Private thoughts

2009, August 16

Or better said, thoughts about privates.

Only here for a few more days now, and realizing that, with my muy debil hand, leading the average porteña was still impossible, I signed up for a few private classes.  A pro is easier to lead, and also it takes less time to explain the situation (the tendinite, the splint) to one person only.

Now a private class can be a curse too. You may think that it will be a hand-made lesson but way too often the teacher only pretends to be listening to your needs, and actually delivers you the very same  stuff  that he/she delivered the day before to another pupil.

Yesterday’s teacher started by asking me what I wanted to work on. One point. Then she told me that we would dance a little, to allow her  to know me a bit. One more point. That we would dance two tangos. Minus one point. She is gaining time. After the little tanda she announced that to reach my goal (I had asked to work on the art of listening to the music) I needed first to correct my terrible posture. Minus one point. There are as many correct postures as there are teachers. And so we worked on my terrible posture until I reached her correct one (butt sticked out backwards, heels up, knees bent). Needless to say I will be back to my usual posture very soon,  after all these years it’s too late to modify anything. Oh and one more minus point, because she knows that it is too late, she asked me how many years of tango I had. The second step to my goal, was my terrible walk. Minus one point because it is totailly irrelevant with what I wanted to work on. Like postures, walks are very numerous, often one teacher has two, the one that he teaches and the one he uses himself when he dances socially. The walk can be on one line, on two lines, you can land with the toe or with the heel, you can project the leg or go with all the weight, you can do some counter-body with your shoulders or not. You can place the beat on the impulse or and the landing. Asking something about the walk on Tango-L is like opening a can of worms and usually brings you an instant ban by the mods. Minus one point. But well, another fifteen minutes of hard work and I was walking the way she liked, heels first, two lines, no weight transfer, and going up and down, reverse counter-body. Here too and for the same reasons I will remain faithful to my own walk (one line, toe first, weight transfer, no ups and downs, regular counter-body).

“Oh there is no time left to give you deep, valuable explanations about your musicality question, but I think that posture and walk are the most important things for you. Let’s dance two more to finish the class.”

How do you think I danced, using an unfamiliar posture to walk in an unfamiliar way? To me it felt like a monkey walking on eggs during a moonless night. 

 “Much, much better Pablo, congratulations!”


8 Responses to “Private thoughts”

  1. Damn if you’re not absolutely write about the walking! Everyone has a different theory on the right way to walk and it’s frustrating. Especially if you ask a classically-trained ballroom instructor vs. an Argentine instructor. I had a lesson last week that focused on my posture and walking. I wrote about so I won’t bore you with it in a comment. Check it out and let’s compare notes. Thanks for the article!

    The Tango Notebook

  2. jantango said

    You work on listening to the music by doing just that. Sit down and listen to recordings of Troilo, Di Sarli, D’Arienzo, etc. until you know the music well enough to hum along. Your dance teacher wouldn’t give you that advice because she wanted your money.

    When you know the music well, your tango comes out of you. You dance what you feel in the music.

    No charge.

  3. tangobeginner said

    Aaaaarrrrrghhh, Di Sarli… No, no…. I have not been that bad, I don’t deserve to be punished so hard.

    As for the other names mentioned, well there is no improvisation any more if you know the music beforehand. You must discover the music as it comes, notice the recurring themes, notice when the composer announces a change in the song. If you already know when, say, the fantasy starts then you will not pay attention to the announcement of the fantasy, announcement that the composer may have placed much before the actual start of the fantasy, maybe eight or sixteen tempos before. When you dance a tango you must start from a blank page, not follow a roadbook. Improvisation is my descovering the music, and the follower discovering my lead, as the seconds and minutes go by. If I know the song, and the follower knows my lead, then there is no tango, only a ritual.
    The charge would be 100 pesos.

  4. wow, my first time reading your blog. Thanks for posting your experiences as a lead, this really interests me as I am a new lead myself.
    You seem to already have very well developed opinions on everything about Tango…I like opinionated talk.

  5. “I suggest you hide out for about six months listening to tango and finding the tango within you. Practice alone and don’t dance with anyone except yourself. Then go to your local milonga and refuse to dance with all the women who previously turned you down. Let them observe you dancing with an unknown visitor and let them drool.”-Jan
    I find this advice by Jan to be true. I was 6 months without a viable Milonga and so I listened and danced alone. When I returned to Phila. I was better than when I left. Even the women I danced with were asking themselves “How can he be better if he has not been dancing?..but he is!” … I noticed that I began to pause and just do what I felt when I felt it. It all translated into a more profound dance.

  6. tangobeginner said

    Six months without going to any milonga is my usual schedule anyway. I doubt anybody will notice that I’m not here.

  7. noseintheair said

    I agree with the poster who talked about practicing by yourself.

  8. tangobeginner said

    Uh? Which poster? AFAIK nobody talked about practicing by myself. Someone suggested that I should sit listen to (tango) music but this part is done already. And that’s all I can do by myself. If I had maybe four square meters of wooden floor at home then yes, I would consider practicing pivots and walks.

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