our movements. Instead the exercise is to actively listen to the music and connect this to what your partner brings to the dance. So take a moment alone, list 10 pieces of traditional tango music by different orchestras. Search out the differences between these 8 pieces, how do you feel? what sort of steps would you imagine doing? Is there a strong rhythm/melody/patterns/singing? Just this simple exercise will open your ears for the next time you are dancing.

5. Musical choreography - music is made up in patterns. A simple one is the introduction, main body of the music, variation (often with violins or speeding up) and an ending. Recognizing the structure of the music can help to improvise. When you know when an ending is coming because you picked out the variation, you can find the last note with a great step. Another pattern comes in the phrasing or rhythms.


6. Repetition is the key - Create a small figure that is something you would like in your dance. perfect the technique and feel of the step. Once you have this (might involve help from a teacher), repeat the movement over and over again until you have it in your brains memory. Then add a second combination and do the same. Repeating over and over again. Slow build up a repertoire of repeat short choreographies and list them with names for reference. Each time you go to practice, go through the list repeating all your memorized figures until the flow easily. If you still have time left add NEW ones to the list. You will soon find that these short sequences come out into your social dancing, often with variations which is ideal for improvising.

Patterns are key to building body memory and perfecting movements for dance. Improvising on the learned patterns to bring more life and expression into the movements is magical, but without preparation this will only feel a mess. Instead see improvisation along with choreography as tools for helping you achieve your objectives. We shoudln't be ruled by a term that will go out of fashion in a few years.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing

 

As a professional dancer i have picked up quite a few little tricks over the years. Usually because i made a whole handful of mistakes and endeavor not to repeat them. Here are 10 quick tips to help dancers whether beginning students, experienced dancers or professionals (probably you have your own).

Build body memory. For each simplified basic movement of the dance or movement activity you wish to improve in. In the end a good teacher can simplify anything you need to understand, but you can't fudge the repetition needed to make a movement become learned.

Increase body awareness. With body awareness its a much quicker process to learn any movement based activity. Without it you can spend years trying to make changes that either will take longer to happen or your body simply won't understand on an intrinsic level.

Find your learning style. Become aware of the ways you learn best e.g. visual, kinesthetic, audio etc. Use the ones you are strongest in while translating to others you are less good in. The translation process makes the learning more profound. For example, i learn visually and kinesthetically but when i first started to teach i had to structure things in a verbal way for my students. Especially with questions but also to relate to the many students who aren't able to learn from a simply visual perspective. I found by making this translation of dance into words i learned a great deal myself too and continue to enjoy this new found learning style.

Give yourself time to find the learning space. Many students arrive at the start time of the class.  Totally understandable with the busyness of most of our lives. But it often results in feeling rushed, not something that promotes learning. With a bit of careful planning you can give yourself 5 minutes to acclimatize before the class starts by arriving a bit earlier. This 5 minutes is great for letting your brain become ready to learn.

Warm up before classes and social dancing. Sometimes it feels silly but warming up the body is really important. The more the activity asks from you, and this is personal, the more you should prepare yourself for it. When you are warm you also most better and more fluidly. The chances of one of those dances you will remember is much higher.

Learning is forgetting. Keep in mind that to learn something and take it in at a deeper level we often need to see it several times. Similar to body memory but for the brain. Let yourself forget things as part of the learning process.

Make sure your clothes don't hold you back. Depending on the type of activity you do, make sure your clothing allows for the movements you want to do as well as keeping you sufficiently covered. There is nothing worse than trying to do something and finding you either can't do it or don't want to as it leaves you exposed.

Take time for your own translation. Particularly for partner dancers but also for students who take a lot of classes. Its useful to take 5 minutes by yourself to put all the things you have learned into your own words and understanding. You can take a step deeper to try and link other things you do as part of your activity into this and check it with a trusted teacher or more experienced dancer. I always invite my students to check ideas with me and also tell them when its possible but not my personal approach or maybe i don't have the answer due to it being outside my expertise or comes down to a choice for the student i can't answer for them. After all i am not a guru but a dancer.

The first time you learn something sticks with you forever, or until you do a lot of hard work to change it. The first time we properly learn something we take it into our memory in a more profound way than the second and third times. Its good to make sure that you understand it correctly this first time and that you are getting quality information. This way you will avoid many bad habits that form due to misinformation. Secondly the amount of work it takes to change this first memory once made.

Ask your teachers why. If your activity is anything like Argentine tango then the question why is a good one. In tango everyone and anyone can teach, with a huge range in abilities to dance and abilities to teach. There are good dancers and terrible teachers, good teachers and terrible dancers and everything in between. The question why tends to cut through the crap. If they can give you a solid and clear reason why, then they probably know what they are talking about. If not then you can think on this. Just be a little aware of the difference between question about a step or subject being taught and questioning the teacher themselves. The second one is unpleasant on the receiving end and feels as though you are being asked for you credentials as a teacher. This is likely to close up most teachers making this a moot point. Active learning is essential to efficient learning and becoming more proficient. Its also rewarding and personally i find it gives a lot of enjoyment.

I hope these were useful. Try them out and if you want more information post a comment below. It would be great if you can spread the word about our new blog using some of the buttons below.We will regularly be posting information about dance, health and a little on Argentine tango.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The 9 Biggest Dance Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid



After years of watching dancers on the floor and working to improve the technique and posture of students. I have noticed some easy to avoid mistakes which tend to have big consequences in the dance both socially and for the dancers own health. Look at the list below and check where you stand, is there one you can avoid?


