Archive for October, 2009

Haiku #23

Departure from Buenos Aires

My Buenos Aires…
The city of such extremes.
Another tanda?


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Eve of departure..

My last trip here, I went for an obligatory trip out to Viruta’s on my last day, and had a single tango set….just to end the trip properly, even for my low beginner’s level. Now I am in a different frame of mind.

Around the corner from my guesthouse is a pseudo-Irish bar; about as Irish as I am. An international and polyglot assortment of locals, travelers and wanderers are there, drawn by the “Europe without the sticker shock” prices and the many adventures this fine city offers. (As an aside, I told my dinner date Friday that while some may consider Buenos Aires the Paris of South America; perhaps Paris should be considered the Buenos Aires of Europe. Which she liked. However I have never been to Paris).

I took a glass of vino tinto at said bar this evening and chatted with a fellow traveler from Pittsburg. Of all things, a Philly game is playing on the Spanish language ESPN channel.

He had an opportunity to pursue tango and had friends in the dance but declined because of its notoriety for difficulty. I gave him a thumbnail of my history with it and said that I didn’t regret it.

…And I don’t regret sitting this evening out; nor last night. I am mentally in a place comparable to a logjam that used to occur in the rivers of my homestate, when felled trees clogged up the flow of water. Today in my last lesson I danced purposefully in front of a video recorder; and found (to my surprise) inhibition from this. I’ll have to work on that. And so many other things as well. I’m more comfortable in the dance, and in dancing. But I’ve a long way to go.

But I don’t regret it.

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Saturation point

I find myself in yet another group class Saturday after a day looking for trinkets and such for those I am thinking of at home. The combination of figures should not be that hard for me; each element something I can readily do. Yet the mind, or the body, rebels, and simply wants to dance the way it wants to. I sit out the latter part of the class. A small component of all this may be the excess of leads (not enough follows) and also my poor Spanish, which the class is delivered in. But I think the larger part is that I am saturated. This happened on my previous trip here as well. Time to go in a few days, back to what a correspondent called “the real world” – which indeed it is. Not all of life is dance. And not all dance is reflective of life, either; a thing to mull upon.

A French Canadian at the guesthouse, who has been dancing many more years than I have, commisserates; this saturation happens to him as well, and he is down here taking classes and going to milongas as I am. Yet earlier in my trip A., a Russian-American guest here, demonstrated superb skills on the floor, and he claimed to have only taken a few classes, ever; and I am inclined to believe his account. Some may be gifted the way others are at, say, music, or drawing. I muse that the demands on my life are such that I should temporize or change my tango path, and seek out cleaner, more zen-like executions rather than more combinations, etc.

…I have now various private thoughts about state of things in the world and Argentina, and in my own home country. I will miss these streets and I hope to return to them. If I do it will be with a better command of the language and a resoluton to see more of the country.

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Bonus round

My next-to-last session with my instructor dealt again with creativity, posture, and also introduced leading women’s sacadas, which are a cool waltzy-kind of thing to add on.

A group lesson later in the pm with an individual who had been a guest instructor in the states and whose floor I had promised to visit; good walking drills. It is so fundamental — walking. Walking well with disentangled left and right into varieties of enrosques and side and back and forward steps — so simple and so hard to train the body to do.

A late evening dinner over Indian food with S., a charming new acquaintance in this city; but no dancing for me. I am becoming fatiqued on my vacation.

Monday I have a last one-hour class with my instructor to round out the benefit to me from her instruction, and a group class tonight. Today was spent shopping for music and gifts. Time is slipping forward, and taking me back to my normal routines. In correspondence with a friend in the states I said how I had looked forward to getting back to a familiar floor, and she wisely replied “too much chocolate” — i.e. I must allow myself time to re-adjust to my real life, which does not include tango dancing every day.


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The black T-shirt rule

A (short) visit and one set this evening at Nino Bien, a historic floor. Last night found me visiting the milonga Maldita on Calle Peru. It was good to see an orquestra tipica, live, with Argentine young people doing what their parents and grandparents before them have done. Fatique, unfamiliarity to the social set, and other factors kept me from the floor. But the live music – 3 violins, cello, piano, three bandoneons — worth the price of admission!

Session IX today could be summed up:

Pivot this way: Chest (not shoulders) – hips – feet (repeat 100 x) with more work in creativity and combinations.

This am while on my morning walk about I espied a woman smiling at me while I was crossing the street. She walked up and gave me the Argentine “cheek bump” (something that you find common here after, say, about an hour or two in-country). Who is this friendly woman? I am wondering to myself; until I recall having met her at table in a group last Saturday. Friendly country betimes, and friendly people.

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Session VIII

I knew it was a different kind of lesson happening when I came into the studio and Narcotango was playing.

Some emphasis today on things like proper form, etc. but the main focus was creativity and combinations on the fly.

The trick to creativity, again, is to be thinking of small things (minute changes) rather than large things (i.e. figures). FOCUS. The small things lead to plausible introductions for figures.

Exercises to enforce focus: Switching of roles mid-dance with subtle cues … dancing with the eyes closed for the leader (i.e. to visually “map” in the head what one is doing), and such like.

Last night, dancing again at the salon on Independencia with K. and friends.

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The micro-colgada

When I have found myself in a colgada it is usually because of a mistake on the part of either lead or follow, rarely do I lead this since I have not integrated this figure. However the maestra shows me today an easy micro-colgada which will be useful in these “oh-crap” situations. Actually, I jest: This is a nice figure for close. Take a side step, puting your right forward so she sandwhiches your foot. Extend her body a bit, extend your left past her, put your weight forward as you rotate about on the extended foot. Mas facile. Muy bonita.

The focus in this session on creativity, pauses, walking – the basics reinforced well. The best way to dance tango seems to be to mostly walk well in variations with just sprinkles of pauses and figures.

As well, practice in back and forward sacadas; with back sacadas into side and back steps of the follow. An abortive attempt at leading back sacadas for the follow; a situation in which it really does take two to tango. The lead is almost identical to a ladies back gancho into a man’s sidestep.

… It is so easy easy to loose concentration and slip with posture. So important not to.

A practice walk for simple sacadas, walking backwards leading the follow alternatively to the right or left of you before a simple sacada. To the right of you it is simple; to the left of you a bit more difficult to stay in clean parrallel system.

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