Thursday, August 13, 2015

Health Benefits Of Dancing

There are many reasons to learn Argentine tango in NYC, but health benefits of dance easily outweigh anything else. Here are some reasons to dance through life:

Forever Young
  • Dancing keeps you young by keeping the aging process at bay. It benefits the heart, cardiovascular system and increases lung capacity. The muscle exertion and breathing rates of dancers is equivalent to cyclists, swimmers, and Olympic runners.

Strong Bones, Better Joints
  • Dance helps the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis for men and women. For women during post-menopause, there can be a significant drop in estrogen levels which stop calcium from being absorbed into the bones. Dancing can also help joints to prevent arthritis.

Calorie Blaster
  • Dance exercises the body improving circulation. It helps burn calories while improving stamina. It is estimated that dance burns anywhere from 5 to 10 calories per minute depending on speed and intensity.

Better Blood
  • New research has discovered that it is necessary to measure both good and bad cholesterol levels when determining our health. Dancing raises our good cholesterol and is great for diabetics because it aids in blood sugar control.

Mental Mastery
  • Dance improves our memory by making us recall steps, routines and dance patterns making it a great mental exercise for our brains. Increasing mental exercise keeps your mind young, quick, alert and open.

  • Balancing yourself in one position may be easy, but balancing in different types of positions is much more difficult. Dancers have mastered the ability to balance themselves in a number of positions.

With so many great reasons to dance, it is impossible to come up with an excuse to not visit us today.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Wonderful Benefits Of Tango

Those of you who currently tango know why you tango, but you might like to know some of the extra benefits to this wonderful dance and why it is considered by healthcare professionals to be an ideal exercise to benefit social, mental, and physical well-being across the ages. Here are 6 health advantages to tango:

  • Physical Exercise
    • Tango is good for cardiovascular health. Intensity can be modified to ensure that it is an endurance exercise. It is excellent exercise for people who had a cardiac incident or a heart attack.
    • Increases mobility, balance, stride length and core strength
  • Social Satisfaction
    • Tango dance involves a partner and is engaging and is self-promoting because of the amount of enjoyment and identification within a group of people with similar interests and goals.
  • Spirituality and Mindfulness
    • Tango induces a state of flow and spirituality which is a state of mind where the action is so pleasurable that you want to do it again and again.Spirituality is often expressed in terms of tango as a holistic activity.
    • Mindfulness is improved. Tango helps individuals focus on the present and the task at hand.
  • Cognition
    • Cognitive skills may be improved. The ability to do two things at once, such as navigating in space and being in sync with your partner is improved.
  • Meaningfulness
    • Dancers not only want to learn the steps, but execute them gracefully and to be in sync with their partner. Dancers want to challenge themselves to do something new, they want to have fun and meet new people.
  • Emotional and Educational Health
    • Tango provides an avenue for learning new skills.
    • Emotional responses are facilitated by tango music and dancing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What Is Tango?

Tango is a vibrant and playful dance between two people. It has the potential for rich expression, improvisation, and connection and is danced in both modern and traditional styles. It is often described as a passionate dance, because of the close connection partners can have, the character of the music, and also relating to some of the dance's history. At the heart of Argentine tango in NYC is the desire to listen to, understand and converse with the person you're dancing with, through this unique language of dance. So tango can be many things for different people. Almost any type of music that can be walked to can be tangoed to, which means just about anyone can do it!

Tango is sharing a moment of intimacy and understanding with another person. In tango, there is a leader and follower. Through the embrace, the leader offers invitations to the follower for where and how to step. The follower decides in what way they will accept the leader's invitations. Both leader and follower try to maintain harmony and connection through the embrace, and with the music, and so the dance is born. Like the symbols of yin and yang, the roles of leader and follower each have a little of the other within them. Tango is a collaborative process, which encourages the development of sensitivity, clarity, trust, and respect. With tango it is like there is no past or future, there is only your partner and the music in constant flow. Come in and Tango with us today!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Argentine Tango: An Overview

Argentine tango in NYC is a world in itself. It combines music, dance, singing, and poetry. Tango’s origins go back to the 19th century, somewhere around the 1870’s. It was developed in working class areas outside of Buenos Aires. Between 1860 and 1925, 70% of the immigration population were men who came to Argentina for a better life.Tango was originally played by one musician on a guitar or accordion. Later trios formed adding guitar, flute, violin,or clarinet. these instruments were chosen because they were easy to transport since musicians would travel to different locations throughout the evening.