  1.  Bad quality shoes or wearing really old ones might very well be beautiful or super comfy, but do very little for you feet. Ranging from breaking when you only have one pair of shoes with you to physically placing your feet in an estranged position affecting muscles and alignment.
  2. Cling filming. What is that you say? well imagine the super thing plastic rapped around a vegetable and then imagine that this is what many women do with their hips. Rapping the guys package that in the least can be annoying and make guys avoid dancing and girlfriends won't like it. Make the social side of dancing easier and take your hips away from the leader. Its titillating and to all the women out there, that guy who loves to dance with you while you are doing this probably doesn't dance with you for your skill!
  3. Not caring for each others bounderies and the bounderies of the people around you. Often we become more relaxed about contact as we become more advanced in dancing. Caring for the bounderies others have around you takes a little bit of thought and can make a huge difference to the relaxation of the social environment. Respect individuals, their relationships and your own.
  4.  If you have a storm cloud above your head people won't ask you to dance in social settings. Imagine you are in their place and you see someone sitting there, obviously wanting to dance but is really saying with the body language that you will have a terrible time if you dance with me. You are probably very unlikely to go and ask them to dance.
  5. The dress that always moves up and too tight trousers. While the rules in dancing about clothing is often more relaxed so good pointers would be to make sure you choose clothes that won't become indecent when you move and avoid tight ones that will hold you back. A short tight dress will always move up.
  6. Not warming up before dancing. this is a well known one i think but well worth mentioning. Whether its light exercise or a rigorous workout, warming up the body is essential and gives time for the mind to get into the flow too.
  7. Apoligizing too much when things don't go well. This is a little counter intuitive but saying sorry for every mistake will not only make the others around loose focus but also make the likelihood of more mistakes higher. Everyone from beginner to advanced dancer is making mistakes all the time. The only difference is that higher level dancers aren't worried about it and actively search to deal with the thing that happens like regaining balance, rather than stop the dance to say sorry.
  8. Doing all the dance moves you know in the first dance. Whether you are a solo dancer or a couple dancing, bringing out your whole repertoire is usually overkill especially with a new dance partner who has to decipher or an audience who don't have enough time to absorb some of the great things you are doing in the barrage of steps. In many cases less is more.
  9. Expectations of dancing with the best dancers or an amount of dancers in one evening. I think we all fall into this trap at times, but consider this. If for example you have a storm cloud over your head (point 4) would you dance with you? probably not so why go into an evening expecting a certain number of dances. Secondly if you are less experienced why go creating a pressure that you must dance with all the best dancers in the room in order to have a good evening. Often as one of the experienced dancers in the room i will active avoid those who want to dance with me because i am a teacher and instead will go to those who see me as a person and with whom i can have fun with at what ever level of dancing. Going without expectation can give some pretty incredible evenings full of fun, socialising and dancing.



Any more things to add? I am sure there are a whole load more for this list. Add suggestions to the comments section below or check out one of my other dance articles.

Make tango history and upload!
http://www.chicloca.com/2016/01/ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-style.html

'A Vision of Tango'

'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Make tango history and upload!


 


Introducing 10 tips to find great tango on the web


In this day and age the internet and all things social media are opening up some interesting options for niche groups like Argentine tango lovers to share and bring new information to the surface. Many tango dancers resist all things modernized in the upkeep of the old ways and the charm that comes with them. While i too must confess to being in love with many of the social and practical etiquettes of tango, i am also loving the new information at my fingertips. Like the old black and white videos of people dancing in prehistoric tango times or the up and coming dancers doing their first promotion videos.

Much of tango history has gone uncatalogued making it harder for those who would like to spread informed and widely respected information about Argentine tango. Whether about how tango was danced in the early days with the stories of that time, or indeed techniques every student should learn to become a good dancer. We each have our ideas on this, but with time some of the best resources have diminished with the ageing of orchestra leaders and notable dancers who were around in the good old days when Argentine tango was forming and being shaped. With the natural cycle of life and ageing come the deaths of some of our most renowned maestros and the generations that have witnessed a lifetime of tango and its evolution. Prompting a wish amongst the many Tangueros out there to preserve some of this knowledge in the shape of video interviews, documentaries, articles, and online resources making this information available to the world.

We can actively take part in our Tangos history by becoming active in uploading old footage and publicizing the new dances being created. Below is a short list of some of these new fountains of knowledge, in no particular order.


Tip 1: TENGO UNA PREGUNTA PARA VOS por Pepa Palazon,


A video series where Pepa interviews many of the worlds best known tango dancers. Getting their take on all things tango. Search the above title in youtube to find a huge number of video interviews. Including Julio Balmaceda, Gloria y Rodolfo Dinzel, Milena Plebs. (spanish)
http://www.youtube.com


Tips 2: The Youtube search


Type any of the following words in together and you will find a whole wealth of old videos of everything from D’arienzos dramatic leading of his orchestra in the 1940s to black and white movies of some of the first tangos ever recorded on film. search terms to try: tango orquesta, 1920 tango, 1930 tango, 1940 tango, golden age tango. (various languages) http://www.youtube.com


Tip 3: Todo tango website


Probably one of the best known tango website resources out there, giving deep and informative information about dancers, musicians and all things tango. If you understand spanish then its well worth checking the spanish pages and each language has a different amount of information available. I found the rap sheets on the orchestras useful in getting a feel for how all the different musicians interrelated and through this how the end result we hear today came to be. (Spanish, English, German, Portugese) http://todotango.com/


Tip 4: Tango.info site


This is very basic in the way it looks but if you are interested in no fuss information it provides a great source of information laid out in a utilitarian but easy to understand way. (various languages due to user content submission). https://tango.info/

Tip 5: To tango net


This site has some great articles about everything included in the tango genre http://www.totango.net./


Tip 6: Cyber tango site by Cristian mensing


An incredibly useful site with listings such as links for journals around the world, articles, books, websites and blogs for more information about tango. Its a great resource. (english) http://www.cyber-tango.com/e/art_e.html


Tip 7: Articles and book by Christine Denniston


i found her articles and website when i first started dancing and in want of more knowledge. With easy to understand and informative writing style, this is a great place to start reading about tango history. (english) http://www.history-of-tango.com/


Tip 8: Tejas tango dictionary


A great regularly updated tango glossery of terms explained. (english) www.tejastango.com/terminology.html


Tip 9: Argentine tango videos net


This is a website dedicated to videos old and new, http://www.argentinetangovideos.net/

Tip 10: Tango and Chaos


Read stories of recent times in Buenos aires with Tango and chaos website - (english) http://www.tangoandchaos.org


With the new information coming to the surface all the time it enables us to further research argentine tangos murky beginnings and hopefully write with a more informed approach than the regurgitation of tango histories out there. Many containing the same play on words, vocabulary and factual information. Wanting to offer my students a history of tango on my website at one time or other, i was also culprit of this. With the continual new information we have a very natural record being created like never before. There are many ways to be an active part in the history of tango, come and join in the fun.


Other articles in the dance genre:

'A Vision of Tango'

'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

5 fantastic dances to improve your fitness, which fits your personality type?

Ever wondered why some people tango and others do rock and roll? With a few exceptions that like to mix it up, many people get attracted to different dances. What brings people to a dance in the binning and what keeps people training once they have started? Well I am not sure i have the answers to this but to have a little fun, I have listed 9 dances below and their personality types.


