Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Milonga video of mucho fun

They are just having too much fun, which is exactly how I want to feel with Milonga! It should be fun and peppy and bright and happy... sigh.... some day.....

Monday, February 26, 2007

Milonga Performed by Oliver Kolker and Luna Palacios

That's how to milonga! Maybe some day I'll look like that and not like the jumpy puppy who trips over her own feet that I am now....

Longa Milonga, oh my....

Saturday night - went to Providence Tango's Longa Milonga to dance from 9pm to 5 or 6am, or whenever your feet fall off, with S. It was a leader's environment, many more followers and the level of ability was advanced and higher. So I ended up sitting more than half of the night. S danced the whole evening and he had some amazing partners, which put him on a tango high, which was great as he was jonesing for some good tango. And he got it. I was jonesing too, and got a little. Somewhere around 2am the place emptied out a little, and I had more of a fighting chance. So, after some prompting by S and a few followers that I had been chatting with, I started asking leaders for dances. I figured, if I have to ask for dances, I might as well aim high. So I did. I asked the advanced leaders whom I knew and had danced with before to dance. One of whom was a lovely instructor, Evan, who will be coming to Providence Tango starting next month as two of their instructors are leaving for Buenos Ares. I had danced with Evan once before on my "try out the new promising beginner night" where I danced with a few local and visiting instructors (talk about a tango high that night!). So I approached Evan, smiled, and asked if he would be willing to dance with a beginner. I was absolutely expecting a "I'm taking a rest" thank you. However he was very gracious and danced a whole tanda with me. It was fantastic. I am sure it was less than stellar for him, as I had seen the level of dancing he had been doing that evening with the other instructors and advanced followers, but it was great that he indulged me and gave me a good dance. I also ended up dancing with the leader who dropped me. I know, I know, I said that I would never dance with him again. But he came over to me while I was sitting on the couch and asked how my knee was and was apologetic for trying to, as he said, "make you move when I should have stopped and shown you what to do." Then he asked if dropped me meant I would refuse his dances. Well, what can I say to that? So I said no, I would not refuse, and so we danced a tanda. It was fine. I still am not a fan of his leading style, but I am not one to hold a grudge for too long, just until my ego bruise heals I guess.
I was disappointed that I did not dance much at all that evening, and although I completely understand that when the saturation of advanced and expert dancers are in one room, who is going to spend a tanda, or even a tango, on a beginner? Not many. I get it, I would probably do the same if I was advanced. Plus S2 made a comment as he was leaving and we said goodbye that made sense. He asked if I was enjoying the dances, and I mentioned that (at the time) I had only danced with him and S. He was surprised, and said "Well, I think that those of us who know you all thought that someone would dance with you, and we all ended up dancing with others." Sigh, yea, pretty much. But once the night deepened, and I got over my queasiness about asking for dances, things got a little better. S reminded me in the car ride home that I was possibly the only follower there with so little experience and the fact that I got the dances I did was a great thing. Which is true, but I want to be at the level that I hope to be in one year NOW. I have patience in many areas of my life, and almost endless patience when teaching others, but when it comes to my abilities and my learning, I want to learn it all and be the best immediately. And if I do not do so, I get upset with myself and can not accept that I am not the best in the class. I know that this comes from inside me and years of always being the smartest in class - I am not being egotistical, I started school early because of my performance in the IQ test and the fact that I could read simple books at age 4. Plus I always tested off the charts in those standardized tests. And when I danced ballet, contact improv and modern when I was younger, I excelled quickly and was usually singled out for solos in performance. So the fact that I have not mastered tango in the two months I have been dancing is completely understandable, except in my own brain. I want to dance with S and not have him roll his eyes at me when I miss something, or ask me "What was that?!?" when my feet don't move where they should and my hips decide to join the dance. I want to be the follower who never has to ask for a dance.
whine, whine, whine..... if I could eat cheese I should now after that fine whine.
Ugh.... I'll get there, the frustration with learning can sometimes be overwhelming.

