Most women are paranoid of being “heavy” as dancers. They try to be “light”. The result is actually that they disconnect, they break the arch of connection. To stay in the experience of sublime connection we have to adjust everything all the time. When the mark produces more force to create a certain movement or […]
I first observed and wrote about the Evil Sequence in 2016. Now I hope to shine some sunshine on it, and hope we can grow some more beautiful things with new awareness.
So many students say “I have bad balance” as if they are describing their shoe size or model of smartphone. Balance is not an innate character virtue or flaw. It’s a skill. Importantly, tango balance is not the same as ballet balance, because in tango we build our balance with our partner, not alone, and […]
So many women write and speak to me with the same question: “How do I find pleasure in tango, when I’m getting less and less from men?” They ask this question because where they live there are few advanced men, or becuase the men they like to dance with are not always available, or because […]
I have always admired Eugenia Parrilla for the freedom, self-expression, and delight in her dance. She is revered as a revel, but she doesn’t have this passive/obedient demeanor. It was a great honor to learn from her in October, 2016. I realized that she was doing something with her head, which is different than other […]
A great tango embrace is made of just two actions: External rotation of the shoulders via the rotator cuff muscles. (Precisely: it’s external rotation of the humerus by teres minor and infraspinatus.) Stabilizing the shoulder in place allows the power the mark is producing with the abdominal muscles and legs to be transmitted cleanly through the embrace […]
She seems to be using tango to express herself, rather than reaching hungrily for ancient gender detritus. She seems to be using her whole body to the limits of her own possibility, rather than within a codified range of movement.
To reveal more to herself and to her partner, the Revel must abandon the safe ground of knowledge, prediction, sequences, familiar movements, and righteousness. Crucially she must abandon her surety that the best thing she can do is to pivot. Pivoting is how we try to be good girls doing the hard work… But if we abandon a claim on certainty, avoid arbitrary endings and stay open to the previous movement continuing to unfold, then we offer ourselves to divine creativity.
As you know, I am constantly working to refine my pedagogy. An effective pedagogy will enable me to rapidly teach diverse students to dance with perfect connection and interesting improvisation. This post is an update about developments in 2015 and goals for 2016. Berlin in 2015 was richly productive of new approaches to improvisation for dancing to […]
The partners begin dancing autonomously, connecting their bodies to the music first, and then look for one another. They approach one another and begin to interact, still dancing autonomously. At some point, they connect. It might be useful to define the tango connection: It is a very particular power relation in which the Mark has creative power and the Revel has the power to manifest his spark.
We can dance the same songs every night for years because of the possibility to discover new relations between movement and music. We can do this because each dance is unique, because we create it anew each time. Argentine Tango improvisation must be authentic and spontaneous or tango becomes rote and dead. Either partner can kill it: The Mark through routine and the Revel through automatisms.
So you feel ready (or you feel like you should be ready) to dance faster? Here’s a guide to getting started with vals and milonga. General points Faster is harder than slower. Always perfect your technique slowly before attempting to do any movement fast. Both vals and milonga can be danced slowly. Start by finding the […]
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this, and almost always from women who are delusional about their level. There is some truth to this, but it is mostly false. What those “good leaders” are good at is compensating for your mistakes so fluidly that you never knew you made them. The lesser marks […]
The most radically precise piece of my pedagogy is so finicky that I apologize when I teach it. It’s not abstract, but 9/10 experienced marks flat-out refuse to pay attention to it. They believe that what they are doing works well enough, and this point need not concern them. But the revels can feel the difference. And when […]
Ready to deepen your connection and maximize your creativity? In TangoForge workshops you’ll get a compact biomechanical toolbox you can use to fix your own technique and a systematic understanding of the possibilities for improvisation.
