Monthly Archives: April 2011

O Demos; How We Hate Thee!

Apparently, we’re supposed to like performing demos.  Somehow being a teacher means we’re not supposed to get nervous when we dance said demos.  But we’re not nervous when we perform!? Noooooo… We’re “excited” (*sarcasm*).

Take a look at the kitties below. They tell it the way it is.  Gato numero uno is nervous.

Nervous

Gato numero dos is excited.

Excited

We’re with gato numero uno.  We may well want to be gato numero dos when we dance a demo, but the rapid heart beat, shaking, and stiff muscles all lead us to believe we are nervous.  We’re shaking (literally) in our Tango-booties.  While there may be a serious issue with those Tango dancers who seem to like performing/acting more than they like the actual improvised/social Tango they’re dancing, we would love to experience a taste of their adrenaline-free demo.

The idea that the essence of Argentine Tango is easily lost in a performance is often very true for us.  Meanwhile, this is said as we head to Korea to partake and PERFORM  (eek!) in the Seoul Tango Festival.  We’re learning though.  We’re learning that sometimes it’s better to keep our demos “simple”.  However we’re also learning that sometimes it’s better if we take risks, as it opens the door to dancing from our soul.   That is why we are not going to choose the songs for our demo until the day of the performance and we’re going to choose songs outside our usual comfort zone.  This is another chance to remind ourselves that the dance is for the two of us… we don’t need to be perfect… Tango is about being free and so…

We release and destroy the need to impress anyone.


My Hips DO Lie

This post has been a long time coming.  We previously wrote some posts on women’s technique.  These concepts were mind-blowing lessons we learned in Buenos Aires that positively altered our dancing in a dramatic way.  As a reminder, they included:

  1. Pulling your hips back or “Sticking your butt out
  2. Putting your weight and/or centre of gravity in your heels
  3. Keeping your legs apart (i.e. enough with the obsessive collecting)

The missing concept we promised to discuss:

4.  Allow your hips to move

An unnecessary and damaging myth exists outside of Buenos Aires that is perpetrated by many people teaching abroad.  The myth is:

Women’s hips should not move in Tango.

Some of our theories for the existence of this myth are as follows:

1) Ballerinas no longer move their hips naturally because they have learned to keep their hips still.  With the proliferation of ballerinas that emerged when Tango regained popularity, the visual representation of hip movement died out.

2) Stage/Exhibition Tango dancers have excessively entered the realm of social Tango teachers.  These dancers are normally performing choreography (or perhaps improvised choreography – more on this oxymoron in a later post) and they have learned to maximize their speed and efficiency.  Women do not have the time or the need to allow their hips to sway.

3) Local teachers in various Tango communities have not experienced Tango the way it is danced in, or spent time observing, the milongas of Buenos Aires.

What does it mean to move your hips in Tango?  It does not mean collapsing/breaking your sides, but rather allowing your hips to move naturally in a relaxed state.  When your hips are relaxed, your body has time to sit in the supporting leg and there is a sway that occurs.  Oftentimes, women actually pull up on the standing leg (another ballet concept) which causes the hip of the free leg to sometimes rise higher than the hip of the supporting leg.  This is something K used to do in Tango too!

There you have it ladies. Allow your hips to move freely!  Don’t force it, don’t try to turn your Tango into salsa, but allow that natural sway to take place!  And now that we’ve been speaking specifically to women, let us also stress how important it is for MEN to also allow for natural hip movement. By relaxing the hips, you can relax your back.  By relaxing your back, you can relax your hips.  So… RELAX!