Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Supreme Indifference and Invisibility

I noticed a trend this past weekend. And that was that I was sitting. A lot. I circulated, I chatted, I sat in one of two areas near the dance floor in what I thought were good line of sights, and yet I sat. I was not sure what the reason was, and this was not the first time this has happened. There have been many posts about sitting at milongas and at festivals, and the blunt truth has always boiled down to those who are not good enough, sit. So I panicked a little. After all, I was sitting. ergo......

But instead I sucked it up and asked a question I did not really know if I wanted to hear the answer to. And I learned two things, that I have a tendency to look intimidating with an air of "supreme indifference" and that I tend to be invisible.


Apparently what I thought was a calm face with a slight smile, was instead stand-offish and rather bemused in a "royal we" sort of way. And that I tend to be invisible, leaders want to dance with me, but I don't stand out, so when they don't see me, they dance with others.

Well that threw me for a loop.

I vehemently denied being a "royal we" - mostly because I was horrified and mortified at the thought that was the case. Yes, after hour one of sitting, I do tend to space out a bit, but..... haughty??? Perish the thought! So proclamation number 1 (heh heh) - circulate more! I try to save my feet in my CIFs by sitting a lot, well, I can save them all night if all I do is sit, so walk and talk is my new way of saving my feet to dance. And instead of calm, I am going to try engaged, if I am sitting and watching the floor.

But invisible...... how to tackle that?

A chat with another leader when I mentioned this new discovery was at first surprise, and then agreement. He mentioned that I always look nice, but I always wear black or brown, so in a darkened room, despite my pale Irish skin, I sort of blend in. Circulating will help, but damn it! I am a costume designer! for THEATRE!! If anyone should know how to dress someone so that they look good and are distinctive, it should be me! I can do it for other people, why not myself?
So, horror of horrors, I am going shopping for distinctive tops. I bought some fabric that is pretty cool and colorful for wrap tops, and those are being cut this afternoon.

And while all of this was happening, I had a couple of moments where my doors were blown off their hinges. One was in a practica with an instructor whom I adore and respect greatly, and he mentioned that he wanted to see me step with quality. I was too smooth and mellow, that he often thought while we were dancing that "If only she had..." in response to my not showing the power I had with my steps. Wow. It's a whole new world. We worked on that, it started to feel good, I started to feel more from him, and the plateau I did not realize I was on, started moving in an upwards direction.
So of course, I immediately approached Shorey for a private on follower technique with this idea as the basis for the lesson. She was in town DJing at Providence at the festival, so it was now or wait months until the opportunity appeared again. Sorin constantly raves about dancing with her, and about her embrace, so it was a no-brainer. Our lesson was at the crack of dawn - 11am - heh heh heh, and worth every penny. We talked about lengthening the torso to allow for torsion and balance, about embracing with communication and being right there with your leader, and how to match my step quality to the music to communicate what I am hearing and suggest to my leader what I want to dance to.

First of all, Shorey is an excellent teacher, she communicates clearly what she wants you to do and is able to get out of you what you may not realize is there. Secondly, she is a very good lead! and thirdly, she gave me knowledge and inspiration to bring my dance to a new level. It's a whole new world, and I have lots to work on, but I am thrilled with it all.

So between proclamation #1, some striking yet signature Debbi clothing, and my new way of thinking about dancing - I hope to be vacating a couch sometime soon..... ;-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Loss and Sadness

A beautiful person has left our world. Which is heartbreaking to me.He has touched many lives, and I wanted to share with you his very well written obituary, in the hopes that his spirit and life force might continue to inspire.

He will be dearly missed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A good practica

Sunday was Mother's Day, and after visiting with my lovely mother, I went for the last 2 hours of practica. I had not danced in a few days due to various and sundry reasons, and it was beautiful out, and I really wanted to dance. I am glad I went, it was a day of pleasant surprises.

When I got there, I was treated to dancing with a beginner whom I can no longer call a beginner, despite the fact that he has been dancing less than a year. It has been awhile since we danced, and the progress he has made was really amazing to feel. He was more confident, he was clear, he had some new movements that he used really well with the music, and it was a lovely set of songs that we danced.

I also danced with two beginning leaders in our community, and I was very impressed with how good they were for how short a time they had been dancing. One leader already has down the tiny, nuanced, musical steps that I just adore. I think I giggled my way through the first song once he did that. The other leader was pointed out to me by a lovely friend, and although he has only been dancing a few months, he was on the beat, he was clear, and he did not try to do too much, he just went with what he knew.
I am looking forward to seeing these two progress! It really is so exciting to see fresh new faces get bit by the tango bug and grow within the dance. Really a wonderful thing!

I was also lucky to dance with above mentioned friend and leader-pimp :-) and we had a blast just kind of goofing around while dancing. Seeing what happened when different things were explored. I remember about a year ago in a workshop with Jennifer Brat and Ney Melo, where Jennifer was encouraging us ladies to embellish during pauses in the dance. I remember being horrified and resistant - how would I know when he was going to move again? What if I screwed up the dance because I wanted to tap my toe? What if? What if? So I didn't do it. It was too much for me. Now, I embellish when the music moves me. And in practica with my friend, I did all sorts of things to see what happened. Some worked without notice. Some make him laugh and give me a little squeeze of appreciation. And some absolutely screwed things up - but when that happened, we both giggled and moved on to the next phrase. It was no big deal. Granted, it was practica, and most of that stuff I would never do in a milonga. But still..... I no longer fear messing up. It's rather a good feeling.

