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The Core - 5 Home Truths Tuesday, 18 July 2017 print

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These days, it’s the word that’s on everyone’s lips. The core.

Whenever something goes well in your dance. Whenever something goes not so well. It’s all down to your core.

And there’s no doubt that using the core is key to good tango technique.

But is it your free ticket to tango heaven? Let’s have a look at some home truths about the core.

Home Truth #1

Whilst there is no doubt that using your core is of great importance, it is only one piece of the puzzle.

If you are over-thinking your core, you could lose focus on other important areas of your body. And consequently you may still lose your balance!

It is not the magic cure. I wish I could tell you there is a one-step solution to equilibrium, but I can’t!

Whilst it is important to “zoom in” on important areas of the body - it is also vital to “zoom out”!

It takes practice but when you dance it is a good idea to have a picture of your whole body in your mind - not just one detail.

In time, this will also help you feel more expressive, fluid and present.

Home Truth #2

Teachers will give you varying advice on how to use the core.

Who’d have thought there would be so many ways to talk about your abdominal muscles!

Pull them in, contract them, lift them, tighten them …

You may well have heard different imagery too. I certainly use a fair few in my classes, in search of that “light bulb” moment for my students.

My advice? Different concepts work for different people.

Try them all on and work out what makes best sense for you and for your body.

Home Truth #3

When you activate your core, some unwanted side effects may creep into your technique.

You may find that you create tension in your chest. Your shoulders may lift inadvertently.

And you may find yourself holding your breath. (No need for me to explain why that isn’t a good idea!)

I appreciate its not easy to juggle everything. But breathing, relaxing your shoulders and using your core are all so important.

Be patient. Be perseverant. And it will happen!

Home Truth #4

When you lift your core, it doesn’t necessarily stay lifted!

I know, it doesn’t seem fair.

You lift your core, you breathe, you relax, you just start enjoying the music, the movements, you lose yourself and ….

“What happened to my core?!!”

It is a little bit like zipping up jeans that are too tight for you. Unless you hold the zip up, unfortunately it will keep sliding down.

I hate to be the one to break bad news, but in order to get your core to work for you, you have to keep holding it up.

No, it’s not exactly what I like to think about when I’m dancing either. But here’s the thing. It’s all about repetition. Repetition until lifting your core becomes so entrenched in your technique you don’t really have to think about it anymore.

And then you can go ahead and lose yourself in the moment to your heart’s content!

Home Truth #5

I just gave you some bad news, so here is some good news. You do no need 'abs of steel' to be able to use your core.

You can do 200 sit-ups a day. There are undoubtable health benefits (and you will look fantastic!) but it will do you absolutely no good if you don’t remember to activate your core when you dance!

Obviously I’m talking about tango salon here. In other more physically strenuous activities I have no doubt the stronger your core is, the easier certain movements will be.

In tango salon, however, using the core is about activating, and not necessarily about super-strength.

But please don’t let me be the one to hold you back from those 200 sit-ups a day!

And Finally …

It’s time to “zoom” out again.

It’s easy to get bogged down in thoughts about your core.

Don’t let it overwhelm you. Instead, let’s try to remember why we actually dance tango. For PLEASURE.

But if you can find a balance and thread your core and other techniques into your dance, you will gradually open the door to even greater tango bliss!

CAVEAT: We usually save in-depth technique advice to the classroom! This is an overview and only a sketch of the details we cover face-to-face in our tango lessons.

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