Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance

Today’s #Tango Thought 102: Closing Your Eyes

A good portion of Follower’s close their eyes while dancing. The Lead, obviously, can’t close their eyes, but they do cast their eyes towards the floor to watch their Follower’s feet (tsk, tsk, tsk). They close their eyes for a variety of reasons:

1.) To be able to concentrate better.

2.) To ‘feel’ their partner in a more ‘connected’ way.

3.) To not be so distracted by the rest of the room.

4.) To feel more intimate.

5.) To tune out.

Just to name a few.

While closing your eyes is very ‘soulful’, it has one major drawback to it that has everything to do with your hearing and stability.

As we get older, anything beyond age 21 or 22 and our hearing reduces and god help you if you have tinnitus! We can no longer hear the high end range and the low end range becomes problematic. Hearing loss is going to happen. That hearing loss is due to several factors, not the least of which is loud music blaring right in our ear drums. That is damaging to the inner ear. But that’s not the only problem, as we get older, our hearing apparatus which serves double duty for us: 1.) Hearing. 2.) Stability. It’s the second one that we’re interested in.

In the inner ear, contains a mechanosensing organelles of hair cells called Stereocilia, which respond to fluid motion in numerous types of animals for various functions, including hearing and balance. The hair cells turn the fluid pressure and other mechanical stimuli into electric stimuli via the many microvilli that make up stereocilia rods. Stereocilia exist in the auditory and vestibular systems.

The older we get, the more rigid those cilia become, thereby making it more and more challenging to be stable in a standing position. Basically you ‘wobble’ a bit in a standing position but because our eyes are open we stabilize. However, when we close our eyes…problems ensue. And we lose our stability. 🙁 Now imagine what happens when you’re dancing, and then you have issues.

Now add to that a failure to engage proprioception, as well as imprecise leg and foot placement and it’s a recipe for disaster. The kind of disaster where you end up sitting more than you would like!

The Tango Topics Opinion: While you won’t listen to this post, or for that matter remember this stuff in the moment, as you’ll continue to do what you always do, the fact is that every time you close your eyes you are compromising your stability in ways you are not even aware of. A simple experiment can prove this to you. Stand up, put your feet together in collection (the tango topics way – 1st metatarsals touching), focus on a point in front of you for about 10 seconds. Then close your eyes. You’re going to ‘waver’ a bit. Don’t stop it from happening. Allow it to occur. That waver is your stereocilia being a bit disoriented. The older you are, the more distinct that disorientation is and your balance is affected. That’s the waver you feel. Do this for about 10 seconds. Now open your eyes. And watch the wavering disappear (mostly). Now imagine this while you’re dancing. You see the problem now ? In short, keep your eyes open. While it won’t solve all of your stability issues, it will solve some of them. #SocialDance #ArgentineTango #TangoDancing

  101: Feet Watching | 103: More Advice 

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