These days, it’s the word that’s on everyone’s lips. The core.
Whenever something goes well in your dance. Whenever something goes not so well. It’s all down to your core.
And there’s no doubt that using the core is key to good tango technique.
But is it your free ticket to tango heaven? Let’s have a look at some home truths about the core.
Core Truth #1
Whilst there is no doubt that using your core is of great importance, it is only one piece of the puzzle.
If you are over-thinking your core, you could lose focus on other important areas of your body. And consequently you may still lose your balance!
It is not the magic cure. I wish I could tell you there is a one-step solution to equilibrium, but I’m afraid it doesn’t exist.
Whilst it is important to “zoom in” on important areas of the body – it is also vital to “zoom out”!
It takes practice but when you dance it is a good idea to have a picture of your whole body in your mind – not just one detail.
In time, this will also help you feel more expressive, fluid and present.
Core Truth #2
Teachers will give you varying advice on how to use the core.
Who’d have thought there would be so many ways to talk about your abdominal muscles!
Pull them in, contract them, lift them, tighten them …
You may well have heard different imagery too. I certainly use a fair few in my classes, in search of that “light bulb” moment for my students.
My advice? Different concepts work for different people.
Try them all on and work out what makes best sense for you and for your body.
Core Truth #3
When you activate your core, some unwanted side effects may creep into your technique.
You may find that you create tension in your chest. Your shoulders may lift inadvertently.
And you may find yourself holding your breath. (No need for me to explain why that isn’t a good idea!)
I appreciate its not easy to juggle everything. But breathing, relaxing your shoulders and using your core are all so important.
Be patient. Persevere. And it will happen!
Core Truth #4
When you lift your core, it doesn’t necessarily stay lifted!
I know, it’s not fair at all!
You lift your core, you breathe, you just start enjoying the music, the moment and ….
The core is relaxed again!
It is a little bit like zipping up jeans that are too tight for you! Unless you keep holding the zip up, unfortunately it will keep sliding down.
I hate to be the one to break bad news, but in order to get your core to work for you, you have to keep holding it up.
I know, that’s not exactly what I want to think about when I’m dancing either! But it’s all about repetition until it becomes entrenched, and you don’t have to think about it anymore.
Then you can go ahead and lose yourself in the moment to your heart’s content!
Core Truth #5
I just gave you some bad news, so here is some good news. You do no need ‘abs of steel’ to be able to use your core.
You can go ahead and do 200 sit-ups a day. But it will do you absolutely no good when you dance tango, if you don’t actually remember to activate your muscles when you dance.
And in order to activate your core to give you better control when you dance, we don’t need to have super strength.
But please don’t let me be the one to hold you back from those 200 sit-ups a day …
And Finally …
It’s time to “zoom” out again.
Don’t let thoughts about your core overwhelm you. Instead, let’s try to remember why we actually dance tango … for pleasure!
We work on our balance and good technique in order to open the door to even greater pleasure, but we don’t want it to become counterproductive.
If you have any questions about core and tango technique, or if you would like me to write about any other topics, please let me know in the comments section below!