Category Archives: Posture

The camera is now my Tango teacher – Temporarily

In these difficult times we have totally changed the way that we practise. Four sessions a week – and 100% using video.

On day 1 we pick a theme – like colgadas – study our Trello Cards – focussed, labelled and categorised records of our professional teachers teaching us each sequence – and start to practise them.

We video a dance where we feature the sequences we are studying, and later on we select at least 6 things that need improvement. We also are careful to praise each other where things look good – this needs to be sustainable and focussing only on weaker areas can itself cause issues.

On day 2 we work on these identified areas – comparing our efforts to our teachers – all again using video.

We then re-record a dance and compare the first versions with the second.

This is an incredibly focussed practise routine. Here is an annotated example from last weekend.

Before the pandemic we used video only occasionally, and in a very general way. This is a new level completely.

We miss the professional input of our teachers hugely – but we have enough material and have been taught enough times that when we see errors we are confident in our ability to work through them, applying the solid foundation principles that we have been taught by them for so long.

We also practise to the more open modern music so associated with Nuevo – this may seem unusual but I find as the leader that it frees up one side of my brain, that would normally be so in tune with the complex demands of the music.

Four sessions a week is actually more work than when we were attending classes and social practise sessions, as we only practised by ourselves once a week.

The difference is the focus – and the completely different relationship we have now with the camera.

As Tango dancers we always want to be moving forwards – and this certainly is producing great results even after just the first weeks – since the lockdown started.

One either benefit is that the attention to detail and the planned nature of each session makes everything stress free, and hugely rewarding and enjoyable. We often limit each session to just 45 minutes – which flies by as we work rapidly through each area.

We so look forward to being able to dance with our friends in our small practica and to being back under the watchful eye of our experienced professionals – but this has indeed proved an outstanding way to change our learning regime to take advantage of these unexpected and unfortunate times.

All feedback welcomed – on facebook please as your thoughts will reach a wider selection of our community.

Killing Space Invaders with a Tango Goddess

I am a tango student and I travel to a distant world. And back. Every week.

It is at the opposite end of my universe from my world and is known as Walthamstow.

I go there again and again because there is a force there. Someone who is becoming a mentor to me and who has such a deep understanding of Tango that I will cross the universe every week on my crippled southern rail star fighter just to try again, and fail again – because that is what I need to do and that is where she is.

She  – more than any mortal – just tells you the truth. If you have the strength to take it – believe me it is what you need to hear.

Recently she has been killing my space invaders.

  • I invade her space when I simply stand – my left hip is too high so I tilt to my right to compensate – of course into her space because that is where she is.
  • I move around her – and over anticipating I tilt to my right – into her space.
  • My shoulders come forward – into her space.
  • She walks perfectly into my embrace and at the last moment I glance at her – unfortunately invading her space. Zap!
  • My connection is too high by about half an inch – she can never get to a perfect axis on her forward step – because – I am invading her space. Zap!

She is a goddess – she hates space invaders. They take away her ability to be her, to create. I come with an army of parasitic space invaders and they upset her. So she is helping me to destroy them – one at a time.

Lightsabers don’t actually go ‘Zap’ – they do something else. But I can’t spell it.

What she actually does for an hour and a half is to patiently take me apart, explain it, manipulate me – show me in both roles –  and help me to put it back together again in the way it should have been in the first place.

It is a painful process – and agonisingly slow. Because I am mortal.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

So after 5 and a half years of studying Tango I am back concentrating on side steps, back steps and suspensions – and getting everything wrong.

But for 90 minutes at least a goddess is holding me and giving me the smallest glimpse of what might be – if only I can find the force within me.  And with her leading the way – perhaps I can.

Her name is Bianca Vrcan.


Destroying and Rebuilding my Tango Embrace

I am excited. I am worn out. My back hurts, my arms ache. My hips  feel weird. I am trying to breathe with my back. This is challenging stuff that requires hours of patient practise and analysis. For months and months – if not years.

It is a lovely sunny day out there in Hove and while the world is on the beach or outside busy bars, I am sweating away by myself in my front room.


Because some wise words that have been repeated over the years have finally, finally sunk in. As a leader the embrace is pretty damn important – and I have put mine under the microscope and found it sadly lacking.

I recently started using videos of myself dancing – which has been wonderful – and now I have taken that concept one more dangerous idea further forwards and started to freeze the frames.

Oh dear – so that is what I actually am doing, that noisy, constricting rubbish is what I am giving to the follower to express herself within. She absolutely should fire me.

And so here is one such frame, from a social dance with a talented  follower – I am just so ashamed. The video as a whole looks fine , but break it down, freeze it, and this is the rubbish I am actually giving her to work with :

Hunched embrace


She is looking beautiful in that dance not because of me, not supported by me – but because she is talented. There is simply nothing to say about my posture in this frozen frame that is anything other than a complete condemnation :

  • Head forwards
  • Hunched shoulders
  • Waving hand
  • Open Hand
  • Weight all over the place
  • Elbows not in front giving her no space
  • Shoulders Tilted… I could go on….

So I have been ignoring the rare sunny day out there, I have been sweating, everything is screaming – but I have been trying to create something like this:


new embrace

Two inches taller, hips slightly back into a true neutral, frame solid and quiet, chest up and expansive and forwards – head brought forwards only by the inflation of the embrace and still out of the way. Everything offered to the follower as her complete prerogative to how she would like to use it.

Maybe its easier when its raining outside?

Don’t be silly – this stuff is never going to be easy. But I am quietly optimistic – I have great teachers and maybe with their help I can destroy and rebuild so that I can go forwards on the kind of solid foundation that followers might enjoy – it is all about them, and the music – maybe a few more months and I can at least stop holding them back and allow them to express their beauty and individually in this wonderful dance.