LEVERAGE YOUR LIMITATIONS

With tango, the shape of our bodies - regardless of size - presents a number of limitations. In addition to that, the amount of space we have to dance in, physical obstacles on the dance floor, and the length of each song create yet more limitations. And we're also limited by the extent of our dance knowledge.

We should be aware of boundaries in our tango, whether they be physical or mental. We should test them, stretch them, and on other occasions, work within them. 

But it’s counterproductive to think of limitations only as hindrances to our dancing growth. Paradoxically, the creative nature of tango can’t come to light without them.

animal-escape.gif

Podcast Episode 62 is now online!

Hello Friends! 

Podcast Episode 62 is now online!

My guest today began her tango career in Portland, Oregon. She has danced and taught all over the world, and spent a total of two years living and breathing tango in Buenos Aires. 

Now based in San Francisco, she continues to teach and organize events. A highly versatile follower and leader, today's guest is known for instructing her students how to connect with the music and adapt to a variety of social tango styles. 

Let's meet Jennifer Olson...

Listen here

TANGO IS MESSY

For many of us, tango dancing is not a strict discipline. For instance, multiple teachers will introduce multiple ways to execute the same step. Two teachers may contradict each other, yet still both be correct. There is no universally agreed-upon method of instruction, and what works for one group of dancers won't necessarily work for us. 

Learning tango, and developing our own style can be like wandering through the woods without a map; we'll have to find our own way instead of following a trail. Becoming a good dancer in an environment such as this requires a willingness to experiment, and to discover a bunch of ideas that won't end up working. 

But even without a "map," we can successfully navigate the tango "wilderness" by indulging our curiosity. Add a strong dose of pure determination, and we'll be on our way. Don't panic if the journey gets messy. That's just the way tango is sometimes.

tango messy.jpg

Podcast Episode 61 is now online!

Hello Friends! 

Episode 61 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

Listen here

My guest today has been dancing tango for well over two decades and he's taught and performed all over the world. Having studied with a variety of different maestros and being familiar with many different styles of tango, today's guest is known for focusing much of his teaching around perfecting one's axis. He's originally from Australia, but is currently based in Poland. 

Let's meet Damian Thompson...

More on Damian here:
Website
Facebook 

THE MORE WE ACCOMPLISH

On our tango journey, we'll encounter a numerous internal obstacles such as voices of doubt, lapses in confidence, and irrational fears of judgement by others. In the face of all that, we push ahead anyway.

But those obstacles don't go away as we improve. In fact, they get bigger. The fearful voices in our heads get louder.

The more we accomplish, the more reasons we'll find to quit.

We'll never completely silence the voices of doubt, but that isn't the goal. Instead, we need to be careful not let our internal fears drown out the objective, observable improvement in our tango. The process of getting better is a worthwhile endeavor, even if it's never a smooth journey. 

OVERCOMING-OBSTACLES.jpg

Podcast Episode 60 is now online!

Hello Friends! 

Episode 60 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

Listen here

My guest today is originally from Buenos Aires, but is now based in Chicago, Illinois. He's been teaching and performing for over a decade, having studied with a variety of tango maestros. He and his partner have been invited to teach at a number of major festivals in North America, and was once part of the exclusive staff of La Viruta (the most famous milonga in Buenos Aires). And I should add that he's also a phenomenal DJ.

With a very clear and personable teaching style, he's very well-known for his method of easily communicating important tango fundamentals.

Let's meet Hernan Prieto!

Listen here

More on Hernan and his partner Daniela here:

Website: https://www.danielayhernan.net/

60 Hernan Prieto.jpg

DON'T CELEBRATE GOALS

It's important to have specific goals with our tango, whether it's to attend a certain festival, learn a particular step, or build the courage to perform for an audience.

Reaching a particular goal feels great...for a short while. But focusing on that single moment is a waste of time in the long run. Nothing magical will happen, and chances are we won't be suddenly transformed.  

We also need to think about what a particular tango goal means. Upon reaching it, what have we learned? What other opportunities have opened up? What have we been doing wrong up until that point? What do we need to do more of? Or what do we need to stop doing?

Celebrating a goal, like dwelling on failure, becomes counterproductive after a while. They should be looked upon as occasions to honestly evaluate ourselves before moving forward.

c3po-ironman.jpg

Podcast Episode 59 is now online!

Hello Friends! Episode 59 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

Listen here

My guests today are internationally recognized instructors. Originally from Buenos Aires, they are now based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They have taught at various workshops and festivals in multiple cities, and are known for their clear teaching style and explanation of body mechanics. They have a desire to build confidence in their students, and seek to expand tango wherever they travel.

Let's meet Pablo Rodriguez and Eva Garlez...

More on Pablo and Eva here:
Website: www.bienmilonguero.com
Website: www.evaypablo.com

LET THE MUSIC TAKE YOU

When we feel like we're actually dancing, we realize that we've let go of anxiety and the mental struggle of remembering countless technique points. That feeling of smooth movement, even if it's fleeting at first, gives us a sense that we can indeed become tango dancers after all.

