Thursday, 11 February 2010

A very small floor in London

Please can I have some more technique exercises that it's possible to do on a piece of floor 80cm x 80cm (in my bathroom) or 80cm by 150cm (in my kitchen), without introducing errors?

I rent my place, and that's all there is. The rest is carpet and if you try to pivot on that, goodbye, knees.

Ghost suggested a square of linoleum in the living room, and I'm thinking about that, but then I'd have to put it somewhere when not in use. It would still be a pretty tiny floor, but a giant roll of linoleum. And the space under the sofa is fully occupied. I don't know. It's not as though there's anywhere out of sight to put the ironing board or the clothes horse, either.


Captain Jep said...

Ive just put a spare bit of linoleum under the bathtub :) (welcome to it if you want to collect lol)

what other exercises have you done?

Andreas said...

You do remember all the homework exercises from last time? (*strict look*)

ghost said...

And now we know where Andreas is on the Care Bear - Strict Schoolmistress scale ;o)

Something I'm playing with, which is I think an extension of what Andreas taught, is the idea of sorting out what goes on inside your body. Is there tension in strange places. Rather than trying to do an actual ocho, ask yourself what is it that make a tango move a tango move. The position of your foot? How is your knee supposed to be in relation to your hips etc. Then you can just move into any position you like, pause and adjust it. Gradually it should become instinctive. Plus you should get to see things which may be hidden by compounded mistakes in "normal" tango poses.

I also reckon the zen thing of trying to be mindful in a single step is worth doing. Like this

Jessica said...

The most useful tango exercises I've ever done can be practiced in a small space. They all begin with rising onto the ball of one foot (either from standing or after a step) and taking a bit of time to focus on really aligning your axis above it.

Then you try to maintain that axis and not put your heel down while doing various movements - the point is not the movements but that in order to do them, you find you really have to use the standing leg and your midriff to stay balanced - builds muscle tone and ability to find and hold that axis.

Movements you can do - extend your arms in front of you, above your head and bring them down on either side, then return in the opposite direction. Or cross free leg in front of standing leg followed by a boleo behind. Or cross foot of free leg so outside of foot touches the far side of standing leg, then touch inside on near side slightly higher, working up as far as you can go with 8-10 taps and then back down again.

msHedgehog said...

@Andreas, yeah, the little whirly one is the one I do, it's the only thing I have that there's room for. I can do it the other way round much better now. I can't really make the step back and forth one work without bumping into things or doing it wrong. (I mean balancey things rather than the free leg ones, you can do those on carpet).

@Jessica, I like that. It makes sense.
@Ghost, I think that's the same as Jessica's, but with more Zen.

Andreas said...

@ghost: Schoolmistress? Pah! They modeled Pai Mei after me:

ghost said...

Ekk! I think I'll stick with the Care Bears!
(I had no idea they'd gotten so organised)

Game Cat said...

Nice suggestions. What about for the men?

The general goal for me during self-practice is to sort out all the little technical things that I shouldn't have to think about during a milonga. It is an exercise in becoming painfully self-aware of how each bit feels and correcting them if off.

Things I keep focusing on are:
- Walking (need space!)
- Rotating shoulders vs hips, and keeping to axis
- Pivots (good to improve balance)

Any other suggestions?

Kara said...

I like what Jessica said. I would also recommend, building on that, working your your giro. It's such a good thing to practice for your dance in general and for balance, pivot, axis, etc.
Pick a spot of the floor and call that the center. Concentrate on making each pivot completely on balance before stepping, and making each step the same size and same distance from the center. And keep your chest facing your "partner" (the center of the circle).

msHedgehog said...

In a space that small there isn't really a lot of option as to how far from the centre you get.

David Bailey said...

The most obvious exercise is balance practice - stand on one foot for a minute, then switch feet. Do that once a day.

I like obvious :)

ghost said...


To be able to stand or follow without thinking and be calm, serene and tuned in takes practice.

Someone did an experiment on this years ago. They took two beginner martial artists. Showed one very basic moves and then told him to meditate for an hour each day for a month. They showed the other all the sneaky clever tricks for a month. At the end the two student shad a friendly sparring match. The guy who'd meditated wiped the floor with the other guy ;o)

Tangocommuter said...

Only just spotted this post. Advantage of mortgage over rent: removing the carpet. Advantage of rent, moving to somewhere with a wooden floor.

People say 'lino' but they mean vinyl, which is brittle and thin, and if you lay it on carpet a heel will go through it. Lino is better, much more expensive, heavier, and can't be rolled up so easily. If you're really keen, a sheet of plywood, and just leave it down.

But a lot is possible on carpet. I like Cacho Dante's walking. Step forwards, toe first, foot flat to the floor. Then rock weight back onto back foot, the toes of the front foot lifting up. Then transfer weight to the front foot and do a back kick or two (depends on the music) then a back lapiz, bringing the foot alongside the front foot, ready to start again. I doubt Dante would use the lapiz in dance, but it's excellent for stretching the upper leg and hip muscles.

Other than that, standing on one foot, pointing the other forwards, side and back. & pilates (or yoga). Any good class will require a 1-2-1 session for assessment, and you can discuss any particular needs like lower back and hip flexibility, which help in tango.

Oh and one simple thing: feet apart and swing the torso so the arms fly out like tassels. But remember, as Pedro says 'Take it easy!' Exercise can be dangerous too. Hope that's useful.

ghost said...

Trust me, I meant lino ;o)There's also no rule that says you have to practice in shoes :o)

Hmm Freya had a trick of having stuff stored on her ceiling. Most people never look up and so never noticed her knickers etc.

David Bailey said...

"Most people never look up and so never noticed her knickers etc."
I say missus.

Claus said...

Evening standard reports a business in renting small spaces. Room without a view: extend into a storage unit