Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Providence Alternative Festival

Well, it was a great festival I have to say. Although I did not attend any classes, I did attend the milongas and guided practicas and I had a great time. Friday, as I stated before, I was a little grumbly from allergies, but Saturday through Monday I had great dances, talked with some great people, made new friends, and thoroughly exhausted and enjoyed myself.

Before the milongas on Saturday and Sunday, Tova and Carlos Moreno lead guided practicas that, although thinly attended (most likely as people were in classes or getting food), were very helpful. S and I worked on different things, and there were several times where we would throw up the white flag to have Carlos come over and help us with what one or both of us were missing. I adore Carlos and Tova as they seem to be able to diagnose issues and offer recommendations for fixing or adjusting that are insightful. Plus they are too much fun!

Friday night Adam Hoopengardner was the DJ and as always, his music was well thought out and vibed with the energy of the dancers. Saturday was Yulia Kriskovets, who played a good amount of alternative music, some of which I actually liked. Which was surprising to me, considering I am not a huge fan of alternative tango music. Although with the right partner, it can be a hell of a lot of fun. Sunday milonga was Shorey Meyers, and I am fast becoming a huge fan not only of her dancing and teaching, but of her DJ abilities. There was a point when S mentioned that she was always setting up the tanda that was 2 tandas away, which, although keeps her busy and off the dance floor, it also means she is very connected to the dancers under her umbrella of music and mood and she takes care of them. I loved every minute of that Sunday milonga. Monday was quiet, as most people had left, but those who were there were treated to Evan Griffiths DJ-ing. And as usual, he did a fantastic job.

So, those were our maestros for the evenings.

Now on the the dancers and the vibes of the night. ;-)

Saturday was the Longa Milonga, so it started at 9 and went until 6am. We grabbed a bite to eat with a group of people in between the practica and milonga (indian food, YUM!), and when we got back and changed into fresh clothes, you could feel the energy in the air rising. S and I danced a tanda or two and I felt really good. I felt like I was moving well, and giving feedback, and dancing. S also mentioned that I was doing well, which made me feel great (as you know, his compliments are few and far between, and when given they are really uplifting). I can't even begin to recount the dances I had, there were too many, we danced for over 7 hours. I had some amazing tandas with several leaders, both local favorites and leaders from NJ, NY, NH, DC, and Canada. I had a wonderful connection with a gentleman from NY whom I had seen dancing at Chelsea Market before, L, and dancing with him was just divine. He had the firm yet gentle lead, and his musicality was delightful. I felt the phrases of the music when we danced, I could contribute, and it was truly a tango moment with him. I am guessing that he enjoyed it as well as he asked me for dances later in the night and through the next day. It is truly wonderful to find someone that you connect so clearly with.

This is also the night I was lucky enough to dance with Murat. And I know that the next time I am lucky enough to dance with him I will have improved in both my embrace, musicality, and contribution to the dance.

The instructors performed somewhere after midnight. Carlos sang (I believe) Mi Corazon (someone correct me if I am wrong) with piano and electric violin accompaniment, and he was great. What a powerful voice he is developing! We chatted later in the evening and he told me the story behind the song, that it was all about this beautiful woman whom ever man wanted, but she was joining a nunnery, and every man wanted to deflower the flower of the barrio. I love how the words sound so romantic and then you hear the translation.... ;-)
Then the instructors performed, and it was lovely to see. S took video of the performances, and it will be posted to the providence tango website soon. Take a peek at Carlos and Tova's very flirty, very funny tango when it is posted.

We lasted until around 4:30 when S and I realized that we needed to stay awake to get back home. So by 6am we were just falling asleep. :-) so cool....

Sunday's milonga was also fantastic, lots of good dances, lots of good conversation and all around a great time. I won't go into all the dances, but it was more of the same and I had a great night dancing until 3am or so.

Monday's milonga was very quiet, most people had left by then, but those that stayed were still going strong, albeit a little more mellow. S and I had our private with Murat and Michelle right before the milonga, as I wrote before, and so we were already warmed up when we walked over from the small studio to the large studio. It was definitely a more mellow crowd, and I can't remember how long we lasted, but by the time we got home we were both zonked.

But I am very happy to report that although my feet were tired by the end, they were not in pain and there was no cramping, so now I understand the almost rabid following for Comme il Faut shoes! And I am joining the ranks of the converts!

I have a tango crush....

And it is on a couple, Murat and Michelle! They came to the Providence Alternative Festival (which I will write more on soon), and both S and I were thrilled to see them walk into the venue. We confered quickly and decided to approach them about a private while they were in town. They travel so much, we never know when we might see them again. So S spoke with Murat and scheduled a private for the last day of the festival. Yea! I was very excited, as I had learned so much from them when they taught the group class at MIT, I knew that an hour with them in private would be a leaps and bounds sort of lesson.

Of course, at the milonga, S danced with Michelle, and she is just too beautiful to watch. Pure elegance and grace. No wonder S always has a tango high after dancing with her!

