Tango: my life as a not-so-good leader

And you thought that YOU were the worst dancer in the world ?

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

And the winner is...

The exam for the bronze medal went rather well for us, as far as I can judge (i.e. I did not fall during the choreography). The speaker only announced the names of the actual candidates, so when I heared "And now, for argentine tango, presenting a bronze medal program, Ms V... and her partner", I remained on my seat for a while, until the speaker called us once again. By chance, another couple was presenting the same medal, so we were not the only couple clumsily walking on the floor in front of the wild crowd eagerly scrutinizing our mistakes.

The judges give two notes. The first is about respecting the tempo, the second is about general technique. The sum must be over 10/20, and a tempo note under 3/10 (as well as a technique note under 4/10) means you fail the exam. I think it is somehow unfair for the woman, as if she happens to be offbeat, it is entirely the leader's fault. If I were the judge, I would award ourselves 6/10 for tempo and 3/10 for technique (exam failed), but firstly the judge happened to be our own (ballroom) teacher, and secondly the other couple was even worse. So, my partner still has hope to gain her third bronze medal.

We didn't dance a full tango piece. For a medal exam, the dance lasts only one minute and something. We asked the organizer to make this "something" a bit longer, because in our choreography the ending pattern comes only after 1mn 40. Agreed. But the other couple whose own ending pattern duly came after one minute, wasn't prepared for this and had then to stay still watch us dancing. The same funny thing repeated later during the viennese waltz exam: a gold medal candidate danced alongside a silver medal one, finished much earlier (because his program was much more difficult) and had to make endless salutations until the other couple finally ended their own simplier but longer program.

posted by Pablo  # 4:42 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Bronze medalist

In the world of competition dance, you can try to test your skills by passing
medals. The lowest level is bronze, which hardly qualifies you as more skilled
than a non-dancer. Then silver, gold, and stars. Being a Gold medalist really means you dedicate yourself to competition.

Logistically, it's quite simple, you just have to find a dance school that organizes these kind of exams, and pay a fee. You choose the dance (one of the five latins, or one one the five standards, or argentine tango, and maybe other dances), the level. Then the exam begins. The organizer call the candidates one after the other, they dance one minute, the jury gives notes (kept secret). A few weeks later the results are published, and everybody knows who entered or not the hall of fame.

A funny thing is that these medals are passed by individuals, not by couples. So if you are, say, a woman, you can ask the local male teacher to lead you.
I never thought I would become one day so familiar with this world, but
as it happens, next friday such an exam is organized, and a lady asked me to be her leader, despite I never took competition dance classes, and even hardly qualify as a social dancer. But her argentine tango teacher, having left a few days ago for Valparaiso, won't be back in town for the session. And the next exam is not scheduled before half a year. So, I'll be the doublure.

I think our chances aren't too good. She already has medals for swing and for cha-cha-cha, but for argentine tango she's one of the worst partner I ever danced with (and as a beginner I know what a bad dancer is), and our little choreography is not really impressive:

- We start from a distance and she walks to me
- Zarandeo
- Salida (without the cross...)
- Walk and calesita
- Two backwards ochos
- Ocho cortado
- Two cunitas
- Walk with little turns
Around there the one minute ends, and I'll sort of improvise a finish.

I have no idea of which qualities are judged by the jury, and I'm even suspecting that they possibly make a perfect oxymoron with my habits as a social dancer: for instance I like to miss beats until a strong, dramatic one comes and only then do I begin to walk. I was taught by my tango teachers that to stop moving feets doesn't mean to stop dancing, as long as the connection is still there, but a bronze medal jury may have a different point of view...

posted by Pablo  # 5:21 AM (0) comments


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