In Search of Tango
Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us into individuals, but tango unites us into a team, community, people and species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through fraternity, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
May 19, 2023
Why Women Fail to Do Cruzada
Tango dancing begins with a four-step routine called salida done diagonally on man's left and ending with the woman's cruzada. The first step of salida is a side step. In the second and third steps the man walks on the woman's right, causing the need for her to recove the symmetrical position in line with him. The most convenient way or shortcut to recover that position is to cross her left leg in front of her right leg in the fourth step. There is no particular signal to tell her to do the cross except that he is on her right. In other words, the woman relies on her sense of equilibrium to return to a symmetrical position with the man by crossing her left leg in front of her right leg.
Tango women must be able to perceive and adjust their body position in relation to their partner. The sense of equilibrium is essential for maintaining alignment. A strong sense of equilibrium allows women to hold their body upright and distribute weight evenly, provides them with balance, stability and control over their movements, which helps create a visually pleasing appearance, allows them to move confidently and smoothly, and facilitates their execution of movements with efficiency and precision. A well-developed sense of equilibrium also makes women sensitive to changes in their body position in relation to their partner, enhances their ability to maintain proper alignment and weight distribution in partnering work.
Students with a strong sense of equilibrium can quickly get used to crossing their legs when the man walks on their right, while those with a weak sense of equilibrium are less sensitive to changes in body position in relation to their partner, thus often fail to do cruzada. For such women, practicing salida helps to get them into the habit of doing cruzada when the man walks on their right.
Bad embrace can also cause women to be insensitive to changes in their body position in relation to their partner. Some women wrap their left arm around the man's right arm, causing their body to be on the right side of the man's body. This misalignment makes them less sensitive to changes in the man's body position. Novice women dancing in open dance hold also can't perceive subtle changes in their partner's body position well due to the lack of direct physical contact. Both may cause them not to do the cross when the man walks on their right.
The right embrace is square and symmetrical, in which the two partners face each other chest against chest, his right arm is around her body, and her right arm is hooked around his shoulder, so the two are perfectly aligned. This correct embrace is not only the most comfortable, it also allows the woman to feel any subtle changes in the position of the man's body, so when he walks on her right, she will naturally reposition her body with the cruzada to bring her body back into line with his.
In my experience, failing to do cruzada is a common mistake women often make. Perpaps half of the women I dance with fail to do cruzada from time to time, and most of them are not new to tango. By adding a step, cruzada often serves as weight shift on the woman's part, thus changing from the balance system to the cross system, or from the cross system to the balance system. Whether the woman makes the cross puts her body in a different position in relation to the man, which affects how he leads the next step. Therefore, it is vital for women to get into the habit of doing cruzada when the man walks on their right. Using correct embrace, maitaining proper alignment, developing a strong sense of equilibrium, being sensitive to changes in the body position in relation to the partner, and practicing enough salida all help to get into the habit of doing cruzada.
March 18, 2023
Although all tango women can do ocho, many fail to grasp its importance and dedicate sufficient time to practicing it. However, if there is one step that can significantly enhance a woman's tango, it is ocho. This is because ocho encompasses all basic techniques that are essential for women's dancing, including pivot, dissociation, gear effect, cadencia, embrace, connection, communication, balance and stability, and can best reflect a woman's feminine beauty, such as her softness, gentleness, flexibility, lightness and elegance. Moreover, ocho is the most frequently used female step in tango. A woman's tango can be truly stunning only if she can execute ocho flawlessly. While some may argue that molinete is another quintessential female step, it is merely a sequence of forward and backward ochos.
The term "ocho" originates from the Spanish word for "eight". In this figure the woman traces the shape of an S on the floor with one leg and then repeats the same with the other leg. The two S shapes overlap in opposite directions, creating the visual effect of the number 8. To execute ocho, the woman begins by rotating her hips and stepping forward to one side of her partner. She then pivots, rotates her hips again, and steps forward in the opposite direction. It's crucial to perform the move with excellent connection, stability, flexibility, lightness, smoothness, and elegance. Women who use open dance hold tend to turn their entire body instead of swiveling their hips, that's because their torso is not connected to the man's torso. The correct way should be as shown in the following video (6:10-10:00).
Most tango instructors place great emphasis on hip swivels, also known as dissociation, in ocho, while neglecting to teach the swing of the body, or cadencia, which is another important tango technique. However, combining dissociation and cadencia can heighten the gracefulness of the ocho movement and create a swinging sensation that enhances the pleasure of the dance.
Ocho can be danced in a variety of ways as showing below. It is the most colorful step of all that can fully display women's feminine, gentle, soft, flexible, elegant and creative beauty.