The sensation is like riding a bike for the first time, when the person teaching us lets go of the seat and leaves us to balance on our own. On the dance floor, we capture that feeling when we start making a better effort to move with the music.

We may still stumble every now and then as our muscle memory takes shape, but the key to our next tango breakthrough is closely tied to the music. So let's pay closer attention to it, trust it, and not be afraid to let it take us. 

tangomusic.jpg

Podcast Episode 58 is now online!

Hello Friends! Episode 58 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

Listen here on Soundcloud

My guest today is an internationally renowned dancer and teacher who started dancing tango at the age of 12. Born and raised in South America - in Colombia to be exact - he's now based in Columbia, South Carolina. 

He graduated from the National School of Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, and has been a tango professional since he was 18. He has performed with Mariano Mores, one of the most famous tango orchestras in the world, and has also toured with the Washington DC-based orchestra Quintango. Today's guest has been teaching and performing in the US since 1995, and helped establish Argentine Tango in much of the southeast.

Let's meet Harby Gonzalez

Listen here on Soundcloud

More on Harby here:

Website: http://www.emeraldballroomsc.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harby.gonzalez
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EmeraldBallroomSC

58 Harby Gonzalez.jpg

HANDLING FREEDOM

When we watch our favorite tango couples online, we're mesmerized by their amazing technique. But what exactly goes into that technique?

Once we start understanding particular steps and/or technique, we often find ourselves trying to control every single body movement in order to get things right. Intuitively, this makes sense. But the more we apply control, the more restriction we'll feel. And when we feel restricted and tense, nothing feels or looks right.

If we take a closer look at those tango pros, we'll notice that their movements reflect freedom and ease; they're not exerting absolute control over every movement. But when we try embracing freedom, tango feels more risky and scary...as though we're about to lose control.

Yet the need for control - or illusion thereof - is the very thing holding us back.

Tango requires us to embrace more freedom than we're comfortable with at first. But in the long run, things work better when we trust that our minds and bodies can handle that freedom.

movement.jpg

Podcast Episode 57 is now online!

Hello Friends - Episode 57 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

My guest today is one of Seattle's most experienced dance instructors. She's been teaching full time there for over 20 years, and was one of the first Tango teachers to be established in the area. In addition to Argentine Tango, she also specializes in Salsa and West Coast Swing. She's well versed not only with social dancing, but also with performance and choreography.

Let's meet Michelle Badion...

Listen here

57 Michelle Badion.jpg

SMALL VS LARGE CHANGES

Learning new steps is always fun. However, learning more and more steps doesn't necessarily mean we're improving our tango. Even if we don't know too many steps yet, there's a lot we can do to make our tango more interesting and dynamic. Here are three ways to improve our dancing without having to learn a bunch of new steps.

RE-ORDER
If we're leaders, we fall into a habit of dancing the steps we know in a certain sequence. if we stick to the routine, things can get boring. We can take the steps we currently know, and simply reorder them. Reorganizing or breaking old sequential habits will help our tango feel new and fresh again.

MUSICAL INTERPRETATION
With tango, it's relatively easy to move with the strong beat of each song, and apply occasional quick-quick steps during certain musical phrases. This, too, can become a habit that can eventually make our tango feel stale. Fortunately, addressing rhythmic habits can be as simple as slowing down when we have normally sped up. Or, for some more dynamism, we can mix half-time steps with faster syncopations - this is fun. Leaders probably have more flexibility in applying this change, but opportunities also exist for followers as well. 

BE BOLD WITH SMALL ADORNMENTS
For followers, be on the lookout for opportunities to try adornments. As we gain experience with tango, we'll find that following is quite an active and assertive role. Adornments are a fun way to bring that out. They create spice in the dance, and open up opportunities for back-and-forth playfulness with the leader. And with leaders who are alert, adornments offer further connection practice. 

Although easy to understand, it takes a lot of practice to implement these ideas effectively. Work on them one at a time, and take your time thinking them through. Although keeping our tango fresh and feeling new takes effort, it won't always require drastic action. 

small-changes1.jpeg

Podcast Episode 56 is now online!

Hello Friends!

Episode 56 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

Click here to listen
 

My guest is an internationally acclaimed tango instructor and performer. He's also a writer, and author of the ebook Tango FAQs and Facts Book. Although he was born in Greece, he is now based out of Toronto, Canada. He has an extensive academic background in ergophysiology and biochemistry, and much of his research is dance related.

In 2003, he was nominated with the "unique research and best poster presentation award" during the International Congress of Physical Education and Sport (ICPES). But long before his days in academia, today's guest has been dancing since he was a teenager, and also has a solid background in Latin and Ballroom dance. It wouldn't be long before he'd fell in love with tango, and he started his professional career in 2006.

Let's meet Pablito Greco...