Bohemian thinker / artist

Argentine tango is a mixture of introvert and extrovert. Both for show and social, in full view and danced for the couple alone. Scientists and artists looking for a way to communicate, usually finding hard to do this in every day life. It appeals to the masculine mind with its geometric concepts of lanes and line of dance, circles and angles for turning and much more. Sophistication and trampery in one foul swoop, not to mention the more commonly seen variations in dance couples, men leading men, women leading women gives tango the title Bohemian dance of the group.

Party animal

Salsa - generally extraverted unless you see the natives dance (people dancing a long time to a high level), then it can be slow and sensual. Salsa tends to attract the younger generations who like to party but want something more than simply bouncing around. Full and curvacious, even men will discover hips in this dance. Culture and modern music mixed in a party atmosphere with bright colours and vivacious music filling the whole room,  think carnaval. This dance is queen of the party.

 Sorceress / magician

Flamenco - dramatic outward appearance and a lot more going on inside, strong rhythmic movements. Masculine and feminine mixed together with energy and purpose. Traditional feel and dress exuding the best of old times in performances that make your hair stand up on end. The duality of the masculine and feminine found in this dance rarely seen so equally standing side by side make this the dance of those who want to explore their inner power and expression enabled by the play with live musicians. Making this dance the one divine connection of all things.

    Hippy fest

    Folkdance or Balfolk - high energy, fun with simple movements compared to other dances. Great for getting everyone up on the dance floor, its the social animal of all the dances listed here to the point of attracting all those who don't want to go mainstream. Cross culture sharing, hippy hugging and live music create lots of great sharing experiences with this dance.

    Chilled out groover

    Swing - with different moves set groovily in the 1920s-1940s jazz scene. Golden oldy or nostalgic young one who likes to get a feel for the richness of a whole range of different dances included in this genre. This dance brings lots of great historic references together with the dance that is still very actively danced today and increasing momentum by all accounts. This dance is king of chilling out and variety.

    Please take this as a little fun, i love dancing and think every dance has its charm. 

    Liked this? then it would be great if you share you dance personality, even if its not the dance you actuality dance at this moment. I often wondered at the personalities of different dances and there are so many that aren't on this list. i made a shortlist this time but maybe another time its nice to broaden it out. i hope you enjoy.


    Other articles in the dance genre:


    10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing
    http://www.chicloca.com/2016/01/10-quick-tips-about-dancing.html

    'A Vision of Tango'

    'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

    Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

    Friday, 8 January 2016

    10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing



    As a professional dancer i have picked up quite a few little tricks over the years. Usually because i made a whole handful of mistakes and endeavor not to repeat them. Here are 10 quick tips to help dancers whether beginning students, experienced dancers or professionals (probably you have your own).

    1. Build body memory. For each simplified basic movement of the dance or movement activity you wish to improve in. In the end a good teacher can simplify anything you need to understand, but you can't fudge the repetition needed to make a movement become learned.
    2. Increase body awareness. With body awareness its a much quicker process to learn any movement based activity. Without it you can spend years trying to make changes that either will take longer to happen or your body simply won't understand on an intrinsic level.
    3. Find your learning style. Become aware of the ways you learn best e.g. visual, kinesthetic, audio etc. Use the ones you are strongest in while translating to others you are less good in. The translation process makes the learning more profound. For example, i learn visually and kinesthetically but when i first started to teach i had to structure things in a verbal way for my students. Especially with questions but also to relate to the many students who aren't able to learn from a simply visual perspective. I found by making this translation of dance into words i learned a great deal myself too and continue to enjoy this new found learning style.
    4. Give yourself time to find the learning space. Many students arrive at the start time of the class.  Totally understandable with the busyness of most of our lives. But it often results in feeling rushed, not something that promotes learning. With a bit of careful planning you can give yourself 5 minutes to acclimatize before the class starts by arriving a bit earlier. This 5 minutes is great for letting your brain become ready to learn.
    5. Warm up before classes and social dancing. Sometimes it feels silly but warming up the body is really important. The more the activity asks from you, and this is personal, the more you should prepare yourself for it. When you are warm you also most better and more fluidly. The chances of one of those dances you will remember is much higher.
    6. Learning is forgetting. Keep in mind that to learn something and take it in at a deeper level we often need to see it several times. Similar to body memory but for the brain. Let yourself forget things as part of the learning process. 
    7. Make sure your clothes don't hold you back. Depending on the type of activity you do, make sure your clothing allows for the movements you want to do as well as keeping you sufficiently covered. There is nothing worse than trying to do something and finding you either can't do it or don't want to as it leaves you exposed.
    8. Take time for your own translation. Particularly for partner dancers but also for students who take a lot of classes. Its useful to take 5 minutes by yourself to put all the things you have learned into your own words and understanding. You can take a step deeper to try and link other things you do as part of your activity into this and check it with a trusted teacher or more experienced dancer. I always invite my students to check ideas with me and also tell them when its possible but not my personal approach or maybe i don't have the answer due to it being outside my expertise or comes down to a choice for the student i can't answer for them. After all i am not a guru but a dancer. 
    9. The first time you learn something sticks with you forever, or until you do a lot of hard work to change it. The first time we properly learn something we take it into our memory in a more profound way than the second and third times. Its good to make sure that you understand it correctly this first time and that you are getting quality information. This way you will avoid many bad habits that form due to misinformation. Secondly the amount of work it takes to change this first memory once made. 
    10. Ask your teachers why. If your activity is anything like Argentine tango then the question why is a good one. In tango everyone and anyone can teach, with a huge range in abilities to dance and abilities to teach. There are good dancers and terrible teachers, good teachers and terrible dancers and everything in between. The question why tends to cut through the crap. If they can give you a solid and clear reason why, then they probably know what they are talking about. If not then you can think on this. Just be a little aware of the difference between question about a step or subject being taught and questioning the teacher themselves. The second one is unpleasant on the receiving end and feels as though you are being asked for you credentials as a teacher. This is likely to close up most teachers making this a moot point. Active learning is essential to efficient learning and becoming more proficient. Its also rewarding and personally i find it gives a lot of enjoyment. 

    I hope these were useful. Try them out and if you want more information post a comment below. It would be great if you can spread the word about our new blog using some of the buttons below.We will regularly be posting information about dance, health and a little on Argentine tango.



    Other articles in the dance genre:


    'A Vision of Tango'

    'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

    Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

    Wednesday, 6 January 2016

    How to Solve the Biggest Problems With dance shoes



    Shoe problems for anyone who relies on shoes for a particular purpose will find it annoying to get problems. Whether you are a runner, cyclist or dancer, your shoes and in fact clothes are important to enhance what you are doing and able to bring. Read this article further to find out some of the problems faced by dancers and tips for working around them or avoiding them altogether.