Later that night, I was sitting on the couch chatting with my friend P when I realized that Murat had sat down next to us and was watching the dance floor. I re-introduced myself to him and told him how much I was looking forward to our lesson with him. He was incredibly gracious, and we chatted about this and that and tango for a few minutes with P. Then the unexpected happened, Murat asked me to dance. After a millisecond of shock, I happily accepted and left poor P in the wake of my jumping up to go to the dance floor. I have to laugh at myself, there is a reason I don't play poker. I apologized to P later, and he just laughed at me, and said he knew better than to try to stop me from having a tanda with Murat.

It was beyond lovely. As I knew it must be. Although I became intimidated as we settled into the embrace, and it took me almost an entire song before I was able to relax somewhat into the dance. Not surprisingly, his lead was exceptional and his musicality was beautiful. It was amazing and I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to dance with him. I also was aware of how much I have to learn afterwards. Not at all from anything that he said or did, but simply from dancing with a master, I realized how much more mountain is in front of me on my journey in tango.

When we had the private with them, it was more than I was hoping for. I wanted to work on follower technique and musicality, and S wanted a diagnosis of his dancing and help working on areas that needed help. Murat watched us dance once, then asked us to dance again to the same song using more musicality, and then the work began. We worked and talked about musicality and how we define it, how we use it, and what exactly musicality is and should be. We worked on listening to and digesting the music, using the same song through the entire class. Finding the end points within the song, finding punctuation, finding moments. It was a moment of clarity. S got a real work out, and Murat called him on some of his crap, which gave me a good laugh as for once, S was on the receiving end of the tasking rather than myself! ;-)
But afterwards we knew that we had come away from the lesson with so much more than we went into, and with a good amount of information to process and homework to work on. Murat really is a fantastic teacher and they are both such lovely people, how could I not have a crush on them?!?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Red Shoes

The festival was fantastic. I was a little grunbly Friday night from allergies, but the rest of the weekend was amazing. I will write more later, but suffice it to say I had great to amazing dances, met some lovely people, and danced for hours and hours and hours in my new red shoes that are possibly bewitched they are so great.
Here is a picture of me in my red shoes.... and the Bali pants!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Providence Alternative Festival, opening night

Last night was the opening night of the Providence Alternative Festival, and I am looking forward to the rest of the festival. Although I am not an alternative music fan, there is a lot here and the DJs lined up are really good and playing a nice mix of music.

I'll write more later, but last night was both a night of great tandas and not so great tandas. I ended up being baby-sat by a few beginner leaders and therefore ended up dancing with them. I do not mind dancing with beginners, I was one myself, I DO mind however, when I decline a dance, and they then sit down next to me to wait until I am "ready". This is one of my pet peeves, and I don't know how to not be polite when it happens. One of these moments rather set my teeth on edge. One beginner was simply not leading at all, and I don't know yet how to compensate for leaders, so if there is no lead, I don't go anywhere. So we were side stepping, taking a few steps backwards, stopping, then doing all of that over again. Finally I could tell he was getting frustrated with me and he said "Don't you know how to do this step?" Uhm, wrong question my friend. My response, before I could think, "Well, you have to lead it first in order for me to follow it."
He turned bright red. So I quickly replied "It is bad form to teach or instruct on the social dance floor, so I apologize, but you are holding me in place, you have to give me somewhere to go, lead me to the step." He suddenly realized what he should have been doing, and lead me into an ocho. It was not good, and at the end of the song I thanked him and said that I hope that he enjoys the festival. I could tell he was surprised, but I was not going to go through any more of that.

I did have some great tandas with some of my favorite leaders, and with one local instructor whom I adore dancing with. And over all I had a nice time. It was very hard because I did not get to dance much at all, there was an overabundance of good to great followers with a couple of goddess int he mix, and only a handful of good to great to god-like leaders, so they had their pick of the litter, and I was not really a chosen one. Which is fine, I can't compete with the followers who have been dancing for over 2 years and everyone wants to dance with. But I also can't help but wonder if all of the dances I ended up having with beginners was going against me. I know that the great dancers watch when they are not on the dance floor, and it seemed like half my dances were with beginners and babysitters.

Maybe I am just grumbly.

But tonight is another night, and it is also an all night milonga, so here's hoping that things will be better!

PLUS I bought my first pair of Comme il faut shoes! Red suede sandals with a 4 inch heel. YUM!!! The pair that I had ordered from are back-ordered for three months, so I cancelled that order and bought these gorgeous shoes last night. I am wearing them tonight after breaking them in around the house practicing my ochos and boleos. It was meant to be, as soon as I tried them on, they felt like they belonged on my feet. I'm sure I'll post more about them later, and maybe convince S to take a picture of them to post.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The perfect bra

Ladies - I have found the most comfortable bra ever. Yes. Really. Ever.
And as an act of sisterhood, I have to share it with you.
It is by Wacoal, and it is called the iBra. Yea, yea.... techy name, but holy canoli, it feels like air, fits like a glove, is soft and comfortable, and supports you like a dream. It's pricey, well, pricey for me, $50.00 USD, but so worth every penny I spent. I am not tugging at it at any point, there are no red marks at the end of the day, and no "wardrobe malfunctions" of body parts popping out to say hello.
Really, go try it on, it's the best.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another good tango weekend

It was another full weekend of tango, and yet again, I am pretty sure that I actually danced the whole weekend. It's rather cool to hit the point where my confidence in my dancing is becoming solid.

