Tango and Experiential Anatomy 2015

Tango and Experiential Anatomy 2015

Last year MascallDance began an intriguing teaching experiment combining Experiential Anatomy.   More about this here.

In January 2015, we held a Saturday afternoon workshop at EDAM studio in Vancouver;  the two teachers, Jennifer Mascall and Emiko Morita, talk about it below:



I found our workshop last week to be the most elegant collaboration of two distinct forms i have ever participated in. Maybe you and I could converse about why that was, and invite some tango dancers to join us.



Everyone who came was a dancer.  The tango dancers had a form that they could return to again and again after each new anatomical experiment,  and use it as a gauge to assess  what they had recently experienced. The  dancers unfamiliar with tango, were able to follow  a leader.

Because the form of the expression was a familiar  and a controlled one  there was a way to feel the before and after of the anatomical experiences.



Yes, the physical impact of each exercise was stark and sometimes profound. I would also liken the experience to writing within a structured poetic form opposed to free verse. The prescribed format can push you to an unexpected edge of discovery and innovation.



In a class without this – the form of the expression –  is open ended and at the discretion of the dancer-there is less before and after.  I wonder if the stricter the boundaries, the easier it is to feel what has happened.


EMI:   From a tango dancer’s perspective, I think the workshop presented well-defined variables and “muddy” factors had been reduced or eliminated. “Muddiness” being anything from being worried about getting your next dance or the next step, having discomfort from a new outfit or shoes or the scent of your partner, etc

The anatomical exercises shifted our body awareness. And the intention was to draw our mind and body into closer, more easeful alignment—exactly where you want to be when dancing tango, present and available for your partner. The challenge is to integrate this mind-body awareness within the social context of tango. I think the workshop created the time and space for us to find something in our bodies, and because it gave us a taste of something enjoyable, we will find our way back to it. It is not easy but I think it is possible to take that energetic-centre with you to the milonga.


However, sometimes it was difficult to express the discovery in the follow up tango. For example, with a partner, we explored the reverberation of our hearts and we found a heart-to-heart connection within an energetic field. At first, we moved through space animating the connection through vocalization and then sometimes silently. As we progressed, we added tango music. Personally, I struggled a bit to stay with my partner and our shared resonance.  The music was picking me up and carrying me elsewhere. My partner and I experimented, we started vocalizing whenever the melody swept into our resonate range.

So yes, the well-defined and familiar form of the expression helped make the “before” and “after” very evident. But the next challenge is to carry the “after” into your tango.  The exercises gave me many tools to limber me up for that very purpose. There is so much to explore and experiment with at the intersection of experiential anatomy and tango.