In another, completely unrelated area, this morning I woke up to big, fluffy, white snow. The kind of snow that I love. Huge, sticky flakes that break apart into smaller sticky flakes when they drop onto your eyelashes. One of my favorite memories is lying in a sled, my sister lying in front of me, her head resting on my snow suited tummy, and watching the snow drift down onto my face as my mom pulled us down to the store to buy bread or milk. We would lie there in the sled as my mom ran into the store. Amazing that in the early seventies, one could leave a 6 and 3 year old by themselves outside of the local market. I can not imagine the response that would garner today....
But back to today.... My room was very bright at 7am, and when I rolled over and saw all the snow, I grinned and snuggled down into my down comforter. There were no tv weather warnings of "It is going to snow tonight! Keep your babies and puppies inside and don't venture out! We will get between 1 and 65 inches! School is canceled because it might snow!" No hype, just the sort of weather that happens in New England, and you know what? Without the hype, people were cool. Everyone on my street was out shoveling, and chatting about the snow. No one was panicking. Drivers were cautious, but not stupid, and there was no traffic problems getting into Boston. Shocking, really. Apparently if you do not instill panic into the populace, they tend to deal with situations, like snowfall, with appropriate responses. "Hey, look, it's snowing. Guess I'll shovel my drive, chat with the girl next door shoveling out her car, and then take it easy going into work." Amazing.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The long and winding week....

It has been a long week. Been in technical rehearsal for the opera that I am assisting on. Long, drawn out days full of stops and starts and the director popping over to the designer and I saying "I've been thinking...." ugh. I hate that. But all in all it has gone very well, it opens tonight and I will be very glad for the show to be up and on its feet. Because then I get to step away. Plus I have made a new tango friend in the process! Who knew! One of the wardrobe ladies is a tango dancer! We infiltrate all aspects of life apparently... so that was fun to find. I did end up going to a milonga Wednesday night and a practica last night, despite the fact that I have not stopped moving since last Friday really... but, hey! There are addictions to feed here! Milonga was fun, it was the perfect stress relief that I needed for the week, I walked into the building and immediately the stresses of the week rolled off my back, I just wanted to dance and have fun! Which I did.
Last night, practica, I was tired. I knew that I was not at my best, but I was determined to make the best of it. There were two memorable moments from the practica. One blissful, one piss-ful. Blissful first. I danced with D, whom I have been trying to dance with for about a month now. I was stalking him at the practica, trying to coordinate my being off the dance floor with him being off the dance floor, and near the end... score! I saw him sit down and chat with another leader. As it seemed the conversation was dying down, I walked my self over there, sat down, and asked him if he wanted to finally have that dance we tried to have a month ago. He laughed, said yes, and off we went. It was great. It was more than great really, it was wonderful. He is an absolute pleasure to dance with. We danced four songs, and during the dances when I missed something, or he wanted to show me how to execute something with more grace or better balance, he would very patiently review the move with me and then lead me through it a few times. I was on a high. Afterwards he told me that I was doing incredibly well for someone who was so new, that my embrace was lovely, but that I needed to work on recovering my balance and not tense up when I think that I have messed up. Hmmm.. familiar words.....
Then the piss-ful. And this is as much at myself as at the leader I danced with. There is a leader that I have been on the fence about since I first danced with him over a month ago. I just was not sure if I liked dancing with him, either in milonga or practica. So when he asked me at the end of the practica, I agreed, figuring "Why not? Let's see." Well, he got my back up pretty quickly. He stopped the dance every few seconds or so to explain to me why he did not like what I was doing, or to criticize me for taking a beat to add an embellishment because - I quote - "Did I lead you to do that? No. I had planned to move you quickly through to another move, and you messed up my timing and now I can not do what I planned."
Huh?!?! Uhm... tough. Deal. You wanted me to step over your foot, but you placed your leg so close to mine that I had to step high, so to make it pretty I added a little flourish. Plus I am still learning, so you are most likely going to have to adapt to my missing leads.
Then I missed a lead, I did not understand what he was leading me into, and when I did not move where he wanted me to, he tried to follow through the lead anyway, at which point he dropped me. Yup. My feet were crossed, his were blocking the only way I could have stepped, and then me moved me in the direction I could not step into, and down I went, right on my knee. I was pissed. Especially when he said, after apologizing, "Well, I wanted you to pivot, but when you did not, I lead you through the move anyway."
Well that worked out well didn't it!!
I do have to say that he was mortified, and was very apologetic, but I was done. He made a move to take me back into an embrace and I said my knee hurts, I need to sit down. Needless to say I will not be dancing with him again. Even if he had not dropped me, his way of criticizing me during the practica was not constructive or helpful, it was all about how he preferred the follower to move or look, and although I am still developing a style, and I am already well aware that I have to adapt to each leader's style, I do not appreciate being told that I am screwing up his lead by taking a beat to artfully complete the lead.
I am already over it (well, mostly.....), but I need to figure out how to make sure I am safe regardless of how I am being lead.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Student Treats...