So. What do two crazy tango people do on a rainy, cold, yucky Friday night? Drive and hour and a half (one way) to a milonga that they have never been to of course! Yup. Sign #427 that you are a tango junkie, drive three hours round trip in bad, cold weather to another state to dance. Insane. But that is what S and I did Friday night. Crazy kids.....

Saturday I had a private with Carlos and Tova that I had saved up for. We worked on boleos and open embrace. I told them that I wanted to banish the Blah-leo from my vocabulary. They thought that was funny and I think they are going to steal the phrase from me.... which is fine since it is for teaching purposes. ;-) So we worked and worked and worked and I really felt like I made some really good progress. My back boleo almost kicks ass (literally!!!) and my front boleo is getting there. But I now know how to do them properly and what that feels like, so now I can practice them to my hearts content. And maybe when I dance with a certain leader I won't be told that my boleos are "unsatisfying".... harumph....
But it was a great hour and change, and at the end I was rather tired, which surprised me, but they worked me pretty hard. And of course when I got home S wanted to see how much I learned, so he then worked me until I turned into Ms grumpy-cranky-puss and announced that "I am now done." Heh heh heh... well.... poke the cat too much and eventually she will swipe.

But then that night it was milonga! And it went really well, I had some great dances and only a couple of not so great dances. And one was expected as it was a beginner that I had helped in practica, so although he was stressed from the crowd and thus losing a lot of clarity, he needed the practice of dancing socially and it did not bother me to dance a tanda with him. I enjoyed the evening immensely, and there was even food there that I could eat! Which is very exciting for me as usually I just have water and maybe some crackers if I need something to munch. But the spread at this milonga was impressive and mostly very healthy, lots of veggies, fruit, pita and humus... yum! Energy replacement! I danced well and paced myself, and near the end of the night, I was tired and knew I only had a dance or two left in me, so I saved it and waited to dance the end of the night with S. I even said no to P, who was dancing well that night and it killed me to have to say no, but I told him I was cooked and only had enough left for the last dance. But I was truly knackered and happy at the end. S and I danced the last tanda and he made mention that I was not my usual mess at the end of the night and I was dancing well. Uhm... thanks. I had to laugh, sometimes his compliments are a little pointy and thorny, but I know what he means nonetheless.

We had also asked one of the community members to tape us for the first two tangos before people showed up, and he was an absolute gentleman to oblige us. So we have more tape of us dancing together. Maybe I'll ask S to give me a clip to post here and those who are curious can see where I am at. Again, watching yourself on video is such a helpful tool and I thoroughly encourage people to do this. You see everything, and I find it so much easier to adjust when I have a visual of the issue. Plus it is so cool to watch how you move as opposed to how you think you move.

Sunday was practica, and I got there late. I had to go into school as I had been pressed into service to help steam out the commencement robes of the faculty. Not sure how that happened, but I think the term floating half day helped me to decide to do it. That was surreal, steaming all the robes of my colleagues... but I was done in an hour and jumped on the bus to head over to Cambridge.

Practica was a bit humid, lots of people, and humid air from rain made a bit of a steam box atmosphere, but it was also a very good hour and a half for me. I ended up not dancing at all with S, but I danced with a couple (separately of course) who teach in the area, S and D. I had danced with D before, and it was as fun as I remember, but it was also much more challenging than I remember. His embrace was different than I remember, more all encompassing, where he held my chest and my stomach to him, so stepping with a long enough stride backwards was a little dicey until I figured it out. We danced a few songs and had a great time. I asked for feedback and did not really get much, he told me that my following was now "up to snuff" which was a nice thing to hear. I then danced with his partner, S, who is a wonderful leader as well as follower. She is one of my S's favorite followers. Wen she asked me to dance, I absolutely jumped at the chance, as I knew that she was a no b.s.-er and she will tell you the absolute truth if you ask her. We danced the last half hour of the practica together and she was a dream to follow. Utterly clear and strong lead, and once she realized where I was at dance wise, she kept challenging me with more difficult moves and dynamic changes in tempo and speed. It was fantastic. I asked her for feedback as well, and she told me that all that she had was tiny details that she did not want to even mention considering the length of time I had been dancing. She was very pleased with my following and told me so, which of course made me very happy. Sometimes the sincere compliments can do so much more for you than all the constructive criticism in the world. They offer hope and approval from an outside source.

End of this week is the Providence Alternative Tango festival... I am sure that there will be some good stories from that! :-D

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pretty good practica

Last night was the MIT practica, and lately it has been spotty at best for attendance. But my S was DJ-ing the practica, and he sent out an all point bulletin to try to get more advanced dancers to come, and it turned out pretty good. S filmed us for the first 45 minutes or so working on volcadas, colgadas, and all sorts of moves where I needed to keep my axis solid. It was a really good practice session, and I think I got a lot out of it. When we were watching the tape later that night, it was hilarious at times because others were not aware of the camera sitting on the table, and they would come up and lean against the table, with their posteriors right in frame! Ha! Whoops. Oh well.