At first, tango was prohibited in public places due to its voluptuous nature and working class origins. A long time passed before it was accepted in proper people’s homes of high society. According to Tomas Alberto Garcia, at the beginning of the 20th century, during the era known as "La Belle Epoque," Paris was the center of the world, and Argentine aristocracy looked to Paris as a model for itself. Once tango was accepted in France, the high and middle classes in Argentina accepted it; in fact, they took great pride in this uniquely Argentine art form. From France, tango spread through Europe and the rest of the world. More orchestras were formed, and the tango developed, eventually to reach its splendor in the 1940's.

This decade, known as the "Golden Age" of tango, was the most impressive, and families from all levels of Argentine society started to dance, packing the dance halls and making it possible for even the largest orchestras to survive and prosper. Tango finally reached its maturity and was widely accepted so we can still enjoy it today.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What’s the story within tango? - instrumental and vocal parts - phrasing in Tango

When you first come to Tango class - you might be surprised. You came to learn all this sexy moves - no? You want to impress your partner? - What ‘no’? Admit it!
Almost everybody does!!!! You imagine all this feelings - like when you first fall in love - enchant you, put a magic spell on you and…. lights, cameras, we are dancing…..

Instead - you discover quite a few things about… yourself.
About your partner too - but usually what you are discovering about yourself is much more surprising.

First you discover that you have no control over your own body. You know you want to go straight forward, but your legs have quite different ideas what ‘straight forward’ means. You know you want to embrace the person in front of you and… just dance… Instead, all of the sudden it seems like they don’t have 2 feet, but at least 5, and one of them is ALWAYS on your way, or worse - UNDER your foot. Yyyyyeeeah, wasn’t that supposed to be romantic dance? You love high heels, instead your teacher tells you to take them off and… you are secretly grateful, because walking backwards in 5” High Heel Stiletto Shoes maybe was not such a great idea after all. You get angry!!!!!! Wait - this is MY body and it will do what I WANT!
That’s right.
I totally believe you eventually will make IT do what YOU want, but first you need to regroup and regain your powers. Over! It!

Meanwhile lets focus on one other sense you poses: hearing the music.
When we first hear Tango music we hear wall of sound, like hearing a foreign language, white noise, everything in one piece. We don’t know what instruments are there, which ones create foreground, which are in the background, which ones talk to each other, or on top of each other and when. The more we listen to it we are able to hear more an more.

What we learn first is to hear the strong beat. With time we should be able to distinguish rhythm from melody, then hear layers within and small little details.

First - lets hear the phrasing. Phrases are like closed sentences when we talk. The voices rises up and then falls down at the end. There are questions. And answers. There are exclamations! There are sentences you shout fast and angrily. And words that you want to stretch forever, make them last forever. There are questions without answers. And little arguments. And… even changes of subject. Or - little musical bridges that bring you back to what you were talking about, out of that little digression.

Most classically each phrase would have 8 beats - that’s the assumption. However - it’s not uncommon to hear  the phrase that is 6 or 4 beats long. Don’t worry if you hear that. It's GREAT if you can hear it - you will see that you will get those ‘missing’ beats back at some later point. The amount of energy in the world is always same - nothing is ever lost. If you loose something but it was meant to be yours -  you will get it back sooner or later.

In a most ideal situation four phrases (four ‘eights’) make a section - like a paragraph or strophe in poem or song. There are always 3 sections: A, B and C. There is always a repetition of section A. So if you listen to the Tango piece - section A will be repeated two or three times.