    Top 6 categories for problems dancers have with shoes:


    1. Breaking in new shoes: Especially as there is often a recommendation to start with a smaller size than you actually wear. This is due to the material expanding and as dancers we want an as near perfect fit as possible. The what degree smaller depends on the dance, the shoe and type of material its made from.
    • Tip, I would suggest here with leather and suede shoes is to put them on a heater for 20 minutes before wearing them. Note that the heater shouldn't be hot enough to damage the shoes, just warm them past body temperature so the material expands. When you place them on your foot the material is softer and if this is repeat a number of times it begins to mold the shoes to your feet, fitting them perfectly without the normal process of wearing them in.


    2. Getting used to different heel heights (even for men with cuban heels). Many women aren't used to heels and when they come to dance they find it difficult as suddenly they are asked to don heels in many dances. Dancers are rarely taught how to use their shoes in the movement. Its all very well putting good looking shoes on your feet but if you don't include them in your technique they will trip you up.
    • Tips is to wear new shoes on uneven surfaces, or ones that make your ankles work. Usually when we put on new shoes we forget that we need to accustom our bodies and in particular muscles to the changes created. Ankles are often too weak to offer stability when someone wears high heeled shoes for the first time. The thicker the heel the easier it is on your ankle, the lower the heel the easier too. The other thing is the that a dancer needs to build their technique to include shoes as a tool for the trade or hobbie. Simply sticking shoes on our feet regardless of how beautiful is a common mistake.
    3. Shoes that don't fit correctly can be a pain, quite literally. Either through rubbing, being too small or so big that you are unable to move properly in them. The style of the shoe is also important when working with feet of different proportions.
    • Tip,  Length, width, high arch, flat foot, shape of foot are all factors to consider when buying new dance shoes. Best thing is to ask a dance teacher or a knowledgeable shop assistant. Good ones are often trained in dance shoe fitting. After owning a few pairs of shoes you can also look back and see which shoes where the most comfortable and worked best for you in terms of shape and style.


    4. Dance shoes that break are a problem.
    • Tip: many can be fixed easily and its well worth training a cobbler or shoe repairer in your city to mend dance shoes. Particularly if you are a professional and wear shoes out like no tomorrow.
    5. Our old dance shoes affecting our movement. This can come in the form of wear and tear that simply means you have to work harder to maintain balance and equilibrium in old shoes. The other problem that arises for newer dancers who have drastically changed the technique of how they use their feet, is that the wear of the shoe often reinforces old habits. How does this work? well if you imagine someone moved and danced with all their weight on the outside of the foot and mostly on their heels. You will find that the outside of the heel is worn down and the engineering of the shoe starts to break with wearing the shoe in a way its not built for. Yes there is shoe engineering and design that enhances certain things we want as dancers in our shoes.  Ballet shoes are a great example of this.
    • Tip: Even though old shoes are at their most comfortable and if worn a lot are dear friends, know when their time it up. Comfort is usually a sign that the engineering of the dance shoe is breaking down and past a certain point it doesn't do anyone any good. Get to know a cobbler in your city who can repair some aspects of aged shoes, particularly if the shoe is good but its the heel that has worn down. This is often easy to fix, as are straps that have got loose due to expanding and worn out soles.


    6. The engineering of shoes. Have the shoes been balanced correctly, basic test for this is if they can stand up by themselves without falling over. Other factors include twisted heels, the foot pattern being well proportioned, the orientation of the heel distributing weight to different parts of the foot if not aligned properly. Then you get into things like distance between the heel and the place where the ball of the foot meet the floor. Its rare to find a shoe that is perfect and rarer still to find two. So the suggestion here is to be aware of what you have, don't buy something that is terrible quality and work with how the shoe balance affects you.
    If you find any other problems it would be great if you add them in a comment. I hope this list and tips help. More articles like this will be coming soon. 

    Other articles in the dance genre:


    'A Vision of Tango'

    'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

    Why we love Pilates (and you should too)
    'Abundant Obsession' Argentine tango dance
    'Abundant Obsession' Argentine tango dance

    Tuesday, 5 January 2016

    Why We Love pilates (And You Should, Too!)




    Pilates is such a great exercise system both holistic and hands on. Its often underestimated as yet another class you can do at your local gym. But it can be so much more in terms of fitness, health, a great figure and not to mention great for dancers. Find out what Pilates can do for you and some great links to professionals near you. Find out the great things it can do for your health below.

    The top 6 reasons you should include Pilates into your daily routine:


    1. Increase circulation and relieve tension - Great for when you have been behind a computer all day and your circulation is sluggish due to inactivity. 

    2. Improves posture - For those style conscious people who love to wear nice clothes. The better you look and feel about your body the more you can make out of the things you wear.

    3. Enhances body awareness - In this day and age of computers and technology, people are loosing the sense of moving in their own body. Sound strange? Building up greater body awareness can help to improve core body strength and movement. Not to mention make  dance and movement activities fun while technique is quick to integrate.

    4. Improves muscle tone - working with the core muscles of the torso as a central focus for powering the arms and legs. Giving a powerhouse for controlling the multiple movements we do in everyday life. With the right muscles toned and active it also decreases the likelihood of injuries. 

    5. Improves breathing practices and energizes - The Pilates system uses a thought out and deliberate way of breathing during exercises. Consciously used doing particular types of movement for different effects. Many people these days don't have good breathing practices. These would be to breath efficiently using the stomach and lungs each time you breath in and out. We get into habits like not breathing through the nose or short shallow breaths. Breathing slower and deeper energizes the body while being more efficient. 

    6. Great for people with mobility problems - many exercises are done on the floor, sitting in chairs and using other props for help and support. You don't need to be a dancer to try this, in fact quite the opposite applies.

       

       

       My personal experience and your, build up some knowledge about yourself


      I have mixed a number of pilates exercises into a daily routine which keeps my body toned and working effeciently. I have to admit to off times where i don't practice, but always feel the difference when i get back into the flow of regular practice. My body loves it.

