Friday, 18 July 2014 10:05

El abrazo & organic energy in Tango

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El Abrazo, the embrace is the definition of Tango. This is the single most important aspect that differentiates our dance from any other discipline. It can be really simple or really complex depending on how you look at it and how much you want to explore it. This was the essence of the class on Sunday when Leandro and Maria walked us through a bit of history and evolution of embraces.

Ofcourse, the yoga part of the theme was beautifully covered in how you transition from muscular enrgy to organic energy.

One of the first lessons to be taught was that the embrace is not just about the arms, it involves the whole of the body and not just the parts of the body that are in physical contact. With that knowledge, a million possibilities open up depending on the positioning of the wrists, arms, angles, level of the arms, etc.

We were taught and asked to try a simple sequence with embraces from different eras – particulary the Milanguero style, salon style and nuevo style.

We were asked to explore what was easier in the Milanguero style and what is not. It became apparent that pivoting is not the easiest in this style, it was really more about the front-on connection.

Leandro also explained the evolution of the embraces with changes in music like how longer notes lead to pivots and the essential adjustments in the embrace and how the wrist positioning affects this.

One of the key learning to come out of the class was there is nothing wrong in choosing any embrace you like. The more you know, the more educated your choice will be. Also, learning the different styles means you can be more responsive to the preferred style of your partner.

Advantage to LPTA students here :-) We then got into the intricacies of the Salon style and the nuances and variations with it. It definitely is a never ending topic to explore! Leandro explained how keeping the wrists to the shoulder level of the follower creates efficiency and comfort and how to adapt it for the height of your partner.

We were taught to observe how followers get into the embrace when invited for a dance – there are clues there into their preferred style of dancing. That is the moment when the preference for embrace and consequently the style of the dance is established – as a follower you don’t want to miss the opportunity to express your preference and as a leader you don’t want to miss the chance to know what the follower prefers. A close embrace within salon style doesn’t mean restriction of movement – there’s lot of freedom that comes with it and it does not always mean chest to chest.

There were also tips to the followers on how to protect their lower back – sometimes I think Leandro is almost a yoga teacher!

Some common mistakes while practicing like holding arms too high were pointed out. When you practice something on your own and you simply repeat the mistakes your body remembers them and it becomes even harder to undo them later. You will be much better off practicing it the right way, so be mindful like a yogi!

There were so many other concepts that were explained too:

  • the elasticity of the embrace in giros.
  • Providing equal energy – from the left and the right.
  • misconceptions about opening of the chest which compromises alignment and how to avoid it.
  • While leading, chest is important but so are the other parts of the body. The hip leads too – in fact it plays an important role. The head, chest, arm are all part of the lead.
  • Where should the followers head point to – left or right? There was an answer for this too but you would have to listen to Leandro explain this!

With all this deluge of information, where do you start? Well, the answer came from Leandro at the beginning of the class – just try to change one thing at a time maybe two but not more than that. You can build it from there.

Worry not if you missed the classes this week on embrace, just make sure that you are there for the next one!

Winston Veerender

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Monday, 07 July 2014 12:28

Tango colgadas and Adho Muka Savasana

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The downward dog pose in Yoga is one of the central poses that many modern physical yoga practitioners use both as a foundational pose and also as a transitional one. Very often downward dog will be used to build both strength and flexibility for more advanced poses. So when Leandro used parts of the benefits of downward dog to explain how it can help you with a Colgada in Tango, it was a nice feeling for me – here is a Tango maestro who has been in the field for over 20 years and toured the world and performed everywhere using yoga to explain a Tango move – the Yoga4Tango experiment is definitely on!

Colgadas are definitely one of the more advanced of the Tango moves. They need more balance on you own and also a good understanding of the axis that is shared with the partner. Of course once it is understood the same principles can be used in simpler moves enhancing the quality of dancing.

During the technique and intermediate classes, Leandro and Maria broke down the technique elements of a Colgada, how to push the hips back, engaging the core, how the shoulders rest in the back rather than hunching up, the disassociations that can be used, etc. Leandro made an important point though – you’re not going to be able to do a Colgada by just learning the technique, it is about practising it and finding that feeling of balance yourself with every partner. The class was structured starting from simple exercises where each partner understands their part individually and then combining it all together. There is no point writing about it all – you simply have to go to one of the classes this week at LPTA and experience it!

Working on the core theme during the Yoga4Tango class was not very different from what we normally do in the classes, we are quite used to working on the core in any Yoga4Tango class! This week we experimented with starting the foundation from the feet and building a secondary foundation using the core so that the upper body can stay relaxed. There were several poses we could relate to building the foundations for Colgada – Utkatasana (Chair pose), Adho Muka Savasana (Downward Dog), Vrksasana (Tree Pose), etc. As usual it was a fun experience doing Tango and Yoga together – this week especially so after how Leandro related the two together!

Winston Veerender

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Monday, 30 June 2014 00:00

Musicality & grounding in Tango and Yoga

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The class on musicality began with us sitting around in a circle listening intently to the maestro breaking down the parts of a Tango song into Intro, Rhythmic parts, Adagios (the slow part of the music), the violin, variacion and final. Leandro explained how staying grounded helps when it comes to playing with the music, especially with the Adagios when everything slows down. To be able to express yourself at that slow pace needs good grounding so the upper body can stay soft. We were taught sequences for the rhythmic part of the music and the Adagio part and were then asked to switch between the two responding to the music. It was lot of fun!