Ok, home at midnight, review lesson plan until 1am, get up at 6:30...
sorry kids.....
it is French pastries today and not home made cookies......
I think they will be fine with that though....

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A week of Opera....

I am so very proud of my students. After a long weekend of teching the opera that they have all been working on so very hard, the pay off for them is coming. It looks gorgeous. The costumes are beautiful, and all the kinks and fit problems have been worked out and smoothed out so that the design is now flawless and lovely. The singers are happy with how they look, which is always half the battle. Singers are a completely different breed than actors. Actors can take any garment and make it their own, use it to their advantage and enhance the character that they have created. Singers, if they do not like the garment or are unsure about it, it immediately shows in their posture, mannerisms, and expressions. It ruins the look. It could be the most perfect garment for the character, time period and opera, but if the singer does not like it, good luck making it work. But thank the universe, everyone is finally happy and looking good. And now, after long days of not sleeping, I am entering tech for a second opera that I am working on. No sleep for the wicked! This one should be a bumpier road as we have professional opera singers who have been incredibly picky about how they look. Tonight is the first Dress Tech Rehearsal, and I have no doubt that it will be a late night of notes. Opera is a bit of a catch-22. The production value is always high, and it is always gorgeous visually, but getting there is akin to having dental surgery, enemas, and a bikini wax all at the same time without anesthesia.... only more so. I am just looking forward to Thursday when both shows are open and I can go to practica (you did not think I would not sneak tango into my post, now did you?!?! Silly reader!) and dance and relax. I bet that after all the tension from work, there will be a complete lack of tension in my embrace! Maybe that is the key.... exhaust myself to have that perfectly relaxed yet firm embrace.... we'll see....
But anyway, tomorrow is the last dress tech for my students, and I think I am going to bring in treats for them. Make some cookies tonight when I get home at midnight.... or stop at the French bakery around the corner from my house in the morning and buy some yummies.... We'll see which happens....