by Nick Young In this musicality session, we look at choosing which beats of the music to step on. First we identify the beats we have to work with, and then we try some simple ideas for dancing them. These ideas are simple ways to make your dance more interesting and enjoyable! The previous session […]
by Nick Young In this musicality session, we look at 3 different techniques of dancing slowly by skipping beats that we might normally step on. Now, we only look at how to skip beats using these techniques. Later, we will look at when or which beats to skip. It is important for the mark to […]
Every move is re-learned several times with different levels of technical sophistication at different levels. These levels involve growing skills and sensitivity from both mark and revel. The first level is what we might call “getting in” to the move. Locating everything in the right place in the right order with the right technique to […]
This seems like a trick question. The embrace is everything, right? Well, no. The embrace is the last mile. Our connection depends on the whole body being stable and well-positioned. We use the lower body, especially hip flexion, to create an arch of connection from our base leg to our partner’s center. We extend the […]
This is a very simple and crucial question. And understanding it makes dancing so much more straightforward. Marks tend to yank or hurl on their limbs in order to create rotation, destabilizing themselves. Rotation around our own spine is controlled by the obliques, shaded light blue in the image at right. Muscles work most strongly […]
Many teachers teach revels to automatically accelerate some steps of the giro. The revel is to take front and side step in single time and then double time the back and subsequent side step. Of course it’s annoying when different teachers tell you different things. Here’s why NOT to accelerate automatically: A revel who learns […]
I know what sort of guys dance tango. The ones who can’t be bothered with small talk. The ones who tend to go directly to the heart of matters. The ones who can look at things from many angles. Sometimes I feel you’re not letting loose. Long ago, when I was an economist, I had […]
Some teachers instruct students to create connection with a very subtle lean or hang (micro-sized volcada or colgada). This prevents the revel from stepping too soon. It’s based on the assumption that the Revel isn’t interested in or able to understand and control her own step. It’s time to get over this way of teaching […]
I met with Michael Chang, who has been a Dance Sport competitor and coach for more than 20 years. He was Australia representative to the World Professional Championships of 10-Dance in 2009. Apparently, there are only a handful of scientists in the world studying dance and, as far as Michael is aware, none are studying Argentine Tango. I had ten questions for Michael about biomechanics. I wanted to be sure I was using the correct anatomical terminology.
Tango’s elegance and clean lines are epitomized in the revel’s back cross. When you revel it, you feel sleek and sinewy. When you mark it, you feel your mastery. To maximize these sensations and get them consistently, make sure not to add any pivot to the cross. Although we often use it after a spiral […]
Some time in the not-too-distant future you will find yourself in a tango class in which the teachers are desperately and unsuccessfully trying to get the students to move only with melodic notes. Hope that you have not by then tuned your dance to an impervious metronome. Rhythm in fact is a trap which limits […]
Guide to Transcendent Technique: For sublime connection, sweet community, and smooth biomechanics.
One of my first tango teachers was Pablo Rojas. One day, when I’d been dancing a few months, he put one hand on each of my deltoids, looked me in the eyes, and said “Violeta, I know it’s going to be very hard for you, but you’re going to have to surrender.” You know by […]
What role does giro play in the dance? It’s the mark’s time to show off. And it’s the revel’s chance to give back, to support our mark in gratitude for the sweet walking, the sexy-dramatic voleos, and the whee-whirly things. She’s willing to provide strength, support, and power, but you need to let her do […]
Perhaps because it feels like flying, revels love the sensation of sending their free legs up and out through the air. This pleasure is so distracting that we sometimes forget that our free leg belong to the mark. Although we hope he enjoys it too… The somewhat boring truth is that the grace and beauty […]
But sometimes you feel a bit bored. And you don’t really want to be just another intermediate dancer. You want to be one of the ones the women look at in that way. Going to classes doesn’t seem to help. Sometimes you can do the sequence, it depends who you’re dancing with. Sometimes you can’t get there. Either way, it’s hard to remember, and hard to take useful notes, and even the girls who were in the class don’t remember the move so on the occasions when you do remember it, you can’t do it at the milonga.
I want to learn to lead, but I think I need to focus on following first. TangoForge encourages dancers to learn both leading and following. There are several reasons for this. It’s nice to have compassion for the challenges of the other role. If a teacher is working directly with you and wants to show […]
It feels so good to press our hearts together. Do you sometimes wonder why you ever do anything else? This simple and accessible act is profoundly moving, as it crosses age and cultural barriers to affirm our humanity and compassion. Fortunately, we don’t have to be touching chests to experience this sensation of connection. In […]
In 2011 one of my students confronted me about using animal metaphors. She said “Vio, I don’t know what it would be like to have a tail.” I stopped cold and realized I didn’t either. I decided that day to stop using metaphors and study anatomy so I could explain tango technique in objective terms. […]
Metaphors and indescribable sensations mystify tango technique. Anatomically-precise instruction enables students can develop the needed body awareness and control with the assistance of any exercise professional.