After working for awhile with S, we took a break and I was approached by a gentleman I had not seen there before. Lately this means brand new beginner, but that was not the case this time. We chatted, he mentioned he was new to Boston and wanted to know where the good practicas and milongas were. Turns out he is from Ann Arbor MI, and I had heard some really good things about dancers from that part of the world, so when he asked me to dance, I did not hesitate. It was a lovely time, he was a very good dancer, and moved in a way differently from the other leaders I am used to dancing with. I can't explain how he was different, but it was lovely. We danced for 4 or 5 songs, and at the end we chatted a little more. He is only here for the summer, and I hope to see him at the milongas and dance some more with him.

Then there was the "Wow" moment for me. Not in dancing, but in practicing. There is a beginner whom I had danced with about a month ago, he could salida at the time, but not much else. However I could tell that there was something there. So when he came up and asked if I would help him, I agreed. He began the dance by saying that he was open to all feedback and please don't be afraid to be honest. So we danced one dance and I listened to his moves. After the dance, I took a breath and gave him some constructive feedback about his embrace, his left arm, and not to look down at his feet. He started laughing and said that I sounded like his teacher as these were the things she was constantly telling him. So we started another dance and I would make mention when his embrace felt good and when it had issues. I learned that if I over firmed my right arm, he would realize his was too soft and he would adjust. And after a minute or two of my saying, don't look down every 10 seconds or so, he was doing it less and less. It felt really good to be able to help someone, and it rather blew my mind that I was at a point when I could help someone. Me! Helping a beginner leader. Who knew the day would some so quickly. We also talked about using the chest for leading turns, and how he needed to open up not only to the left (my right) but to the right (my left), it is harder, but much more important as otherwise I had no where to go. We practiced for about 4 songs I think, after which he gave me a huge hug and told me I was a doll for helping him and being such a good follower. It really felt nice to be able to actually help someone and have it be absorbed so readily.

On a slightly down note, had my foot accidentally stepped on last night, and broke the nail down past the pink, youch!! This is why I don't get manicures. First of all I hate polish, I can actually feel it on my nails, and secondly, I would be pissed if I had spent money for someone to prettify my feet only to have them ruined soon afterwards. I think I'll keep the shoes the main attraction and not the toes.... ;-P

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

happiness is....

Finding new foods that I both like and can eat (considering my long list of food allergies). Today I found two. One was actually suggested by S at breakfast as he requested pancakes, but we had no berries available for them, except for one lone kiwi. So we had kiwi pancakes, and you know what?? They are yummy!

Second - there is a cafe around the corner from the theatre that I often stop at to get a coffee since they offer soy milk at no extra charge (Starbucks charges and extra 50 cents for soy!!! What a racket!) And I noticed that they now offer bagels with veggie tofu spread as an option to cream cheese. Well, I had to try it. So I got an egg bagel with veggie tofu spread, and you know what?? It isn't half bad! I would never mistake it for cream cheese, but it actually tastes rather good and is loaded with shredded carrots, chives, onions and peppers, so if the spread itself is not that tasty, you would never know.

It's a good food day!

Monday, May 14, 2007

A man, A crow, and McDonalds....

I saw something on my way home that made me pull over and sit for a moment because I was laughing WAY too hard. I stopped at Target to buy a new backpack so I can bike more regularly to work, and when I drove out of the parking lot, I saw this guy come out of a fast food joint with his kid. He put his bag of food on the roof of the car and then focused on getting his kid in the car. At his point, while he was distracted, a crow flew to the roof of the car, picked up the burger laden bag with his beak, and attempted to fly away. This is when I stopped driving and started watching. The bird actually did manage to fly, sort of. It was a heavy bag, so his head was pulled down, and to see this bird try to fly while his head was being pulled to the ground was hysterical. The man then straightened up, and went to retrieve his and his kid's dinner from the roof. Only there was no bag of greasy goodness atop the car. His look of bewilderment made me feel bad for him, so I rolled down my window and said "It went that way" - pointing towards the crow, who was still trying to fly. Poor guy, he did not know whether to laugh or swear, so he did both. The crow made it to a tree limb, at which point he dropped the bag, and then flew down to eat the contents which exploded from the bag due to the drop. The man just shook his head "Jesus Christ, that stupid bird has done this before!!!" The two of us laughed and I drove away, wondering if he was now going to go through the drive in to get a replacement for the dinner that the bird was now enjoying.

I love stuff like this, fiction sometimes never matches reality!

It's a looong post folks......

It was a good weekend. Beautiful weather, great tango, and, of course, Mother's Day! I was a good daughter and went out and purchased a rose bush for my mom, it is a "Lavender Bloom" rose bush, with what looks to be lovely lavender-pink roses. Why buy roses all ready cut when you can buy roses that can be enjoyed year after year?!?

