Monday, September 14, 2015

At Bennie Bartels' Tango/Feldenkrais WS

According to the information we got before the workshop, Bennie Bartels has a background as a professional dancer and a Feldenkrais practitioner.

With his own words about the subject:

"My focus in my teaching has always been to come to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of this "exotic" dance, to hand people clear and simple tools and a body awareness, to enable dancers to do what they want.
Understanding how grounding, uprightness, tension, travel of force through the body, intention and organisation, to be light but substantial, touch and energy work, is essential to dance a satisfying, pleasuralbe and communicative tango.

Feldenkrais is a non-corrective, exploring and playful technique through awareness and sensing. It is not static or abstract but works with process, movement and function (direction).
It is the best technique I have found in all these years of exploring movement and dance, that gives a great and helpful insight in all these processes. At the same time preventing injury and keeping you fit and with energy for your daily life.

The moving, dynamic and grounding side of the tango, next to a meaningful connection and a two way communication to create the music of the dance, is what I find very important to make people learn and understood.

The combination Tango and Feldenkrais create a philosophy for me, of an approach and a way of learning in which each person creates his or her own individual and unique style and dance".

We had 10 + 1 hours of training during this weekend with 2 h Feldenkrais and the 8+1 hour tango related exercises and games. The group had different backgrounds but he managed to keep us together quite well during these hours.

When I compare his pick of the teaching items, the methods and the pedagogical take with my earlier experiences with different teachers he is doing extremely well, especially on the connection issues and integrating the movements. Some of the delicate insights of technique and the responsibility of process within a couple were also well addressed during the hours.

Bennie and two students working on an abrazo exercise.

Two of my favorite principles we were working with!

The elbow management: If we both are stabilizing the elbows slightly in front of us - not stiff but stable - the feeling of connection is more easily created.

The integrated movement: We had several exercises and games to create a movement which involved the whole body. Many times we are creating the movement by moving just an isolated part of the body - we move the feet and the leg is moving from our hips - but the rest of the body is still. If the leader is just moving his leg and his chest is still it is impossibly for the follower to know what is happening. With his long experience Bennie could find different ways to explain and get us on board.

My special gratitude goes to his work to give the followers tools to take the responsibility for their own position and situation!

Thanks to you Fotini for organizing this weekend and Bennie for the insights!

The earliest youtube videos I found were from 2008 so he has been active with tango - as a dancer and teacher - for a long time.

I just love these sidesteps!  I found this video on Bennies homepage too.

Bennies homepage:

1 comment:

  1. I scored some really stable foundations from this course. Which I will not let go.
    I will hold it tight until I have it incorporated in my body.

    For example: don’t loose contact. And when you do: Notice. And do something about it.

    Be aware of the possibilities in your feet. Find out about them, use them.

    Don’t hurry.

    Make some body smalltalk.


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