Archive for February, 2008

Effortless Mastery

A dance instructor recommended this work to me by way of pointing me towards a resource for getting one’s self in touch with one’s artistic side.

This work is actually intended for musicians, but I find that I can glean benefit from it. I am picking my way through it in odd bits and pieces and see many parallels with the world of learning to dance. I disagree with his base philosophy, it seems, but do agree with him on nearly every page about the difficulty of dis-attaching ourselves from our instincts to worry about “how we are doing.” I’ll pass it on to my instrument-playing son when I’m done.

Just one interesting anecdote from the book is his telling of learning to do simple finger exercises (while already an accomplished pianist) as a way of working on his basic technique of touching a piano key just right …sort of like a dancer learning to walk.

I don’t see anything happening anywhere without effort, though.


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Imagine that

Doing the forward lean actually does make the close embrace molineta cleaner.

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A tango proverb from Sharna: Do not let the step ruin the connection.

One from me: Do not hide from the dance in the step.

Work with Sharna and E. at the 18th St. Lounge with boleos out of rocking steps. For the front boleo, a radial step around her helps preserve the embrace and keeps you from simply leading the follow into a back step.

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Latin Palace I

A visit to the Latin Palace — my first — informs me that I will have to really stretch my tango muscles — the mental ones — if I wish to really fit in with the advanced class there.

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Lean into it…

The “leaning” exercises taught by P. and C. are not there so they can collect instructor’s fees. They are there to teach you to find your center in a forward lean so you can clean up your **** close embrace molinetas. You both need that space created by the lean in order to have room to “wrap” around.

Forward boleos after a rear boleo (again, to the right; left being problematic) are simply a continuation of the same physics driving a simple rear boleo, only with yet a second reversal.

I observe in two settings now that some ladies (as a courtesy? because they don’t know better? because they were taught that way?) will complete a forward boleo after a back one even without a reasonable lead to do this.

Always remember to take time for her to complete this figure; it is her moment.

Private with C. this day and practica at the library.

edit: The close embrace molineta seems to me to be one figure that demonstrates that it in fact takes two to tango … a great lead cannot make up for a poor follow in this, I don’t think.

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Walk like an Egyptian..

..Or at least like Isaac. The normal pedestrian walk, which uses gravity to help you move forward, needs to be overcome both in the forward and backwards (and sideways) direction. Practice (say, backwards) by extending – pushing with the non extended leg vs. “pulling” with the extended leg. Forwards: Extend – push with the non extended.

Isaac has developed the idea of using a hula-hoop as a means of visualizing the idea of thinking in geometric terms instead of “steps.” Mismo Zen. And very correct for tango. Exercising with this causes the lead to stop using his arms when he should be using his chest and posture, and for the follow causes her to also work on maintaining her own footing.

I need to further concentrate upon “sending the signal” and letting the follow exert the energy instead of providing energy; though this seems to be a matter of dispute among tango theologians.

As well, remember to conceptualize the idea of finding the right “balance” in this concept of signal/vs. energy: The correct balance between one pair is not the correct balance for another. The only way I can conceive and understand this idea is to think of it algebraically…

..Say that it takes five “units” of “lead” to go forward … if you are doing this correctly, it will also take five “units” to go backwards, not “less”.

The only way I can reconcile the two schools of thought (if I should even go there) is to think of signal vs. energy in leading and following as something akin to a feedback loop such as we find in electronics or physiology.

Actually, I’m still learning to walk.

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Tango Rx.

Two separate sources this week email me a link about the health benefit of tango for people afflicted with Parkinson’s. Personally the health benefit most applicable to me is the mental health benefit of a reasonable tango addiction.

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