Tango: my life as a not-so-good leader
And you thought that YOU were the worst dancer in the world ?
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Preparing for Buenos-Aires
My group trip to Buenos-Ayres is coming soon now, and I figured I had to do some specific training to be, maybe not ready, but say not totally clueless when the soles of my dance shoes will meet the floors of Confiteria La Ideal
, La Estrella
, or Gricel
First step, I explored my sequences notebook and cut everything that could not be danced on a packed floor. There remained only 60 sequences, and I printed the list.
Second step, I tried to find a local milonga where dancers would be packed. First I went to a milonga with quite a small floor, but there were also few people so it wasn't packed at all, and I left. Then I tried a larger milonga, but quite popular so despite the vast floor the dancers had to move in a very reduced space. So I paid the entry fee, changed my shoes and put an ironed shirt. I had my list in the pocket, and the plan was to divide my time between the dance floor and the bar, testing my sequences and checking after each tanda which sequence had not be tried yet.
But it didn't work as planned. Right after entering the milonga, I met a friend and he invited me to his table. And slowly, cradled softly by the music, I became numb, lethargic, frozen. As time went by I felt less and less eager to dance, watching indifferently my friends inviting the ladies. This always happen to me during balls, but usually some girl comes to me for a dance, I more or less reluctantly agree and after this first dance I get in the right mood. But this time it didn't happen, as the girls I knew were already very busy dancing with the (much more numerous) guys I knew, and had no need to come to me. From time to time I had a look at my list but it had become obvious to me that I wouldn't even stand up this evening.
After four hours or so I realized that for sleeping my bed would be more comfy than a chair in a milonga, and I left.
On the other hand, sitting silenty on a chair for hours and looking at all the other people dancing is most likely what will happen to me in Buenos-Ayres, so maybe I'm doing fine with my preparation, after all...
Monday, February 14, 2005
Sunday Milonga. I'm at the bar (where else ?) with a fellow. DJ is playing Gran Hotel Victoria
. A girl comes to us.
" I'd like to dance this one. One of you guys to invite me ?"
" Certainly not. I don't dance with beginners!"
" Sure I'll dance with you. I just love to dance with beginners..."
Of course all this was said with tongue in cheek, we're all taking group classes with the same teachers, and if one of us is somehow more advanced than the others two, she is. I keep wondering, though, which one of these two replies, per se
, is the more offensive...
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Tango a Pugliese
I recently bought the newest Color Tango
offspring, a CD named Tango a Pugliese
, and yesterday when the after-class practica began, I proudly showed it to my teacher, knowing that this CD was not that easy to find in my neck of the woods and that he would probably not have listened to it yet. And indeed, he immediately ejected the usual practica CD (thus freezing for a few seconds the flow of practising pupils) to replace it by my CD.
This album is advertised by the orchestra leader, Roberto Alvarez, as a tribute to Pugliese. As you all know, 2005 is the Osvaldo Pugliese Year
, and of course you also know that Roberto Alvarez was once a musician in the Pugliese's orchestra.
After a few pieces, teacher gave his verdict about this album:
"It's not the real Pugliese thing, more like the late Pugliese, when he was in his Philharmonic-alike period. The Pugliese I favour is more staccato. Color Tango is sure, how to say it, colourful, but see, nobody can dance on it, the beat is there of course but difficult to perceive for an untrained ear."
And indeed, a female student soon came by to complain that it was too difficult to dance on that. Teacher stopped the CD after De Floreo
, and then played the Pugliese version of this same title, to make it clear to me how old composers made their arrangements suitable for the dance.
I'm not convinced. Whatever the title or composer or orchestra director of any tango played anywhere, I can't dance on it.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Last sunday during the informal after-workshop all-level practise. I was at the informal bar (no real drinks, just water, fruit juice and sodas) and another pupil, from the one-level-below-mine class came by.
He: "Hi, I just wanted to tell you how much I like to watch your dance, and how it's inspiring for me!"
Me: "Well, thanks, I do appreciate, it's not everyday that somebody says something like this. But you don't need to be impressed by my steps, you know, it's just..."
He: "No, no, it's not your steps at all. Everybody here is making better steps than you. No, it's the way you seem to be enjoying yourself, and to be having a good time, despite your lack of skill. It's comforting for a beginner like me to see that in A.T, enjoyment is not necessarily related to skill!"
This onlooker's perspective was somehow confirmed later the same day, when changing shoes at the end of the session, by one of the women who had danced with me during the practica:
She: "I think I'll remember for a long time the tanda we danced together!"
Me: "Oh, really? Thanks!"
She: "Yes, it was so different, really challenging for me. For some reason, you're never ending your sequences the way you begin them; a turn to the left ends as a turn to the right, or you set up a barrida and you don't make it... I don't know whether the way you lead things comes from a playful mind or from a poor technique, but if I had to sum up your style in one word, I'd say that you're a traitor!"
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