Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

Dos por quattro

In a final session with S. before she and her partner move to the left coast, she offers this mental tool: Think of moving your partners legs as if they were your own.

My thanks and best wishes to them both; between S. and Paula in Buenos Aires I would not have stuck it out and developed such skills as I may have.


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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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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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