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Valentine's revisited

Milonga last night, and what fun it was! I received, finally, my red tango shoes, and promptly forgot to scuff the bottom before I left, so when I put them on and went to dance, I almost went ass over tea kettle. Sigh, so I put on my ever so comfy pewter shoes instead. I love how the pewter shoes have just molded to my feet and are so comfortable. I have to say that I am actually a little disappointed in the red shoes. They are not as fabulous as I thought that they would be, and the body of the shoe is not as flexible nor as solid as my pewter shoes. We will see how they fair when actually worn, but I am a little skeptical at the moment. Luckily, the green shoes that will soon be mine (insert maniacal tango addict laugh here) are the same maker as the pewter shoes, so I am fairly certain I will love them almost as much (for really, how can you love a shoe more than your very first pair of real tango shoes from Argentina? You can't. You will tell all your dancing shoes that you love them equally, like children and puppies, but you are lying, because we all have favorites. Just the way the universe turns....)
So last night it was the rescheduled Valentine's Day Milonga. I had a great time, I spent most of the night dancing, and I had to laugh as I felt a little like the shiny new toy that every one takes off the shelf to try out. It won't go to my head, never fear, but I felt like the better leaders had taken notice of my progress and were seeing what I could (and could not) do. It was fun and definitely a nice ego trip. I had some lovely tandas, O (from my first practica, who helped me so much that day) danced one of the first tandas of the evening, and after the first tango he said "You've been practicing!" Yes I have! Glad it shows! I always enjoy dancing with O, he has a very athletic and musical style. Plus we always end up laughing with delight at the end of each tango, and I have noticed that he does that with all the followers that he likes to dance with. It is infectious, that laughing. I also danced with a really lovely leader, K, who cracked me up after he asked me to dance. I gave my usual "I'm a beginner" acceptance, to which he responded, "Yes, I noticed." Too funny!!! Then a milonga tanda came on. Argh! I told him I was milonga-challenged and would understand if he wanted to find a better partner. He said not to worry, he would lead and I would follow just fine. Gotta love confidence in a leader! But you know what? I actually did follow without problem with him! Granted, he kept it simple, but he also kept it interesting and I had no problem at all with the steps. It was rather lovely and lots of fun. One thing my S told me was to look for leaders who did not end a milonga set panting and sweating, as they would be the milonga leaders I would want to dance with. And K ended each milonga effortlessly. I certainly hope to dance with K again, either tango, milonga or waltz!
Later, S2 asked me to be his last dance of the evening as he was heading out early. What a wonderful thing! It made me very happy and, as always, the tanda was fantastic. It is just lovely all the little nuances he puts into the dance that anyone who is watching would not notice. It just adds such a personal touch to an intimate dance, and brings it to another level.
And the last song I dance with my S. I was in a really good mood, and was rather relaxed, so it went pretty well. Not sure why, but I do have a tendency to tense up more with him than any other leader, I think it is because I want to dance well with him and I do not want to disappoint him or mess up. Typical overachiever with the need to please her teachers and partners! But I love ending the milongas with him, and it went well, until near the end of the song someone danced right into us and their shoe went right into my calf and I was bumped pretty hard in the back. It really threw me off. I need to learn how to recover from that sort of an intrusion quickly and gracefully, it is not good to let it ruin my groove so completely.
I could have easily danced for hours more, but 1am came along and the lights went up and we had to leave. I had not had much tango this past week as I am entering production for two operas (gulp) that I am working on and this week is looking to shape up to be the same. I am already getting depressed over the fact that I will most likely not get to tango much if at all until next weekend. Sad! And one thing that I have noticed from all this dancing is the fact that my clothes are started to fit a little looser. I bought some great pants specifically for tango dancing, and when I put them on last night, they were a little loose in the hips (no waist, low rise are much more comfortable to dance in, especially since I have such displacement issues, I want as little impediment to displacement as possible). My jeans are also getting looser, but I weigh the same amount. Guess my body is getting leaner and building muscle at the same time, which is great. Firmer bits and pieces is always a good thing! :-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007


So last night there was to be a Valentine's Day milonga. I was looking forward to it all day. Through the early morning start, yucky wet weather and long day at the theatre, I knew that my day would end with dancing and fun. Come night time, S picks me up and we head on over to the dance complex after stopping at Whole Foods and devouring some chicken and roasted potatoes, only to drive up to the complex and see all the lights are off and the place has been immersed in darkness. We never even thought that the milonga might have been canceled as the weather really was not that bad in Boston, messy yes, bad, not really. It was as though someone had killed a puppy in front of me seeing the place so dark and empty. Ok, maybe someone kicking a puppy. But still, bad things to puppies were happening in my mind as we sat in the car looking forlornly at the door.
The night was made better by the fact that S bought me a huge assortment of dark chocolate bars, all types and percentages of cacao, from 56% to 99%! And none of them had dairy in them, which made me every so happy! Trust me, the 99% is an acquired taste, and you really only need the smallest of tastes of it. The rest, however, were amazing, and of course we had to eat them the S way and taste a little of each bar and see how they compare. But munching on chocolate does not exactly replace the high of dancing. Oh well, this weekend we may travel out to NYC and taste the tango there.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

oooohhhhh!!!! Shiny!!!!!

And so the addiction begins, and the bank account dwindles.....

Monday, February 12, 2007

Opera Singers and tango....

Not exactly together, but they are the memorable moments of the past few days.
Opera first.
I am currently working as the assistant designer on a big production here in Boston, I love working with this particular designer and I always learn so much when I work with her. But we have the challenge of all challenges with this production, and that is an old school opera star. She is a phenomenal singer, has had am amazing career that has spanned decades of accolades and treading highly prized floorboards (such as the Met in NYC), but she is older now and although her star is still bright, it is waning a little. However she is still a presence to be dealt with, and no where was that more evident than in the fitting room. She is certainly not the modern J Lo or Mariah like diva, she has too much class for that, but she certainly wants what she wants and that is it. We ended up building her costume as we knew it would make her happy, which it did, and the fitting was interesting at best. She "inhabits" her character in the fitting in order to decide if the garment will work for her. So we fit her costume, and then she starts pacing the floor, pulling out pins, singing, grabbing anything in the fitting room that she could use as props, and off she went around the room. The designer and I just stood there, watching, not sure what to do, waiting for her to finish her show so we could put the pins back in the garment and get her out of it. Amazing.... all I could think of was "I'm ready for my close up Mr Deville!"