Many revels ask me about the fluidity of my free leg. The first thing I tell them is that freedom of the free leg comes from the base leg. The way our bodies function is that if the body is out of balance, the psoas muscle of the free leg will not work as strongly So if […]
Lightness is really just what happens when you are perfectly balanced and perfectly connected. We are heavy when we aren’t supporting ourselves, and instead lean on the leader or when we are disconnected. It’s also possible to be too light and independent, because then we’re disconnected. We can be balanced but moving in the wrong direction […]
Normal steps have two projections, one at the beginning, and the second one at the end of the step. The base leg continues to work, pushing the floor until there is no weight on it. This continued work helps to stabilize the transition to the new base leg. It also means that in the instant […]
You might be dancing too much. Yes, we need floor time, but be sure you are disciplined about using it to improve your dance. . Better to spend one hour a week practicing new moves or playing improvisation games, than spending 7 hours a week consolidating bad habits and repetitious sequences. If you really want […]
Obedience is a reasonable state for a follower to take on. Much about tango suggests that this is what leaders want. But, as you are no doubt discovering, tango is very complicated. The first reason to overcome obedience as a follower is that you will never be good enough. There will always be leaders who […]
Improvisation has many aspects. Here are some different aspects of improvisation to develop: Variations of movements, 48 sacadas, 32 ganchos… The shape we make on the floor: We can walk on a grid (front, back, and side) and in circles (double-giro, single-giro, and calesita). The method we use for projection, including barrida, gravity, change of […]
Most dancers’ attention is focused around the chest and shoulders. It’s nice that we are paying attention to our partner’s heart. Yoga teacher Matthew Cohen says “your legs are these powerful things for moving your heart around the world.” Those big brains and warm hearts don’t move themselves around, do they? I find that if students simply move […]
Musicality is the application of tango dancing to any music. Traditional tango music offers a lot of complexity and changes during one song. These characteristics can be found in other kinds of music, and we can also learn to dance to simpler music by dancing to the melody or using complex systems for relating to […]
What makes for a sublime and charming dance? Musicality might be the first word to leave followers’ lips. Playfulness, the capacity to improvise surprising movements or sequences, is another concept that more advanced followers yearn for. Variation in quality of motion (dynamic) imparts interest and sensation to movements, even with a small vocabulary. But perhaps […]
There are lots of Argentine Tango instructors to choose from. There are lots of organizers who want your money. There are lots of expensive classes. Everyone seems to rave about every teacher they’ve studied with and how fabulous the workshop was. Here are some tips to make a serious assessment of what you are getting […]
Why is it that Marks rave about dancing with beginners, and sometimes feel less free with advanced Revels? Of course there’s the possibility of being intimidated by your partner, but there’s more than that going on. Advanced Revels don’t need to concentrate as hard as beginners. Beginners are delightfully rapt by the whole experience. An […]
The follower should pivot at the beginning of a step. If you automatically pivot at the end of a step, you are presuming to know the next direction. Finish your step, stretch onto your new base leg, and look to perceive the next direction. (There may not be one yet! – Thank you Armin!) Note that the follower is […]
Because you are stopping her with force and tension that acts as an impulse, sending power through her free leg. If you want to stop quietly without issuing an impulse, you need to decelerate yourself. She will match.
Many students (and teachers) over-use Up for aspects of the lead where it is inappropriate. Using up as a trick to make something difficult happen must be un-learned as students advance. The Mark should only lift his hands away from the floor if he intends to lift the Revel’s free leg into the air. Up […]
This post was formerly called “Why doesn’t Vio ask me to dance and/or when she does why is it so hard to Revel with her?” If you have either of these questions, I’m very happy because it means you are attracted to something about my leading and you want to participate. The best next step […]
A new student started learning from me how to lead from the floor with his core. “This is amazing!” he exclaimed. “Our bodies are so connected. I can feel how it works!.” Then he went to the milonga. “Hold me like a man” said his partner. What does this mean? Our mythological histories of tango […]
Lately I’ve been on a rampage to get people using the follower’s back sacada. Why am I spending much power on a move so rarely led and so poorly followed, if at all? As a leader, the dynamic of this move opens up sensation and territory. But I’m starting to think there’s more to it […]
I am committed to helping followers dance well and feel good about their dancing. I suffered so long hearing leaders talk about how sublime certain followers were, but no one would teach me how to do it.
Don’t just practice, practice all the time Whenever you are not sitting in a chair or lying in bed, you can be practicing tango. Take every step with awareness of moving correctly onto the new base. Whenever you are waiting for the bus or train, or standing in line, work on your balance. If you […]
Forget about stepping. It’s not your job. Focus completely on projecting and then getting your base when you find you are on a new foot.
Stop turning the revel with your hands and arms, especially when you’ve lodged her into your right armpit with a forward ocho. Lead her out of there by opening space where you want her to step next. (Generally, you are wanting another front ocho somewhere in front of or to the left of your left […]
Girlfriend, I know. Dancing tango as a revel is the experience you’ve been looking for all your life. When it’s good it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted. You can’t get enough. Not all marks do it for you, but you don’t mind the suspenseful wait for the eyes of one of those marks, the ones who make […]
Unlike dances with formal international congresses and officiating bodies, tango is a happy chaos of meanings and pleasures. You’ll hear names like “salon tango”, “nuevo tango”, “milonguero style”, “Villa Urquiza style” and on and on. But on real dance floors all over the world you’ll be hard pressed to categorize a dancer or a teacher, and there’s no need to categorize yourself.