      For me its important to find out what you need from a daily or even 2 times weekly workout. Manageable sessions that can be repeated are key here. Important factors can include:

      • Strength
      • Flexibility
      • Build
      • Proportions of the body.
      • Movement Activities hobbies or work.
      • Health issues or weaknesses in the body



       

      Taking the above list and using myself as an example:


      • Strength - I am very strong in my legs and strong in my core muscles. weak in my arms and neck.
      • Flexibility - I am super flexible in my lower back, less in my upper back, not naturally flexible in my legs while arms and shoulder blades are very flexible.
      • Build - I am tall, with long legs and arms, medium shoulder width and hourglass figure.
      • Proportions of the body - I have longer legs than my torso but have a balanced proportion, with a long back.
      • Movement Activities hobbies or work - I am a professional dancer for my work, i like to learn other dances and movement forms to a high level including pilates, yoga, kung fu amongst others, fashion and posture are important to me as they bring an extra quality to how i look and feel.
      • Health issues or weaknesses in the body - I am super flexible in my hips and have to watch for injuries when exercise. Health issues around digestion and dizzyness due to an operation I had on one of my ears affects me from time to time.


      Find the answers for yourself:


      How to find out where you are stronger and weaker? 


      Think back to times when you are lifting things, this should give you some good answers. Otherwise check with a health specialist like Pilates, dance, or health related teaching/practitioner. This information can help to tell you where you need to work on your strength and where you should maintain your current level.

      How to find out your areas of flexibility?


      Do some simple stretching exercises and be careful of your bodies limits. Again ask a dance teacher or other movement professional for some exercises if you are unsure which ones to use. This information can help to tell you where you need to work on your flexibility and where you should maintain your current level.


       What type of build and body proportions do i have?


      Body build is often a bit difficult to know offhand. Ask some people around you what they think and find people in the street who match how you see your self and then ask where you would but their build on the scale of things. There is a lot of great information on the web about build and proportions so maybe give google a try. Otherwise get in touch with our contact form, i am happy to help. For proportions get a long mirror and ask yourself 2 questions: 1. Is my body longer than my legs or vice versa, 2. what are the general lengths of my arms, legs, torso in relation to the size of my head.

      This information can help to tell you where you about your body, how to work with posture and also how the length of the body often shows the things you can work on. Longer limbs usually need core body exercises and movement control/awareness while being naturally graceful. Shorter limbs often get more tension and need to work with relaxation. These are gross generalisations. Its difficult to describe the complexities of proportions and body build here and its always best to get expert advice in person.

      If you find some funny things out, please don't worry. When we really look at ourselfs we reallize we are a bit strange looking and beautiful. Keep in mind everyone who does  this will probably feel the same. You are unique and beautiful, don't forget it.


      Why are my health weakness's, work and hobby activities important?


      These allow you to keep in mind important factors that you should keep in mind while exercising. Any health problems of weaknesses you might have should be taken into account when trying Pilates or any other activity alone. Notify your teacher if doing a class. In places where you body is weaker do less repetitions and lower level intensity exercises to build up the strength in that area. Too much can lead to injuries, take care of yourself.

      The movement things we do for work and hobbies are useful bits of information. It tells us how fit we are, whether our body is used to moving or not and the types of movement it knows in its body memory already. A more movement active person can often learn things faster and take more intensity while those less used to moving need a little more time to build up on knowledge and intensity.

      Couple your growing knowledge with a great exercise system like Pilates and you are made for life. If Pilates doesn't workout then try one of the other great ways to exercise and experiment until you find one that is right for you.

      Other articles that may be of interest in the fitness genre are:

      What is the relationship between nutrition, healthy eating and fitness
      Whats the relationship between nutrition, healthy food and fitness - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/relationship-nutrition-heathy-food-fitness.html#sthash.8yKzmRHF.dpuf
      Whats the relationship between nutrition, healthy food and fitness - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/relationship-nutrition-heathy-food-fitness.html#sthash.8yKzmRHF.dpuf
      Tokyo street fashion (東京のストリートファッション), inspired Starwars and imitating Manga - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/tokyo-street-fashion-inspired-starwars.html#sthash.I5INGx4X.dpuf
      Other articles of interest in the style genre:

      Other articles of interest in the style genre:

      Other articles in the Travel genre:
      Little black dress, all its cracked up to be
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/little-black-dress.html - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/tokyo-street-fashion-inspired-starwars.html#sthash.I5INGx4X.dpuf

      Other articles of interest in the style genre:

      Other articles in the Travel genre:
      Little black dress, all its cracked up to be
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/little-black-dress.html - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/tokyo-street-fashion-inspired-starwars.html#sthash.I5INGx4X.dpuf
      Whats the relationship between nutrition, healthy food and fitness - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/search/label/Health#sthash.gptmqDHq.dpuf
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/relationship-nutrition-heathy-food-fitness.html


      Womens health and body building
      Womens health and body building
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/womens-health-and-body-building.html




    Friday, 18 December 2015

    We are collecting your tango stories

    Our latest mini project at Cielito is to invite all you Argentine tango dancers out there to share your creative skills and experiences with Argentine tango. What was your first experience? What comes to mind when we say the words Argentine Tango? Have you got a story to share? it can be anonymous if you are sure about being known.

    All the stories that are submitted will be edited for spelling and pictures will be added when it fits. Not all stories will be added particularly in the case where the content is deemed unfit for general public use. If you wish to remain anonymous please make sure you press the anonymous button within the submission form.

    Click here for the link to Cielito's website and Story submission page.

    Why are we doing this?

    For a long time i have wishes to bring together many of our stories into one place. There are many sites with tango videos, teaching tango demos, and hostory of tango information. But few focus on the people aspect of tango which is fundamentally so interesting because while many of the stories might indeed be similar the motivations, the reasoning and feelings behind them are universally different.

    Unlock the hidden creative writer in you and share a little of what keeps you busy.

    Greetings Loca


    Wednesday, 16 December 2015

    'Question'-Why become a high level dancer?

    28/6/10
    by Isolde Kanikani

    Why become a high level dancer? What is the need behind this search? Is it the promise of more dances or a deeper more qualitative connection? Is there a line we can reach when there are fewer people we want to dance with? Why?

    At some point in our tango adventures something changes or we leave for another activity that suits us better. For most of us this change is intrinsically personal but the need to become a better dancer seems to be a common outcome. Why? Whether its to become good at something or to be accepted in the ‘cool crowd’, to not be left out when people come asking or that we are hooked on the self learning process possible with this dance. I can’t answer for you, only bring the questions to aid your own searching. Always question and you will go far. Its when we stagnate in our knowledge that we are ‘good’ or that we have ‘achieved what is desired’, that we inevitably become normal or loose the things we found because we no longer work for them. I can only offer my own experience and that of those close to me.

