Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Tango Stories: (1) Rooftop in Buenos Aires

This is the first of our stories collected from our original post asking for submissions two years ago. These were made into a book that sold out within a month and wasn't reprinted to keep the project special and unique. After all it wasn't about the money out about making a final creation that could be shared amongst those submitting stories and their families.




Rooftop in Buenos Aires


There were many things that lead to this moment standing with what i could only describe as my first love. I had girl crushes and the idea of loving many times before but not the all consuming feeling of wishing to know someone, wanting to be in contact and sharing more of myself than i ever had done before.

I went to a tango salon with my dancing partner in Canning, a great traditional salon for dancing. My dance partner wanted to dance  with some of the most experienced dancers in the room but because he wasn't known there found that they turned him down more often than danced. While he was not really in the mood for dancing i soon found the eyes and cabaceo of a man sitting two tables over from us. We danced a tanda (4 songs) and then sat down again at our own tables. i found the first dances challenging and not so comfortable. So it sort of surprised me that i said yes again a little later on. In the end we danced 4 tandas which is quite something seeing that my dance partner pretty much sat throughout and more than one tanda in a evening tends to imply a closer relation or leading that way.

We exchanged numbers and emails. Leaving the milonga with my dance partner i found a cheeky email waiting for me when i got home in the early hours of the night. He invited me to come to a milonga the next evening and meet him. So this time going alone i found myself dancing the whole evening. This guy introduced me to various people at the salon and we tried our very bad English and Spanish on each other. He got me to try an empanada for the first time and introduced them as some of his favourite food. He asked more about me and also if i would be interested to practice with him. i was in Buenos Aires to learn and so i thought why not. i invited him to the tango house where i was staying which also conveniently has a dance floor that can be used.

We met and practiced for 3 hours solid, he drilled me at every turn and i had the feeling afterwards of not being able to dance anymore. in the end he saw this and i think felt a bit bad about it. It was a really hot evening so we went up onto the big open roof that overlooked the skyline of Buenos Aires and gave hints of the neighboring buildings in Barrio Boedo. We sat there for hours sharing stories. He realized i could lead and asked me to lead him. We danced on the rooftop and the lesson continued. Then in one moment he showed how it was to lead a specific movement, then taking one hand and placing it on my waist. Another hand going to my face where he brushed away a piece of hair blown by the hot breeze. He must have seen my softly wild look at these gestures and returned his own, eclipsed only by the kiss that followed.

Anonymous Author, 2016

Styles of tango

What are the different styles of tango and why is it important?


For some time I have been intrigued by the different styles of tango as a topic for both understanding but also for how this understanding then has a huge impact on how I dance and teach. When I set topics based around understanding the styles of tango, people often ask why they would want to have this information when they simply want to dance comfortably with a partner and do all the different tango moves available while dancing with the music. For me it’s one and the same. To dance a comfortable dance with all the vocabulary options available is to be aware that each style offers different ‘natural movements’ and ‘unnatural movements’ in the body due to the choice of embrace, way of communicating/ connecting between leader and follower. But also importantly to understand that tango is a dance and music genre that has evolved and been fused with different influences through the years. So what are the different styles of tango and why is it important? Its important for the comfort and effective communication between leader and follower. Music can dictate the style or the style influences the way we interpret the music. Lastly it is a topic misunderstood and full of obscurity due to the lack of documentation about the earlier styles and that while people think they know what style they dance its usually a mixture. I hope to shed some light and at the very least bring the topic into the open for discussion.

Below I will go through and briefly explain the various styles in chronological order where possible, the music that has influenced them and the history surrounding them.

Canyengue is a dance that preceded tango and has been born, left to history and revived again with what people think was the original style and feel of the dance. Said to have been danced between 1870s- 1920s and contained the original volcada. One big difference between the old canyengue and the revival is that originally canyengue was danced in taverns or the cobble stoned streets of Buenos aires, making smooth elegant movements impossible.  Dancers adopted a more jerky hopping style which has been smoothed out in the revised version due to being danced on better floors and by dancers having a smoother stepping technique in their bodies from dancing tango. Most of my sources agree that music of canyengue was 2/4 time and contained the habanera rhythm that gave the dancers a more lilting feeling while dancing.  Steps by the women were small and contained due to the fashion of long tight dresses at the time. Dancers used a v shape embrace while sharing an axis, allowing a lot of shared upper body movement. Often danced to music from the old guard like early Francisco Canaro, Roberto firpo and Francisco Lomuto.

