Tango Argentino > Shoulders hips dissociation -- How?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Tango Distance, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    My instructor said I need to move my shoulders independently of my hips at times. I don't know why, but I seem to have a mental block for doing it. I mentally try to move the shoulders one way and the hips the other, but they apparently are conspiring with each other, rebelling against my brain, and insist on moving together!

    Here's a weird thing about it: My wife said to pretend I was skiing. I could then hold my shoulders "square to the hill" and twist my hips back and forth! In contrast, throw in Tango and I can't seem to do it!

    Links, video, or tips that help would be appreciated! I can't afford to buy a robotic exoskeleton to fix this! Thanks in advance.
  2. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    Cool! The skiing shows you can do it and it's not a matter muscle tightness. My recommendation is lots and lots and lots of very slow practice away from the dance floor. Practice movements in front of a mirror or at least a wall so that you have a visual for your shoulders (really upper body) remaining facing as they are. Then do required movements slowly enough that you can keep your shoulders etc. where they should be. I find that I have to experiment to figure out how to do it. Frequently something that I am doing incorrectly with my posture is blocking the ability to separate the body parts. Each time this comes up in a different situation, I have to do this very detailed isolation work. Warning: for me at least, there is quite a lag between being able to do it at home and producing it consistently while dancing. I cannot tell you how exactly how long a lag, since I still have to remind myself occasionally that I actually do know how to do it properly!!

    Let me repeat the part about frequently something I am doing with my posture is blocking the ability to isolate my upper body from my hips. If your body's building blocks are not lined up properly, it just isn't going to work.

    My teacher sometimes (frequently) helps provide the stability for my upper body so that I can get the feeling of the isolated movements. He has a gazillion variations on practice/"therapeutic" holds to help students get the feel of different things. Feels much better than a robotic exoskeleton would!
  3. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    In the end you will need to listen and control your own body.

    Teachers and classes may help, but solo practice is essential.
    @RiseNFall gave excellent tips.

    Master movement the slower the better, so you get ingrained in your brain.
    Every new activity demands different automatic thinking.
    It takes time to reach that level in new activity. Be patient and hard working. ;)
    MaggieMoves and Tango Distance like this.
  4. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Of course you can move your shoulders and hips separately. There are tons of exercises to "prove" that to your body and ease a mental block.
    For example: Stand at one end of the room, facing the opposite wall. Start walking straight toward the wall Make sure your toes are pointed in that direction at all time, and you walk more or less following a straight line.
    At some point on your journey turn your torso slightly to the right. It is good if there is a mirror on that wall. Keep looking in the mirror while walking straight ahead. Now your feet and hips are looking in one direction, and your torso/shoulders, another. You can do the same turning your torso to the left. When you switch sides make sure you do it gradually, not in a brusque manner.

    Walk around the room, counter clock wise. You are walking down a line of dance. If you have a few companions with you, and you are holding hands while walking in a circle, your torsos are all facing inside the line of dance ( if you are alone you may just imagine that). So, your hips and your shoulders are dissociated. Now you also can let go of hands and turn your torso toward outside the line of dance, while your legs keep going the same direction. Your torso moves independently. Make sure the changes in your torso position are gradual.

    Stand about a foot away from the wall, your back to the wall. Imagine your feet are glued to the floor. Start twisting your upper body toward the wall. You may try to put your hands on the wall, or just one hand, depending on how flexible you are. Repeat on the other side. The goal is not to twist as much as possible, you don't need to be super flexible for tango, but realize that your upper body can move separately and face a direction different from the lower body (and you use the energy of dissociation-association to pivot, lead turns and such).

    It helps sometimes if you are standing (or walking) facing in one directions and holding a ball or imaging you are carrying a tray in front of you, and you have to present the ball/tray to the different sides of the room. The ball/tray is actually your partner, as sometimes you move your torso independently from your lower body to lead/accompany her movement.

    There are more.
  5. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    Here's a mental cue that might help you: "stay in front of your partner." Each time you step outside partner, you have to use contra-body/disassociate to stay in front of her.

    Try some of these exercises. Remember the cue, "stay in front of your partner" or "face your partner"
    1) Practice the 8-count basic. There is contra-body movement in steps 2, 3, 4.
    2) Walking outside partner on both sides. You are probably already used to stepping outside the open side of the embrace. The exercise is step inside, outside (open side), inside, inside, outside (closed side), inside, inside, outside (open side), ...
    3) Media vueltas, as a solo exercise and with a partner during a left turn.

