You Can Dance Often Without Improving

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In all aspects of life, whether that be relationships, finance, spirituality, fitness or skills such as dancing Tango, you are either improving/ moving forward, or declining/ getting worse. There is no standing still.

With regard to dance, practicing basic technique pays huge dividends in your overall development. Just 6 minutes a day is enough to continue your improvement. The consistency is the key.

Another suggestion is to practice for at least 6 minutes before you go out dancing socially. From this pre-milonga Tango practice, you can choose one to two things that you can focus on at the milonga. This pre-milonga practice also helps to ‘set’ your axis and increase your body awareness.

The purpose of your practice is to allow you to dance with great technique unconsciously. It is very difficult and inefficient to consciously ‘think’ your way through movement. Practice is the time to think and analyse your movement and then when it comes time to dance, Just Dance!

Competitive instincts are far stronger than technique, i.e. in a social environment, you will do whatever you have to do to manage your way through the dance. This is not always good in your overall development as a Tango dancer. It is therefore, important to be ‘ready’ to dance in a non-controlled environment, otherwise, it can negatively impact your development. It is therefore important to maintain a suitable balance of practice and social dancing. Learning to dance at Milongas is very much a hatchet way of developing your dance. As Keiran Perkins once said, “The result is the easy part. Swimmers don’t train 40 hours a week just to get fit; you can do that in 1/3 of the time. The hours are put in week after week to ensure that at the exact moment when you are under pressure, you’re tired and physically and emotionally drained, your worst habit is perfection.” Now, I realize that you dancing Tango and Kieran Perkins competing at an elite sporting level are different in many ways, however, the concept of preparation is the same. Practise basic movements such as walking, ochos, and molinete continually so that it is difficult not to do it well in any situation.

For optimal rate of improvement, a separate set of eyes can have great affect. If you want to do it alone, it may take 15 years to reach the level of proficiency you aspire to whereas with the help of a coach/ teacher, you may cut that down to 5 years. Tango lessons can therefore be invaluable in your overall development.

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In summary, the legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90. “Because, I think I‘m making progress,” he replied.

Why Yoga is Good for Tango Dancers

Benefits of Yoga for Tango

What does Yoga have to offer Tango dancers?

Yoga is widely known to be highly beneficial to everyone in general. But in this article, let us focus on the positive effects it has on Tango dancers.

Dancers rely heavily on three things: coordination, balance and mobility. These are essential ingredients that enable dancers to dance freely and in control, and yoga can enhance these significantly.

Stamina for Tango

Yoga postures boost static strength in general. On the other hand, a dynamic class such as Ashtanga improves stamina. During arduous physical activities, we learn the deep breathing technique through the nose. You will find it extremely useful when executing difficult dance routines as well.

Mobility for Tango

Benefits of Yoga for TangoThe ability to move or to be moved freely is called mobility. When muscles lack flexibility, they hinder the movement of the joints. In order to become more agile, regular stretching is the easiest way to improve agility. It prevents muscle strains, as well as joint and muscle damage. With yoga, dynamic movements, strengthening posture and static stretches are combined to enhance overall mobility.

Maintenance of Joints

No matter how active your lifestyle is, regular stretching and recovery play a large role in performing at your optimal level. When you make yoga a part of your routine, your joints will start to move more freely and can function well with less likelihood of feeling any kind of pain. For Tango dancers (or any dancer in general), it’s important to be able to move freely without limitation or pain.

Coordination for Tango

Consciousness is a crucial part of training our coordination skills. We gently shift into postures and spend time in each posture to enable our minds to find our centre and to maximise our senses and feel every stretch of our muscles and joints in that position. Compared to everyone else, including those who practice other sports, dancers tend to find it easier to learn and execute asanas. This does not come as a surprise however, as dancers are more aware of their bodies because of the constant practice of coordination through dancing. Hence, yoga and dancing are mutually beneficial to each other.

If you haven’t tried yoga, it’s about time you give it a shot too!

Whilst dancing expresses the soul’s creativity and emotions, yoga identifies the inner self through breathing, mind focus and movements. Tangueros should definitely try it! Yogis should try dancing too. There are benefits in both directions.

Tango Reborn

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The rebirth of tango, or more popularly referred to as The Tango Renaissance, started in 1983 right after the fall of the military junta in Argentina. Suddenly, Buenos Aires basked in a joyful atmosphere and everyone was in the mood to dance as though an actual veil had been lifted off them. All dance and martial arts classes were filling up all over the city. People wanted to learn Tango all of a sudden when they realised that it’s all right to take pride in being Argentine again. And what better way to demonstrate this pride than to take part in Tango, Argentina’s symbol to the world.

Argentine Tango near meHowever, there had been some setbacks at the start. One of which is that there was no tradition of teaching Tango and that there had been no Tango classes for beginners during its Golden Age. There were virtually no teachers and no standard practices being followed. There was an incessant hunger for mentors that needed to be fed.