The weather this weekend was positively lovely and made me a little giddy. S got a lot of yard work done, which was needed, and the yard is looking good. I, of course, helped for about 5 minutes before the allergies kicked in and I retreated to the safety of the house. It is rather ironic that I love warm weather so much, especially the first few days of warm weather, but my allergies will keep me indoors. My nickname for the weekend became "Cave-girl", but what can I do? The afternoon is not a good time for me to be outdoors, morning and evening are perfect.

And now to the important things.... tango! It was a full weekend of dancing, Friday and Saturday milongas and Sunday practica. It was all good. I felt like I was dancing well all three days, with Saturday being possibly my best of the three days. Friday was Carlos and Tova's milonga, which was also a fundraiser for the dance complex that their milonga is held at. I donated a couple of items to the raffle, pretty tango shoe bags! I started making shoe bags because I HATE the pressed fiber fabric bags that come free with your shoes. They are ugly, my stilettos poke through after a short amount of time, they let your shoes bang against each other, and they have no character. Ick. So I started making bags out of scrap fabric, I made one for each of my shoes, and a few bags for S. I have received multiple compliments on them, so I started thinking... this could be side business for me! Why not?!? So I built a whole bunch, contacted Tova about donating a few and getting some publicity started. They were well received, and the lady who won the "girl" bag came over to me at the end of the milonga and just raved about the bag and how she had been admiring mine, but did not know that I made them. Yea! So I am going to make a try at selling these and see if there is the market that I think there may be for them. Plus, this will help to even out my costs for tango, sell a few bags a week and my milonga fees are paid.

Friday's milonga was fun, and I danced a good amount. It is funny to think, I remember when I would get upset if I did not dance "enough", but now, I am happy if I get good dances with good leaders. It's enough for me now to have quality over quantity. Strange how we grow.... I danced one tanda with an older gentleman who was kind to me when I was beginning, he is a sweet man, mostly likely in his 70's, and he jokes about getting dances with pretty young girls. Hell, I'll take the compliment of being called young and pretty! So I accepted the dance and it was a nice, easy salida through three vals. His embrace is a little hard, but his leading is fine and he steps clearly, so it was a sweet little tanda. Kind of like when you dance with your grandfather at a family wedding. What made me laugh at the end was his compliment to me, he told me that I was lovely to dance with, very smooth and even, and light in his arms, and he was thrilled I would still dance with him. It suddenly hit me that I was one of his good dances of the night. Me. How weird is that?!? Such a bizarre revelation.

Saturday was the fundraiser for Homer and Christine Ladas at Blue Milonga. It was very well attended, and although there was a conflict during the first hour and a half of the milonga (the venue had double booked the place, so that there was a "fashion show" downstairs while we were upstairs. And the fine folks downstairs BLASTED hip hop music. When they were approached with the concept that we should work together to try to keep the music at an acceptable level for both events, they were unapologetic and said that they paid for the place and they were going to play their music as they wanted to. Ahhh... youth.....) It was incredibly difficult to dance as the floor vibrated with the music from beneath, so I had an incredibly hard time focusing on my leader or the music. S and I after a few attempts, decided to sit in the common room and see if we could wait out the music, many others were doing the same, and so we all chatted about this and that until we realized that we could no longer hear the music from downstairs, so back into the dance we went and it really picked up. I had a real tango night. Great leaders, good music, and I was there. I was present in the dance, and it felt lovely. Earlier I posted about P whom S kept urging me to ask to dance, well, he was present and asked me to dance half way through the night. Ummm.. YES! heh heh, it was fun. He has a very unique style, and it took me almost a minute to figure it out, but once I did, it was a blast. He dances so that his legs are always in contact with one of my thighs. We were in close, so I could not catch a glimpse of what he was doing or how it worked, but in watching him afterwards, he sort of lets his legs linger while he is stepping. Very different, and very fun. So, now that I have danced with him, and we both enjoyed dancing together, I can ask him to dance! sigh, I am such a dork sometimes.... You can tell that Jane Austin is one of my favorite authors, there are a few strands proprietary that feminism was not able to eradicate from myself!

I wore my new black shoes, and did well until near midnight, when my feet were starting to hurt. By 12:30 my feet were killing me, despite having changed shoes. So off came the stilettos and on went the sneakers. And of course, this is when N came over to ask me to dance. N and K come down from Maine to dance fairly regularly, and K is one of my S's favorite followers, and I adore dancing with N. He had been occupied almost the whole evening, so I never had the chance to try to catch his eye. But over he came, looking woefully at my sneakers. "You changed your shoes??" Damn.... but my feet were not at a 10 yet on the pain scale... so... "Well, yes, but if you can handle dancing with me in sneakers, I would love to dance with you." N accepted and off we went. He is such a pleasure to dance with. By the end of the tanda however, I was completely cooked. I knew one more dance and my axis was going to resemble over cooked spaghetti. So I thanked N, told him I would continue if I could, but I was cooked, and went back and collapsed into S's lap. Man, did I sleep well that night!

