Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I've moved!

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Tango's ECG

Every once in a while, I contemplate at how my Tango experience has been. At the beginning, you just want to dance. Everything is good, new and fresh! But, helas!, as you develop your Tango, you find worries and get contemplative. You look back and see how your path has been. What was great, what was ok and what things you did you now find hilarious but weren't at the time.

You specifically remember when a particular moment in time got imprinted forever in the memory. A great dance, the first glimpse of bliss or just a dance in a practica where you felt all of your dance skills were scrutinized with pity. I still remember a dance in a practica where I felt specially bad. The follower told me that she was taught to strictly follow the leader. Of course, that meant that I sucked. Well, thank you baby ! She was semi-cute and I was curious to see how it felt like dancing with her. I have never danced with her again. I have principles. And an ego to protect :-)

Fast forward in time, and recently I was talking to a friend about how my tango lately just sucks. I was at a milonga and couldn't connect with the music or with my partners. Everything felt old and cliché. I felt like a fraud in the middle of the dance floor. My friend went on about that tango is like an oscillatory process, goes up and down over time, in a steady fashion. I promptly said: "Nooooo, it's not like that. It's like an ECG!". Here's my Tango ECG. Enjoy it.

TP ECG.jpg

Tango path

I feel my tango isn't evolving as it should. I can see how I am being a bit trapped in technicalities for the time being. It's keeping me from fully improvising to the music and to generate new ways to move around. This is partially due to the fact that my technique shortcomings still rank high on my things to improve :)

This is why I am becoming a bit tired of some classes. Of so much input to parse and let it grow in me. But specially, because I see that this Tango thing is hard. I'm musical, I'm sensitive and gentle, but I still lack technique. I feel thankful for the fact that I am very musical, which has made "well-known" followers ask me directly for a dance (how anti-cabeceo!!). Me, on the other hand, would never have. I always feel they just want to dance with the best dancers and doesn't feel right to me to ask them. To rob them away from a great tanda with a great dancer.

But it is hard because no matter where you are in your tango stage, you always want to narrow down what is currently annoying you. What you really need to improve on. And why do you need to? Because every time you finish a tanda with a great dancer - be it technically or musically - you always feel you could have done a bit better. You could have given the woman a better dance. You feel that deep down, you may have disappointed her a bit.

It is only healthy if you want to improve to give the women better dances, not for your own ego. But those two are tricky to separate and wishful thinking is easy...

My biggest fear

Is that the woman I've most enjoyed watching lately won't have any chemistry with me. What I most desire is for her to have the smile I've seen on her face while dancing with me.

I am yet very padawan to venture asking her. And my shyness will always out-grow my abilities.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The embrace reciprocity

Johanna writes about why women can't sometimes understand why other women get all the dances.

I must say I can relate to this (imaginary?) point. If you really dance tango because of the music and are deeply connected to the music, you want someone that also has that passion. I couldn't care less if she can dance upside down or has impecable technique (just needs to have balance of course...). If the embrace is musically sterile the whole thing is pointless. Besides, great dancers tend to have this big ego and that just screws up people's minds.

Lately I've been growing a bit annoyed of women that dance with a guy as if it was just a dance. It isn't just a dance. At least for anyone serious about it. It has to be an experience, a moment unique in time and space. Just sit if you don't feel like dancing in the deepest sense of the word. This isn't a practica. As someone commented on Johanna's post, you can have a feeling of what lies ahead the moment you embrace a woman.

With a great dancer you want to dance forever simple moves, slowly, melodically and eager to see how she interprets it. How her smile (that you can't really see) will get right back at you as a tsunami of confidence. With the plain vanilla technique obsessed dancer you normally try hard to convey feeling and you get back a sad face because you didn't do/try the latest and greatest trick of a recent workshop. The dance will feel like a workout instead of a blissful magic moment shared by two human beings.

Let go of technicalities and spend 3 times more time listening to music and feeling, interpreting and dancing it in your mind than practicing the latest technical challenge. In the grand overview of it all, any man will rather dance with you than anyone else. The more experienced I get, the more I see how enjoyable it can be to dance with a very beginner follower that is into the music...

Unless he's not there for the music experience. I am sorry for you then.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Current status:

Dancing more than ever before.

I am now going to practicas more seriously and really focusing on my shortcomings. I am worrying more about the technique and trying to figure out what works with followers and how to find my own style. It's still very hard for me to realize when I'm failing to lead or when the follower is not actually following. There are definitely different schools of thoughts and it's very hard to find out what is going on when you dance with someone with a different mindset.

I normally like to start by walking outside and if the follower immediatly goes for the cruzada, then she's in auto-pilot mode (which sucks for many reasons). If that doesn't happen then I need to kind of figure out how much do I need to lead to get her to cross. My dissociation is still not automatic, which means that if I'm worried about something else, it's not there as it should.

I can't even walk as I want to walk. Never thought it would be so hard to just walk. I love the challenge.

The first lesson

I still remember the first round of lessons. The loss of my tango virginity. The teachers were a very funny couple that were a joy to have classes with. They still teach but I have not yet taken any more classes with them. Every teacher has their own style and strengths and right now I'm learning from teachers that mainly focus on technique. It's all good.

Of all my friends I convinced to join me in my tango lessons I am the only one left. Most of them had a lot more dancing experience than I, including salsa, ballet and all kinds of ballroom.