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New Beginners Part 2

Welcome back!

We really hope you are starting to enjoy your journey! This week was really about reinforcing some of the things we started with last week. Repetition is so much a part of learning tango, well learning most things actually. We need to get things in to our ‘muscle memory’ , rather than our intellectual memory and this only happens by doing them over and over again. But that wouldn’t make for very happy learning if that was all we did! So we try and introduce a few different things each week and then over the course of your journey, you will find yourself revisiting many things many times.

So, this week we started with warm up exercises again but Sarah introduced a couple of new ones. The one that stuck in my mind was moving the arms in a figure of eight, articulating all the joints. Then bringing the right arm across the chest and back behind the shoulder, really trying to open out the shoulder, then scooping the arm upwards and forwards. Do this a few times and then repeat on the left side.

Focusing on posture and the technique for walking, we walked, trying to listen to the music and the musical phrasing, using the end of the phrase to pause or step sideways. This takes a bit of getting used to but becomes easier every time you do it and become more familiar with the music.

I really like the connection exercise where the leader uses the chest only to walk with the follower. Although the embrace is really important in tango and is definitely something we come to love, it’s really important to stress that tango is led with the upper body and NOT with the arms. So this sort of exercise is great.

I was at a social event this weekend and someone, a follower, said ‘why do some leaders lead with their head’. Mmmm, good question. Let’s think about that one. Answers to me on a postcard. Suffice it to say, noooooo, don’t do it. Keep the body in line, no heads drooping forward!!

Ok, we went back to the simple box step. But maybe not so simple ??!!

I can’t remember if we got around to turning with the box step but if we didn’t it’s something that you could try and add in to your dance this week.

Followers, we mustn’t forget you. Lets think about an exercise specifically for you.

It’s hard enough walking backwards and keeping your balance, but to think about walking straight back as well! If you have a full length mirror at home, stand in front of it with heels together, move one leg back, from the hip and thinking about keeping your chest and energy ‘forward’. Try to do this over and over, first one leg, then the other without ‘bobbing’ up and down too much. The mirror will help you to see if your legs are going straight back. Most of us have one side that maybe isn’t straight and will need some correction.

So now a little information about the social side of tango. Traditional social dances are called MILONGAS. These can be an afternoon or an evening or even a whole weekend event. Usually, traditional tango music is played in TANDAS, which are collections of tracks by the same orchestra, from the same era. These are separated by a CORTINA, curtain music, during which the floor is cleared and people eye up who they want to dance with next. More about how to do that later!! Remember we talked about the line of dance? That should always be observed.

Traditional tango music can be anything from the 1920’s to the 1950’s but what we call the Golden Age of Tango, was from late 30’s to 40’s. A lot of music you hear will be played from this era with maybe a sprinkling of the others, depending on the milonga.

Here is a link to the music we used this week:

Gallo Ciego - Juan D'arienzo

No Esta - Carlos DiSarli

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