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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Exorcisim (or How to get the most out of private tango lessons)

Professional tango instructors (the good ones) are capable of dissecting your dance in a very short period of time.

In my experience some of the the best ways to get the most bang for your buck out of a private lesson are as follows;

1. Go alone, this takes the partnership variable out of the mix, it also eliminates the possibility that one of the partner needs more instruction than the other (the squeaky wheel gets the oil). It will also remove some friction in some partnerships.

2. If your instructor has a teaching partner, schedule your lesson so that both of them are at your lesson. Dance with one while the other observes from outside the embrace, this gives multiple perspectives to the lesson (one of them may see something that can't be felt, the other may feel something that can't be seen). Be aware that some times the instructors may have two different agendas to fix problems that they may observe (I have had the unpleasant experience of observing an argument, if this happens to you pretend it didn't, and don't have both of them there during the next one)

3. Relax during the lesson, you are not on trial, this is not an audition, no one is going to be injured or embarrassed. You want these people to see the flaws in your dance so that they can help you to over come them (sometimes it is something so simple that the minute they tell you the solution the problem is gone forever, other times it takes many instructors telling you the same thing over and over(try the first one, it is far less painful)).

4. Let the instructor work on what needs fixed, it is possible that what they tell you on their own initative may just be the most important thing you will ever learn.

5. It may seem like the instructor is mean/demanding/impatient/cruel/the devil incarnate, maybe they are so what. If they do something completely inappropriate
(this happens from time to time, I have heard many complete horror stories) tell the "instructor" that you demand your money back and leave immediately (never be a victim), Don't forget to tell everyone you know, if this happens to you.

6. Keep an open mind. No one can add to a glass that is already full!

7. Relax, and have fun.

8. Relax, and have fun.

9. Relax, and have fun.

10. Use video tape, if they allow you to use a camera during the lesson do it, tape yourself dancing before and after the lesson. Tell your camera what the instructor told you. Remember always ask before posting anything on the internet (they earn their living doing this). In my opinion it is to their benifet to have more and more people dancing tango in the world (more dancers = more students) and It is free advertisement.

I like to use the phrase "Exorcise my tango, por favor"!

Follower Adornos for Tango



A little bit of frosting is yummy, too much can make you want for cake.

This is a real funny parody.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Best and The Worst

Why is it that tango seems to bring out the worst in some people? People (who may or may not know what they are talking/writing about) who are so self involved that they think that the way that they dance is the only true tango. What does it matter what other people are doing on the dance floor as long as floor craft is followed, and nobody is getting bumped, kicked or stepped on.

I know of one leader/blogger that I have seen dance on many occasions (a very poor leader in my opinion, and a fair blogger (when he writes about tango)) who will rant about nuevo dancers in one post and in another laud praises upon Gustovo Naviera in the next post (Mr. Naviera is one of the founders of the present (so called) nuevo style.

The blogger I mentioned above's dance is extremely stiff, ungrounded, off balance, and looks to be extremely painful. His personality is the quintessence of tango snobery (is that a word?).

On the other hand some of the friendliest most charismatic people I have ever met can be found in tango (funny how I have never heard this kind of person complain about another dancers style of dance).

In my opinion Tango is Tango and each to their own.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Luciano Mares

Luciano was a friend who taught in my community several times, his dancing was always amazingly clean and precise, his personality helped form my idea of what tango is. Sadly he passed this morning as a result of a complication from a knee surgury he recently had (blood clot).
He will be missed.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Could be Sexier!

This post has to do with changing your style of dance to fit music, or the mood of the milonga that you happen to be dancing at to make the tango your own and the experience unique, mostly about bringing the tango connection home.

To illustrate what I am talking about I'm posting two different videos of a pair of my favorite dancers




This is my idea of tango which can be be danced in a milonga that somewhat, but not to crowded, when you have a partner who is fairly progressive and you both feel a little more adventurous and when you both want that real close physical connection, or when the music just screams "tradition". Of course a lot of the time I like to get even more conservative than this, even to the point of just walking, (with the right partner of course).



Above is an example of how I might like the dance to feel if it were an alternative milonga, or if I were dancing with a woman that I know can follow this type of lead (of course if there isn't room to do these bigger moves without the possibility of endangering others on the dance floor big is not an option).

These dancers are so superior to most of the dancers I've seen that in their case I would be happy to just watch them dance instead of hitting the floor (almost never happens!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Birthday Dance


Saturday was my Birthday (Scorpio, imagine that) and I was at a milonga in a small town that I regularly attend each month.

I was treated to the traditional birthday dance, most of the women there lined up for a few seconds of dancing with me.

One after another...

I was in heaven during that tanda!

