Tango Practica Challenge 3- That Walk!

How often do you advance in the line of dance walking forward as a leader?
Of those times, how often are you mindful while walking forward? Are you expressing rhythms, melodies, pauses with your steps; readjusting your embrace with your partner; listening to your partner for clues of what she might like, and then taking those clues and doing something with them for her?

There’s an awful lot of beauty in a forward walk- as long as it is intentional—and not just something you do in order to maintain the flow while freeing up your mind in order to plan out the next thing.

Everyone understands that there are four general directions in which we can walk, with varying degrees in between each direction. Let’s try to mix it up a little more- and challenge yourself.

THE CHALLENGE

Practice advancing the line of dance walking sideways. You have several options available to practice, and really you should do them all. First of all, you need to start this solo.

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You can move right side of yourself advancing, or the left side. You can take steps which cross over your own, or steps that meet the other foot. Its important to make sure you are being mindful of engaging your whole body to committing weight changes, or not.

Pay very careful attention to how you will need to project (or propel) yourself to each step; how you should land your foot to accommodate the weight placement without losing your balance; how level your movement is as you move across the horizontal plane; using knee and ankle flexibility in order to keep your axis from tipping unevenly, and unintentionally.

After practicing all the ways you can do this alone, try it again, but now focus on moving musically- weight changes landing on the downbeat, or the upbeat, or the syncopas. Creating suspensions in time by delaying completion of movement. Taking half steps, and interchanging with full steps, doing split weight movements in time with the music, changing the direction you face while you are splitting your weight between two feet.

Now, try these things with a partner. You will find that in order to move yourself and your partner on a straight line, you will need to reshape yourself to make it happen.

FOR EXTRA CREDIT

Try the same challenge advancing the line of dance walking backwards.

Of course, walking sideways and backwards all the time seems a ridiculous thing; but do you think walking only forward hinders your progress and capability to be always aware on a dance? The idea of this challenge is to adopt other ways of advancing the line of dance, and add them as part of your dance. Also, the challenge of having to always manage the space and direction has the potential to keep you more focused on the music, your own body and your partner’s body, and the space around you- instead of walking forward to do the next move.

It will enable you to invent a *dance*, instead of only executing copied moves. And it will enable you to think more improvisationally, instead of relying your dance solely on  predetermination.

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I hope you enjoy this challenge. It has a great potential to change that way you will dance, for the better.
You know that I love those videos and feedback about how your challenge went, so feel free to share everything!

Love.
http://www.atlantatango.com

Cabeceo

How you feel like the first time you ever try it…

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Dark milonga…

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Across the room and through the dance floor…

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Full-on festival/marathon madness

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Cabeceo poachers:

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When they creep up on you after you’ve already rejected them from a distance…

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The Persistent one…

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The Rawrr Mirada

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The Zoolander Mirada

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The Galifinakis Mirada

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The Rejection

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The Rejection Reaction: ‘I didn’t want to dance with you anyway’

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The Surprise Cabeceo

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Oh, yes…

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Love.
April

http://www.atlantatango.com

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In The Milonga…

*Mirada*

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The flirt…

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Cabeceo.

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When there are far more women than men:

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Cabeceo fail:

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When the lights are too dark and you can’t see to ask:

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The sulky dancer:

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Cabeceo from the other side of the floor, through the dancers…

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Cabeceo poacher

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When lights are too bright on the dance floor

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The old guard…

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When you’ve been trying to avoid his gaze all night and then he gets in your face to make you dance with him…

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Do I really have a choice here??

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Yes…yes, I do have a choice.

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OR…

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When your girlfriend sees it going down…

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When you think everyone in the milonga is watching you, so you show off your best moves…

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Bad DJ:

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Dry milonga…

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Love.
April

http://www.atlantatango.com

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The Embrace

When they teach the closed embrace to you for the first time.

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When you indicated you wanted an open embrace, and they pull you in closer.

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When two women dance the first time.

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When two men dance the first time.

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When they reject 😭

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Summer milonga.
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When her man is staring at you in the milonga.

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When you…shhhhh.
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When it’s too tight.
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When the sweaty man wants to dance closer.
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When teacher introduces you to another dancer.
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When someone introduces you to a new dancer off the dance floor and you don’t know whether to shake hands or hug.
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When you didn’t see it coming, ever.