Sunday was practica, and after arriving late because I was being a good girl and visiting with my mom, I spent an hour being K's "tango dummy" as he put it. It allowed me to practice open embrace, which I suck at since I have basically only danced close embrace for the past 4 months or so, and he worked out some really cool moves. It was a blast. He is so much fun to dance with, and a really good leader, and he gives good feedback, which I am grateful for. I had more good moments with leaders, my friend P was in good form and we had a great few dances. I focused on just listening to the music and not focusing so much on the leader as per his suggestion, and WOW. What a difference. I had a hard time going from K's athletic, open style into P's more subtle close embrace style. When I said that, P then suggested the focusing on the music instead of the lead style, and another tango door opened for me. I love learning!

And now it is Monday, and I sit in my office waiting for my students who did not finish their projects on time to come in. Ahh, procrastination, a college instructor's nemesis..... Maybe I'll practice my ochos while waiting.... ;-)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lessons on a Wednesday night

Class last night with Evan Griffiths in Providence Tango, we worked on different back crosses and stepping through them. Good stuff! S and I partnered up, and Shorey was Evan's teaching assistant. I learned quite a bit, including not to collapse my back when led into extreme volcadas or leans... something S was trying out on me and I was having a hard time keeping myself in frame. I knew that something was wrong when Shorey came running over with a look of "Oh no, please no...." Whoops. I remember when I danced in the modern company, and someone would do a move that we knew would cause injury, we all had the same reaction. So I made double sure to pay attention when Shorey told me how to properly hold my back and posture. It is harder than it seems, but with some adjustment, I know what it should feel like and I have a better sense of where things need to line up, so hopefully I can consistently find that when lead into extreme steps. Of course, I need an extra second or two to find that spot right now, which I need to get faster at since I would be finding that spot as S was leading me into the next step. Whoops! Not yet ready to go! heh heh heh. Oh well, I'll get there.

Evan also worked with me on colgadas, which I now know is the name for that odd move that S leads me into and then tells me that my leg is too far turned out. We were having a discussion about that at the practica after the lesson when Evan interceded. S felt my leg was too far turned out and that was causing my balance issues, I felt as though there was no way I could do this move with my leg perpendicular to his body as I would not have the control or balance that I was finding. Back and forth, until S called Evan over and asked him to look at my leg and figure out what I was doing wrong. Well, turns out it was not my turn out, it was how I was leaning back into the colgada, which forced my leg to turn out for added stability. Granted, I am still fighting 16 years worth of ballet wiring, turn out is second nature to me, but if I can learn how it should feel to do a move properly, then I have a fighting chance. What I was doing was leaning down into the colgada, and curving my back inwards at the base of the spine, what I needed to be doing was leaning straight back into the lead, use my leaders right arm for support, and slightly curve my spine outwards, keeping my upper body soft and my legs firm. Well holy crap! It worked! When I could do it that is. It is really hard to keep one half of your body loose and the other half firm and solid. I kind of want to be all of one. But when I was able to do it, it worked, and my legs went where they were supposed to and my turn out reduced by half.

Yea! I'm learning!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Milonga ladies who rule! And the brilliant bloggers who bring them to us....

In the ever succinct and always appropriate wording of LaPlanchadora... Oh Hay!
Look at what she found for us to see.... I now know what I want to be when I grow up.....

*Sigh* If I could look that good following milonga, I would be happy, but to be able to lead it like that too.... I'd be pretty much through the roof ecstatic, and maybe even a superhero of some sort.....

Guerrilla Tango

Oh yea!

Find a public space, gather some tangueros and tangueras, bring a boom box and some CDs and you have...

Guerrilla Tango!

What a blast! I was just sorry that I could only stay for 45 minutes before running off to the opera. But it was a brilliant idea and a ton of fun. Some of the leaders in Boston organized a public milonga, guerrilla style, dance until you drop or we get kicked out and have to move on to another public space.

At 8:30 we descended on Porter Square and set up shop so to speak. K was the DJ, and he brought some great music to play in his boom box. Someone set up a hat, and we danced around this small square in Porter Square, outside on the concrete and stone. Passersby stopped and stared, some sat down to watch while they ate ice cream cones, others drifted around the perimeter, and a few brave souls asked questions about what we were doing. One older gentleman came up to talk to me while others were dancing, asked about the dancers, wanted to know why we were doing this. When I told him the reason was simple, it was a beautiful night to dance a beautiful dance, he was so tickled pink that he asked me to dance a song with him, even though he had not danced in "decades" as he put it. He was a doll, so how could I say no? We walked the square and he just beamed from ear to ear.

S made quite the entrance, zooming in on his motorcycle, and then joining the dance, he showed up just in time to dance with me before I had to run off. I felt myself lingering after our tanda as I really did not want to leave. The night was cool and warm at the same time, the air was dry, and the people who showed up to dance were great fun. I REALLY hope that this becomes a regular event, maybe showing up in different parts of Boston and Cambridge on clear nights and dancing in the moonlight and dusk.... just lovely!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's that time of year again.....

Sunny days?
Yes, but not that.....
Allergies take over my life?
Yes, but not that.....
I buy out CVS' entire stock of SPF 950?
Yes, but not that either...

