Energy as a whole
BIG IDEA: Using our energy in a consistent, expansive way. Filling every part of our body (without hot spots or leaks). So that every part has the support of the whole. Then, using our energy to match the music and our dance partner.
Beginning with ourselves, as is our Tango Tribe custom, let’s look first at our outside. A full-length mirror or friend can help, but a video is the most complete and objective observer. We want front, side, and back views. Because we have things set up in our regular practice area to prop up the phone for recording, it’s quick and easy, right?
Start, as usual, with the Follow role, and take up an embrace position as if we have an actual person in our arms. Turn to get views from the front, sides, and back. Now we adjust our embrace for a range of partners: tall/short, slender/substantial. Make those observations. Now repeat with a Lead role embrace.
Reviewing the video, we hope to find a solid, consistent, comfortable whole. Do we get the impression of an open vessel, where energy freely fills all parts equally? Or do we observe pinch points? Do we see a relaxed yet energized elbow on the hand-side? Neither lifted as for pushing, nor dropped for pulling down. Do we see a continuous long body line from ear to ankle bone?
Now let’s use our energy for movement. Start solo and without music (which can distract as well as inspire the body-mind). Can we make an easygoing scan of what is happening inside? Do we feel all our parts moving in harmonious and coordinated ways, with no hot (maybe easier to detect) or cold spots? Don’t forget to include what’s going on in our mind. Do we have a relaxed, non-judgmental observer in our head?
Which way to move? We have simple choices. Walk forward, walk backward, make side steps, temporary weight changes, pivots, and pauses. How to move? With good energy. What does the video tell us? Do we look the way we’d like to?
Add music. Add a partner. Each time doing a self-assessment.
Faults. We always prefer to work toward the positive—what we do want. Some learning styles find it helpful to know things to avoid. Having consistent, coordinated energy in a well-organized body-mind means this. No hot spots. 1) It wastes valuable energy to use more than the minimum required for what we want to do. 2) It confuses our partner by calling attention to a specific body part, instead of the whole. No energy leaks. If a body part receives a signal (generally a pressure or its absence in some direction) but fails to pass all of that signal to the rest of the body, we lose information. A typical example is the hand-side receiving pressure for a pivot, but the hand/arm/shoulder collapses a little, causing some of the partner’s energy to be lost. (The hand-side of the embrace is also often a hot spot.)
Any part of the body that starts to feel unduly fatigued may be a sign that we are using it (or another!) part of the body in a disorganized, uncoordinated way. (Beginners: it’s also possible that we haven’t built up the stamina in our shoulders and back to continuously hold up our arms for three minutes at a time.) Or are we receiving hot spot pressure from our partner?! In either case, the useful action is to relax that part and see what happens.
Comparing parts. We want our whole body to support all our parts, and vice-versa. On the downside, an injured or otherwise malfunctioning part can affect everything else! We can help this by putting our attention on another part that feels comfortable and coordinated. Usually this might mean the opposite side; we can compare with any part. Paradoxically, we’ve found it most useful if our body asks, “What would it feel like if this good part felt like the misbehaving part?” Weird, huh? Seems like the opposite of what we’d want to ask. Somehow it seems to confuse the body-mind and put its focus on coordinating everything with the good part.
This is about consistency and good usage within ourself. In other and future articles, we address energy consistency and matching with the music and our partner. First priority is getting our own body in order while solo. When we do this, we can bring our best to mesh with the music and our partner.
Hola, friends! In our Game of Argentine Tango (gameoftango.com), we are your partners, helping you discover how to express your unique self in clear, comfortable, and creative ways. We’ve created a framework that enables you to grow your capabilities and tango in a well-organized, well-coordinated, highly desirable way. Abrazos!