Find us on Google+ TANGOFIX: 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tucson Tango Festival

March 5th - 9th 2009

I think this is the first annual festival in Tucson.

With over 30 hours of milongas, awesome instructors, a hit and run milonga, and perfect weather to break Winter's back, this sounds like a great time.

Instructors: | Murat & Michelle Erdemsel | Ney Melo & Jennifer Bratt | Ruben Harymbat & Enriqueta Kleinman | Grisha Nisnevich |
DJs | Subashini Ganesan | Paul Akmajian | Sabah Chammas | Erik Fleming | Dave Donatiu | Varo Boyajyan |
Yoga Morning Warm Ups | Rose Kress

I'll be there!

POST FESITVAL UPDATE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was one of the better festivals that I have attended, mostly because of the instructors. People from the Tucson area seem to be very friendly and did an excellent job!

The venue was somewhat rundown(rooms that I observed anyway)this was the only drawback that I observed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tango Epiphanies 5

Too much vino may have an adverse effect on you tango. (Duh!)

Tango Epiphanies 4

Good tandas only happen when both partners want to dance with each other, this is why cabeseo is so great.

Tango Epiphanies 3

Creating a spiral in your followers torso is the key to creating pivots, ochos, circular boleos, and over turned ochos, for followers you must allow this to happen.

Tango Epiphanies 2

A moliente may be led while the leader progresses along the line of dance. This way the follower is not led into the space belonging to the couple behind them. Disassociation is required to pull this off.

Tango Epiphanies 1

It's not about me, it's about her

Couples at Milongas

Am I the only one that has been taught that a woman seated with a man is of limits for Cabeseo until the male half of the couple dances with another woman?

Personally I feel that maintaining as much of the culture, etiquette, and tradition in the milonga as possible helps to keep the feeling as it should be in tango, that is, it brings a small piece of Argentina, and the culture of tango to where ever you happen to be dancing thus making it a more genuine experience.

Having said that, the one thing that I would personally do away with is the tradition of seating single men and women apart from one another, luckily I have seen that only once in the country where I dance. (I hated it but, I guess like the other traditions and tango music itself, it is an acquired taste.) The only purpose for it that I can see for it is that it would eliminate "babysitting", there is nothing worse than asking a lady to dance when a man is camped out next to her.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Teaching Patterns

For myself, as a leader and occasional instructor, I have found that the realization of the fact that any pattern learned in a class or workshop can be broken down into many smaller movements was the crux in learning how to lead in an actual social situation. It has been the patterns that have taught me the various possibilities and where I might insert those smaller movements into real time situations. No pattern is ever set in stone, floor craft simply will not allow it. Many instructors of tango disregard this simple fact when teaching, and it is a shame because it is the very thing that makes this dance so fulfilling as well as challenging. I might also add that in my opinion the improvisation required to navigate on a crowded pista (as in Buenos Aires) is responsible for almost all of the movements that make Tango what it is.

What is helpful is when the instructor explains the reason for each particular part of a pattern so that the students might begin to explain the nuts and bolts of what they are doing rather than blindly repeating.

One good thing about patterns, when everyone in the room is doing the same thing it makes it much easier for the instructor to see what is wrong or right with what the students are doing.

Patterns might be useful during some type of Tango Fantasia for show tango or as I said earlier as a teaching and learning tool but the dance is about leading and following and giving yourself to your partner and to the music. What is dance if not movement. As Gavtito once said anyone who steps on to a dance floor is a dancer, and should think of themselves as one.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Dead Zone

You know what it is, it's that place where you sit in a milonga where cabeseo is almost doomed to failure. Usually its back in a corner or up against the wall in the back or at a table full of couples or poor dancers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Embrace (Lets be Flexible!)

I dance with what I call a flexible embrace.

What I mean is, sometimes I'll start out in a close embrace and open up so that We can express something musical, or some times I'll go the other way in order to better feel the connection. Sometimes my embrace will go from a "square" embrace where our shoulders are parallel to a "vee" shape where body to body connection is only on the closed side or rolls across the chest to allow Ocho's or back sacadas, leg wraps, gancho's etc...

I always think of the embrace as being elastic, that is to say, it may open up or change shape temporarily, or even break for short periods (as is the case for soltadas)but will eventually return to the shape it started from. The connection always remains and is paramount.