    My first lesson hooked me on tango and I wasn’t to know this until later on. I will always remember my first teacher Adele who was so beautiful in her deep red dress and graceful flowing movements. A bit cliché maybe but I was stuck by her beauty in the way she moved and more deeply as a woman. I was 16 at the time and searched for the discovery of what it was to be womanly, moving comfortably in my body.

    But it was only about 6 months later, when I had a really bad lesson from another teacher that I questioned why each and every week I turned up to dance with people 2-3 times my age. The difficulty of the lesson that provoked the question was having to look into the eyes of my partner and walk around them in various ways, for about 15 minutes. This is fine if you feel safe, but he happened to be the known letch of the group and I felt decidedly more uncomfortable as we went on.

    My only answer was that I loved this dance, and wanted to become a better dancer. In my case I had wanted to learn a dance since I was about 12 but never had the chance until I moved into an area with more things going on. The unconditional freedom one can have to move with partner and music, while confined in the movements and vocabulary of the Tango. These confines or boundaries, becoming the tools for creativity and fun. Without them we are left standing. I got addicted to the feeling of dancing in my body and connecting with other people. Also to the endless adventures I found myself in, travelling to faraway places and flowing spontaneously with those wonderful situations that can only happen when you are in the moment. Be it in the tango or simply in life. I was learning to be present with now and yet I found myself always planning the next big adventure, to the extent of not really living in the present one. Something that later become apparent in my search for people I wanted to dance with.

    I travelled, I learnt and I grew as a dancer. After a little more than a year I was asked if I would like to teach. Something I had childishly dreamed I might do but never thought it was a real possibility. I was going to be a barrister and had every intention of going to law school in later years. But when I was asked, it was like something clicked into place. I said yes, and I started to teach. I carried on learning. I am still learning. I love teaching and I love dancing.

    As I travelled I grew as a person and in the understanding of myself. When I was 18 I went to Buenos Aires for the first time. I grew in experience, the people I wanted to dance with when I got back home become harder and harder to find. I think many people can identify with this. Two things happened for me in this time. The first was that I felt people wouldn’t accept me as myself. They were becoming a mirror. I would see myself as 16 in their eyes. At 21, I went to America to help some friends with their tango scene while they went to Argentina. I taught regular classes, workshops and travelled to other tango scenes in the USA. Linking this with being in Buenos Aires for the 3rd time meant that it was about 4.5 months before returning to the UK. During this period, I realised that by allowing people to see me as a 16 year old, I was denying all the experience worked for and gained in the last 5 years. , in dancing ability, in understanding of teaching and most importantly with life itself. Some of my old ‘friends’ thought of me as an angel, innocent in many things. What they didn’t want to see is that I was more experienced in life, coming closer to the image of the woman in red I had seen at my first Tango lesson.

    The second reason that people I wanted to dance with got fewer was a matter of perception and level of dancing. It was true that there weren’t so many people with the same level of experience to dance with in my area. As I learnt this got more and more pronounced. If I focused on this I would get frustrated and finally take myself away somewhere to find people who inspired me. But then the realisation came that all this is also a matter of perception. Yes there were few people around of the same level but why is that so important to enjoy a dance. Ok, one wants to be comfortable and stretched at times too. But one can be comfortable with a beginner. We can also have those amazing dance connections with someone who has danced under 10 hours. I know because it has happened many times. So why this idea that beginners should dance with each other and if you are ‘an advanced dancer’ then you do them a favour by dancing one dance.

    Try looking at it from another perspective. If you can only lead ‘an advanced’ follower are you really so proficient? Can you make an absolute beginner feel like they have had the best 3 dances they could possibly have, with the clarity of your lead allowing them to find ochos, turns and at times even the cross? Have you tried it? As a follower have you given a new leader the feeling that he can lead you? Yes he is unclear in his body language, but are you sensitive enough to know what he is after? Ok last question; can you remember how it was to be a beginner when an experienced dancer danced with you, instead of giving advice on the dance floor? I can remember that far, just about (smiling). As a beginner that there were two men who would regularly ask me to dance. They were at a more advanced level. It was wonderful because they showed me I could dance with very little experience. Later it swapped round, I became more advanced and we still dance.

    Some friends got as far as making the decision to stop classes, the figured that if they got more advanced than a lot of their peers it wouldn’t be so much fun. Prolonging the enjoyment they can have with tango. Some have still kept it up and have a great time in milongas. While others stopped learning and questioning their dance. Inevitably falling behind and in some cases stopping.

    Whether you choose to find some way to prolonging the journey of learning and enjoying. Changing perception, maintaining level or travelling to faraway places. Or you take it for what it is a story with an end to tango, but a beginning to something else. Taking all the discoveries you have made along the way with you. Who knows, many go both roads. Can we try and savour this experience too long who knows. Keep asking yourself the questions that only you can know.

    'Inside Story' Argentine tango traveling the world

     


    Smooth Moves Ezine March 2008

    Argentine Tango came about in the late 1800's, at a time when many cultures were mixing (mainly European and Argentine), in music, in culture and in a basic need to survive in a place where work was scarce, The lure of promised riches from fertile land in Argentina were laid barren when many immigrant men arrived from countries all around the world. They found desert or rock in their allotted land, and so most migrated into the big cities, namely Buenos Aires and Montevideo. At one time there was approximately 70% men to 30% women and it was said to be even worse, this was due to many of the immigrants having left their families behind. These where the circumstances that lead to the formation of Tango, and the common representation of two men practicing together in order to increase their chances of dancing with a woman.

    Its very hard to say exactly where it came from or how it formed, due to the many myths that engulf its past adding to the element of mystery in the dance which is so much a part of our intrigue as dancers. Some say it developed in the brothels of La Boca a barrio of Buenos Aires, others whisper conspiracy in saying that it originated in Montevideo and isn’t of Argentine origin at all. For me as a dancer I feel its origin isn’t so much important as its nature to evolve and change with the times, and even the fashions of clothes, music and the way people are expected to relate to each other in society have had influence. The pencil skirt for example, made it impossible for the women to make large steps, so in the 50s when this was ‘ la mode’ the movements become smaller and much more compact. But there is also a wonderful sense of preserving the old, there are many organizers that promote traditional tango in a form that is as close to Buenos Aires as it ever can be considering that we live in a another culture with a different way of life, tempered also by a change in times and the roles of men and women.

    But the dance is something more than an explanation of its existence. This is merely a context for tango, a generality or cerebral way to try and understand it. My personal experience of Tango has been an adventure I could not have predicted. Improvisation, playfulness and a willingness to explore are characteristics in the dance that have unconsciously diffused and taken residences as a way of life.

