Monday, January 22, 2007

Saturated Tango Weekend

Milonga. I am always concerned when I go to a milonga that I am going to spend a good amount of time sitting and precious little time dancing. S will dance with me, I know, and it is wonderful that he does. In fact, our dancing is surprisingly head and shoulders better at milongas than in his kitchen when we practice. Maybe its the lighting, maybe I'll have him turn the lights down in the kitchen.... of course, I dance with my eyes closed, so perhaps that is not exactly the case. But for whatever reason, I am much more relaxed in a social setting than I am in practice settings. But anyway, this weekend, milonga Friday night AND Saturday night. Friday night MIT (casual) and Saturday night Springstep (dressed up). Both nights I danced a good amount of the time, Saturday more than Friday, and was able to dance with some very good leaders, all of whom had varying styles. It is becoming a really good lesson to dance with leaders of varying styles as I learn more about my style and how to adapt to the leader's style. I am so used to dancing with S that it often takes me a minute to figure out how to move best with another leader. I am sure with time that will improve. However, Friday the lesson of pick your leader carefully was driven home. After sitting for a couple of tandas, watching some of the better followers' feet (not just for shoes, but for how they moved and when) I was approached by a gentleman and asked to dance. Now I had not noticed his dance style before, and I accepted. Let's just say I suddenly thought that I was in a very bad Hollywood movie with a tango scene thrown in to "spice it up". I always preface my accepting a dance with "I am a complete beginner" this gentleman did not have an issue with it and now I know why. He flung me around the room, tried to lead me into figures that even now I have no idea what they were, and was constantly pulling me off axis into side leans, dips, and drops that quite frankly, made me fear for my head. Unfortunately, when I am startled, I laugh, so I am sure that my nervous laughter made him think I was loving it when in fact I was far from that. So the tango ended, I stepped back and said "I am afraid that I need a lot more experience before I am able to dance at your level, but thank you very much for dancing with me." I knew there was no way that I could possibly dance another tango with this gentleman, but I did not want to walk off the floor without an excuse. Luckily, this did not impact my evening, as other leaders asked me to dance, and this gentleman was certainly unaffected, as he found other beginner dancers to fling about the floor, but lesson well learned. If I have not seen or heard of the leader, the cabaceo will be strictly followed!
But Saturday night, that was the better milonga for me! S danced with me in the beginning, which was lovely as always. He does not need to be seen by the community, everyone knows his style and he has no problems filling his dance card. But I need some, well, let's say showcasing, in order to be asked to dance. It does make my night that S opens the milongas with me, because I enjoy dancing with him so much, and it also allows others to see how I move. Win win for me! And that evening I danced with some very good leaders. C was lovely, very gentle lead, very subtle style, and dances like silk. Lovely. And very little talking, which unnerved me a little, but in looking back, it suits his style of dance. I certainly hope to dance with him again. K was there, danced with him, but there was none of the magic from Providence. It was nice, easy and comfortable. Then I danced the last tango of a tanda with D. Wow. It was fantastic. He was great, lead was incredibly clean, I felt as though anything he led me into I could do, and I was suddenly aware that I was dancing with possibly the best leader I have ever danced with. The tanda ended, we chatted a bit, he was shocked that I had only been dancing about a month and he asked about my other dance training. That should have clued me in when he asked what training I had as opposed to have I done any other dance. Then the DJ played a swing set (grrrrr......) and D said he would like to dance with me again when they play tango. Absolutely!! I made my way back to my seat where S informed me that I danced with possibly the best dancer in our community. D performs and his partner is one of the best dancers and teachers in the area. Wow. Yea! Glad I did not know that going into the dance, I need to keep any and all nerves at bay when dancing, there is enough tension in my embrace when I am "relaxed." I am looking forward to dancing with D again. Then the last couple of tandas of the evening I danced with S. Which was fun and a great way to end the evening.
Then Sunday comes, and it is practica times two. Morning practica in S's kitchen, where he showed me the basics of milonga (oh boy.... ) and afternoon practica in Cambridge. Milonga, difficult to say the least. Move fast, move in 8's, don't bounce, ground your steps, focus is on the step not the time between, don't bounce, don't slide, keep presence, don't bounce...... yea..... just as I was feeling good about my progress, milonga steps in to deflate my burgeoning ego. sigh....
But then Sunday afternoon practica, S informs me that getting the attention of the better leaders will help me in leaps and bounds, not only in a practice setting, but at the Milongas as well. So don't be shy at practicas, get in there, chat and practice. Ok. D runs this practica with his partner S, and we tried a few times to dance together, but were not able to due to extenuating circumstances in the form of an adorable, but possessive ofhis daddy, toddler. However his interest in dancing with me gave me confidence to approach him later, so that was good. I was able to dance with some great leaders at the practica, and was able to learn from them, which was great. One, S, gave me almost the exact same instruction and advice that my S gives me, which made me laugh. Guess I do have to focus on those areas! Tension, relaxing, listening for the lead. But he did tell me that I had a really good embrace, and once I banish the tension, it will be great (yes, yes, S gets the credit here for beating into me how not to embrace ;-} ).
So all in all, it was a great weekend of tango, I learned so much, had an amazing time, and managed to completely ignore my laundry, yet again.... I can see the perils of tango. Milonga?! Practica?! Forget about chores, grab your shoes!


La Planchadora said...

I cannot STAND when someone tells me to relax. NOTHING freezes you like someone telling you to relax. (You hit a nerve already! No, seriously. "Relax" is not relaxing. At all.)

Laughing is more naturally relaxing. I'd love a tango curriculum to include "How to be Charming and Awesome During the Cortinas".

Keep up the blogging - I love reading your posts. How's costumes?

Debbi said...

LOL! Thanks! I agree, nothing makes my arms become more rigid than hearing "Relax" and trying to do so. It never seems to work. And when I do laugh at my mistakes, I tend to sail through the whoops without getting tenser. I'd take the cortina workshop! That's for sure! More costume blogs to come soon, promise!