FINALS!!! Oh yes, it is finals week here at school and I am sitting at my desk looking at a HUGE pile of binders and final projects that I need to go through before my students start coming in for their final review and presentations tomorrow.... I thought that maybe being on the other side of the desk would make finals week less stressful, but no.... instead of one final to worry about for the class, I have 11 binders and 11 projects sitting on my desk staring at me!!! Why oh why did I have to challenge my students so well as to have them swatch a Shakespeare play as a final project and pass in all their research along with their presentations? *sigh* but they all told me that they loved this project despite the amount of work..... so that is good.

Luckily, I have a gargantuan iced coffee to help ease the pain...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A good day....

I had my private lesson today with S2, and it was a leaps and bounds sort of day. We first of all worked on embrace and presence vs pressure. Wow, one slight adjustment can make all the difference in the world. Rather amazing. Then we talked about and adjusted head placement and how to comfortably adjust your head tilt in close embrace with someone taller or shorter than you. Another small adjustment that changed my posture and balance. Good stuff. Then we went onto milonga. Whew... what a work out! We worked on stepping firmly, passing through collection, but collecting nonetheless, and how to step with small, decisive steps that allow the dance to move as quickly or as slowly as the music dictates. Then we went on to how to be an active follower in milonga... WOW! It's a whole new world. Using grounding and presence to communicate to my leader where I am, if I need a half beat, and how to share the lead in the dance.... amazing.... blew my mind. by the end of the 90 minutes, we put on a milonga and just danced it. And I actually did dance it! Not only was I firm and planted in my steps, but I felt confident enough to play with musicality and every once in awhile, lend a hand (or foot, heh heh heh) in the shape of the dance. Crazy.... and wonderful. I can not wait to practice this some more and dance this way at the next milonga. S2 told me to chose the leaders carefully whom I attempt to shape the dance with as most leaders do not want to give up control of the dance, even for a beat or two, which is all I would really attempt. But to make sure to be playful with it and have fun when I do. You can bet I will! It was a tango moment sort of day, where a door I did not know was there opened up. Which was lovely, as I have not had that sort of a moment in awhile now.

sigh... happiness is.....
Went to milonga last night, this is the second time I have been out socially dancing without S, and it was rather funny as I would be chatting with people, and then all of a sudden they would invariably look around and ask "Where's S?" I do have to admit getting a little kick out of telling them he is in Montreal at the festival and watch their eyes pop a little as they exclaim "Without you?!?" Uhm, yes, because I had to work this weekend on the opera and he wanted to go. So he went and I stayed. Shocking as it apparently is, we are able to dance without the other one present. And no I am not concerned about him dancing at a festival full of lovely followers who may dance like a dream. Because even if I did go, he would still be dancing with those followers. Its a curious world sometimes this tango world that we inhabit....

Anyway, I had fun although I did leave a little early. There was live music there last night, and it was ok, not great, but ok. There was a DJ who played music in between the band's sets, and the DJ music was good. There were very few dancers there however who were not beginners. It was a packed floor, however the level of dance was a little disappointing. I did have two really good dances with S2 and another S whom is going to have to be S3 I guess (So many S's!) I danced three tandas with S3 and as always I had the best time dancing with him. He is able to lead me into movements that I don't know, and it always feels like "oh, look! I bet my leg could move right there.... hey! look at that! it did!" There is never any tension when I dance with S3 and that is a welcome moment for me.
S2, as always, was lovely. He and I are bartering services, he is going to give me private lessons and I am going to build him a tango wardrobe. Pretty good exchange I think! One of the tandas we danced was a milonga tanda and I actually had fun dancing it! And I think I actually danced it as well! I really am loving milonga more and more, and I think I am getting a little better at it every time I dance it. I am looking forward to the day when I am able to dance it perfectly and have fun doing it too.

But it was interesting. I was satisfied with the two really good dances I had, I did dance more than that, but they were not fantastic, nor were they horrible, they were ok. And around midnight, when I realized that no one else was showing up that I particularly enjoy dancing with, and the two S's were occupied with a bevy of followers, I decided to cut my self loose and head home. Plus I had spent the last 2o minutes or so chatting with various people and not even looking for a dance. I took that as a sign to say goodnight. It was strange to go home alone after the milonga, but I did enjoy myself.

today is a private with S2 followed by practica in Cambridge. Should be a good day. Oh, and I also ordered new shoes, new RED shoes. Whee! My other red shoes are very uncomfortable and I don't like dancing in them. But I have discovered that I prefer the sandal with a 3.5 to 4" stiletto heel, so here is my new shoe!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some ramblings from the week so far....