And now on to... tango! What else!
It has been a long weekend of tango. Thursday practica, Friday and Saturday milonga, and Sunday practica. Thursday practica was ok, crowded as always and rather hot. It was productive, worked on walking and stepping from the hip.
Friday's milonga was good. It was both a new and an old milonga, the original organizer moved away from the area and it was taken over by two local instructors, it was fun. It takes place in a bright orange room, and so its new name is Naranja Milonga. The space is small, but one entire wall is floor to ceiling mirrors. The atmosphere is nice and the floor is great. I had some good dances and it was a fun time. But Saturday, that was the highlight of the weekend, and possibly the month! Went to Blue Milonga (notice a trend with the events....) and there was a guest instructor and DJ there, Evan Griffiths (see the video in my prior post). His music choices for the evening were divine and inspiring. His tandas were well thought out and just lovely to dance to. Remember my whining a little while ago about sitting for most of a milonga? Well, that did not happen here! I had many good dances with some good leaders, and some amazing dances with leaders who were the best in the area. How did a girl get so lucky? Not sure, but I certainly am not going to question the universe when it hands me a present! And I had another break through, I asked a leader to dance for the first time. Now I knew ahead of time that he would dance with me, but still, it was a big deal to me. I've only been dancing about 2 months now, and the thought of asking a strong leader to dance would intimidate me. But I have some favorite leaders who express interest in my dancing and even tell me that they enjoy dancing with me, and I am fairly certain that they really mean it, so I am getting more courage to ask them to dance. I realized this weekend that I have never even asked my S to dance! So I made sure to change that as well that evening.
But anyway, my mojo started halfway through the evening when I looked up and Evan was standing next to me and invited me to dance. I almost looked over my shoulder to see who was standing behind me, but managed to remain calm and collected. I accepted and explained that I was a beginner, he smiled and said "We'll see." And off we went. It was divine. His lead was heavenly, very smooth, and even though I made mistakes or missed leads, he compensated for me and it was as if I did not miss a thing. I tried very hard NOT to get tense or be stiff, and I think I basically managed that. He danced the entire tanda with me, and at the end was very gracious and kind. He did not ask me how long I had been dancing, and I was told later from S2 that he and Evan were discussing his dance with me (S2 being one of my favorite leaders), and when S2 told him how long I had been dancing, Evan was shocked, he thought I had been dancing for about a year. So ego? Yea, pretty much inflated after that!
Then a Pugliese tanda came on, and I asked S2 to dance with me. My first dance invitation! Of course, I knew he would accept, but still.... It was lovely as always. S2 has such musicality, and he does all of these little movements and creates small moments within the tango that no one but he and his follower would ever know about. Just lovely. It really makes me feel special when I am dancing with him, as though he created those little moments just for me. I would happily dance the entire evening with S2. We had danced a tanda earlier in the evening, but this one was really fantastic. I think it was a mixture of the music, my high from dancing with Evan, and the fact that I was relaxed. Sigh..... Lovely....
Then one of the top teachers and dancers in New England asked me to dance. Uhmmm.... Wow! Score! My S had told me earlier that Carlos was incredibly picky about whom he danced with, and that he would introduce me and give me an opportunity to chat with Carlos. But before that happened, Carlos invited me to dance. It was possibly one of the best tandas I have ever had. I would even say one of the top 3 in my short tango life. It was effortless, it was fun, it was playful, and if I made any mistakes, I don't know them. He started off easy and kept increasing the level of the dance, I am sure it was to test where I was and how well I could follow. But he was such an amazing leader, I really could follow him in whatever he asked me to. There were some moments that I enjoyed so much that I laughed out loud, to which Carlos said "Sound effects?! Cool!". It was really and truly a tango moment.
When the tanda was over, Carlos brought me back to my seat, flushed and grinning, where my S was laughing at how high I was from all my dancing with the top level leaders. How could I not be? And how great is it that when we both have these types of experiences on the dance floor, we are so happy for the other and proud of each others moments, and there is no hint of jealousy or angst?! That honestly makes it that much more special I think. I then asked my S to dance the last tango with me, and he agreed. And although my feet were tired and I was not at my best for the last tango with him, it was still lovely and ended the night perfectly for me.
Then... oh yes... there's more! Sunday's practica. It was a leaps and bounds sort of learning day. S2 organized this practica and he spent a good hour or so with me, we worked on my presence, being in the embrace, and being a part of the dance, as opposed to being danced with. Wow.... got it! We worked hard, and I certainly have a lot to work on, but I so want to be what S2 said he thought I could be. He mentioned that he enjoys dancing with me at the level I am at, and he thinks I will always be someone who dances well, but he wants me to work on becoming the sort of dancer that leaders seek out. Tall order, and slightly intimidating, but also inspiring that someone thinks so highly of me. After that, I had some good practice dances with some good leaders, and I learned the proper way to hold my left arm, which almost immediately banished most of the tension and heaviness from my arm and hand. It was a light dawns on marble head sort of moment. It was explained to me that I should hold my arm just as I did in ballet, from the shoulder blade, and use my own energy to connect and don't rest my hand on the spine, but on either shoulder blade. It was like the heavens opened up and a chorus on angels sang down to me "Well.... DUH!!!!" That changes things nicely doesn't it! I danced the last few tangos with a woman, C, leading. It was quite different, and I rather liked it, although her lead was a bit soft and I had a harder time that I thought that I should have. But it was fun nonetheless, and reinforced my determination to learn to lead, despite the angst that is going to cause.

So, after all of that.... it was a weekend full of tango, tango moments, and learning. What could be better?!?! :-)

Great tango video - Evan Griffiths and Alex Krebs

Here is a great tango video of two fantastic leaders dancing together. I love that they switch off leading throughout the tango. I was lucky enough to be invited to dance this past weekend by Evan at the Blue Milonga, considering the length of time I have been dancing, it absolutely made my evening, and possibly my month to get to dance with him. More on that soon.....

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ahhh... practica

Ahhh... practica. Always a highlight, and always a glaring light that draws my attention to my weak areas. Kind of like wearing a dress that has cut-outs on the areas of your body that you actually want to camouflage. But it is a good thing. Last night, practica at MIT, always full and usually there are a good amount of strong leaders whom I can dance with. Got there late due to working at the theatre, and when I walked up to the door, the heat from the bodies moving around inside emanated from the doorway. Glad I dressed in layers! Stripped down to just jeans and my t-shirt, on went the heels, and inside I went. S was already there, so we danced a few tangos where I tried my best to keep my presence constant and solid. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I got distracted and he would remind me to be in the embrace. sigh.... I can't wait for the day that is second nature to me. Then S got antsy for a different partner (he can dance with me anytime he wants to, so I understand that, does not mean I like it when he starts looking around for another partner on the floor, but my ego recovers quickly). A new leader I had not danced with before came up, D, and asked me for a dance. Taking a chance, I smiled and said yes and off we went. What a pleasant surprise! He was quite good. As usual, I accepted the dance by mentioning my beginner status, and he asked me what I wanted to work on. That would be posture and listening. And man did he help me with that! His lead was very clean and clear, he would lead me into a pattern, doing the same figure three, four, sometimes five times, only to abruptly change it when he felt me starting to fall into the pattern. That was really good, as I do have a tendency to anticipate if I sense a pattern. He changed steps mid-step, and I found myself concentrating on him and the music and nothing else, which brought me into a sort of follower zone, which was great. We danced four songs and it was very helpful. Yea! I hope he continues to come to the practicas and milongas in the area, I really enjoyed dancing with him.
I then sat for awhile and watched one of the better leaders in the community, B. His lead is fantastic, and he is very musical and active. Even when his movements are softer and quiet, his lead is active, if that makes any sense at all. I had no idea if he had ever noticed me before, but I knew that I would like to dance with him at some point. The universe was apparently paying attention to the ramblings in my head, because B came up and asked me to dance shortly after that. He is very tall, and it made me realize how different my embrace needs to be with someone who is over a head taller than I am. Let me put it this way, I am 5'7", with heels on, 5'10". My nose was level with his clavicle. But it was so much fun to dance with him, he did not try to dance "down" to my level, he simply lead me and if I could not execute what he started, he would change his lead accordingly and not once did I feel like an idiot or lost. We danced a tanda and it was great, although it was all I could do to keep up and focus. At the end I asked him for feedback and he told me to watch my posture and to allow my upper body to move along with my lower body (disassociate.... yeah yeah, it's the bane of my existence.....).
Last song of the practica I ended up dancing with J, which is always a pleasure and I enjoy dancing with him more and more.
Tonight it is a milonga and I am really looking forward to it. I am starting to get the itchies if I don't dance for a few days, and although last night helped, I am looking forward to having fun and dancing tonight. I also have a new hair color to show off. No more solid, dependable brown. I decided to go red. Rather matches my personality I believe. The frigid cold and short days of February always inspire me to add color to my life, and this time, it's my hair that got the color infusion.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sitting Pretty....