    I still remember my first lesson which was in a big theatre, edges darkened, lights dimmed for atmosphere and its most prized possession was a perfect wooden dance floor. A woman clad in a beautiful flowing dress, red when caught by the light, took us through the first steps of tango. There was one moment about half way through the class, when she gave me some hint or glimmer of what the dance could be like in experience both in terms the sensuality in the body while creating the movements of tango, and the feeling of simply expressing the music. I was hooked in the space of half an hour only to be told afterwards that there were too many followers, and that I being the last to sign up would have to wait until the new classes started. I was upset and crying when I left, but was soon rescued by another teacher who had more men than women. So the precarious start to my tango journey had begun only to lead to more obsessions in body and movement as the months past. I now teach and dance all around the world, moving from one dimly lit room to another.

    I am always in search of something that the dance gives me and still I cannot name it. But what I do know is this dance is beautiful for the fact that you can never stop learning if only you are open to the possibilities. The improvised nature of Argentine Tango gives special moments of spontaneity and connection very hard to find elsewhere. With music and a space to explore and freely express it being introduced to the concoction, I am surprised any of us ever find a reason to stop.

    The dances existence was provoked by the differences between men and women. Its evolution and origin forming from the immigrants with their many dances, and music traditions when arriving to Argentina. Its status and reputation growing with the travel between Buenos Aires, Paris and the popularity that is growing around the world. Continually evolving with the times but protectively coveting the old and the traditional. Lastly Tango is the technique and playful improvisation that allow two people to experience connection with each other around and through the music.

     

    'Step into the Dark side'

     

    Smooth moves ezine, September 2008

    The tango dream, one of passion, amor (love), and the embrace. Often blurs through taboos such as sensuality, lust, sexuality and politics. Painting a smudged flowery picture that is perceived to include clearly all of the above.

    Another image is one of the Holy Grail that entraps every dancer into an ever-lasting fanatical search of the ‘One moment’ within which we will find a deep-seated feeling of unity with our partner and the space. Forever goaded on by the multifaceted mysterious awe of the elixir de tango that is the music. On occasions when we find such a connection it feeds the addicts need to find more of the same sustenance. So we are doomed or enlightened (depending on ones outlook), in the search for the Holy Grail, that is the oneness of two. But what about a step into the dark side.

    The drama, passion and fire of tango are often what attract people to start dancing in the first place. But this is only surface tension seen and exposed in stage tango (tango fantasia). My interest is in the emotional and physical fuel that feeds the fire. Not the fire itself. As a dancer and teacher of tango I am intrigued by the processes people go through in order to learn and through this enjoy the dance. The way they deal with often-intense situations. The expectations and desires that come into play when confronted with oneself in relation to a partner or social jostling of a group of dancers. The desire to know oneself, to be sensually in ones own body. Or to explore the boundaries of sexuality within the dance. Sexuality and sensuality are often mixed up with desire or lust and amor (love).

    Sensuality can be seen as ‘a preoccupation with the gratification via the physical senses. It’s about arousing the senses or appetites. Internally its about embodying yourself, externally exciting the senses of another person’. But this is too mechanical. As a dancer I don’t always seek to sensualise the dance for the other person. I am in the search to become sensual in my own body and to find a containment that allows me to know and feel myself better. Through this my feeling of sensuality is made stronger because it’s more intensely concentrated. Other people can enjoy the sensuality they feel in me, and even become sensual through this. But the important thing is that I am sensual for myself. Many people take this as a sexual come on within the dance. One is not allowed the hedonistic feeling of being in touch with ones own body. Instead it’s often taken into new realms of lust, love and sexuality.

    I have seen many short stories of love/lust grow and diminish around me. Sometimes lasting only a few hours, days and long ones weeks. These stories are the culmination of two people dancing in the right circumstances to allow two to become one in movement, embrace and thought. What I mean by stories is basically taking this connected and sexual dance feeling to bed. WE, in our present culture don’t understand how to be in our bodies, so when we experience such a connection with someone that’s so strong, be it sensual sexual or otherwise. We mistake it for love in many cases. In others where there is more experience of this phenomenon, it’s more about a necessity in the fulfilment of desire, closeness and often wanting to be in RELATIONSHIP but have many fears around this in everyday life. Tango attracts many people who are unable to be in relationships in the outside world and so instead search for the hedonistic instant gratification found in tango. Often being disappointed (after a while), in what they find. But for me one thing seems clear. We all want to feel secure and be LOVED. Not all will agree, but if you look closely I think that you will at least see in others that what motivates us is to find security in what we need to live, one aspect of this is intimacy with others. We will go through many profound emotions, experiences the unfathomable histories of hurt and pain that are deeply held in our body memory. Also remember the joy and laughter, the happiness of good times and what it was to be accepted in a group or by an individual. The embrace once more allows us to experience this acceptance.

    Permission is given, one dancer to another. The embrace is unhurriedly made. The dance begins, and the connection is made. The exploration of what is comfortable starts and then the tuning in fades. The individual ceases to exist in the sluicing movements of tango, endlessly moving around each other, sometimes for hours on end. All senses are unified in the sole purpose of staying present NOW. Attention focused somewhere in the centre of the embrace. Oblivion to the outside world in a cocooned sphere of energy and desire. Again the need for containment is present which intensifies all. The more restrained one is in not acting on desire, the more one is able to experience the nature of the desired. It’s like standing still when the music is building higher and with more energy, higher and higher again elevated into a climax of notes that ecstatically entwine themselves in the bodies of the two dancers.

    The other alternative is to take all the energy of this epiphany and to spend it in movement, thus diluting and loosing the moment. Often seen in show tango because it’s more interesting for the audience to see movement and speed rather than a seeming closed off unemotional dance. The image of an animal with four legs comes to mind. Words hardly do this justice but if you have felt it you will know what I am talking about. If you haven’t then you have an idea of what could come.

    Politics is also rife in tango as with any place where strong emotions exist and there are high personal stakes to be gained and lost. I am not talking about the politics of tango schools or those that exist between two teachers. But of the politics of hierarchy. One rises or falls on the grounds of dance ability and social ability. Being a performer, a teacher and/or organisers also has a big effect. The status is not so important as what it means. SECURITY in ones social group. More dances giving more chance of INTIMACY and possibly LOVE. Along with Stability and acceptance. We are happy in these states but what about taking a step to the dark side?

