We all need somebody to lean on (or do we?)

A lot of folks have commented on the fact that I dance close embrace in a very upright position.  Yes, I am not an extreme leaner type.  At the same time, I am not against leaning in tango. When done correctly, it can be fun AND good for the body. However, part of my job as a teacher is to facilitate tango that allows the dancer to keep dancing until they keel over at an advanced age, not until they end up in a wheelchair. I teach very upright tango because I feel it is important to learn about one's own balance, axis and movement before asking someone else to be responsible for one's back/feet/weight.

After you can hold your own body up and know where your axis is--and where your feet are--THEN you can contemplate finding a way to lean and achieve the same balance and control when off-axis. When you can do that, you have the tools to lean as far as you like without injuring your back or feeling like a Mack truck to the leader.

And then there is the element of surrendering to the dance: practice more upright, working on your technique, but in the moment, who cares? When you are dancing, all that melts into the background as you connect with another person and the music and just DANCE. When I dance, I hope to get "in the groove" and forget about standing up or breathing or releasing my legs because it just happens.

In Tango II, we are working on close embrace to get ready for the crowded dancing situation at Tangofest (http://www.claysdancestudio.com/portland_tangofest/index.shtml).This class is both fun and challenging to teach, as I have students who have danced for three months and others who have danced for 4-5 years in the same class. I run it like a one-room schoolhouse, sometimes dividing people into learning level groups, sometimes having the advanced students dance with the intermediate students to get everyone on the same page. But I digress as usual:-)

Drills & games for the week:

  • Axis drill: standing with knees straight but unlocked, big toes touching, eyes closed, breath evenly. Imagine that you can pull air up through the bottoms of your feet, up inside your bones, all the way to your lungs. Then, when you exhale, imagine pushing the air back down through your legs & feet, going six inches through the floor (not just to your soles). Gradually include breathing out the top of your head AND through the floor at the same time. Think of a shower curtain rod: it has springs on both sides, bracing between two walls. Your body is doing the same thing, but sending energy out your feet to ground and out your head to align your axis.
  • Force field (2 people): Stand facing each other in the same stance as for the axis drill. Breathe as for the axis drill, but on the exhale, direct all the energy of the breath towards and through your partner, starting at the toes and gradually building a rectangular force field all the way up your/their body. I picture little electrical waves going through my partner, but other folks have said they imagine light/a laser beam/a color/fire/water/bubbles--whatever image works for you.

More after this week's classes--I'm trying desperately to keep on top of reviewing for all of my classes, but it's hard to type when a toddler is "helping"!