There was one stiletto in mouth moment though.... I was asked by what I thought was a beginner to dance, and I accepted, and I regretted almost immediately. He shoved with his left hand, he pushed my ribs with his right, his chest was a battering ram, he looked down which pulled his energy and me down, and he paid no attention whatsoever to the music. Oi vey! I thought I knew which local teacher he was taking lessons with, and I decided to ask if he was open to feedback. He looked at me with surprise and said ok, so I mentioned his looking down, and how it pulls his attention and me down, which made it difficult for me. Would he mind trying to keep his posture upright for a song? He made mention that he had heard that before, so sure, he would try. He did it, and it helped, although all the other issues were more pronounced now. Afterwards he mentioned it seemed to help. Wondering whether to mention another of the uncomfortable issues I felt, I asked him how long he had been dancing. He said 5 years.

really? 5 years?
ok. hmmmm...

That is my verbatim response. There is a reason I don't play poker! I then thanked him and went to the ladies' room to see if I could re-hinge my jaw which had fallen open. I have no doubt my incredulity was apparent on my face. But really, five years, I can't find a way to offer feedback that would not be taken poorly

I only follows that after having a great time with both beginner and advanced and those in between, I found myself in an uncomfortable moment. It's the way my life goes. Oh well, it just drives home that years does not equal ability or level.

This upcoming weekend we are heading to Montreal for the festival up there. I am looking forward to seeing my friends in Montreal again, it has been so long since I have been up there, but the weather is warming, so despite the hideous gas prices, its Canada bound!

Monday, May 05, 2008

ahhh.. childhood

Today I read an article on childhood in the 60's and 70's, and oh boy the memories! It is amazing to me that most of my childhood has been government regulated away.....
A few of my own thoughts and memories to add before I post the article, which I found on line without an author, so I can not give credit where credit is due....

Deb's additions:

My favorite toy was the Sit-N-Spin. I learned just how fast I could spin while looking up without loosing my lunch through trial and error. When I neared that danger zone, I simply looked down at the handle's design and hypnotized myself.

My mom used to hang laundry in the back yard, and it was all still there when she brought it back in at night. I used to run between the sheets on hot summer days and it was the best feeling and smell ever.

We kids were kicked out of the house after breakfast, and we had to ask to be let back in if we need to use the bathroom because my mom would have locked the screen doors. Once the street lights went on, we had 5 minutes to get home to wash up for dinner.

Speaking of washing up - there was no Purell, no anti-bacterial anything. There was a bar of Ivory soap, and you could have loads of fun slipping it through your hands to make a very satisfying "splunkage" noise in the sink full of water.

I did not know that cars had A/C until I was in junior high, it was an add-on for cars. An add-on my dad did not believe in when the good lord had created windows for us.

When we whined in the store that we wanted something, my mom would gather us up and leave. We learned that if we wanted to go to the store with mom, we had to behave. She once left an entire cart of groceries in the market because one of us acted up (I claim it was my sister, she claims it was me.....).

The remote control was often a small child in the room. Who would happily get up to change the knob on the television to one of the 7 channels we received. Oh, and the TV was not a babysitter, it was a treat and a privilege to get to watch tv after dinner with my parents - who often were the ones who chose the show we watched. If we complained, we got a book.

And now - the article...

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s probably shouldn't have survived, because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was regularly chewed and licked.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles or latches on doors or cabinets, and it was fine to play with pans. When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and fluorescent 'spokey dokeys' on our wheels.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags and riding in the front passenger seat - or the boot - was a treat. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle, and it tasted the same.

We ate chips, bread and butter pudding, and drank fizzy juice with sugar in it, but were never overweight because we were always outside playing. We shared one drink with four friends - from one bottle or can - and no one actually died from it.

We would spend several hours building go-carts out of scraps, then go top speed down the hill, only to find out we'd forgotten the brakes. After running into a patch of stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back before dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

We didn't have Playstations or Xboxes - no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape films, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no DVDs, no internet chatrooms.

We had friends - we went outside and found them. We played French skipping and rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt! We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones, but there were no law suits.

We played Knock Down Ginger and were actually afraid of the owners catching us. We walked to friends' homes. We also, believe it or not, walked to school; we didn't rely on Mummy or Daddy to drive us to school, as it was just round the corner.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We rode bikes in packs of seven and wore our coats by only the hood. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of they actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem-solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.
And you're one of them. Congratulations! Pass this on to others who had the luck to grow as real kids, before lawyers and the government regulated our lives for "our own good".

For those of you who aren't old enough, we thought you might like to read about us.

And something else to put a smile on your face...
The majority of students in universities today were born in 1986. The Uptown Girl they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel. They have never heard of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Neneh Cherry or Belinda Carlisle.

For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam. AIDS has existed since they were born. CDs have existed since they were born. Michael Jackson has always been white. To them, John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can't imagine how this fat guy could ever have been a god of dance.

They believe that Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible are films from the past ten years. They can never imagine life before computers. They'll never have pretended to be the A-Team, the Dukes of Hazzard or the Famous Five. They can't believe a black and white television ever existed. And they will never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone.