Apr 10

Still no replies

My tango vals question still has to deserve an answer from anyone. Feel free to say it’s a stupid question. But be nice about it.

Apr 10

Tip to followers

You don’t need to turn down people that have been nice to you before just to be accepted to a clique.

I know a festival is a moment where you think you need to be accepted by others but perhaps being nice to the leaders that have helped you blossom will go a longer way than you believe.

Apr 10

Once in a while

I get reminded by a follower that all the technique in the world are useless if you’re not committed to the dance or to dancing with someone…

Mar 10

Tango in Europe

Javier says at a point in the interview:

Para bailar tango tanto la mujer como el hombre deben sentir y pensar en quién los acompaña. Hoy hay mucho odio tapado, se reprime la relación, hay miedo. Las personas se acercan al tango por el abra- zo, vienen en busca de él, pero cuando llegan a la clase prefieren una posición más abierta, donde cada uno esté en su eje, sintiéndose independiente. Quieren bailar juntos, se mueren por estar abrazados, se necesi- tan, pero no lo demuestran ni lo aceptan. Finalmente se cansan y se largan a la pista, pero han pasado por un prólogo demasiado largo.

English translation:

To dance tango men and women need to feel and think about the partner they dance with. Today there is a lot of hidden resentment, repressed relationships and there is fear. People are attracted by tango because of its embrace, they search for it, but once they come to class, they prefer a more open posi- tion where each dancer is in his own axis, maintaining his feeling of independence. They want to dance with each other, they are dying to be embraced, they need each other, but they neither show nor accept it. In the end they get tired of it and they throw themselves on the dance floor, but prior to that too much time has passed.

From El Tangauta Nº 184 (FEB 2010). Read the entire interview, it’s very interesting.

Feb 10

Wanted: Breakthrough

I have been eagerly awaiting for a breakthrough in the past months. I’m addicted to change and committed to re-visiting my views of things and my own personal paradigms.

Tango has immense potential for that but it hasn’t happened in months now. I wonder after a couple of years what is a normal rate if that happening.

Is having privates the only way to go? That is a route I can’t really afford.

Feb 10

Tango Thoughts #1

There’s something grandiose about a follower that truly follows, committing themselves to the moment and lead. It seems you only get that in blank slate beginners and extremely advanced dancers.

Too bad 90% of a follower’s tango life is spent between those two stages.

Feb 10

Beginner interactions

Practicing with beginners is great at many levels. It pushes my technique to boundaries that I normally don’t emphasize so much. For example, it’s challenging not to use my arms to overcome their insensitivity to the lead, thus leading me to be even more clear and powerful.

They feel raw, rough edges accompanied by an enjoyable naïvety.

Some beginners believe I’m a good dancer just because I was trying some acrobatics with someone before. I don’t like that. More often than not, those acrobatic moves didn’t feel good to any of the involved parties. Stumbling in their difficulties, they don’t (yet) realize that I am working on the same exact concepts they are.

Recently, while practicing with someone new to the dance, I tried to dance in close embrace. I had never danced in close embrace with her before. In fact, the only dances I had with her before were the two previous ones, in the same tanda. I immediately realized that she was used to using the arms instead of focusing on my chest to understand the lead. She did not realize what really having and nurturing a connection meant.

I proposed to practice without arms for a couple of songs. Soon we both realized how she was not matching my step size and rotation, causing her to come short of my new position almost every time. I encouraged her not to be shy in her movements and move with more courage and determination. Two songs later she had changed her attitude and was now becoming an active follower, powering her own steps. Before we parted, I tried to convey how the chest can have very subtle leads and how becoming more sensitive to it would open up possibilities in her dance. We both smiled and felt nourished with our short interaction.

Yes, she did not learn how to follow in close embrace in just 20 minutes. How could anyone anyway? I’m not a professional teacher and my experience in helping others has been rather limited too. I was just a guy that acceded to someone’s wishes to share some of my experience and ideas about the dance. What motivated me to write this romanticized version of the events was the end of the conversation: “You have totally changed the way I see and understand the dance. Thank you!”.

Beats any compliment from an hotshot. Thank you!

Jan 10

Community building

Successful community builders do it within the community, they don’t try and make it an image of themselves.

Jan 10

¡Araca la Cana!

Sometimes people start asking me about Tango, what it is, why I dance it, etc, etc. They normally ask me to show them videos, of what it is like to dance Tango. It happened today and this video of Tomas Howlin dancing with Shorey Myers was what came up immediately into my mind. I then proceeded to explain that this video is not trivial to understand and I just want to show a part of tango that I profoundly enjoy, further explaining him that the most beautiful aspect of this video is how it tells a story and focuses on connection while being playful.

Music by Enrique Delfino and lyrics by Mario Rada. Only the second part of the poem is sung in this version by Fresedo.

¡Araca la cana!
Ya estoy engriyao…
Un par de ojos negros me han engayolao.
Ojazos profundos, oscuros y bravos,
tajantes y fieros hieren al mirar,
con brillos de acero que van a matar.
De miedo al mirarlos el cuor me ha fayao.
¡Araca la cana! ya estoy engriyao.

Yo que anduve entreverao
en mil y una ocasión
y en todas he guapeao
yo que al bardo me he jugao
entero el corazón
sin asco ni cuidao.
Como un gil vengo a ensartarme
en esta daga que va a matarme
si es pa’ creer que es cosa’e Dios
que al guapo más capaz
le faye el corazón.

The lyrics are heavy on the lunfardo and a scholar (Nicolas Poppe) has roughly translated the first part to:

Watch out for cops!
I’m imprisoned
A pair of black eyes have arrested me
Big, profound eyes, dark and fierce
sharp and ferocious they hurt at a look
with sparkles of steel that will kill
from fear of looking at them my heart has failed me
watch out for prison! I’m imprisoned!

Jan 10

Unexpected musicality

I danced slightly different on one or two songs yesterday. Somehow, my milonga was not anymore based on a more typical/canonical phrasing that normally starts and ends on the beat, albeit syncopated, but it was now spanning measures in a less obvious way. I realized it at a point – boy, my face must have look really apprehensive – but just as it appeared in my dance it somehow disappeared soon after.

This is interesting to me because it means my dance is not dying but somehow evolving. It made me very happy, indeed, made my night. Well, that and also the fact that those tandas were danced with someone that I haven’t danced with in a long time. She was amazing to dance with.

On the other hand, and making it even more interesting, is that it captivates my inquisitive mind of how novelty in musical interpretation appears and develops. A lot of people learn other’s musicality or learn the basics of developing musicality, but this is a bit different. This is the real-time observation of how one’s mind develops over time. Fascinating.