I had a new experience at a milonga, I sat for most of it and watched. It was a little disappointing, oh who am I kidding, it was really disappointing. There were quite a few leaders there whom I would have liked to have danced with, but only actually danced with a couple of them. A few of them I had never danced with before, and I knew if they did not see me dance, they most likely would not ask me, however my task for the evening seemed to be seat warmer.
I did dance with J whose style I have come to appreciate and really enjoy. His lead is very different and subtle, but he is a lot of fun to dance with and now that I am a little more advanced, I can actually follow him reasonably well. I also danced with one of my teachers' assistants, T, he is very formal and very clear with lead. He also is well aware of my weak areas, and he certainly made me work them! He also lead me into steps that I am not exactly versed in, like..... volcadas?! Eek! Ack!! And for some psychic reason, I had asked S to show me how to survive that step about a half hour before T asked me to dance because I had a leader at a prior milonga lead me into that and I thought I was going to hurt myself or him. Thank whatever being there is that S did show me right then as opposed to later which was what I had meant, as I managed to keep my back rigid when T lead me into it and I did not hurt either of us. Afterwards T complimented me on being able to follow through more than I actually know. Whew, yea, well, sometimes I get premonitions on how to save my own sorry butt! Then I sat on said sorry butt for over an hour. Watching others dance, watching followers whom I thought were less advanced than I was get up for dance after dance. It was disheartening. Now I know I could have asked leaders to dance, and I actually plucked up the courage to go over and chat with D to see if I could then segue into a dance, but as soon as I walked over, he was spirited away by another. Curses! Plus although I know that I am doing well for someone who has been dancing for only 6 weeks, I do not yet have the courage to ask the better leaders to dance, even if I already know that they are happy to dance with me. So I sat and watched. Which I do learn from, but I would rather be dancing. Finally near the end, as I complained a little to my S about sitting for so long, O, from my first practica, came over and asked me to dance. Yea!!! He remembered me from the practica a month ago and said he was curious to see how I have progressed. We danced for a few tandas, and since the floor was pretty empty by that time, it was past midnight, we had fun and he worked on some figures with me. It was great, although he has a very athletic style, so at times I know that it was physics and not my axis that was keeping me upright. S grabbed his videocam and recorded some of my dance, which was very helpful to see as I suddenly saw my posture issues, but I also saw that I really don't move half bad, and it was reassuring to see that I am starting to look like a tango dancer. It turned my mood right around to have those tandas with O. S then danced the last tango with me, and although I tried to "cleanse my tango palate" of O's athletic lead, there were a couple of times I lost it during the tango with S, but it was fun nonetheless - at least for me, I can't speak for S as I know that my "wiggles" annoy him.
So there we have it, I am now at the point where I am discerning as to which leader I will accept dances from, I am too chicken to ask the good leaders to dance, and I feel like pouting if I sit for too long at a milonga. Hoo boy, I am turning into a pain in the butt. But soon I hope to be able to pluck up the courage to approach not only leaders whom I know will dance with me, but leaders whom I don't know. Give me another month. I bet I'll get there!

In other news, S decided that I needed to learn to lead. I think that this is not only for my benefit, but for his as he wants to learn to follow. We spent an hour or so working on teaching me to lead. And all I can say is that it is incredibly hard, which I knew, and I did not have fun at all trying to figure out how to lead before stepping, not wavering, stepping in a straight line, and maintaining presence. I think I am going to be much more growly of a leader student than I ever was a a follower student.....