To make it simple:
Part 1: A B
We have INTRODUCTION part - that part most often is instrumental only and has no singer. (There are always exceptions - listen for them!)

Section A: You hear first time instrumental section A introducing characters and melody.
Section B: You hear instrumental section B - with change of feel or tone.

Part 2: A’ C
Section A’: If there is a singer - here is when we hear him. Repeating section A in his own voice, re-telling it in his own manner as a variation of the first A section. If it’s still just the orchestra - it will almost never repeat A exactly as A. Maybe the melody in A’ will be staccato, with a counter melody in legato.

Section C: different from A or B and often with a resolution step…

Part 3: Variation
Section A’’: The Variation with rapid rhythms still using a motif from section A. Might be just instruments, might be just singer, or both.

Now - not to fall into some rigidity here. The musical progression COULD BE as we just said:  AB A'C A". I said COULD… Could gives as this opening, the freedom, the choice….
So - listen - you could also find: AB BA' CA", or AB CA' A" ...   There is no set form.

As social dancers we don't necessarily think about this progression of phrases too much, because we are improvising, we do not know in the section A what we are going to do in the section C. But - if we are able to hear them and interpret them, make them visible through our dancing or… simply make our partner feel, hear what we feel and hear… 

If you are leader - you will leave your partner speechless as she will think you are a magician able to see the future, able to see how the story end. If you are follower - your leader will think that through some secret powers you are able to read his mind, see his thought, even before he sees them. Anyway - those are just words trying to name something un-expressible. But if you feel it (or felt it already) - definitely email me. I want to know all about it. Or - post a comment - so we all can learn.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What is CADENCIA?????

Not being a Spanish speaker and hearing the word CADENCIA over and over again I tried to do my homework and simply google the answer. What is cadencia? You can feel it. You can see it, but when you try to find the verbal explanation it becomes extremely vague.

My intuitive understanding is that it is dancers interpretation of the phrasing of music, their response to it. Almost sort of translation. If music was a foreign language and the dancers the interpreters they can take the music and translate it into dance. Now - here in New York most people are bilingual and we all know that sometimes the word to word translation makes no sense. Or it makes sense but its ugly. The exact translation does not carry the real meaning. Looses it somehow or makes it flat. We all know that certain words and phrases mean more or mean something else than it seems at the first glance. They also mean something else when said in certain tone of voice or certain facial expression or in certain situation. So when we translate from English to our language (whatever that language might be) - we never really translate literally. However - we do try to find the way to keep rhythm and phrasing similar to original not to loose the intention of the author, the intention of the music. When the musical phrase comes to the close - the movement comes to the close.

Here is  the video of the class teaching 'cadencia' explained as a sort of rocking movement.

In cadencia is explained as - the close of a musical section

So it can be said that cadence refers to how one closes musical sequences. The movements should always illustrate, or be a variation of, the musical cadence / intonation.

An analogy may be made with punctuation, with some weaker cadences acting as commas that indicate a pause or momentary rest, while a stronger cadence acts as a period that signals the end of the phrase or sentence.” (The Musical Life by W. A. Mathieu ) And in addition to his general definition quoted above, Mathieu  describes a perfect cadence as a “falling into simplicity”.

At Joy in motion website we read: 'Cadencia, for me, relates very strongly to pauses and momentary lilts – part of the punctuation – of the dance, since it is in these moments when obvious movement is at a minimum and, therefore, internal energy can be felt the strongest. It feels very much like the “falling into simplicity” of musical cadence, a slow deep breath that provides both rest and a building of energy to return to action. Isn’t this how we begin the dance, letting the music and the connection fill our body like lungs fill with air, waiting for the impulse to move? And isn’t this also how we finish the dance, settling into a final position that provides release and a parting essence? The start, the finish, the pauses in between… this ebb and flow of the dance, with its peaks and valleys, is also present in my body when I execute a pause and feel that quality of cadencia coursing through my body, that “surfing on the waves of the music and the connection.” (See more at: Joy in motion)