Mastering these variations can make a woman's dance more attractive. I suggest that students make practicing them a part of their daily routine, dedicating 10-20 minutes every day until they have internalized the movements and developed their own unique style. The key word here is internalization, which enables the woman to concentrate on her partner rather than the steps. Women must overcome the urge to show off. They may know many variations of ocho, but it's better to use just few in one tango rather than overwhelming themselves with too many options.
Ocho can be a very seductive move due to the physical interaction between the partners. (See Dissociation and Gear Effect.) Rather than concentrating on her own performance, the woman should devote her attention to making the man feel good and establishing a deep and meaningful communication as she dances ocho. This is only possible when she has internalized the movement.
March 11, 2023
America Is in Big Trouble
What creates wealth is the real economy like agriculture, manufacturing, mining, energy and construction. The trade, service and financial sectors only provide services in exchange for a piece of the pie. They do not generate wealth by themselves. (See Mammonism.)
Today's American economy is too capitalized or financialized. Except for the few remaining high-tech and military industries, most of the manufacturing has flowed into countries with low production costs. America is increasingly relying on its financial hegemony to reap the wealth of the world, while its productivity has long been unable to support its hegemony. Our apparent strength is based on virtual finance rather than real economy. The Federal Reserve prints a huge amount of money each year. Our national debt has exceeded $31.4 trillion. Private lending reached another $30 trillion. Much of this money flows abroad through purchases of foreign goods, loans to other countries, and sales of Treasury securities, as the US dollar as the world reserve currency is demanded by all countries.
This allows the US not only to harvest the wealth of the world with printed dollars, but also to influence other economies with its monetary policy, such as increasing dollar supply and reducing interest rate to encourage borrowing, or reducing dollar supply and increasing interest rate to make the dollar appreciate relative to other currencies, causing the contraction of other economies and the repatriation of capital to the US. Monetary policy is often operated in conjunction with other means, such as creating social and political crises designed to worsen the investment climate in other countries to ensure that the United States reaps their wealth while profiting from arms sales. Of course, the main beneficiaries are not the American people, but the special interests.
The current world economic system established by US special interests is unfair and immoral from the standpoint of developing countries. To maintain this unjust system, the US special interests have made deliberate efforts to stifle the growth of emerging economies, such as the Soviet Union and Japan in the past, and Europe and China today. They have instigated the Russia-Ukraine conflict to contain Russia while creating a security crisis for Europe, cut off cheap Russian energy supply to the continent, seized the European market with expensive American energy, which sparked severe inflation that affected people's lives, a dramatic increase in the cost of production that damaged the European economy, and a significant capital outflow from the region, further eroded Europe's strategic autonomy, tied Europe to the American chariot against the rising East, and made Europe more dependent on the US for security. They are currently creating tension in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea to contain China.
This contradicts the aspirations of other nations to develop their own economies. Most countries desire a cooperative, equitable, and peaceful environment for development that benefits all parties. The US policy of prioritizing America's interests, promoting unipolar hegemony, and asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction has encountered opposition from developing countries worldwide.
Faced with mounting debt, inflation and financial crises that a hollowed-out economy must face, US policymakers are caught in growing anxiety. But, instead of focusing on solving domestic problems, they resorted to high-handed tactics to pass on the crises, including forcing other countries to buy more US treasuries, flexing military muscles, provoking regional conflicts, launching cognitive, trade, technological, and financial wars, imposing unilateral sanctions to suppress foreign economies and companies, freezing and confiscating foreign overseas assets, weaponizing the US dollar and the SWIFT system, sabotaging civilian infrastructures of other countries, and engaging in embargo, decoupling, clique and isolation, etc. These tactics aimed at containing other economies also caused serious damage to our own, ruined America's reputation as a fair player and the credibility of the dollar, further isolated America itself, and is causing a global sell-off of US federal bonds and de-dollarization that will ultimately end US hegemony. To make matters worse, uncontrollable inflation in the US has forced the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates aggressively, triggering the current wave of bank failures and a global economic downturn, causing turmoil in the financial markets of many developing countries, especially heavily indebted countries.
The United States has become the source of turmoil for the world. Of course, America's vested interests will not stop being the troublemaker in order to harvest other countries' wealth. They will even start another war to maintain their hegemony. On the surface, it is the overcapitalization and overfinancialization that have led to America's crises, but the root of the problem lies in the ideologies that the American special interests believe, that is, capitalism, Darwinism, Machiavellianism, the law of the jungle, and zero-sum competition. (See Darwinism and Eastern Philosophies.) It's just that they forget that their hegemony, built on mounting debt rather than real ecomony, is not sustainable. Most tango dancers do not embrace the ideologies of the American political elites, because these ideologies contradict the spirit of tango, but we cannot but be wary of the negative influence of these ideologies on our life and tango.