    The alternatives are infinitely more interesting. Feelings of exclusion, not being loved, loneliness in a room full of people. Not feeling good enough, young enough or beautiful enough to be danced with. Age-old insecurities held in mind and body, suddenly exposed by rejections, the intimacy of an embrace or even a teacher working with a specific body part.

    For example the jostling that can give a feeling of being with the in crowd is often due to past angst with groups. Someone who has experienced being a nerd or social outcast in school might feel the need to be ‘cool’ surrounded by those people who represent this. But if one is not accepted and in some way feels excluded deep emotions arise. I have the experience of one particular person being distraught, crying and intensely angry at not being asked to dance. She saw it as her right to have a set number of dances in one evening. The anger was directed at me because I am a host and teacher. For three days this woman let go of all her frustration at the situation, her anger and later the tears and sadness she felt at once again feeling like an outcast. I simply held the space, open for her to feel and to experience the process she needed to go through. On the fourth day she came and apologised. She owned her feelings and we talked of a time at school where she felt insecure and lonely. It was due to a lot of things happening in her family life at the time, but the loneliness and insecurity were created by a group of people at school. She had unknowingly transferred this past situation into this new group of people, and strangely they were reacting in the way she expected because she was projecting past pain onto new people. Of course they wouldn’t want to dance. On the 5th day she had the most dances she had ever had and said goodbye to be smiling and happy. She had been able to find a way of releasing old histories and found security and even a possibility for intimacy in someone else.

    Another example is of a businessman who is used to working for himself. Having full autonomy and power to do, as he will in his working life. In other words an alpha person. He is used to being associated with the top, and will find it difficult firstly to start at the bottom in learning to dance. But also in not necessarily being seen as alpha in the tango world. The number of times I have been surprised to discover how many men and women there are, with high powered jobs and who are confident at what they do. When it comes to tango they become shy and seemingly needy of attention. Like a fish out of water, they try to find their way back to what they know. The top of the hierarchy. Either through obsessive learning of the dance or by association with the top. Anger is something often felt if they aren’t able to find water, i.e. to become alpha. I have another experience of an aggressive man in classes who is incredibly intelligent. He has the need to be recognised. He knows all the terminology and tries to bully teachers into giving more information than he is ready for. He gets angry if he thinks someone is denying him and passive when he is receiving a lot of personal attention from the teacher. When things don’t go his way or he can’t find a movement he is ‘supposed’ to know he will often take it out on his partner. A while ago we had a private lesson that I was secretly dreading, but agreed to. We had 2 dances in the whole lesson. One to start and one to finish. We ended up working with aggression and anger, what these meant for him. He wanted to explore these topics with me, and we made a good start. He realised that by being anxious about where he was in the social world of tango and as a dancer he was becoming a monster. Someone who everyone avoided and refused to dance with. His story is a little longer and took a lot more lessons but over the months he has become calmer and softer with his partners. Again through being aware of feeling insecure and out of water he was able to start to find more favourable place for himself.



    Whether we are aware of tango as love and passion, or a simmering cauldron of sexual energy and sensuality is based on point of view. Backed by personal experience both in life and how much experience of tango one has. I am not intending to make you mind up for you, but to simply bring a little more light to the sexuality, sensuality, lust, love and politics that are seemingly inherent in tango.

    Alongside this our own personal quests for the ‘Holy Grail’, each of will have a completely different story to tell, but there will be similarities in experience. Many people I have talked to at one moment or another, have felt some disillusionment about these deeply unfathomable moments of connection that at times surpass anything they have ever felt with a lover or partner. One has no idea its possible until it happens, it’s rarely talked about in any depth and one automatically assumes you have felt it when it is talked about. Without knowing for sure, with no context of what it is and what it means. It’s often misunderstood to be love instead or lust. There is no black and white here only a grey area for every individual is different, every experience of the ‘Holy Grail’ is different and is for the dancers to place.

    If we take one step into the dark side we can become more aware of ourselves, we can open up possibilities in creating the security and intimacy we want and need to be happy. But this road is more difficult as you will find many things about yourself you don’t like and will want to change. And many others aspects of yourself which are truly beautiful and should never be exchanged for simple acceptance in a group.

    The journey through darkness is more profound than the light at the end.


     

    'A Vision of Tango'

     

    Doble Ocho Festival Paper 2009 
    Smoothmoves Ezine March 2009

    I thought to try and describe how it is to dance tango but the words escape me, partly because I like the words unsaid. … maybe also because for me the tango has allowed me to experience myriad of situations, emotions and people. When all is stripped away I find myself, and inevitably the long search for the something that remains out of reach just far enough to take me further along the road and close enough to let me glimpse something of what I seek. But the subject of my journeying remains elusive even now.

    Over the past 7 years (since the age of 16), Argentine Tango has become my life. It has changed the shape of my body, it has shaped the way I move when I walk down the street or enter a room. The fascination is in finding an understanding of Tango vocabulary felt in the core body, rather than externalised brain-induced shapes that fit a tango mould, and inevitably feel tense and ungrounded. The music offers me a chance to express my emotion, cliché I know. But if you imagine an individual who is so used to walking through the world alone, that they need a key to allow them to embrace another person, and through this embracing themselves. What are we without the key that unlocks us, and the mirror that is our partner when we dance? A question I am asking myself now, while searching for a little of life in the outside world.

    Imagine being ensconced in red and black sheets, entangled in the naked beautiful limbs of a lover who is resting in this tiny cocooned world of two. Thoughts taking flight from the seeming entrapment of body, going to past experiences, scared of not living the full potential of life. Translated into encountering big experiences. Another box to tick off. But once you have found familiarity in the grand, one realises the skill of living is being present in the tiniest moment. I come back to my unbound body, to realise that I was trapped by my own search for freedom and any place apart from the one that I inhabit now. For me absolute freedom renders an individual immobile, but a periphery can be a starting point for boundless creativity and improvisation. Contained by dancers around you, moving inside the embrace of a partner giving integrity to their frame saying, I AM HERE.

    My vision of tango is really a set of experiences and images; it’s a way to express my self in the fullness of the person that I am now. My views and thoughts are always changing, growing with time, as is the feeling of always wanting to learn and explore new ideas. If I remain true and present now, then tomorrow will be transformed. The last image a friend gave me, her vision of tango in brief. A good dance is like being snug in a sleeping bag, sinking deeper into this tiny world of two. A bad dance is being trapped in a sleeping bag with a partner and desperately trying to get out.



    Other articles in the dance genre:


    'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

    Why we love Pilates (and you should too)