    Stretching helped A LOT for me. Below is an excerpt from Stretching Scientifically by Thomas Kurz. During disassociation, you are stretching a "rubber band" that extends from your shoulder to your opposite hip. The more you're able to twist, the more kinetic energy you build. Very useful if you want to do sacadas or enrosques.


    Fun fact: If you're right handed, it's easier for you to turn left, vice versa.
  6. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    I remember two instructors saying that to the class, when working on progressive forward ochos.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  7. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Sometimes people make this seem more complicated than it actually is. For leaders, a lot of the time it's just twisting, (and BTW, I would suggest that the twisting should start lower than at the shoulders, (twist the upper body)).

    Now the twisting that followers have to do is often more complicated than what we leaders typically have to do.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  8. When you are executing a sharp turn on the ski-slope your feet need not be directly underneath your center of gravity... there may be as much as a foot or even two feet of lateral displacement to the left or right, depending on your speed and the tightness of the curve.

    The horizontal component of the opposing upward diagonal force from the slope is what allows you to do this without falling over.

    And the foot displacement is what makes it possible to maintain your shoulders square to the hill while your skis are pointing diagonally. You need to "lean into" a faster, sharper turn a lot more to oppose the centripetal force.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  9. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Many thanks to all for the good suggestions. A second thought occurred to me, my instructor often says I use arms too much. I realized these two issues could be linked, instead of twisting I'm collapsing and/or extend an arm or arms instead.
    dchester likes this.
  10. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    In open embrace, try practising in what Homer Ladas calls the Sugar Bowl embrace. Join your own hands behind your back, with your partner taking loose hold of your upper arms. It is difficult to move the arms much in that position, so you have to indicate more from the torso (which is a good thing, as the torso should be the source of any movement communicate through the arms in that embrace).

    from 2:40 (for the Sugar Bowl embrace specifically, but worth watching all through).

    When you have the hang of that, try it in close embrace.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  11. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Try the washing machine exercise. I think I learned this one from Homer as well.

    Start in a room with 4 walls. The idea is that your upper body can only face towards the North and South wall, your lower body the West and East wall. You move them one at a time. For example. your upper body moves from North to South while your lower body remains stationary (hips are part of the lower body!), then your lower body moves from East to West, etc.
    Level one is moving your lower body with tiny steps.
    Level two is moving your lower body with a pivot. This can be done in 4 ways: weight on left foot pivoting left, left/right, right/left, and right, right.
    Level three is going more than 90 degrees.

    When dancing, I try to remember my hips and legs are pointed in the direction I'm traveling and my upper body is pointed toward my partner. There are many exceptions to this (side steps), but this applies to most instances where dissociation is a problem.
    Zoopsia59 and Tango Distance like this.
  12. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

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  13. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    A simple and practical exercise is to practice ochos facing a wall or with a ballet bar. Basics are always the best.

    Like this, but without the embellishments
  14. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    I needed to work on this and the mental idea first working for me was the one where I concentrated to think that the opposite shoulder should meet the foot in front of me - left foot in front and the right shoulder forward or the other option. It works for forward and backward walking.

    This diagonal way to create the dissociation is the only option I have heard about in tango teaching.

    In some of our discussions Steve Pastor told about the Skippy Blair lesson where she thinks that the dissociation should be created by balancing the forward step by moving the same side shoulder backwards. To me this one-side method, foot and shoulder on same side, is a much easier way to create the movement.

    If some of your students have a hard time with dissociation please try this!

  15. manuille

    manuille New Member

    As Koinzell says, here in Argentina used the same exercise "to practice ochos facing a wall or with a ballet bar"
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  16. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    I still do this for my Rumba and Cha Cha. Works wonders. Now that I have a mirrored wall in my house, it has nothing but hand prints all over it! :p
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  17. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Many thanks to all. This was a big help almost immediately. For instance, before I was trying to do male back ochos with my hips and shoulders locked together. This made for my legs twisting up like a pair of wires in an ethernet cable and often losing my balance. With just a little dissociation my balance is way better and I can reverse directions (back to front ocho) much more quickly. I think I'm doing less arm collapsing, too (hopefully my instructor agrees!).
  18. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    This exercise is bad in a way.

    All pivots should be done without a wall.
    Here the wall substitutes a partner in way.

    She doesn't perform shoulder opening and closing as she would while dancing.
  19. Gina Tangoes

    Gina Tangoes New Member

    this is a woman's exercise, I think it was a guy asking though, he talks about his wife
  20. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    A man can do this as well to get used to the feeling of isolating those muscles.
    Cal likes this.

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