Thank you all!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things I've Learned During This Last Tango Year

Here is a short list of concepts and other "gems" that I've learned about tango during the last year:

1. Down and around, it's the feeling that your followers are wanting to feel!
2. The embrace is a flexible thing, the connection is not.(connection can occur in many different parts of the body from the torso down to the feet, maintain connections like these as long as you can until they are no longer offered.(as an example the ankles and feet during sweeps or leg lifts))
3. Axis, understand what is happening(where is the axis hers/yours/ours) during every second of the dance. Your head should remain over your own axis. Your nose should never point toward the floor.
4. Never rush the lead, in other words, give her the indication of what you want then follow her.
5. Give her enough time to follow the lead and still keep the musicality that you are looking for.
6. Never push or pull your partner off balance.
7. Always step onto an balanced foot. Weight transfer is gradual from one foot to the other and may be stopped at any point(see #10) or changed so that all of the followers weight is on either foot while the other leg remains where it was and unweighted
8. Preposition your feet to get more disassociation, when you need it, and to get your feet out of the way of your follower.
9. Look at your partner!(their axis) It's an extra level of connection, It also makes some things that seem impossible to do at first almost effortless! (this also increases torque and disassociation for pivots/boleos).
10. Followers should stop when the lead stops.(don't "finish" what the leader starts unless it is clear that this is what is wanted.)
11. Keep steps fairly short (as opposed to covering lots of ground) to remain grounded.
12. Give yourself to your partner.
13. Keep a connection with the floor, as well as your partner (remain grounded).
14. Transfer the followers weight gradually from one foot to the other.
15. The followers unweighted leg should remain "free" that is to say it should be behind and amplify what the hips are doing (making boleos possible, linear as well as circular).
16. Have fun and don't worry if things don't go exactly as planed (it's not about you anyway, it's about your partner!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Relaxation = Dynamic Tango

From time to time I get the pleasure of dancing with a follower who is completely relaxed, (they seem to be few and far between, at least around these parts) when I say relaxed what I mean is that they maintain their core (No noodle bodies please) but allow their hips and legs freedom to build torsion. This is paramount to disassociation and dynamic movement. I would compare it, if you will allow me, to the difference between hitting an rock on the ground with a stick, and hitting a golf ball with a three hundred dollar driver, guess which one will give you the most pleasure (not to mention the issue of distance and control).

The opposite of what I have described above would be a follower who kills this freedom of motion by tightening the major muscles of her lower extremities (translation; You can't dance tango with a stick up your a--!), or a follower who is trying to "do something" with her feet/legs.


Don't get me wrong, I am all for both partners adding to the dance and the feeling of the dance, expression is everything and key to mutual enjoyment, I think that each of the partners major goal should be giving themselves to the other (becoming "one" with each other and the music) the follower is the diamond the leader is the ring.

As an example

http://tangostudent.blogspot.com/2008/09/boleo-embrace.html



Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Arce-Montes leading to open position - lesson

These two are incredible!





This is what I am working toward (quality of movement).

Their website is

http://www.tango-renaissance.com/

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The "Zone"

The crowd is part of the zone, it's on the periphery. the woman that you are dancing with, the music (AL compas), and the floor are right in the heart of the "zone" (and, no the leader can never close his eyes).

I think the most important think to consider when you walk into La Ronda is your partner and giving yourself completely to them (for me it's all about connection, and communication)

Of course once in a great while "the zone" expands exponentially, the entire room and everyone in it even the building itself are inside like a strange dream where nothing can go wrong, it can be pretty amazing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Relax Your Body, Free Your Soul!

I've been browsing a couple of cool books lately (always thinking of Tango naturally).

1. Conditioning for Dance

(Eric Franklin, published by; Human Kinetics ISBN 0-7360-4156-7) This book is loaded with tons of awesome illustrations that let the reader visualize things that are happening inside of your body when you are dancing (in my case, tango), it also shows many techniques that will improve posture, balance, axis...etc... and, as the title suggests conditioning. (they are trying to sell Thera bands, or at least are highly recommending the product, but I guess that's O.K.).

I got massive amounts of information about things instructors have tried to teach me in workshops etc.. but sometimes I need a picture (they are worth a thousand...).

2. T'ai Chi Classics

(Translated with commentary by Waysun Liao, published by Shambhala Classics
ISBN 978-0-57062-749-1) T'ai Chi interests me very much and some day I will explore it in great detail, but for now I found that the sections on breath control and Tan T'ien seem to be applicable to Tango (imagine that!) Eric Jorenson once made a joke in a workshop I was at about feeling each others "bellies" it really is where you center is,

by the way T'ai Chi roughly translated means "The Ultimate"

I also found the treatise by Master Wu Yu-hsiang very informative.

Yin/Yang, energy, movement, direction, meditation, how much more tango can you get!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Real Milonguero

Ricardo Vidroit, He told me that I should take the tango and make it my own, I'm going with that!



Ahhhh! Eso Maestro!



I'm some where in this crowd, can you see me?!



I'm some where in this crowd too, can you see me?!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Something I Strongly Dislike (incompetent instruction)

I hate it when I spend money for a lesson and get information that is completely WRONG.
This has happened to me in the past,and the wrong information (and the consequences of following the erroneous teaching) have made my tango journey that much longer and less pleasant.

When I hear a "teacher" telling several new students something that is going to screw up their dance it just drives me bananas. I am forced to bite my tongue (very painful! if only figuratively), and take the instructor aside to try and get them to understand the error of their ways after the class or during a break. Sometimes this works, often it does not. At least maybe they will put some thought into it and possibly change their ways for the better.

If anyone out there is guilty of this please STOP. (of course you don't know who you are!) Watch yourself on video, if any thing looks awkward or jerky your probably not qualified to teach others what you cannot do yourself.

Oh well, I'm going dancing!