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Posted by on Oct 19, 2011 in Article, Beginning, Concepts, History, Posture, Visualization | 0 comments

What is TangoBreath?

We decided to link our practice of tango movement with breath, to create intention

We know that what we do is different, a bit unconventional.  When asked, “What is TangoBreath”, we explain a bit, and sometimes we get,”Cool! Yoga and tango!” other times we get “That sounds like a lot of work, I just want to learn some steps” or “I can practice that on my own”.  There are a number of perspectives to take when looking at what we do.  I thought it might be nice to give you our point of view.

This all started with practice.  Tango practice and yoga practice.  There are dozens of individual practice movements that a tango dancer can do.  We’ve all learned them from various teachers.  But do we practice them?  Occasionally.  Can we tell if we are improving?  Maybe, or maybe not so much.  Do we do those movements with intention?  Are we conscious of our breath, our posture and movement?  Sometimes.  Sometimes not.  I know that I’ve spent hours doing my molinette or ocho practice half heartedly, and I’ve seen others do so too.

The result is amazing, intense, difficult and wonderful

Taking a cue from our yoga practice, we decided to link our practice of tango movement with breath, to create intention.  While we were at it, we decided to incorporate every exercise we know as well as create new ones.  It seemed logical to start slow, build in intensity and then bring it all back down, all while being very conscious of our breath, posture and movement.  The result is amazing, intense, difficult and wonderful.  In our classes we experience the same sort of energy that I’ve felt in Tai Chi and Ba Qua.  You can’t get that sort of feeling when practicing by yourself!

We start with posture and body awareness visualizations to help you look at your body with clearer vision.  From there it moves to axis exploration and how your pelvic floor engages you with the ground and frees your non-standing leg, all the while keeping your spine elongated toward the sky.  Remember to breathe– we did mention breathing didn’t we?  At some point, we might ask you to conjure up images like Michelangelo’s David, so cool (even if just a little too relaxed), or Michael Jackson’s moon walk.  It might seem bizarre, but they are relevant to tango, or more precisely, tango posture, and movement.  Even more so, this might just be how you should be standing and walking everywhere you go.

Everything starts at the core, or center of movement

Once we get past posture and axis exploration, keeping all that in mind, with us reminding you along the way, we get into movement–  linear movement, concentrating on movement from the core.  We want you to conceptualize that your core is like the pebble dropping in a still pond, sending ripples out, growing larger, as they reach the extremities of your body.  But everything starts at the core, or center of movement. And where is that?  Right at the top of your sacrum, a hand span below your belly button, in the middle of your body, just in front of your spine.  No,  it’s not in your chest, and no, you don’t really have a choice– your anatomy already decided that for you.  If you visualize moving from anywhere else, your movement will not be smooth, solid, relaxed or fluid.  This is where your movement emanates from.  This is not to be confused with the way the embrace communicates movement to your partner.  That’s something else.

Continuing on, we move sideways, forward and backward.  But first we make you wait. You can’t dance tango unless you know how to wait.  Five breaths, maybe more, are spent reaching for that side step, find your posture, drop your hip, relax, melt into the ground and stretch to the ceiling. Build some muscle memory.  Slowly, we take you through all the basic postures and movements associated with linear movement.  And then we start moving fast!  One movement for each 4 count inhale, and another with a 4 count exhale.

The variety is endless and each week is slightly different in various ways

Next, we do the same thing with spiral movement.  This is where our TangoDots become important.  That’s right, TangoBreath TangoDots!  TangoDots are you own personal imaginary partner which you are moving around in your mock embrace.  We will take you slowly and painfully through each step, slowly building torsion in your body, then building more, and releasing, build and release, each one more intense than the last, and finally when you are getting used to the pain and effort, we pivot, and pivot again, feeling the torsion build and release with each step and pivot.

We also incorporate movements for crosses, adornos, boleos and enrosques. The variety is endless and each week is slightly different in various ways, from the visualizations we provide to the movements that we integrate.  We only spend a little over an hour on the TangoBreath vinyasa.

TangoLab is where we learn how to sense and move with each other

The second hour is TangoLab which is all about the connection and embrace, learning how we do these movements together, in a subtle, energetic way that is not just leader and follower, but initiator and responder, sensitivity goes both ways.  We are both following and leading each other. TangoLab is where we learn how to sense and move with each other.

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