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.
Our tango, our life, and self perception are reflections of one another.
Tango! Life! blah, blah, blah. So many ways to relate the two. Metaphors galore! This isn’t that. This is about awareness. This is about getting feedback from your dance about your life. Tango can help you find your perception of self. Tango can tell you when your life is going right or wrong. When we begin to learn tango many of us have no idea that we are embarking on a journey to overcoming years of conditioning, belief of self, and our own perception of who we are in relation to the world. Our tango, our life, and self perception are reflections of one another. We must dance who we are.
But our tango, life, and self perception is not always an ideal relationship. Finding harmony among them might be one of the keys to finding harmony within ourselves. The relationships and experiences we have had in life shape us and condition us. The question is what do we accept, and what do we deny. What defines us? We may have bad posture and movement purely as a result of our self image. The largest hurdle many of us face in learning tango is not technique or music, but that of confronting our self belief in relation to the world. The image we have of our selves can beat us down, it harms our posture and our movement. Our life image can also be positive, it can elate us, create confidence, and strength. In turn, our movement in tango becomes clear, our posture healthy.
Since we have been behind in posting our challenges, here are two in one, both bringing our awareness to our feet. In tango, often we can get caught up in the placement of our feet, but forget to feel them, or even use them. Here are two exercises to help us be more in touch with this part of our body that carries enormous responsibility.
A less commonly considered spiral
Most of the time when we think of our spiral energy as it relates to tango, we consider the torsion that happens in our torso, as our hips and ribs twist in opposite directions. However, there are many other “spirals” that happen in our bodies, and we would like to draw attention to the spiral that happens in our legs as we take a step. Understanding how the leg articulates at the hip joint during our walk can also transform our dance.
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.