I am in tech this week for an opera that I am the assistant designer for. And it has been one hell of a week, and it is only Wednesday! 13 hour days are always brutal, and when those hours are spent in a dark theatre or in the deep recesses of the theatre in the wardrobe room, it can become really surreal. The show is going well, and it is really beautiful visually, but I am looking forward to opening day so I can breath a little. Had a funny moment though, on Monday as I was loading the costumes in, the theatre next to us was loading in Chita Rivera's The Dancer's Life, and as I walked out onto the loading dock, I watched one of the road crew wheel a road box into my car. My poor little car! He looked down and my front bumper, eyes wide, and then looked up at me, mouth agape. "I did not just watch you do that, did I?!?!" I said in mock horror. It only scratched the bumper, and although my car is not pristine, it is not a mess of scrapes and scratches either. But it was not a big deal. He kept apologizing, and asking if I wanted him to get his production manager. It was really no big deal, and I told him so. He offered to at least buy me a cup of coffee, to which I replied "You are loading a show, I am loading a show, and we are going to be running around like maniacs. But tell you what. If you manged to catch me again while I am loading, you can buy me a coffee with a few adjectives before it. Ok?" He agreed, and I continued loading. When we finished and I came out to move my car, he was standing at my car with his production manager. looking at the front bumper. She apologized and asked if I wanted to file a claim. I said no, it was too much work for so little a scratch and to please, stop worrying about it. She then said that she would give me free tickets to any performance that I wanted of the show. As many tickets as I wanted. Wow. That so rocks. So I asked for two tickets to Saturday's matinee and they took my information and I'll be seeing Chita dance her stuff Saturday afternoon.
I invited S to the show, but he may be in Montreal at the festival (of which I can't go because of the opera.... grrrr.....) but even if he is here he said I should take someone who would actually enjoy the the show. So I am taking my mom. Yea!

However, this crazy tech week schedule does not mean that I am not tango-ing this week! Oh no! After working from 9:30 am to 10:45 pm last night, I went over for the last 45 minutes of the Odd Tuesday Milonga in Cambridge and dance with my S and S2. I kind of felt like a rock star, breezing in for the last bit of the night and breezing out. Although only getting a taste of tango made me want more, despite the exhaustion that was turning into punchy hyperactivity. The place was packed and as always, the best dancers were there. As I was looking around at about 5 of my favorite leaders, I was really wishing that I had more time, or that the milonga went later so that I could dance longer. But the taste that I had was worth it.

There was one moment that I wonder at myself about. A good leader, P, who is the boyfriend of one of S's favorite followers, was standing by the door. S kept urging me to go ask him to dance, but I was really reluctant to do so because I don't actually know him. I've seen him dance, I am guessing that he knows I am S's girlfriend, but I become stubbornly resistant to asking someone to dance whom I have not danced with or talked with. I think I am still in this "I'm a beginner and not yet good enough" mode. S and I were having dinner with some friends the other night I made mention at some point that I wanted to be good now. Not soon. Now.
Hyperactive sense of achievement I guess.
But I just could not handle the thought of walking up to a good leader, asking them to dance, and then sucking ass. Being turned down does not bother me, I can handle that, but asking someone and then not being perfect? That is scarier to me.

There is another issue that keeps bumping around in my head. S and I had a conversation over the weekend about tango and its precision and emotion. I feel that it is an emotional dance. Full of life and passion and movement, the connection, the communication, it is all emotional to me. He felt it was more about precision with emotion secondary in the dance. Which explains some about when we dance, but it made me a little sad. I always enjoy dancing with S, because it is him. It is an added level for me when I dance with him than with any other leader. But I think it is not the same for him. Maybe because I am not good yet. He says that there are moments that he enjoys dancing with me, but I don't get the sense that he enjoys dancing with me regardless of how I am dancing or how he is dancing. I wonder if that is a male/female thing, or just me being overly sensitive....

More ramblings soon, but I have some alterations to get done now!

I had no idea the flurry of e-mails and comments this was going to cause, so I feel the need to clarify my earlier comment about S and his preferences in dancing. Firstly, let me say that S is a lovely leader, and although he has been dancing for a little over a year, he is well beyond a normal 1 year social dancer as he is a perfectionist and really threw himself into learning, much as I have. He did not slight me, nor was he putting me down. It was a straight-forward discussion that I started in regards to the fact that I felt as though I enjoyed our dancing more than he does. I have only been dancing for about 4 or 5 months, most leaders when they dance with me put me at about a year or a little more, but I still make mistakes, miss leads, and sometimes lose things completely. This means that my leaders have to compensate for me. My guess is that the other leaders I dance with are not going to comment on this and thus only tell me how much they enjoy dancing with me. One leader, S2, will compliment me on the occasions when I actually contribute to the dance as opposed to just following. My S, however, is brutally honest with me when I ask for feedback or open conversations about my dancing. Doesn't mean it doesn't smart sometimes, and doesn't mean that I am not curious about others who are in relationships and dance when one is at a higher level than the other.
I am not looking for sympathy, nor am I fishing for compliments, and I certainly am not bashing S in any fashion. It was simply a conversation that stuck in my head and I was curious as to how others dealt with this issue. I work in the arts, and I used to be a dancer, so for me, dancing is emotion. And tango appeals to that side of me. S is more responsive to the precision of tango, and that is the discussion that we had. Differences are good, and being able to discuss the differences that bother you is also good. I do appreciate all of the constructive comments that have been posted and e-mailed to me, some of your advice has been incredibly helpful to me, so thank you. But please do not think that this was a "Oh poor me" moment, it was just something that was rolling around in my head and I decided to let it out.

Oi. I need a glass of wine now! ;-)