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When you thought she was looking at you.
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When you see your traveling friends in a festival/marathon, once a year.
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When those silly stylistic gangs want to start their turf wars.
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When…nope.

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When it’s just so right.

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Love.
April
http://www.atlantatango.com

Musicality Challenge 1

Minimalism

Practicing Pausing and (Re)connecting

Since taking a breath is as important as expelling breath, silence in between movement is a good thing.
When we get involved in learning and teaching tango, we always learn movement. How often do we learn the opposite of movement- how often do we find ourselves in a class that teaches stillness as being a very important part of dance? How often is subtle movement, stillness, connection and reconnection the entire makeup and focus of a class? Not very often, because very few dancers want to pay money to learn these things- but stillness is just as important in the dance as movement is.
Too often, I find that most leaders do not pause enough or even at all. There are several reasons this occurs, but I’m not addressing them- I’m only going to say that I completely understand, when I dance as a leader, the pressures involved. I’ve noted that on both sides of an embrace, taking pauses is such a very nice and appreciated thing. When I lead, as try to take many pauses, and I’ve noticed that my followers become more relaxed as a result. Not only that, but they are all very happy to dance with me, and they tell me so without me asking them. Leaders, take note of that.
Onward to the challenge…
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The idea of this challenge is to become used to the idea of stillness while connecting to your partner and connecting to the music you are listening to. Then, finding more subtle means of communicating musicality to your partner through very simple movement and silence.

1. Find a practice partner for this exercise. Tell them what you are going to do- explain this challenge in full to them and make sure that they agree to do this with you. Seriously, if you spring this activity on them without warning, it gets creepy, really fast. Don’t do that…and don’t do this in a milonga, you weirdo.
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2. Play ‘Farol’ from my Spotify playlist. Link to the playlist is below. Approach EACH OTHER- there should never be just one person doing all the approach into the embrace. In case I am not clear, this means that you literally move towards each other at the same time.
3. Look at your partner in their eyes and smile at the same time for just one second before you embrace- not longer than that, because they might think you’re a freak.
4. Embrace. Really melt into each other. Get comfortable, and you will find that you might have to continue rearranging little things in that embrace during the course of the song…and that’s ok. Do not walk, do not change weight. Only stand there, embracing each other for 3 minutes and 21 seconds.
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Can’t handle it? You’re already connecting your body to another person whether you’re moving or not, so get over it and just do it. Just stand there like a couple of idiots for the entire song.
Nice song, isn’t it? Did you hear Chanel’s voice rise and fall in tone and in volume? Probably not, because you were too busy freaking out. Start the exercise over again and frigging listen to him sing. Listen to the violins…they’re beautiful. Did you hear that bandoneon hang alone, briefly, in the air during the chorus? Did you hear the violins, piano, and bandoneon playfully intertwine in syncopated rhythms while Chanel hits those high notes?

5. When the music stops, hang onto that embrace and silently count to three. Then break the embrace. I personally like to break the embrace with a soft hand squeeze with my hand, then a smile.

6. Repeat steps 1-5 but still no turf can be covered (don’t walk)…you can, however, change weight from one foot to the other- musically. Just don’t forget to pause often, for longer periods of time- because you will make all this effort I’ve just made in writing this for you to read completely useless.
7. Try the same exercise with a completely opposite song- El Acomodo from the Spotify playlist. It’s going to be hard to resist staying still for that one. 😉
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8. For my fellow Tango geeks out there, try this bonus challenge for extra credit: Leaders- try tipping your axis in different directions, to differing degrees while your are not shifting weight, and then try it again while you are shifting weight. Followers- if you feel like you need to cover space to move or take steps, do it.
Just don’t forget those musical pauses. In fact, why not make those pauses so musical that you’re moving like bullets heading for Neo in the Matrix. Sloooooooow motion movement over two or three bars of music instead of one, then snap back into real time.

I hope you enjoy the new challenge, and please tell me your stories about trying it out- I’d like to hear them.

Love.

April

http://www.atlantatango.com

READ MORE BLOGGY STUFF FROM ME