DON’T SKIP DETAILS

-Making the effort to keep our feet together when we collect…
-Finishing a pivot first before stepping…
-Maintaining a solid frame even when we’re tired…
-Leading/Following every ocho instead of doing them while on mental “autopilot…”
-Making the effort to lead/follow a clear cross, even though it’s a step we’ve done a million times…

When we’ve already got so much to mentally keep track of, all this seems like extra stuff to worry about. Why overload our brains even further?

But these extra tango “details” aren’t afterthoughts or little decorations. Paying close attention to them not only makes our dancing look more polished, they help keep our thoughts organized. And from there, it’s easier to achieve that hyper-focused state of mind that drew us to tango in the first place.

Basic figures like collecting properly and finishing basic cruzadas might not be eye-catching or dramatic. But we’ll notice how much our dancing suffers without them. They might feel like small details, but let’s treat them more like essentials.

tiny sculpture

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TURNING EXERCISE

Since I had a pretty good response to my previous video, I thought I’d share another. Here’s a simple exercise to help with our turning technique.

I’ve seen other teachers utilize this same drill, so it may already be familiar with it. And the best thing is, you can take your tango to the next level using just a folding chair!

So many tango figures involve a pivot and back step (back ocho), and perfecting that simple movement will go a long way. Although the back ocho is easy to understand, keep in mind there’s a lot involved in terms of keeping balance, projection, and controlling the weight transfer (finishing the step).

If it helps, I’ll include more video stuff from time to time. Let me know in the comments section.

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#tango #molinete #practice

BALANCING EXERCISE

I don’t usually write much on the technical side of tango, but here’s a great exercise I couldn’t help but share:

As you already know, maintaining balance is important in tango. But this exercise quickly points out just how much our muscles are doing to keep our bodies steady…

 

PS: The balancing mat can be found here

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IT’S SIMPLE, BUT…

Executing complicated tango figures is simple, because it usually involves fundamental elements we’ve learned before.

Just about everything it takes to dance tango well is simple, including the way we connect, walk, and mentally focus.

Tango is fun, meaningful, rewarding, precisely because it is simple. Internalizing its simplicity, however, is the hard part.

simple dance

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#tango #simple #noteasy

WHEN WE DON’T CONNECT – 5 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

Regardless of our tango level, we’ll sometime have bad dances with people. Some of the reasons will be obvious (death grip embrace, leaning on each other, a little too much wine, etc).

But sometimes, it won’t immediately be clear why we’re not connecting with our partner. This is uncomfortable, and in an effort to correct the situation, we might inadvertently make the situation worse. Here are 5 things to keep in mind:

Avoid black-and-white thinking
Don’t assume it can only be the other person’s fault, or that we alone must be the culprits. In fact, don’t expend too much mental energy trying to figure out who’s responsible. Instead, switch to an action-oriented attitude, and…

Go back to basics
Breathe. For both leaders and followers, let’s focus on our balance and axis. And let’s make sure we’re executing the fundamental technique of every step, no matter how simple. If we happen to be leading, cut out the fancy figures. Go back to doing a nice, calm walk in time with the music.

Don’t force it
If something isn’t working, stop trying it. For one tanda, it won’t kill us to refrain from doing our favorite complicated steps or adornments. Our egos aren’t that fragile, are they?

Take it in stride
One bad tanda isn’t the end of the world, especially if we and our partners are making a sincere effort. Let’s focus on the parts of the dance that are working, and stick with those. And when we’re back on the dance floor for the next tango, let’s have the attitude of a fresh start instead of carrying baggage from the last experience.

It’s okay to not know why
Unless every dance we’re having has been an utter disaster (which is unlikely), it’s smart not to dwell on one bad tanda for long. Technical issues can be found and corrected during classes and practicas. So don’t panic, enjoy the rest of the evening, and know that there will be better times ahead.

We’ll all have moments on the dance floor when things don’t go our way. Like bad moods, they’ll pass. They are only moments, and they don’t define our dancing as a whole.

not-connected

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NOTHING STANDS STILL

Our tango will evolve over time. Dance figures we were once afraid of trying might now be among our favorites. There was a time when we were intimidated by the faster pace of milonga, but perhaps now we look forward to it. We might now love a song that we hated at first.

Other changes are inevitable as well. Sometimes venues close or change. Friends come and go. Technological advances disrupt what was once familiar. Sometimes we’re the ones facilitating the change, and other times we’re caught up in the middle of it.

Nothing about tango – or anything else in life – stands still for too long. Moving forward – either with our dance skills or with the changes around us – can be uncomfortable at first. But it’s the only direction we can go.

But don’t be afraid. Tango has endured much over the past century. We will, too.

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#nothingstandsstill #tango

EFFORT vs POWER

After a fun milonga, we often wake up with sore shoulders the following morning (or afternoon). Either our partners, ourselves, or both parties, put too much tension into the embrace.

We want to get better at tango, and we know it’ll take effort. But those sore shoulders mean we’ve been conflating effort with power. In this dance, the two literally don’t go hand-in-hand.

Effort is about mental focus, detailed body awareness, and self control. Although tango requires some degree of exertion, raw physical power should largely take a backseat to effort.

At the end of a milonga, we’ll know we’re on the right track when our brains are more fatigued than our muscles.

flying squirrels

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#tango #effortvspower