VLADIMIR KRYLOV

Energy, image, body.

On the external display of the inner dance.
How to work with energies if you don't know what "energy" is?

When I was young and naive and came to tango-world, I had three couples of teachers. Great teachers by the way! All of them had completely different teaching styles and that was the most interesting.

One couple used to explain:
- Imagine that your energy flows upwards and to the sides. You and your partner both are such a huge energy trees and your crowns are intertwined...

The second couple told:
- The center of leader's palm should be parallel to the floor two or three inches left from the seventh or eighth follower's vertebra...

The third couple used the combined approach with energy flows and exact instructions, when you kind of grab your partner by the seventh vertebra and then begin to spin her with the crown of your energy-tree..

Of course, I dramatize a bit. But I think you got the point.
When teachers speak about energy and its flow and streams, about feelings and about all that stuff, I makes me sad and I start thinking about the futility of our existence.
Since then, I have become an adult, but it haven't saved me from one particular problem. When teachers speak about energy and its flow and streams, about feelings and about all that stuff, I makes me sad and I start thinking about the futility of our existence.

I have no idea what "energy" is. It's especially difficult for me speaking about dancing folklore: what does it mean when they say "try to feel your partner" and she is three meters away from me? Well, actually, I can approach her and put my hand at her shoulder, is that ok? What do they mean saying "give her energy for the turn"? Do they want me to blow air or wave at her? What does it mean in tango when they say "release the energy from yourself, from the chest upwards and to the sides"? Maybe they mean "alien larvae" or what? Or the phrase "create the circle of embrace" — I do not have, in fact, such long arms to create a circle around my partner, maybe I should find a hoola-hoop and put my partner into this "circle"?

So, basically, such phrases make little sense for me. If other students start to nod actively as if they've understood everything and send their energy in all directions and make their partners turn by the power of a glance or imagination, then I start feeling worthless, stupid and ignorant little one...
If you've been in such awkward situation — you're not alone, dude, I'm with you!
Frankly speaking, I am quite unbelieving and suspicious person. I do not believe that anyone can actually transmit or send energy to another person, especially over a distance. In my logically organized universe that is akin to telekinesis, and hence it's impossible.

However, some people can do such things, and they even can control this energy and its influence. There must be a trick somewhere.

Well, in my opinion, it's all about our treacherous brain.
Speaking of dance it means that we judge a set of various characteristics of the other person.
I think almost everyone knows that we notice and process much more information than we really think. Our brain receives huge amounts of data from the outside world and only part of it gets to our consciousness. To be honest, a quite small part. The pure knowledge comes to our consciousness very seldom, in most cases we get some kind of image that our subconscious mind has formed and transferred to our consciousness.

Speaking of dance it means that we judge a set of various characteristics of the other person. For example while dancing folklore we can see partner's posture and gestures, how fast does he move, what rhythm does he follow. We judge his facial expressions and direction of his glance. This person's image that appears in our mind is also affected by an abstract information about him or her, for example, where is he from, do we like him or not, and so on. Do not forget about our current emotional state, it also affects the impression we get from the other person. As a result we understand, for example, that the other person wants us to turn around. That's how it works in tango too, the difference is that we get this information not only by seeing but also directly from our and partner's bodies.

Speaking of such signals, the most professional dancers show the best results because they can make them (the signals) not contradictory. They do not add any "noise" to their "messages", they do not give any irrelevant information to their partners. They understand intuitively or consciously what kind of signals should they chose to achieve their goal and to create desired effect in the partner's brain. The outcome, the effect of their actions is concentrated, so the majority of people understand them equally. The dance of ordinary people usually lacks such an unambiguity. This sad fact certainly complicates the understanding of the dance, so two people might have totally different and even opposite opinions about the same performance or show.

All this is mixed with our thinking flaws, so that our perception of dance is also affected by color of the dancer's clothes or by our previous dance with another partner. Actually this seem to have nothing to do with our perception.

Probably, this concept is very familiar to actors, at least, I assume they have heard about something similar since they have exactly the same challenge to create a certain clear character or image using a variety of micro-movements and so on.

So what should we do?
For me, the phrase "don't try to understand it, just feel it" sounds like a pretty wild and dangerous idea that breaks my attempts to build a conscious life and existence.
I've read once about an idea that the hardest part of psychologist's work is to convince the client that he has thoughts. The concept of world perception suggests that there is some object in the world, a person's thought about this object and some kind of emotional reaction to this thought. And many of us just miss the second point: for them, the object and emotions caused by it are inseparable. Thus, for instance, you hear a joke and you laugh, because a joke causes your joy. But in fact there happen pretty serious things in your mind, it works hard to convert the heard joke to particular emotion. Except converting words to images, our conscious also uses associations, memories and dreams, so that in the end we feel a specific emotion. Someone else might find the joke not funny because he does not have such associations and memories.
I find the idea of understanding the world through thinking and reflection very attractive.
For me, the phrase "don't try to understand it, just feel it" sounds like a pretty wild and dangerous idea that breaks my attempts to build a conscious life and existence.

Speaking of the dance I think we should try to track what's happening with another person, his external expressions. When it comes to energy, everything is very subtle, but it can be noticed.

They say "try to feel your partner"? No problem, just look at his posture, his hands and face expression, his eyes, pupils' size... If you can not see the person, for example, someone stands between you and him or he is behind you, you can try to "feel" the person indirectly: how did he act when you could see him, his shadow, air movement around him, you can even try to listen what is happening.

Do they say "try to create a circle of embrace"? Ok, first make sure that the partner doesn't mind and agrees, then create pressure in your hands (don't forget that this pressure should be comfortable for both of you) so that the vectors of your and your partner's energy meet in the same point and so that in the end your arms form a circle.

It's difficult of course, but nobody said it would be easy.

The words "give her energy for the turn" still make no sense for me, but now I know where to look at and what to try to notice and then how to apply this information to dancing.
Author: Vladimir Krylov. Translation: Dunya Valova.
Opinions expressed in articles within this blog may not coincide with those of the editor.
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