As the year comes to a close and the holiday season nears, our lives become busier than ever with obligations to work, family and friends. It becomes harder to balance our needs with those of everyone around us, yet this is the time when balance in our lives is more important that ever. This is the time to relax, spend time joyfully with good friends (Tango!), and allow ourselves to renew so that we will be ready for changes that come in the new year.
When speaking of Tango and balance, many think of stability in our dancing and movements. And of course, this is critical when dancing. But I’d like to open up the topic to balancing Tango in our lives. It’s easy to let Tango become a main focus, as it can be a source of great joy and connection. I know some people who just go to work and dance Tango and do very little else. But for true health and happiness in our lives and in our bodies a more balanced approach is necessary. There is a fine balance between dancing too much, causing injury or burnout or dancing too little and loosing muscle memory, connection and motivation.
We in the West don’t think much in terms of balance, and obviously we should. Even the very thought of an exquisite union and balance of all our forces, both physical and mental, has a gentle, hopeful ring to it. . . All of us must find a bridge between our physical and spiritual parts. When that balance is achieved, what a happy comfort for ourselves! ~Edward J. Lavin
Here are a few suggestions to find more balance in Tango and our lives:
Doing and Being
When dancing tango do you find yourself focused more on doing or being? When dancing, are you always thinking about what you are doing? Or are you BEING in the moment with your partner, the music and the dance floor. Tango is a combination of technique, practiced movements and pure inspiration. When you are truly in the moment, you no longer have to think as much, and your body will naturally move as it remembers.
Grounded and Lifted
These two opposing forces in your body is what help you feel stable in your dance. The lower half of your body, from your center or Hara (the space below your belly button and above your pelvis) should feel grounded, your feet pushing into the ground. Your upper half should feel lifted, spine straight and your head balanced on your neck and reaching the sky.
Strong and Soft
How do you find the balance between a strong clear lead and being too strong that you hurt your follower or leader. Or are you too soft, so that your partner is unable to feel you? Tango calls for a balance of both strong and soft movements at different times in the dance and most of the time it’s a happy medium.
Moving and Stillness
When dancing do you find yourself stepping to every beat, trying to catch every phrase or nuance of the music? Do you rush into stepping as soon as the song starts or when you arrive on the dance floor? There is a beauty in the pause and a sense of suspense. The pause or stillness before movement allows time for breath and relaxing into your body and the music.
Leading and Following
Every leader follows and every follower leads, and it’s a delicate balance between the two. Do notice if you are not allowing yourself to be lead or are not receptive to being allowed to follow. By allowing a little of the opposite polarity in your movements, your dance will become more dynamic and fun.
Pattern and Improvisation
Do you find yourself repeating the same patterns over and over? Do you find yourself responding automatically to a particular movement. Experiment in breaking up a pattern and moving in the opposite direction you would normally. By doing this you can create new pathways in your brain, and that is where true improvisation manifest.
Learning and Absorbing
After tango several classes, workshops or attending a festival, taking a break from dancing will allow the experience sink into your body and subconscious, making the next time you dance even better.
Injury and Health
As someone who also loves Tango very much, I know how easy it is to dance every night (especially here in the Bay Area). Have you become injured dancing tango? Do you have foot problems? Do you wake up from a long night of dancing with achy sore joints? Taking time for rest and healing is critical. Make sure to include self-care in your routine, especially for your feet and legs. A swim, a hike in nature or even just time with your feet up the wall can make a big difference in how you feel the next time you are out dancing.
See you all at SFTM!
I’d also like to mention that the wonderful Argentine couple, Gustavo Benzencry Saba & Maria Olivera, are here in San Francisco until November 5th. Along with being very friendly and kind they are both very generous with their knowledge.
They will be showing and discussing the film: “The History of Tango Dance 1940 – 1960: The Golden Years”
Nov. 4, 2016
8pm at the NEW La Pista Location!
3450 3rd St. Unit 5-H, San Francisco
Lots of well lit free parking in parking lot