All that being said, the contact with the hands is always kept light and leading with the hands or pressure of any kind is to be avoided. The lead should always come from the core for linear movement or weight changes, and the torso for circular movement, and more often than not I will do both at the same time (leading a circular gyro while moving along the line of dance), this requires taking a back, front, side, or crossing step along the line of dance(to lead a movement with La Rhonda) while at the same time using disassociation of my hips from my shoulders to lead a circular movement of the follower around my axis. Any pressure from the hands (enough to push the follower off of her own axis) will make the dance very uncomfortable for the woman I am dancing with, and that equals a poor lead.

Rigidity leads to blocking or pressure, flexibility allows your partner freedom to maintain their own axis and freedom for self expression. If you are pushing someone around with your hands or a firm grip how could they possibly be having any fun.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cabeceo for Followers (Why Doesn't it Work?)

All over the Internet I've noticed followers generally complaining about the fact that they are not getting asked to dance as often as they would like, going as far as to break with custom and actually approaching leaders and flat out asking them to dance (this usually is fine with me and I will generally will accept when I am offered, however It is considered extremely rude and is contrary to Argentine culture, and Latino culture in general).

I have also observed women behaving in ways which discourage and undermine their chances of getting asked to dance by the traditional method known as Cabeseo.

What Cabeseo is, for those that may not know, is a method of invitation to dance in which the leader (traditionally a man) asks the follower (traditionally a woman) to dance by inviting her to engage in direct eye contact from a distance. To accept the invitation the woman has simply to allow the eye contact to continue (that is to say if she wishes to accept the invitation she simply looks back into the eyes of the man with out breaking eye contact). When the woman returns the eye contact, the man must indicate that it is indeed an invitation to her with some type of head motion (a nod or motion toward the floor, the follower then nods and smiles in agreement to dance.

To decline the invitation she simply chooses not to return the eye contact.

Here are a few of the behaviors that I have observed personally, and a few ways to increase the chances of getting invited to dance.

1. Don't act like a bitch.

(a). Remember when you are at a milonga people are observing you and almost nothing goes unnoticed.

(b). If you snub 3 or 4 leaders in a row I for one will not be giving you a second look.

(c). If you snub me twice in one night I won't be asking you to dance again (until I forget).

(d). If you turn down one leader and then get up to dance one minute later with a different leader you are obviously too good to ask to dance.

(e). Don't sit around with your friends making fun of beginners (remember you were a beginner once).

(f). If you attend workshops at festivals don't skip over people in the rotation (this is just bad for the tango community and 1.a. above applies to workshops as well, remember the leaders in the workshops are the same people that are potential partners if not at the milonga later that night then maybe in six months or two years from now ).

Be a positive person rather than negative, it's just more attractive in every way.

2. Pay attention to leaders around you. It' possible you are missing invitations without even knowing it.

(a). Socializing is fine, and half the fun of milongas, but if you want to dance, look around at the beginning of every song and especially at he beginning of each new tanda. Occasionally separate yourself from you group of friends (sometimes it's hard to tell the followers that want to dance when they are laughing and talking nonstop, remember most of us were taught not to interrupt conversations when we were children).

(b). Remember, if you are sitting behind people they must turn around to notice you, (the leaders that really want to dance will look back) and if you are in front of people there maybe someone you want to dance with behind you.

3. Greet anyone that you know when you see them and introduce those around you (networking is the way the world works).

4. Find a good high traffic location. (near the isle where everyone walks off the dance floor, by the water, on the way to the restroom, close to the snacks}. return there often so that if someone wants to find you they know where to look.

5. Smile!

6. There are some postures that just say "I don't want anyone to dance with me right now."

(a). Taking off one or both shoes.

(b). Being deeply involved in conversation.

(c). Sitting back in a chair as if you are totally exhausted.

(d). Sitting as a couple, or anything that might indicate that you are at the milonga as a couple (this is another thing about Latino culture that some people may not be aware of).

7. Women who generally look "pissed off" probably aren't going to get a lot of invitations.

8. If you are busy fiddling with something, looking through your purse, texting people, talking on the phone. These are all ways of saying "I don't want to dance, especially with you".

If you do all of these things and still aren't getting the invitations, It never hurts to get a private lesson or two, It could be that there is something about the way that you dance that is just a little off (remember that guy you dance with a couple of years ago that squeezed you too hard, or was always leaning on you and really sucked)(by the way, it is possible that he may have learned a thing or two since then, give him another chance). I've danced with women who've danced for many years and aren't aware of how uncomfortable that they are to dance with, and I've learned through experience that sometimes one lesson with a competent instructor will make you into a much better dancer.

It's a learning process, but it can be done.