Feeling that you are often losing your balance when dancing but not sure why? Knees hurting after a milonga? Lacking power in your pivots?

It might have to do with how your dissociate!

This week, we will be covering enrosques in our classes, which depend a lot on dissociation.

However, dissociation is often misunderstood, which costs tango dancers their balance and power…. and hurts their knees.

And because of so much in tango relies on dissociation, it is crucial that we dissociate in ways that serve our dancing rather than hurt us.

We love this topic because with just a few adjustments we can completely transform the dance of our students.

So we thought we would list the common mistakes we see dancers make when they dissociate and recommend some corrections.

Hopefully, it helps people all over the world… and helps our students nail enrosques this week!

1. COMMON DISSOCIATION MISTAKE #1: Dissociating “from the knee up” => CORRECT BY: Dissociating “from the hip up”

The most ‘common mistake’ is to dissociate “from the knee up”: as the upper body turns towards the partner, the hips naturally follow.

So we end up with the hips and the shoulders moving towards the partner whereas the knee and the feet are in the line of dance.

This is very dangerous for the knees.

In order to protect your body, when you dissociate you need to make sure that your hips are aligned with your knees and feet: only the upper torso is going towards your partner. You need to dissociate “from the hip up” only.

Dissociate from the hip up, not from the knee up

2. COMMON DISSOCIATION MISTAKE #2: Being passive => CORRECT BY: You need to activate your core muscles and feel a stretch in your belly

As seen above, the hips’ have a natural tendency to follow the torso when we dissociate.

So, we need to “make a conscious effort” to counteract this. That is why in our classes we say that dissociation is a very active movement.

You need to feel an opposition in your belly between the upper part that wants to go towards the partner and your ribs that you “counteracting” and going into the direction of the dance.

If you do not feel that your core muscles are working, you are too passive and probably dissociating “from the knee up”: activate your core muscles and push your hips forward, in the line of dance.

3. COMMON DISSOCIATION MISTAKE #3: Dissociating with the shoulder => CORRECT BY: Dissociate from your floating ribs

Another common mistake is dissociating with the shoulder.

Because the dancer wants to stay very connected to their partner, they “force the movement” with the shoulder.

If you do this, it “breaks” your embrace and your hips-spine-shoulders alignment. This results in less power and less balance.

What you want to do instead is to think of dissociating from your floating ribs. 

These are the ribs that form the lowest part of your ribcage and are attached to the middle of your spine. This is where the dissociation movement starts.

It allows you to keep your spine straight and your embrace firm.

The ribs, showing fixed ribs (red), and floating ribs (blue) The term ‘false ribs’ encompasses the green and blue ribs.

4. COMMON DISSOCIATION MISTAKE #4: Arching the upper back => CORRECT BY: Keeping your embrace firm and elongating the spine 

In addition to going with the shoulders, dancers sometimes arch their back to dissociate more.

This means that your neck and shoulders go away from your partner, which also impacts your alignment and your balance.

Don’t forget that the tango embrace (abrazo) is a hug! We want to go towards our partner, not away from them.

When you dissociate, think that you are elongating your spine upwards, and keep your embrace firmly connected to your partner.

A beautiful painting but not a good embrace (woman) => don’t let your neck and shoulders go away from your partner

5. COMMON DISSOCIATION MISTAKE #5: Aiming for big => CORRECT BY: starting small and allowing your body to stretch with regular practice

If you respect all of the advice above, your dissociation will feel very small. You will probably feel disconnected (physically) from your partner.

But you will have a much better balance and more power in all of your pivots.

So take patience and make sure that you start small. Dissociating from the floating ribs requires much more work than arching your back or leading with your shoulder. It is normal that it takes more time to build the strength and flexibilty.

With regular practice, you will become more and more flexible (and with the right alignment, stretching comes much quicker than most people think). Then, the width of your dissociation will improve.

You will not only be connected to your partner, but you will also have much more balance and power throughout your dancing.

We hope this help.

Abrazos,

Pablo & Anne

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3 thoughts on “5 Dissociation Mistakes that are costing you your balance (and how to correct them)

  1. Carole Thorsnes says:

    I find all your articles very helpful when teaching a tango class. Thank you for taking the time to explain the details. I have a request! Would you consider writing an article about…”how to teach a student to have rhythm?” I have tried many different ways, but it still is not getting through. Thank you!

    • Tango Space says:

      Hi Caroles,
      thank you for your comment, we are glad you enjoy the articles:)

      Not 100% sure what you need, but here are two things that can help:
      ->in our beginner classes we ask students to dance to the phrase (we show walking with pausing, dancing to the musical phrase), and we make them practice on “easy music” such as El Choclo, El Once (Di Sarli). We find that it works well to make them start dancing more musically and pay close attention to the music
      ->You can also get inspiration from Naomi and Pablo explaining how to architecture movements in tango here: http://www.tango-space.com/free-tango-video-lessons/ this is more at intermediate level, and not about rhythm per say but hopefully it helps?

      Let us know how it goes 🙂

      Best,

      Pablo & Anne

  2. Alan Esmail says:

    Thank for this. These are things i know but have forgotten them. A very interesting and helpful article

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