My favourite part of the class was when we were asked to sit down, close our eyes and visualise how we would have wanted to dance to the various parts of the music. It is not easy to describe how well Leandro described the musicality part of Tango with his wealth of experience, you simply have to come and find out about it in one of the many classes running throught the week at LPTA.

In the Yoga4Tango class, we simply expanded our experimentation with staying grounded from simpler poses to more complex ones. We explored the foundation principles for the Warrior 2 pose at the beginning of the class and then experimented with it in a single leg balancing pose like Natarajasana, in twists and also in an inversion towards the end of the class. It was a fantastic Sunday afternoon and hope to have many more of these with interesting themes in the future.
Winston Veerender

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:00

About lengthening in Yoga and Tango

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We need a stable base for most activities in life. Anything that is not built on a stable base including tango moves will not feel comfortable. Once the stable base is established, it is then important to focus on the length of the muscles. Even when we do a complex yoga pose with twists and bends, it is very important not to compress but keep lengthening the muscles and the same principles apply in Tango too. This is what we explored in last Sunday’s classes at LPTA. It is more straightforward to understand the concept of length and how to lengthen the muscles in a resting position without the effects of gravity pulling us down. It gets a little bit trickier when we have to explore a complex movement and make peace with gravity to be able to do the same in the midst of that movement.

We kick-started this process of exploration on Sunday. It is of-course Ganchos week at LPTA which meant we learnt the technique behind Ganchos, the variations possible and how to make the most of Ganchos by synchronising them with the strong beats in the music. Leandro and Maria will continue with the same theme throughout the week in the LPTA classes especially applying the concept of length to posture in Tango. Ganchos are fun moves and learning them with good technique will make them even better!

Winston Veerender

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Monday, 16 June 2014 00:00

Tango & Breathing by Winston Veerender

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Breathing is something we all do every minute of our life. It really makes lot of sense to invest some time to learn how to breathe effectively so that every minute of our lives can contribute to our well being.

In the Tango context, learning to breathe well in the correct context can enhance the dancing experience for yourself and your partner. There are also moments in our dancing when we push ourselves to do something complicated and we stop breathing altogether, this usually happens because of a mind body conflict – the scenario where the mind is visualising a beautiful sophisticated movement but unfortunately the physical body fails to follow through resulting in the conflict. At moments of conflict like these, we simply stop breathing. This can be avoided or the occurences reduced by creating a better mind body connection using the breath as a tool for the connection.

This is what we explored in the Tango and Yoga4Tango classes on Sunday. Ofcourse there were voleos, musicality, sequences and other technique lessons to be learnt in the Tango classes – Leandro and Maria will continue that theme throughout this week focussing on voleos and also providing valuable tips on breathing. In the Yoga4Tango class, we learnt a simple technique to deepen the breaths and how to use it as we flew through our dynamic sequences. As we practice this more and more, it will sink into our subconscious mind resulting in the life long wellbeing and avoidance of those mind body conflicts.

Come along and explore this unique experience of learning Tango and enhancing your own body awareness every Sunday at LPTA. Also, remember that throughout this week, the theme at LPTA is breathing and voleos adapted to the level of each class, see you in the classes!

Winston Veerender

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Monday, 09 June 2014 12:41

Tango & Yoga Mindfulness in our practices

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Work your mind hard rather than the body – Tango meets Yoga at LPTA!

The last weekend at LPTA was a special one. Very often we hear sports personalities and other people at the top of their professions talk about how it is all in the mind – during the Sunday classes at LPTA we heard it from someone who is at the top of their game in the world Tango scene – Leandro Palou.

The technique class was hard work as usual with the exercises focussing on things like stability, pivots, planeos, balance on one leg, etc. And when the partner dancing started, the focus shifted to sacadas. But the classes were nothing like the usual Tango classes! The difference was in the way Leandro brought attention to how to use the mind to continually improve your Tango. Of-course practice makes perfect and there is no substitute for that. Equally, practising something without making any improvements along the way is not helpful at all. This is where the innovative exercises kicked in – both in the solo technique class and in the intermediate class when dancing with partners. The exercises made sure that the mind had more work to do than the body. The general theme seemed to be – well, if you want to be lazy with your mind, it is going to be super hard, if not impossible for you to do this but stop being lazy with your mind and engage it, you can do it all easily!

This of-course is one of the cornerstones in any method of yoga. In most modern practices of yoga that are based on asanas (postures and physical exercises), the idea is to use the exercises to connect your mind with the body and in the process continuously refine your mind and achieve more and more freedom both physically and mentally. We carried on with that theme in the Yoga4Tango class afterwards. Yoga can be quite uncompromising when it comes to not using the mind. Trying to do a forearm dog and then lift a leg up in the air and opening the hips is not something you can start enjoying without engaging your mind in the process. It was fantastic to see even the guys new to Yoga really embracing the process of being mindful even when working hard and sweating it out on the mat. This process – the one that refines the mind continuously is what will help our students get better and better in Tango and continuously increase their enjoyment of it. And the smart ones will of-course translate this into the rest of their lives – both in other hobbies and professions!

All through this week, this theme will be continued in the classes by Leandro in his own fun inimitable way. There will be all sorts of sacadas starting from the beginner level to the Tango rock star advanced level classes covered during the week. Come along to the classes and have a full mind body workout!

Love and respect to you all,
Winston Veerender

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