Connected Movement: introducing the basics of Argentinian Tango with
the benefit of Alexander awareness.
Presented by Loretta Manson at Friends Meeting House, 8 Hop
Saturday, 17th May 2014
By Jacek Kaleta
In this write-up I would like to share some of my impressions
and what I learned from attending the workshop on Tango and
The workshop was fully booked with about
16 participants. 2 more
women than men, which reportedly is a pretty good ratio for a Tango
event. About half of the participants were AT teachers, and there
were only a few people with little Alexander experience. However,
for most of us it was our first contact with Argentinean ďSalonĒ
Tango, so we were all pretty much in the same boat.
the benefit of being introduced into the fascinating world of Tango
by a teacher of both Alexander Technique and Dance. Loretta led the
workshop gracefully, and although she had obviously planned its
structure, everything flowed beautifully and naturally.
work was always done with the music in the background. The music had
a walking pace quality to it, with easily discernable beat, usually
fairly slow, sometimes bit more brisk. After introducing ourselves
and short introduction by Loretta we began our first exploration
with walking on our own, trying to get the feel for the flow and
character of the music and the natural pauses it provides.
It seems that understanding pauses in Tango is one of the essential
skills. The movement is naturally determined by the music, so if
thereís a pause in the music, we reflect this in our movement. This
pause can be of different degrees. Sometimes itís more like a comma,
or hyphen, and sometimes itís more of a full stop.
soon asked to pair up and explored what itís like to ďleadĒ and
ďfollowĒ. The person leading would guide his/her partner who had
her/his eyes closed, in a casual way around the room. We all tried
both leading and following. Many people reported how enjoyable and
liberating it was to let go and just allow oneself to be led. How
comfortable am I with going into unknown?
We then moved on to
practicing what seems to be the most essential skill: ďTango walkĒ.
They say itís a skill that requires years of dedicated practice to
master. I really liked those moments of pause; it provided very
welcome and useful space for Alexander thinking.
I liked the
activity where we stood against each other with our palms touching.
At this point men were introduced into how to shift oneís partnerís
weight either by shifting oneís own weight to one side or by giving
opposition with one of the hands. This could be then taken into
How to indicate to our partner which leg is going
to move first? I found this
rather challenging, but also fascinating. How do I communicate this
intention? Sometimes I really felt the need to stop, and have some
space to ďthinkĒ. Thankfully the nature of the dance allows for
stillness, so I could always stop and think. I felt comfortable with
doing this whenever I needed to stop.
It seems that people
with Alexander background are in an advantageous situation when
learning Tango. Some skills are transferable. For example the skill
of listening to what your partner is indicates, where the intention
is, or the skill of leading with clarity and direction.
were now able to take this to explore and practice further in a
ronda, that is moving around the room in the anticlockwise
direction. Thatís how the flow of group movement is defined in
social context. Not strictly speaking tango hold at this point, but
getting there. We would face each other and hold each otherís
elbows. It was clear how the idea of opposition comes in here. We
had opportunity of practicing with many different partners, which
was very useful.
Sometimes some pairs would stop, so we
appreciated how important spatial awareness is, in order to stay
safe and respect the space of other people. Itís like in the AT: we
stay connected both to ourselves and space and the other people
After a break we continued with the ronda, with
Loretta giving each pair specific feedback. We finished the evening
with more practice using a proper Tango hold. Unfortunately time was
running out and we had to finish there.
It was a very rich
and inspiring event and people seemed to really enjoy themselves.
According to experienced teachers Tango requires years of dedicated
practice. Considering that I think we did pretty well that evening.
I think that our AT background with training in sensory awareness,
inhibition, direction, leading, following and opposition helped us.
So whatís the experience of Tango like? For me itís as easy to
convey that as to explain what the AT is like to someone who hasnít
had a lesson before. Itís experiential. From what I have seen in
other people, not only my heart was touched by the beauty of Tango.
Tango is a social dance, and I found this aspect very
appealing. It allows for direct connection with the person you dance
with. A direct eye contact - what a change for someone who lives in
Iím very interested in taking it further. More
practice would give me opportunities to continue exploring and
learning about myself and how I interact with others in a different
enhanced environment. Iím aware that I need to work more on
indicating more clearly my intention and act with more confidence.
Itís interesting how certain patterns come up in all activities,
whether itís Tango or learning how to put hands-on. Improving at
Tango would allow me to improve in my AT skills, and other way
It was a very practical workshop, with a very fine
balance between talking and activity. Loretta shared her
understanding and passion about Tango in a way that can only be
conveyed in person. You wonít get it from watching it on the TV.
© Jacek Kaleta 2014
Note: If anyone would like details about where they could learn tango,
or anything else to do with the workshop, they are very welcome
to contact Loretta directly.
Tel: 07949 190 595