You can also find the interview on iTunes or Stitcher

56 Pablito Greco.jpg

7 WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF GROUP TANGO LESSONS

Whether we're taking a class to reinforce basics or challenging ourselves with something new, group classes or workshops are an obvious choice for moving our tango forward. But once the class starts, it's easy to become flustered and frustrated. Sometimes our brains feel overloaded, and we find ourselves struggling to keep up mentally.

What to do? Here are seven strategies to organize our thoughts and alleviate much of the anxiety. It'll help make the most of our tango, and get our money's worth.

1. FOCUS ON UNDERSTANDING - NOT MASTERING - THE SUBJECT MATTER
If the instructors are introducing a new exciting step or technique concept, it's not going sink in right away. And that's fine. Our teachers make it all look so easy because they've been doing this forever. Rather than try to waste all our energy trying to perfect the step within the workshop's 60 - 90 minute timeframe, let's focus more on understanding the subject matter. Once we grasp the concept, the bulk of perfecting the material will happen during our own practice time.


2. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY
Teachers will often introduce a new step by giving us a sequence to work with. Instead of just going through the motions of the sequence and treating it as a to-do list, it's much more important to pay attention to what our bodies are doing while we're working through it.

How much are we pivoting? How close or far away do we have to be from our partner? Are we on balance? Are we pushing or pulling too much with our arms? What are we doing right? What do we need to improve?


3. TAKE THINGS LIGHTLY
Even though we're serious about our tango, remember that even the most challenging tango class/workshop is meant to be fun (as opposed to torture). Let's put in our best effort, but keep the perfectionist tendencies in check. If we start to put ourselves down, then we're doing it wrong. Taking things too seriously is counterproductive.


4. TAKE VIDEO
Most teachers will do a video review or demo at the end of their classes, which summarize the topics they introduced. Have your phone or camcorder handy, and take the video! Or at least get a copy from a fellow student. Never rely on your memory, as you'll be surprised at how much you forget after the workshop ends. 


5. TAKE NOTES
Yes, old fashioned note-taking is a great way to retain new tango knowledge. Jotting down your own description of the workshop's main points (along with the video summary) will go a long way in committing the information to memory.


6. COMMIT TO PRACTICING, AND THINK LONG TERM
When the class or workshop ends, out tango teachers will remind us to practice. This isn't just a final pleasantry before saying good-bye. They're serious, and the class or workshop is only the beginning when it comes to the next stage of tango growth. After the motivational, feel-good rush of a fun workshop wears off, it's on us to work the new ideas into our bodies. Sometimes it takes weeks, or months for the material to fully sink in. But if we had a great time at the workshop, why wouldn't we want to keep working at it?


7. SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE
Did some of our tango friends miss the class or workshop? Let's show them what we learned, and spread the fun! Sharing new knowledge is not only good for our communities, but it's a great way to solidify our own understanding. Everyone wins.

I hope this list is helpful, and thanks for reading!

tango-silhouette.jpg

Podcast Episode 55 is now online

Hello Friends!

Episode 55 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

Click here to listen

My guest has a musical background as a guitarist - And he's also a major presence in the London tango scene as an instructor and organizer. On Wednesday evenings, he's known for hosting the popular Tango Bridge milonga, which - as you can guess from the title - is right next to the famous London Bridge. Among his many projects, he's busy exploring and teaching Canyengue, which is widely known as a predecessor to the modern tango which we dance today.  

Let's meet Antonio Riva...

You can also find the interview on iTunes or Stitcher

55 Antonio Riva.jpg

Remember to Play

Taking tango too seriously makes the learning process more difficult than it needs to be. Yet, it's so easy to catch ourselves trying too hard.

In Episode 53 of my podcast, I interviewed Veronica Toumanova, an instructor based in Paris. She made an excellent point about why we struggle with tango, in that we often start the dance at a time in our lives when we've already developed expertise in a different field (usually related to our professions). And because of that, taking on a new activity like tango can leave us feeling vulnerable and frustrated.

But despite requiring commitment and practice, it's counterproductive to approach tango the same way we would with work. There are no deadlines, meetings, or yearly evaluations. And we won't get called into anyone's office for making a mistake. Much of the learning process requires experimentation, or play. So let's re-work our thinking habits and try a lighter approach.

Treating tango like play not only makes it more fun, but also creates a rich atmosphere for learning that we haven't experienced since we were children. Bringing back that kind of enjoyment into our lives as adults can only help with moving our tango forward.

otter.gif

Podcast Episode 54 is now online!

Hello Friends!

Episode 54 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!

Click here to listen

My guest today is based out of Seattle, WA and has been teaching tango at the Belltown Studio there since 2012. After falling in love with tango, he pursued this passion and trained with a number of well-known professionals. He has taught and performed internationally at many cultural events and milongas. Let's meet Koa Hons...

You can also find the interview on iTunes or Stitcher

54 Koa Hons.jpg