What’s with the Hips?


Boring as the marathon was,  I did notice that every single mark there maintained hip flexion at all times on the dance floor.  I carefully and systematically observed this.

Tonight at Bebop milonga in Berlin,  which had a nice outside dance floor and cool lighting fixtures,  I noticed that (excluding the members of my party) almost none of the marks retained hip flexion,  and the dancing was,  unsurprisingly,  disconnected.

What I simply do not understand is why all good leaders have hip flexion,  despite varied training.  And so many lesser dancers don’t,  despite going to various teachers,  almost all of whom, like all of the teachers in Sydney, do it.  This should not be a matter of level.  It’s not difficult to explain,  understand, or do, and doesn’t require a lot of practice.

As a result of the non-teaching of this,  lesser dancers torture their partners unnecessarily and then at some arbitrary developmental point,  every single student receives the magic instruction.

Or maybe no one receives it.  Maybe the way people are learning this is only through self-study.  Maybe what happens is that marks attain a certain level at which what changes is that they are able to SEE.  They start to watch maestros and can distinguish good from bad marking.  By watching and emulating,  their mirror neurons teach them what no one has ever told them.


Well, some teachers do try to tell them… “Push her like a shopping cart.” Or course such instructions introduce all sorts of unnecessary and offensive implications so bizarre that even the marks can’t quite figure out how this applies to the woman in front of them (and her feet, which aren’t wheels). And they don’t do it. Another ineffective instruction, for which, as usual, the students are blamed.

In short, both partners’ base leg needs to have hip flexion at all times. Even the free leg’s hip only extends occasionally, in back projection and back voleo. Hip flexion imparts stability by activating leg and core muscles. It also helps to create space between the partners, which is especially important in close embrace. If you focus on maintaining the arch of connection, you will notice that loss of hip flexion breaks the arch.

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

I invite you to join my resolution to take a look at the dark silences of Argentine Tango in our lives. It’s time.


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