To address this unrelenting need, dancers started giving tango classes for those wanting to learn the dance. This is the same scenario everywhere in the world since Tango re-emerged in 1983. People taught not because they thought they were gurus and knew everything but because people asked them to. Aspiring dancers learned tango through going to classes and travelling to Europe. Very few were experienced dancers.

At the beginning of the Tango Renaissance, the first teachers in Buenos Aires were young dancers who didn’t know much about tango. Those who were dancing during the Golden Age did not dance anymore and those who did had been suspicious of strangers. So the first people who danced were newbies. Those who haven’t danced tango or haven’t danced with someone in the Golden Age. One problem was that “teachers” weren’t really teaching tango. Most of what they taught were only things that they had made up on their own.

Eventually, people who had danced in the Golden Age started dancing again after 3 decades of not dancing Tango. Thankfully, they re-discovered their passion for Tango and developed a desire to teach Tango to the new generation of dancers. Miguel and Nelly Balmaceda have played a vital role in re-establishing Tango during the renaissance era. For as much as they could, they tried to stick to the traditional way of teaching tango when organising their beginners’ classes. They only allowed students to dance with teachers until they thought they were ready. Even then, they still had to dance the most basic steps only. Many of today’s most prominent tango dancers were trained by Miguel and Nelly or trained by someone trained by them.

Complex dance steps ruled in the Tango Renaissance. There was an astounding excitement to doing these complicated steps especially when combined with the techniques of traditional Tango. It enhanced the emotional connection that defines the true essence of the dance.

Antonio Todaro was one of the most famous teachers of the renaissance period of tango. He was one of the few who danced Tango before the military regime started. He created challenging steps, incorporating it with the technique of the Golden Age. He frequently toured Europe and taught many of the professional tango dancers we know now. Shortly after his death in 1993, young dancers in Buenos Aires began to steer away from the steps he popularised. A few other dancing styles emerged in the following years.

The dancing of the people who were around during the Golden Age remained the same as they could still go to milongas in the outskirts of Buenos Aires and dance the complicated steps in its most authentic manner. However, by 1995, styles such as “Club Tango” or “Milonguero”, “Short Steps” and “Close Hold” dominated the dancing style of the people who were part of the Tango Renaissance in Buenos Aires.




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It’s deep connection with self and another, it’s cerebral and completely free of mind, it’s masculine and feminine. It’s sensual. It’s physical. It’s movement meditation. It’s tango. Come give yourself this lifetime gift…

For those who have not been stung by the Tango Bug yet, or those who have tried it but lost interest, this probably sounds exaggerated or foolish, even. But allow me to change your mind.

More often than not, what comes to mind when people hear ‘Argentine Tango’ is ‘Dancing With the Stars’ or Al Pacino’s tango scene in ‘Scent of a Woman’ which, by the way, is pretty impressive. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s NOT. Well, at least, it’s not all that.  It’s way more just a mere dance. The more you get to experience tango, the more it becomes apparent that tango is life.

So how and where did tango begin? The origins of tango roots from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buenos Aires is a port city which is why it was flocked by immigrants around the early 1900s. Different people coming from different countries with varying cultures have settled in and called themselves Porteños. It was the fusion of multiple cultures, styles of music and dance, instruments and ideas that bore Argentine Tango and allowed it to thrive for the years to come.

Alright, so enough of the history lesson. The point I’m driving at here, however, is that tango is not about the traditional Ballroom stereotype it has been known for – with its false eyelashes, spray tans and pomp a-la sequins. Simply put, Argentine Tango is a soulful, modest, improvised dance created by a diverse wealth of cultures, arts and influences.

Tango is meant to be danced, not performed. It should not be choreographed. You are not going to dance in order to impress or be watched by an audience. Tango is all about self-expression with the use of body language just like any other social dance.

To be able to express yourself and connect with your partner, presence is required. This presence is otherwise known as “connection”. In tango, there are three most important types of connection and they are:

  1. Centering yourself (Connecting with the floor) – this type of connection simply means to feel your weight and feet on the floor. It’s being aware of your physical and mental state where you align your spine, release your body tension and clear your mind of any thoughts. Listen to yourself. So, the next time that you are idly just standing on the bus stop or waiting in line during lunch-time, try turning your attention to the soles of your feet and recognise the fact that whilst gravity pulls the weight of your body downward, at the same time, the floor holds you up.
  2. Building Relationships (Connecting with your partner) – when you master the art of centering yourself, it enables you to connect with others and build relationships. As I have mentioned above, tango is not about technicality or choreography. It is about self-expression and feeling the music. It becomes even more magical when we connect with our partner and become more responsive to them.
  3. Connecting with the universe (Connecting with the music) – tango is a walking dance. It is an improvised walk that is relaxed yet vibrating with expressive energy. It is elegantly smooth but varies with the beat and the pulse of the music.

Whilst we recognise that tango is a man and a woman’s elegant walk to tango music, we must also remember that tango is a feeling expressed through dance. If there is lack of emotion shared between a man and a woman in embrace, then it is nothing but a series of synchronised motion. Music is your source of emotion and emotion is what you share with your partner communicated through the embrace. All that is going on while you are walking through the music makes up the fundamental ingredients of tango.