Updated: May 26, 2022
Solo drills are a huge part of any dancers training, social or professional level. Doing solo exercises help us develop our own movement so that when we dance with a partner, everything feels and works better. While practicing solo feels very different and will never replace dancing with a partner, it is an essential part to becoming the dancers we want to be.
WHAT ARE DRILLS? When we talk about drills, we're referring to exercises that we do to train our bodies for Tango. Sometimes these exercises are steps taken directly from the dance. Sometimes the exercises are more abstract and are used to build strength, test balance, help us feel certain sensations and build confidence. When we do our solo drills, it very important we do them without holding on to anything. Of course, this is more difficult than holding onto a chair, bar or wall but the results will be rewarding! Be patient with yourself and remember that it's part of the process; our balance is just like any muscle that needs to be challenged, in order to grow stronger.
BENEFITS There are countless benefits to solo practice, but here are our top three:
stability/balance: When we learn the difference between balance and stability in our own bodies, we become more confident dancing with a partner. By creating the movement of the dance with our whole body, our embrace can be used to create nice sensations and effortless communication.
strength: When dancing with a partner there is an exchange of energy that flows back and forth between the lead and follow. When working solo, we must generate 100% of the energy and movement on our own. Developing this skill, allows us to have a more sophisticated and sensitive communication with our partner.
coordination: When we dance tango, movement flows through the body in a particular way. By creating that flow in our bodies solo, we are coding that way of moving into the body, creating a new "second nature" so that when we dance, we don't have to think about it.
We practice technique on our own, so that our technique will support us when we are not thinking about it. - Leandro Palou
HOW DO WE PRACTICE? Repetition and consistency is key when practicing. When we practice, we generally do each exercise for an entire song. This helps build strength and endurance but also helps solidify habits. It’s important to spend a lot of time repeating the same or similar exercises, for the same reason. Learning to do these exercises well and with ease is a process that never ends. So instead of looking for a finish line, we continue to dive deeper into refining our movement. Some ask “What if I practice incorrectly? Won’t I engrain bad habits?” To that we say, it’s part of the process; practicing some things “incorrectly” along the way is inevitable. What is important is that you always try to pay attention to what is happening in your body and continue to engage mindfulness in the process. As your sensitivity and awareness grow, you will be able to keep polishing a move.
Tango is a beautiful road that has no end. Enjoy the wonderful journey and don't let anything get in your way!