The world that the majority of nations seek is a democratic world where all countries have the same opportunity to develop their economies and advance the lives of their people through win-win cooperation. The United States must abandon its selfish, bullying and myopic approach if it really believes in democracy. The American electorate deserves leaders who demonstrate greater moral principles. Otherwise, America will ultimately face the repercussions of its behaviors. (See The Vicious Circle of Regime Change.)
The following video explains the American monetary system, from Bretton Woods agreement, decoupling of USD to gold, USD pegging to oil, consumer capitalism, vendor financing, outsourcing manufacturing, job losses, big trade deficits, huge inequality, big military, lots of wars, printing more and more money and having more and more debt, to devaluation of USD and inflation. The speaker attributes this doomed system to dollar as the world reserve currency and suggests that these will all end when a new currency regime emerges. The question is whether vested interests in the US will allow that to happen?
March 1, 2023
Darwinism and Eastern Philosophies
English naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is regarded as one of the most influential figures in Western history. His book, On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, revolutionized Western thought.
Darwin's theory is based on the idea of natural selection. Organisms with advantageous traits are more likely to survive and reproduce. This is largely due to the fact that variation exists within all populations of organisms. Throughout the lives of the individuals their genomes interact with their environments to cause random mutations arise in the genome, which can be passed on to their offspring. Because individuals with certain variants of the trait tend to survive and reproduce more than individuals with other less successful variants, the population evolves.
While most scientists came to accept evolution as descent with modification, not all agreed with Darwin's assertion that natural selection is the primary, but not exclusive, means of modification. Some favored competing explanations that assigned a lesser role to natural selection.
One critique is that Darwin placed too much emphasis on the "struggle for existence" and "the survival of the fittest" among individuals, and did not give sufficient consideration to the role of coexistence, interdependence and cooperation within a species, and the importance of ecological balance between species in the evolution of species. (See Pluralism vs. Monism.)
While Darwin's theory has given us a new conception of the world of life and revolutionized the whole study of nature, it also had adverse impacts. One of the negative consequences was the misguided use of the concepts of "struggle for existence" and "survival of the fittest" to human societies by certain individuals in the West. This has resulted in ideologies such as social Darwinism, exceptionalism, racism, individualism, law of the jungle theory, zero-sum competition, and unipolar hegemony, etc., that pose a threat to social harmony, human solidarity, and world peace. The harms these ideologies have done to mankind should not be underestimated, as Western civilization ever since Darwin was built on power, warfare, conquest, colonization, genocide, exploitation, and looting of other peoples, with Darwin's fellow countrymen taking a prominent role. These ideologies have also fuelled Western capitalism that led to brutal competitions, severe inequality, the depletion of natural resources, and the destruction of the environment. (See Democracy vs. Plutocracy.)
Fortunately Darwinism did not have as much an impact in the Eastern Hemisphere, where the prevailing philosophies, such as Confucianism and Taoism, value the Tao of nature, the natural way of life, and the harmonious relationship and win-win cooperation between people. While it is too early to draw conclusions about the merits of Eastern and Western philosophies, the rise of the East and the decline of the West in our times seems to suggest that cooperation is more conducive to the success of the species. This is also what tango can attest to. (See Understanding China: Geography and Confucianism.)
March 30, 2022
Two Tangos, Different Charms
We describe Latin dances such as rumba, cha-cha and samba as passionate, hot and sexy, but we no longer describe tango in that way. Rather, we use graceful, soulful and elegant to describe this dance that once belonged to the Latin dance family. In other words, in its development tango has been gradually refined and gentrified, evolving from the dance of brothel to Tango de Salon.
But once upon a time, tango was a hot, sexy, passionate Latin dance.
Comparing the two kind of tangos, we can see the following differences.
1. Tango de Salon is danced at a slower pace. Earlier tango is danced at a faster pace.
2. In Tango de Salon the steps are larger. In earlier tango the steps are smaller.
3. In Tango de Salon the woman's hip movement is moderate, remaining relatively paralell to the man's hips, but in earlier tango the hip movement of the woman is quite large, perpendicular to the man's hips.
4. Tango de Salon highlights elegance and harmony. Earlier tango highlights hot gender identity and gender expression.
5. Tango de Salon focuses on subtle, inward feelings. Earlier tango focuses on exaggerated visual impression.
Both tangos have their merits, one shows maturity and elegance, the other shows vigor and passion.
The fact that earlier tango is no longer seen is more or less a shame to me because I believe earlier tango still has an aesthetic value and its techniques, as the couple in the video below tried to reproduce, are worth studying. The change of human aesthetics, however, has its own logic that is beyond anyone’s personal preference. Generally speaking, as a trend, that "Elegance is the only beauty that never fades." - said Audrey Hepburn, is perhaps the underlying logic of human aesthetics and tango. Vigor loses with time, but elegance remains.
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