In the last few months we have given some rather intense workshops for beginners that included some prerequisite homework. Among them was a series of challenges to get our students into the proper frame of mind for the classes. Everyone came to class with an idea of what they were getting into, and a fresh view of themselves standing and walking through their days. This greatly facilitated the classes and allowed everyone the chance to really get a handle on this dance we love. This challenge is an expansion of the first challenge we gave as homework.
Walking is something we do every day without thinking. This challenge is about finding awareness as you walk and stand through out your day. Once you do, walking and standing may never be the same for you again.
To begin, we will start with a concentrated effort in finding awareness. You will want to revisit this concentrated exercise every so often. Over time, you will find your awareness of how you walk and stand invading your everyday movement, from standing up from your desk, to walking down the hall, to pushing a cart or standing in line at the grocery.
Becoming aware of the circles and spirals that happen in our body as we walk.
This challenge builds on our last challenge, Sinking into our Standing leg. We will use that same exercise, but apply it to every step we take as we walk. Walking down the street, the hallway, the grocery store, give this a try, but try not to think about it too much. Do this once at home, with focus, then do it whenever you walk somewhere, even if it is just for a few steps. Our goal is to become aware of the circles and spirals that our body creates internally as we walk. Ultimately we want to relax into a healthy balanced walk and remain aware of how our body is moving and how it feels.
Aligning our whole body, sinking into the ground through our standing leg
For those who come to TangoBreath, you have heard us often recall the image of Michelangelo’s David. We talk about sinking into the standing leg through the whole side body and dropping, or relaxing, the free hip. Much to our delight, when we were in Tuscon, Murat and Michelle Erdemsel showed a picture of David in one of their classes on alignments! They also shared a picture of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, which provides us a connection to the feminine form.
As a continuation of last week’s challenge, Finding stability in our pelvis, in which we perceived subtle engagement in the area between the sacrum and hip joint, we are going to concentrate on releasing this same area. Balancing the internal dynamic between engagement and release is important to achieve our greatest flexibility, strength, and resiliency in our joints.
The flow of movement between partners can appear magical.
Every week in TangoLab, we start class with some exercise to create awareness of our partners through the embrace. Our goal is to encourage dancers to create and sense movement in response to one another. Beginners, even those that come from other dance backgrounds, are always amazed at how this internal flow of movement works to create a conversation between partners. When done very subtly, it can be difficult to see any flow of movement, yet we are speaking volumes, and responding to one another. It might seem like magic.
The way we think and what we think can either enable us, or hinder us, in our goals to create beautiful dynamic movement.
Explaining what needs to happen to internalize the flow of movement is difficult, however, which is why it is so important to choose our words and imagery carefully. There are many phrases and words that are commonly and casually used when teaching or learning Argentine tango. In our teaching, we have discarded many of them because they are vague or have multiple meanings. It is a careful practice to put these things away, not use them, and find a thorough and meaningful replacement when needed.