Sunday, 1 June 2008

My Embrace

Last week I danced with someone I don't see very often, and he said I'd become "very soft" to dance with. I've always been light, but now I'm "soft" too.

Not only was this totally unprompted praise from someone I like dancing with and learning with, it also happened to be exactly what I'd been working on and trying to achieve. Result!

I had a poor evening two weeks ago, an evening when I felt I could please no-one, least of all myself, and I ought to have gone home at 10pm. I was dissatisfied with my embrace. I had an awkward start, and then some problems with someone who was rather short and held me very tightly, rather low down.

I hung around, and was asked by someone I'd wanted to dance with for a while. I then went home in a state of intense annoyance because I'd just had a very discreet, silent private lesson. A finger on the back of my right wrist, pressing it firmly down. The little smiles. Letting go with his right arm, which is like putting up a big neon sign saying RELAX, WOMAN!. At least he was taller than me, which makes it easier. All of the discreet, silent critcisms were probably justified, and I knew it, which hardly helped. I was trying to relax, but you know what that's like when you're deep-down annoyed, and the most fundamental aspects of your personality are saying "who do you think you are to give me orders? No I do NOT Know Who You Are, get back in the queue." The hedgehog, cute though she be, is a wild creature and nobody's pet.

However. It all added up, when thought about on trains, to some very useful feedback and a clear physical conception of what it was that I'd been wanting to change. Now that I know what I want, I've been working on it, and I can now deliver it more often than I did before.

What it feels like to me is mainly that I have made my left arm heavier and have somehow lengthened my back a little bit. The result for me is a better connection, with higher resolution for detail. The main thing I changed to achieve it was to start my mental checklist lower down, not by relaxing the neck and shoulders but by raising the breasts, standing up straight, inhaling, and making quite sure that I get them high enough up before placing the left arm. Then relax the neck and shoulders. I've also resumed the practice of doing a few press-ups every morning. I'm not exactly sure why that helps to create a relaxed embrace, but it does.

Anyway, I'm counting this as progress. I'll be trying to keep it that way, but now I'll be paying attention to putting energy into my steps. I've improved quite a bit recently and I can deliver things I couldn't deliver eight weeks or so ago. But I think before I get any further it might need to get rougher for a while.


Anonymous said...

Doing arm, shoulder and neck muscles is good for your tango,men and women. When I have my lats in shape my embrace is both solid, responsive and still effortlessly relaxed in a "locked" rest position.

For me, "lat pulldowns" work well ...

Anonymous said...

i know a few people in the tango community do martial arts - and tey are usually very good.

msHedgehog said...

It's not uncommon. From my first lesson, it occurred to me that tango was like a martial art minus the fighting. Of course it may have been a result of that particular teacher's style ...