What is the Body Awareness Method®?

From Marcela Trape, creator of Body Awareness®:

"The Body Awareness Method® is the result of the investigative work I have conducted over the years, while training many professional and amateur tango dancers who have come to me for classes at my studio. The method was developed out of their growth process.

"My observations have led me to the conclusion that with the help of supervised training, catering to the individual’s needs, it is possible to accelerate growth. Furthermore the process may be made painless and even pleasant, as we work together to lessen individual limitations and the frustrations that these limitations caused.

"Normally, we learn to dance by copying the instructor, whose movements we try to re-create with our own bodies. The learning process, however, can be made more efficient as the individual becomes aware of his body, its limitations and how to move beyond them."

A Body That Is "Blocked"

We may think that our body is functioning correctly, especially if we do not experience discomfort. However, we may notice that we are having trouble performing a step or a movement.

This is because over time, we have picked up certain bad habits that limit our range of motion. When we use our body incorrectly, it can lead to blockages that interrupt the flow of movement to certain parts, which in turn may lead to loss of coordination, posture, flexibility and balance.

As a result, we strain other body parts to compensate for these losses and thus increase the risk of injury.

A Body That Is "Aware"

The “Body Awareness Method® ” is an investigative tool that enables dancers of all levels, from beginners through advanced, and both amateurs and professionals, to achieve the following goals:

1. Identify the limitations which keep us from performing a step or movement. Recognize and address the technical reasons that this limitation is being experienced.

2. Gain a more elegant, flexible and responsive posture, which follows naturally from the individual’s growing ease with his or her body as opposed to coercing the body into a desired external form.

3. Adopt an embrace that is free of excessive tension, thus allowing freedom of movement (tension – release)

4. Execute spirals/torsions without straining the back or using excessive force, thanks to the use of inertia, which is generated through alternating between states of tension and release.

5. Dissociate legs from hips. When the former are able to function independently of the latter, they become more responsive. This will allow you to generate boleos from the spine; to execute ganchos more readily; to change pace more rapidly, etc.

6. Feel sure-footed and grounded at every step by addressing problems of balance. For example, when standing on one foot, or when in motion, while walking, etc. Note that these are not to be confused with axis-related issues.

7. Find a better fit with your dance partner. Learn how to integrate and articulate with each other, so that you work together as two parts of a whole.

8. Improve communication with your partner by developing your body’s expressivity, which in turn will enable you to give clearer directions.

9. Develop a more responsive body, more open to receiving directions and better equipped to react at the proper time (neither too quickly nor too slowly)

10. Learn new sequences with greater ease thanks to a better understanding of how your body works, so that you may take the shortest route, whatever the technical difficulty of the sequence.

11. Improve stage presence, thanks to a more expressive body. Learning to manage your energy better will allow you to transition more fluidly from subtler to stronger forms of expression.

12. Improve your stamina by learning to use your energy more efficiently.

To assess areas of your movement/tango dancing where Body Awareness Method might benefit you, consider completing this Self-Evaluation.

Many globally-recognized tango dancers have used Marcela´s Body Awareness Method to further their tango. Her students include some of the most accomplished tango dancers:

  • Alejandra Gutty and Pancho Martinez Pey,stars of the documentary Our Last Tango
  • José Garófalo, founder of Cambalache Festival since 2005
  • Fabian Salas, founder of Congreso Internacional de Tango Argentino since 1999
  • Eugenia Parrilla, who partnered with Chicho Frumboli for many years
  • José Manrique, one of the oldest teacher of the emblematic milonga in Buenos Aires “La VIRUTA”,1999
  • Pablo Inza, special body training for tango theater performances, 2005, Amsterdam
  • Esteban Moreno, special body training and consultation choreographed for tango theater performances, 2007, Lyon
  • Melina Brufman, Tango scenario Dancer and choreographer of the documentary Our Last Tango
  • Lucila Cionci, prestigious Tango Scenario Dancer
  • Cynthia Fattori, special milonguera and zamba dancer, and many other well-known dancers.

Locally, many of our best-known teachers have studied with Marcela. Krissy McFadden, Marc Hussner, Adam Hoopengardner, Ciko Tanik and Meredith Klein have studied with Marcela. Andres Amarilla and Marcela Trape worked together as tango partners for many years.