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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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Steve Reiss: Massage Therapy

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 3, 2002

About the Author:

Steve Reiss: Massage Therapy

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Steve Reiss (718.854.1647) is well known in the New York Tango scene. His field is Massage Therapy (Swedish Massage and Shiatsu).

August 3, 2002, with Steve Reiss, at Westside Chef, 315 West 57th Street, 212.541.8999, over mushroom noodle soup and Chinese dumplings.

REZ - As a Tai Chi and Yoga specialist, how do you feel your background affects your dancing?

SR - I am a Tai Chi practitioner. This allows me to be sensitive to my partner and allows my lead to be more of an invitation or persuasion, rather than being coercive.

REZ - Where did you learn Tai Chi and Yoga?

SR - I learned Yoga from a student of Dr. Mishra at Brooklyn College.

REZ - Why Tai Chi?

SR - My original notion of Tai Chi was the idea that I could neutralize the force that was being directed at me without causing harm to the person who was trying to harm me. It was only later in my practice that I became aware of how powerful a Martial Art Tai Chi could be. It was at a party at the school, where I first started dancing Swing and then took lessons in Swing and Country-Western dancing with a NY Swing Society teacher.

REZ - How does the work you do affect your dance and your dance partners?

SR - I think that my Tai Chi practice has had more of an effect on my dancing and makes me much more sensitive to my partners.

REZ - Can you feel your partner's tension?

SR - Tai Chi enables me to know where they're tense, when they're changing directions, how fast they're moving, and whether they're moving with you. I become sensitive to their body, and there's room for play.

REZ - Is Tai Chi a Martial Art?

SR - It's a form of self-defense. But, essentially, for dance, it enables you to become sensitive to your partner's energy and limitations.

REZ - In cases where you encounter a stressful or new dance partner, what techniques do you use?

SR - Ideally, I try not to force them into a situation that they cannot handle. I try to dance more simply, and yet to help that partner to become aware that she could do more than she thought she could.

REZ - I noticed in your voice machine that you play music by Tárraga. How does the music of Tango, to which you dance a few nights a week, affect your mood and dance style?

SR - Each song has a rhythm, an emotion, and a personality. Each piece becomes a self-contained whole and affects how my body moves.

REZ - So, in your Massage Therapy, do you ever play Tango music, or how do you choose music for such a somatic experience?

SR - I choose music that is mellow, soothing music, without being somber. The person having the massage is in a susceptible emotional state, and the music affects his/her mood. As a rule, I play music that calms and relaxes. Upbeat music would make my massage too energetic, because, as in dancing, the music would take over.

REZ - Have you had an experience where people burst into tears in the middle of a massage? Talk to me about that experience. What seems to trigger this reaction?

SR - Emotions are stored in the body. People think about different things. The person feels he's in control. As a general rule, massage is done quietly. It's a somatic experience. If a client requests information, while I'm working, I discourage this. I'm in the right brain, then, almost a trance, like an artistic state of mind, not a verbal, factual state of mind.

REZ - How do you handle moments of clients' tears and upset?

SR — I try to be there for and with them. I'm not there to give them advice, only to be present with them.

REZ - What's unique about your Massage Therapy?

SR - It's just a reflection of who I am, like any other art. It's coming from my heart. I've been doing massage for 17 years. Each person comes to it with different experiences.

REZ - What kind of license do you need?

SR - I'm licensed as a Massage Therapist in the State of NY.

REZ - As a Tanguero, how does a massage therapy specialization affect your lead?

SR - I'm not always aware of what's conventionally considered right and wrong. Other people have different criteria. My sensitivity and ability allow me to be more responsive to my partner's needs and to adjust my lead accordingly. It helps me to determine what may be hindering my partner and sometimes, if appropriate, I may use verbal communication.

REZ - When you dance with a current or former massage client, how do you draw the line between the two roles?

SR - You have to be very discreet by not bringing information about the client/therapist relationship into a social situation or a Milonga.

Steve Reiss Lic. Massage Therapist

Specializing in Swedish and Medical Massage incorporating elements of Tui Na, Acupressure, Shiatsu, Myotherapy, Myofascial Release, Reflexology, and Traeger Work. For relief of stress, headaches, neck and back pain, muscle soreness and spasms, sciatica, restricted movement, etc.

Chair massage also available for parties and corporate events.

I make housecalls.

For an appointment call: (718) 854-1647

For more information about the many benefits of massage please contact:

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