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

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A theme is a theme is a theme 


The teacher had decided that the private would focus on listening and musicality. So she played a few pieces, La Yumba, El Choclo, Recuerdo, while I was listening silently. Then she began to talk about how one tango piece was divided into melodically coherent parts of 16, 24, 32 beats, named themes. The same theme could come several times in the same piece, she continued, and usually with a variation, for instance the second time a violin would be added. And when the theme changes, she concluded, "You have to change your dance accordingly."

She was already opening her arms and coming closer but I stopped her as I was not ready to dance yet.

I was not getting it. I could change my dance (Actually I could not. But I could try to.) to match the music when the change was about the rythm (fast to slow), the style (stacato to rubato), the instruments, the volume (loud to almost silent).
But a change in the melody? How to translate it?

"- You have to be aware of the change of theme."
"- But what then? What property do I change in my dance?"
"- If you're aware that the theme has changed, or that a theme is coming back then there will be a change in your dance."
"- Ok I got it!"
"- Finally! Good!"
"- You mean that if I was leading giros the first time I have to lead the same giros when the same theme occurs."
"- No, no, no! How can I say, well, you have to be aware..."

And once again the little me went back home puzzled and confused by another tango mystery, only hoping that one day it will make sense.

posted by Pablo  # 8:21 AM (3) comments

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

One more reason to like the Bs-As taxi dancers 

This season, to avoid the issue of going to a class and having to leave because the partner who
was supposed to come didn't - issue being, I figured, partly my own fault for maybe selecting a class/style/teacher/place that did not suit my partner, who thus was reluctant to attend -
this season I let my five partners choose the classes. This way, I would be their partner rather than the opposite way and they would never miss a class. I thought.

Now I know it was a mistake. First, three of them chose the same Tuesday class and the other two chose the same Wednesday class. Only one girl reconsidered and finally picked a Thursday class. So I lost two partners, the ones whom I had to fire. I fired the shortest ones. No need to worry for them, I saw afterwards that each of them had found another leader, and the change is necessarily for the better. But they're lost for me.

Worse, the ones whom I kept, although the class was chosen by them, aren't more assiduous than they were last year.
The Wednesday one told me last week that she would be too busy with things she had to do in NYC, and this week she invited a friend in her place. "And sure I could bring her if really it's important for you to attend this class Pablo, but she's not a dancer, imagine how boring it will be
for her to sit and watch...".
As for the Tuesday one, she has her very own way to schedule things. If the start of a class is announced at 21:30 she'll assume that nothing will really begin before 22:00 and therefore showing up at 22:15 is perfectly acceptable. Then she asks to herself what she could do until 22:15, and signs up for anything she fancies, Irish tap dance, bel canto, oil painting, whatever. Yesterday when the teacher said "Hi all. Ok, let's start" my alledged partner was probably ten miles away. And instead of an A.T class I just had a round-trip ticket from my place to the dance studio and back to my place again.

posted by Pablo  # 8:31 AM (1) comments

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Searching for a class on Mondays 

Searching for a class on Mondays (I found some for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and a practise on Fridays), I ventured into a student campus where an argentine couple were giving two consecutive classes, one for beginners then one for intermediate-advanced. Being brave I chose the latter, and came in when the beginners class was finishing.

Plenty of students here, maybe 30 of them. Not A.T students. Students. University students. Tall. Thin. Young. Quite un-coordinated though. Stiff. Unbalanced, falling after one half-turn.

The teachers were demonstrating the introductory exercise for giros, often done with a chair, when both people step forward-side-backward-side. But only the first half of the exercise. Forward, side, stop. Clockwise and then counter-clockwise. And even this simplified version of a preliminary to giros was quite challenging for the pupils. Maybe I could do this beginner class too, I thought while lacing my tango shoes. Plus, it's the same price whether you attend one class or to the two classes.

No music either. Seeing the youngsters trying to extend their legs forwards and backwards, without the weight, working on dissociation, I could have figured it was a french boxing class.

Then they switched to a walk-with-lapiz exercise, forwards then backwards. Hey, time to finish maybe, I thought, and to start the second class. 30 minutes past due time, this was beginning to be late, even for argentines.

Something was wrong yet. There should have been other people than me waiting for this second class.

And I understood. This was the intermediate-advanced class.
The stiff, unbalanced people I was looking at were actually intermediate-advanced students. I quickly left and ran to the nearest milonga.

Ok, so I still have to find something to do on Mondays.

posted by Pablo  # 7:31 AM (3) comments

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