Archive for January, 2009

At the Baltimore practica:

Practice taking side steps with just enough “lift” to your follow to bring her into a forced atypical cross — a millimeter off the floor from your taking a breath as you lift slightly is as good as – and better- then a few cm. Having established this pattern, then practice atypical ocho cortados in the contex of molinetas. For added flair, a forward step with the opposite foot of the direction of travel as you pivot in place — you do not need to cross, but only stay stable – makes for low cost glamour. For counter-clockwise direction, this can be easily on one of her side or back steps. If you do this on her front step in this direction of travel you need to pivot her in place to make something that is something else than an orcho cortado; something more like just an ornamental pivot.


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Greek tango

Nearly a year ago I got this CD but only recently have actually gotten around to listening to it. I love track 7, “Gia ligo” – very techno and very classical all at once. The youtube link is of poor quality, but you can “hear” what I like about it.

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Good job..

You know that you’ve done at least a not half-bad job as lead if your follow breaks out into happy laughter after the dance.

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Sacadas and more..

Heading out in an hour or so for a lesson; another attempt at grafting quality sacadas into my tango vocabulary. Practice. Practice. Practice..

In that class session, drills with S.: in proper form: “opening the door..moving into the follow’s space as and getting that trailing edge…”. A simpler sacada than the glacis-sacada is sacada-sacada-back ocho. For this figure it is important to collect after the second sacada before you position her so you can step over with your right before leading the back ocho. I have this unfortunate muscle memory from somewhere else to go forward with my left; which looks and feels less organic. Also the introduction of the “walking sacada.”

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Old essay

Recent private correspondence causes me to dig up an old essay, written while still very much a tango newbie (much more so than I still am 🙂 )

There was a famous European artist who was discovered, literally, by “accident”. He was in some coffee house, and a patron had spilled coffee onto the wallpaper near his table. The proprietor and he could not clean it off and were fussing about this, and the artist comes up, pulls out his drawing utensils, and makes the stain on the wall there into a picture of a stag, a deer. The proprietor was so impressed by this that he had the artist then go around in his place and do other drawings on the wall.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
….There are many elements in the form I have taken lessons in .. having a strong lead and presence (still working on that) … musicality (I think I have that) learning new steps easily (I need major help)… the impression upon one’s self of the ideas the form reinforces; that of the follow, and the lead, and the interplay of communication and knowledge; and even a kind of communion when all the elements work together …. perceiving the partner’s mood and skill level and, and on the spot, improvising steps and movements that not only fit the two of you, but that fit the music in the air.
That last sentence is the draw of tango, writ small. In that regard, this pageant, this drama, this …. play for two people, is very much like that artist who made a stain into something beautiful.
And it is very much like life, and all the relationships I have known with women, of all types.. the “just friends” kind, the “romantic” kind, the “certainly, friends!” kind, and even ones that were of the “professional” kind and the “you are troubling me, woman” kind. Sometimes the best you can do is take what you have on hand in the way of experience and wisdom and apply that. It might not be as graceful as another pair out there, but it is a real reflection of what your strengths and weaknesses, together, can provide. And we need to redeem our stains into strengths, on many levels. The lesson is the same, whether the venue is the floor of the ballroom or the table of the boardroom….. even the intimacy of the marital bedroom. Sometimes one will want to go one way or do some thing, and the other will not. The dance’s etiquette allows that to play out, as should the etiquette of our lives. She does not have to dance close, or even dance at all with him. He can express formality, tenderness, affection of a friendly kind, or something more serious (assuming, of course, his level of performance is way beyond where I am!) …She can then respond as she chooses, in this language for two, which might mean anything from ending the conversation to taking it to a higher level. And he can then respond, or not .. and so it goes. Like life.
Just as person’s personal chemistry will interact in some way with their perfume or cologne, so will a person’s soul interact with music and the dance in some way. Perhaps to shut it out, perhaps to embrace it; perhaps to choose to interpret something sad-sounding as joyful or vs. versa. It behooves one to accurately understand the significance, or the lack of significance, of some small trick in the music or the step; and whether a mis-step was really worth getting upset about or not. And this, too, is very much like life and relationships.

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I have negotiated a block of lessons in, of all things, fencing. When I first set out in tango I joked that I would spend a year doing that before moving on to something else. It so developed (because of a lack of seriousness of intent in tango) that I went nowhere for two years with it; but have made some progress this past year. I still intend to grow in my tango, but my body awareness and “presence” are going to worked out with this little side experience. Lessons to start in a few weeks.

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I contemplate whether a brief exposure to the International Ballroom form will help my tango; or not; or whether it would be an inherent good for it’s own sake. One dancer known to me who is familiar with many forms tells me it would be boring to me since there is not enough room for improvisation; and she is in a position to know. However I have seen something like improvisation among those who enjoy this form.

I have a made a decision not to travel to Buenos Aires in the first half of this year. Perhaps later, though.

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