Jun 08

Slow but confident ?

I’ve always been into subtleties and surprises. It is if of no surprise then that I normally enjoy more dancing with followers that enjoy the pauses and musically driven movements in our share of tile. I take great pleasure in finding how honest and real the connection is, how much both of us are in sync. I’m a fan of less is more. Lately, I’ve been finding that I must lack the ability to transmit confidence and serenity to my followers. They often ask me what they should have done or they should do while I am pausing. Some have even confessed that sometimes they feel awkward because they’re afraid of not being able to follow what I am trying to lead. In reality, I’m just pausing for a bit.

That has got me thinking for a while. Either I am not dancing with followers that enjoy some pausing or slower movements – which are notoriously harder because they actually require both dancers to have good balance and grounding – or I am lacking the skills to convey confidence and the feeling of just enjoying the pause or slower movement. I believe it’s more of the latter and I have been trying to find how I can improve it. A lot of it is a mental mindset. Some friends tell me I can lead them much better after the Denver festival, noticing an improved sense of confidence and certainty in the movements. That, though, is not enough to convey calm and serenity in slower movements and pauses. I know practice will help but does anyone have insights on this?

Here’s a video of two dancers I admire. A while ago I took a milonga workshop with them. Clearly above what I danced then, it was nevertheless useful. They are dancing an exquisitely slow dance that looks (to me) beautiful. Enjoy it!

Jun 08

Is it just me

that finds most normal/traditional nuevo musics boring to no end? I have a hard time getting motivated to dance to it.

May 08

Pugliese (leader perspective)

ModernTanguera (MT) has a post concerning a Pugliese Tanda. She details what she considers essential for her enjoyment. I don’t know about people that don’t like dancing to Pugliese. I’m sure there are but I just can’t not dance to it. It’s traditionally considered a special tanda and people tend to save it for their most special person.

What I need to have a follower be able to do to enjoy a Pugliese tanda:

  • Balance and lots of it. I need great control over the timming of a walk, side, etc. Throwing me out of balance will make it impossible
  • Musicality. It takes two to tango. If I’m the only one interpreting the music, the experience doesn’t work that well. I’ll give you all the time in the world… I expect you to take advantage of it !
  • Sharp with picking up the mood and big changes of rhythm.
  • Knowledge and control of a floating axis

I had a tanda of Pugliese last weekend with a follower that is a better dancer. It was amazing. I could fully and reciprocally express my musical interpretation. We were very happy at the end but I’m sure she’s had better Puglieses. I’m gonna keep trying to take my Pugliese interpretations further and further…

I am deeply in love by Pugliese’s music. Dynamic, rhythmic, full of suprises. It breathes the essence of what Tango really is. Inside and outside the milonga event.

May 08

"You're musical"

When followers compliment me, usually it’s my musicality. I play and hear a lot of music so I thought that would be normal. However, honestly, I always thought that was a way to say something positive since my technique clearly is lacking in most areas. I believe in respecting everyone’s feelings and in a social setting like a milonga, I don’t care about mistakes or not doing it perfectly. I care about having a great moment while dancing with a person.

But, “musical” is good and I proud myself of that. And honestly, you don’t need crazy technique to have a wonderful dance. You just need two persons opening their heart for some musics or a whole tanda. I decided to tell this story because while reading this post by sallycat I remembered how important it is to dance with your heart open. And that’s what I learned at my last milonga.

A follower I know went to dance with a leader she considers amazing – he looks amazing to me too – and the person sitting next to him was a follower I had never danced with. I decided, why not? She looks friendly and I should capitalize whenever I feel like dancing with a new person. She seemed very humble and happy to dance a bit more before the milonga was over. I didn’t feel any of the “so, are you that good to invite me?” vibe or the more usual “ok, let’s dance, I’d rather dance than just be sitting I guess…” vibe.

At the beginning of the dance I told her that I was a beginner. I know I shouldn’t have: it’s too much information. But I immediately felt we had an open channel of truth and she just smiled at me. I danced very slowly, very simple and just trying to get to know her, how she moves and how we were connecting. We only moved around half the room. Simple, slow movements, with the music. On the second music I felt we were connected and in sync right from the start and I danced with my heart. I moved like I felt like and only did things that my body knows by now how to do them on its own. Things I’ve practiced enough times to be confident enough to play with their timing. Simple things of course, I’m a beginner.

It was clear to me that she was enjoying the simple moves, the slow turns, the pauses. At a point in the music, we stayed together for about 10 to 20 seconds, just feeling the music, the pause in movement, the moment that made that dance magic and unique. We moved a quarter of the room. When the music ended she said “You’re not a beginner“. I smiled back.

Apr 08

Tango path

I feel my tango isn’t evolving as it should. I can see how I am being a bit trapped in technicalities for the time being. It’s keeping me from fully improvising to the music and to generate new ways to move around. This is partially due to the fact that my technique shortcomings still rank high on my things to improve 🙂

This is why I am becoming a bit tired of some classes. Of so much input to parse and let it grow in me. But specially, because I see that this Tango thing is hard. I’m musical, I’m sensitive and gentle, but I still lack technique. I feel thankful for the fact that I am very musical, which has made “well-known” followers ask me directly for a dance (how anti-cabeceo!!). Me, on the other hand, would never have. I always feel they just want to dance with the best dancers and doesn’t feel right to me to ask them. To rob them away from a great tanda with a great dancer.

But it is hard because no matter where you are in your tango stage, you always want to narrow down what is currently annoying you. What you really need to improve on. And why do you need to? Because every time you finish a tanda with a great dancer – be it technically or musically – you always feel you could have done a bit better. You could have given the woman a better dance. You feel that deep down, you may have disappointed her a bit.

It is only healthy if you want to improve to give the women better dances, not for your own ego. But those two are tricky to separate and wishful thinking is easy…

Apr 08

The embrace reciprocity

Johanna writes about why women can’t sometimes understand why other women get all the dances.

I must say I can relate to this (imaginary?) point. If you really dance tango because of the music and are deeply connected to the music, you want someone that also has that passion. I couldn’t care less if she can dance upside down or has impecable technique (just needs to have balance of course…). If the embrace is musically sterile the whole thing is pointless. Besides, great dancers tend to have this big ego and that just screws up people’s minds.

Lately I’ve been growing a bit annoyed of women that dance with a guy as if it was just a dance. It isn’t just a dance. At least for anyone serious about it. It has to be an experience, a moment unique in time and space. Just sit if you don’t feel like dancing in the deepest sense of the word. This isn’t a practica. As someone commented on Johanna’s post, you can have a feeling of what lies ahead the moment you embrace a woman.

With a great dancer you want to dance forever simple moves, slowly, melodically and eager to see how she interprets it. How her smile (that you can’t really see) will get right back at you as a tsunami of confidence. With the plain vanilla technique obsessed dancer you normally try hard to convey feeling and you get back a sad face because you didn’t do/try the latest and greatest trick of a recent workshop. The dance will feel like a workout instead of a blissful magic moment shared by two human beings.

Let go of technicalities and spend 3 times more time listening to music and feeling, interpreting and dancing it in your mind than practicing the latest technical challenge. In the grand overview of it all, any man will rather dance with you than anyone else. The more experienced I get, the more I see how enjoyable it can be to dance with a very beginner follower that is into the music…

Unless he’s not there for the music experience. I am sorry for you then.