This July we've dedicated our Saturday afternoon workshops to Technique so it seems like a good time to raise one of the most talked about issues in tango: balance.
The other night in our Beginners class, one of our new female students exclaimed: "why can't I balance?". Her surprise made me smile. Surely every woman who has ever danced tango must at one point have cried this to the universe!
As the famous quote goes: "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred did, but backwards and in heels"
But we can't use our high heels as an excuse. Just as ballerina needs to learn to dance on pointe, our stilettos are our tools of trade.
And if you've ever tried to do the guys' enrosque turn in flats, you'll realise that high heels are not the only issue. The gentlemen who came along to our Men's Technique class last Saturday will vouch for that!
If I had a penny for every student who said to me that "their" issue is balance ... and I always reassure them: it's not your issue, it's everyone's issue. Balance is something that can never be taken for granted and even when you've been dancing for several years, you will need to focus to execute certain exercises.
And like most things in life that are worthwhile, there are no quick fixes for balance. No magic pill that will change everything overnight. We give precise advice on how the body should be placed, the posture and the muscles that will facilitate greater stability. We aim to give this advice as clearly as possible so that your progress is as smooth as possible. But then it is up to you! Balance is about practice. It's about getting your tango shoes on in your kitchen and practicing the exercises you did in class the night before.
The good news is that everything is much easier when you work with a partner. But partner work on its own is never really going to improve your balance in the same way as doing solo exercises will. You will just not be using your muscles in the same way and balance is about alignment, placement but it is also about strength.
Complimentary disciplines such a pilates, yoga and ballet are excellent for core strength, flexibility and corporal awareness. But it is important that you also focus on the most direct way way to improve your tango: practicing tango! Acquiring strong abdominals is not going to cut it, if you don’t programme your body to activitate those muscles to keep your balance when you most need them.
So do your tango exercises whenever you can and remember when you have a little wobble, don't get frustrated! Tangueros around the world are also wobbling as they practice in their kitchen. You're in good company and you're on the right path.