I took my glasses off for this? On necks, butts and our tango totem animals

This was originally part of my previous post on my perfect tanda, but then I realized that like tandas, sometimes blog posts need to be perfectly balanced in their own little worlds between cortinas.What can I say, I attempt to rhapsodize and end up blabbing about butts and spikey glasses and animals dancing tango.  Just another par for the course day. As in dance, all the talent in the world is no rival for a sense of judicious editing. But then again, what's my blog for if not to muddle in at least some self-indulgence? I do consider it an appropriate complement to the previous posts - the bathos that gives oomph to the pathos, perhaps. But I have some sympathy for my readers and their attention spans. So here, look: FUNNY PICTURES! Do I know my audience or what?



This was the tanda I took my glasses off for. I don't particularly like dancing in glasses, I'll admit, and I largely have been doing so recently because I haven't gotten around to getting new contacts. Back in the day, I'd take my glasses off for just about any partner (usually resulting in a post dance-haze grope about the floor as I desperately attempted to relocate them), but I've realized that having that little facial force field has some advantages at times.

Posture in tango is a pretty important thing for me. It, like any technical element, cannot make dancing, but its absence can certainly derail dancing. As spiritual as we wish to wax about dance, at the end of the day the thing that distinguishes it from meditating, listening, thinking, philosophizing, is that it is an extremely physical act. So oddly enough, the physical matters in every detail.

 I have two postural pet peeves, both of which I may lapse into from time to time, making my reaction to the visual effect more self-consciously virulent.

The first, I call Duck Butt - where the dancer allows her pelvis to roll out, giving her a bustle effect, scrunching the muscles in the lower back and creating a round extrusion of the abs that my pilates teacher likes to call breadloafing. The effect reminds me of cartoon ducks when they are standing... it's problematic because it disengages the core, breaks up the axis (making the follow heavier and less reactive to energy), and can hurt the lower back.

Credit to Rinus Bakker an awesome G+ Circle Denizen

Of course, there's an exception to every rule and some pros dance with what appears to be just the duck butt posture and look fabulous. There's a bit of discussion on both of my pet peeves between the traditional milonguero and the younger styles. Somebody said one of the most fascinating things about people's walks is that we teach ourselves how to walk so everybody does it just a little bit different. And if you teach yourself to move with certain postures, probably over many years you can become good at moving within that framework. For most dancers, this is not a legacy of years on floors, though. I think people generally, though, see the V milonguero posture and in trying to emulate it, come to this weird position. Alternately, they are double afraid of any suggestion of genital contact that might occur and want to leave a little extra room for Jesus to avoid even the swimming-suit bits' auras. Or maybe they are booty-tooching as my little lunatics on America's Next Top Model would coin (I have no shame - you can't make me!):



The second is my personal albatross and I call it Turtle Back. This is the posture you commonly see increase in severity with age or too much time at a computer. It's created by letting the upper lats curve, sinking the chest, and pushing the neck forward. This is problematic because it absorbs the energy that starts at the solar plexus (particularly problematic for leads), also breaks up the strong axis line and wreaks havoc on dissociation.

And may make you appear depressed

Anyways, Turtle Back can be of varying severity. I tend to keep a straight enough back these days,. but I also have a tendency to finish out that roundness with my neck. I'm very aware of it, because i have a tendency to push my neck forward when I'm engaging with other people - even worse, years of sitting in orchestra audiences where outright dancing is discouraged has given me a small tendency for head-bopping. It's kind of cute to watch me bopping along like a drunk puppy to a perky swing, but in a close dance like tango bopping can become bashing pretty quickly. It was worse when I first began dancing, because I am quite tall even before adding the 4 inch heels. When I began, I would compensate by bending my knees, compressing my spine and - well - hunching. I advise against this as

Cave Man tango!
I still tend to push my neck forward or lean it to the side, although to a degree, I think tango can be more forgiving of this than others. Nonetheless, having your spine out of whack does mean having your axis equally zany and I prefer to keep my zaniness to embellishments and socks.

Adding the close embrace gives even more possibilities for bizarre neck strains. When I first went to Buenos Aires, a friend of a friend who took it upon himself to adopt me decided that my heavy-head was a a tango emergency requiring intervention. It was common in the community for people to take the head-to-head nature of tango a bit far, until the contact was a high pressure neck wrestling exercise. I would enter into embrace, and lean my head to the right, locking heads with my lead. I could literally collapse my neck muscles as if I were taking a nap on my lead's face. Apparently, this is poor form! Who knew?

Dance Partners may be dreamy, but I'm still not allowed to
drool when I pass out on their shoulders.
Having come to grips with my neck as a part of my axis, it was a hard transition back home and the pressure from some of my lead's own heads would push my head clear over to my left shoulder. Over time I managed to counter by turning my head towards my lead. It has certain stylistic pleasures, but it also allowed the pressure of his head to push my head a bit backwards, a direction with far less give. I still enjoy this sometimes, but it also could end with my head twisted completely sideways, making moves to an entire side of my body extremely uncomfortable and the pressure of a heavy head still strains a poor girl's neck.

So, while I don't necessarily mind the face to face contact common in tango, I don't particularly find it necessary and sometimes find it to distracting. Contact is essential, but when the pressure is such that one feels like she's getting a face lead, this really might be a time to back off. Random roaming hand grips and crazy arms are about as much static I can take in a connection! Glasses can render this sort of aggressive head-butting moot, because they are pointy and sharp and extrude from a portion of my face that might ordinarily make contact.

I'm pretty amazed at how many leads will still try to make head contact despite the glasses, often nuzzling their heads into mine at a certain point in the music, like a cat stimulating his scent glands across my forehead. I guess I should be grateful my leads try to mark my with head butts instead of spraying me - which is not to say that sometimes a particularly heavy cologne doesn't do just as much spray-wise. Still, it's uncomfortable, it is definitely not something that I have invited in any fashion, and it often bends and smudges my glasses. Sometimes, this will be accompanied by a tighter embrace, which I suspect is meant to emulate intimacy and passion, but can sometimes feel more like a wrestling pose (you WILL put your head to mine, damnit! Now hold still while I burrow into your skull!). So perhaps what I'm saying is that I need spiked glasses to don for the particularly invasive leads.

But then, there are those times where you are legitimately dancing closely and your shared space is such that your bodies naturally merge into each other's. And at this point, glasses have outworn their welcome and there is little to do with the, but resent them or throw them to the side of the room like a racer does with his empty water bottles. It's not always easy to predict which tandas are a glasses-off affair, but again, when you cherry pick the songs and the partner, you can be pretty darned sure. There's a reason that dancing cheek to cheek earned the designation of heaven... sometimes. With the proper animal.


Post a Comment