Archive for the ‘BsAs’ Category

Arms and the man

A more “playful” session today, the last, excepting one more soley for review and some video recording.

– Forward hook: Out of the american position, have that left out in front and turned outward. It needs to be in front of her foot so you don’t block her pivot.

Experiments with, say, a sacada/boleo resolution of the cross.

– for the sacada / back sacada resolution of the cross, keep that left foot glued to the floor. If you move it, you weren’t in the right position to start with

For back boleos out of a back sacada, you have to move radially around her; and you have to have the embrace and frame fairly firm; it is like a “cage” for her to move within. This embrace and can move radially around her dis-associated from the rest of you, all other things like posture being equal.

By properly maintaining those shoulders and arms where they should be — and arms are never to be a part of any boleo lead, hardly, it was amazing how effortless it was (granted, dancing with a performer and instructor) for these boleos to evolve out of all kinds of variant possibilties.

Another fun thing: Lady’s back gancho out of the position I had priorly been attempting lady’s back sacadas out of. And: back gancho resolution of the two-way exercise for lady’s sacadas.

Last year I described my teacher as a magician, who could pull figurative rabbits out of a hat; which is true. She can also pull confidence out of the student.


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The classes I have been having are ended with a 10 or 15 minute diversion into milonga; which is a way to blow off the stress of trying to apprehend some difficult combination of figures; it ends things on a positive note after an hour and a half session. Probably for the teacher, as well.

Today we worked with what I will call a “sawtooth” pattern – I have a background in electronics, and this describes something on an oscilloscope screen – which is great. Good for a beginner follow who can’t quite move well enough for a standard “box”, and one can do tiny little ochoes with a more skilled follow during the faster-paced cadencia bits.

More work with lady’s sacadas in a pattern, and also a lead’s back sacada as a resolution of cross in the basic step after an ordinary sacada and a back ocho.

POSTURE. POSTURE. POSTURE. Pauses. Shifting the rigidness of the embrace as appropriate. Precision in foot placement.

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Bits and pieces…

In times past I have tried to use my own off-brand notation to describe what I am doing, or simply record my impressions. Sometimes life just comes at you too fast to indulge yourself in scribbling your memories. And even at that, it seems now at what level I am that getting things hard-wired into muscle memory is what counts for me, rather than scribbling a diary entry.

….It is the close of week 1. So many impressions; some to be lost to my immediate memory, I am sure… An Argentine Cub scout, stereotypically helping an elderly lady across the street (his Kerchief the albacelest). … The students of my main teacher here who welcomed me to their table at Confiteria Ideal.. the peddler’s donkey that plods by (!) with a cart early every morning. The German fellow-traveller, now on the next leg of his life’s adventure. ..And so forth.

Actually implementing the new “break-open” milonga step .. close embrace sacadas in cross and parrallel systems; actually leading front and back boleos from a molineta out of a cross, and that with a new follower. Steak. A blur…….

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Figure: leading a forward ocho, sacada forward with the left, pivoting, extending the right out to catch the lady’s L in what should be her side step. Barrida it back to la cruz. Observed in group class.

Today in private: Lady’s sacadas. More work tomorrow on this.. the different between one that works and one that is ugly is a matter of precision and inches. It is also a good exercise for firming/softening the embrace on the command of your mind. Proper radial stepping around the lady clockwise, then counter: Your reward is forward and back boleos.

Also: Boleos led out of the la cruz instead of the usual sidestep. Whoo! Also a variant resolution of the American position, simply stepping in front of the lady and pivoting, and walking, instead of, say, the usual back sacada.

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The Cycle repeats

I find that I am hearing the same comments about my dance as I did a year ago. While this may be thought of in one sense as disheartening, it is not. It takes a long time for these things to sink into our subconciousness so deeply that the body acts as quickly as the mind thinks. By this, my second day of private lessons, I have been “re-tuned” as has happened before. I have allowed all sorts of bad habits to creep into my posture and walking; some of this from sloppiness; some of this from evolved attempts to “make” things happen with less than skilled follows. Plenty of blame to go around. It takes more than two …. it takes a community.

Notes from today:

Relax my right shoulder to protect the abrazo, but keep the chest “centered” in the mind and in the posture.

Remeber the “ruler” between the hands. I submit to myself that I should start work out with a physical length of wood to condition myself to a firm abrazo that does not give way. It is so amazing how boleos out of molinetas, etc. happen so naturally by simply maintaining an iron-clad embrace.

For “down” leads, it is *always* at the knees; never the hips.

Stop “lifting” with my right shoulder.

Sssssslide those feet.

Close embrace turns — 1! – 2- 3. Con tiempo. Signal with the CHEST.

We used a percussion exercise today to train the mind for milonga: One can use a coffee can lid, or what-not. The legs and hands operate a different syncopation. Feet – 1 -2. Hands – 1! – 2- 3.

I have thought to myself that milonga was perhaps a form in which I did ok, if I didn’t mind saying so myself. That got broken to fine meal today between a more proper milonguero fashion and this syncopation exercise.

I am enjoying all this. Even if it is mind-numbing.

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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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