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?!?! :-)

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Onwards and upwards! Glad you had a wonderful time at Blue Milonga.