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Heartbreak on the Red Line

While taking the red line to pick up my car at the tow lot (yea, I'll get to that in a moment), I was witness to a sight that just broke my heart and fired up my outrage. While zoning out to the gentle rocking of the subway, I noticed a family that had gotten onto my car at the last stop. It was a mother, father, little girl about 7 and a pre-teen boy around 11. The parents were so drunk that they could barely walk, and as soon as they sat down, they passed out. And let me tell you, it was not a pretty passed out. They were slumped over, slack jawed drooling, clothes disheveled, stinky passed out. The little girl was chattering constantly to either one of her parents as she sat between the two. Or should I say chattering at. It was as if she believed that if she talked enough, she could rouse them. It was bordering on hysteria. The boy was angry. And I mean, angry at everything, it oozed from his pores and was actually tangible in the air. He sat across from the rest of his family and every once in awhile told his sister to shut up. I took this in and could barely contain myself. The next stop was mine, so I got up and walked over to the exit door near the boy. It was all I could do not to recoil at the rage that he was giving off. I looked down at him, and he looked up at me with eyes that could kill, daring me to make a comment. My heart broke. I very quietly said "Are you ok? How can I help?" The rage wavered for an instant, and I thought he was going to cry, but then the walls came up and he told me to "Mind my own fucking business." We were rolling into the station, and I tried to hold his gaze, but he would not look back at me. I said to him "I can't do that. I'll get someone to help you." He turned his back to me and I stepped off the train and went up to the conductor's window and told him what was going on and that I feared for the safety of the children, and please contact the police and child services. The conductor thanked me, asked me which car they were in, and took my name and number in case the police wanted to talk to me.
As the train pulled away and I watched the cars disappear into the tunnel, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Now I have had an emotional week, I am sure that has contributed to my emotional reaction to this, but I felt as though I should have done something more. What? I don't know. But something. Anything. As I blinked back the tears, I noticed a transit worker standing to my side, he had heard the whole exchange. I asked him what I should have done and he said exactly what I did. The conductor would radio ahead to transit police at the next stop and they would check out the situation and decide if they kids needed help or not. He walked me upstairs and I said I could not believe what I saw, that people would treat their kids so offhandedly and with no thought towards the children's safety or well being. He gave a gruff sort of laugh and said "When you've done this job for as long as I have, nothing surprises you." He then told me about parents who were so drugged out they left their newborn in the train, parents so drunk they threw up all over the train and their kids would scramble to clean up after them. Quick snippets of stories that turned my stomach.
Why do people have children if they don't actually intend to be parents?!? I am having a hard time understanding this. My emotions are all over the place right now, and I know that my reactions are intensified, however it saddens me to think about those two kids. And I am afraid for that boy, the amount of anger he has can only lead to more pain for him. I did not know what to do, and I am afraid that there is no answer I could have expected other than that which he gave me.
People suck, and it hurts the very fiber of my being sometimes.

So, the tow lot. My car was towed last night and I had to go pick it up this morning. And when I got there, I discovered that it really should not have been towed in the first place, and the lady manning the booth gave me all the information I needed to challenge the fee I had to pay ($105.00 - OUCH!) and get reimbursed by the city. And of course, when I found out my car was towed last night, the first reaction I had was "But my tango shoes are in it!!!"
What a tango geek I've become.....

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I love old people

Stopped at Dunkin Donuts this morning for a muffin and some more coffee, and I held the door open for an elderly gentleman who arrived at the same time I did. He was very sweet and rather funny, he mentioned that back in his day he always was the one to open the door for young ladies, not the other way around. I laughed, and said that women's lib ruined so many lovely customs, didn't it? We chatted a bit in line, then he asked if I was off to work. I said yes, and he said "You are so pretty that you must be a secretary, your boss is so lucky to have such a pretty young lady working for him."
How does one answer that? I am fairly certain that was meant as a compliment...

"Actually, I work in theatre and I run a costume shop at a University in town. But thank you."

He was not sure how to react to that, so he thought for awhile, and then said "Well, good for you. Your husband is lucky to have such a pretty wife then."

I decided that I was not going to burst all of his old fashioned bubbles today.......