Roughly in the 1880s Canyengue evolved further into two different recognised styles. Probably more of an evolution than suddenly arriving Orillero (1880’s-today) and Liso (1880’s – 1910’s) styles came to the floor.  Tango Liso or smooth tango is said to be an early term for tango de salon and took on the character of small steps due to there being many dancers on the crowded floors of the inner city. In contrast Orillero developed in the outskirts of the city where there were less dancers and so this style took on a form of bigger steps and vocabulary including a lot of playfulness with Rhythmic syncopated quick steps, cortes, quebradas, sequidillas and even jumps.  In outward appearance Orillero was more staccato than the smooth Liso style.

Tango liso became Tango de salon or tango that’s danced in a ballroom (salon). Not to be confused with ballroom tango that could be said to be yet another style of argentine tango but has become more closely related to the other ballroom dances and their own unique philosophy about dance. Salon tango developed around 1910s and is the root for a lot of the modern styles today. Whatever Salon tango was in the beginning it was social, danced in the centre of Buenos aires and danced by the upper classes where Orillero was danced by the poor. It later lead to distinct styles with their own flavour.

Following the threads salon de tango lead to club style (also known in the 1940s as confiteria style or tango apilado) characterised by the couples appearance of leaning toward each other creating a shared axis, full upper body contact and upper bodies parallel in the embrace. Giving rise to more staccato movements and feet were kept close to the floor. Due to the full body contact dancers couldn’t disassociate in the same way that the contemporary tango de salon dancers could, giving rise to a number of movements that felt more natural for the Club style e.g. cortes, ocho cortado, volcada like movements due to apilado or leaning. Club style later becoming more famously known as milonguero style when people visiting Buenos aires observed the dancers way of moving. Some say it was also an advertising gimmick in the beginning of the 1990s when people used the term to describe the only authentic way to dance tango because this is what the milongueros dance in Buenos aires. The milonguero style has taken on a life of its own with avid followers have even begun to set up special events for those who want to dance with a particular dance floor etiquette including no lifted legs (boleos or ganchos), good line of dance and the use of cortinas and tandas. Which allows for the wonderful phenomenum of the cabaceo, a way of asking someone to dance using eye contact and body language.

Another thread from the 1910s-1940s tango de salon is de Villa Urquiza style. Villa urqiza is a barrio or district in the north of Buenos aires and the dance is characterised by a smooth slow elegance and changing distance in the embrace. Some choose for a v-shaped embrace while others remain more or less parallel as the changing distance between the couple allows for a lot of freedom. When danced close it tends to be only the solar plexus contact which allows a lot of torsion which is essential for movements like pivoted giros, sacadas, and a specific range of free leg movements.

The third thread coming from the original tango de salon is caberet and later the show styles of tango fantasia and escenario. Styles in their own right and often the first thing none dancers see of tango. With influences from ballet, other sorts of show dancing and the social styles of tango. Show tango in all its forms is often said to not be the real tango and yet it has a strong identity and image in peoples minds as well as many bigger movements filtering down into the social dancing.

With any evolution there will always be a Nuevo style or new way, whether really a style by itself or a new outlook on what has been before. It depends on the time and how main stream this Nuevo style becomes. Some say that the term was first coined with Petroleo in the 1940s celebrating choreographic advancement through innovation and investigation into whats possible instead of what has been. Others would more commonly recognise tango Nuevo coming from a group of four men who came together with the idea of systemising tango allowing for a more didactic approach to teaching and learning. Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas, Chicho fromboli and Mauricio Castro identified more possibilities of what was already danced through this process allowing greater ability to improvise and brought new names for things already danced, one example of this would be volcadas which can be traced back to the axis sharing canyengue style but also a more recent dancer famous for the apilado (lean) style in which he danced many volcadas if not constantly in volcada, Carlos Gavito. The one big thing that did change from the 1990s with this Nuevo style is that teaching has become higher quality, understanding of tango and what we do as dancers has gone deeper than we have ever gone before and in the last few years people have been bringing the things learnt in this new movement back to the close embrace and traditional music that is so rich  and intriguing to dance on. Nuevo usually isn’t lasting in the same way, good traditional music can’t be listened to enough. For many argentines the term doesn’t even exist while many Europeans believe it to be big steps, none traditional tango music inviting open embrace and big extreme vocabulary. So whether you take any one of these three possible explanations of neuvo style I would like to leave you with this last thought. In 1940s Petroleo and his friends created a Nuevo style, in 1960s-1980s piazolla was described as making Nuevo music/neo tango music and in the 1990s Naveira and the others created a new movement with their systemisation of the dance. For me Nuevo style only exists in context with the traditional styles as its more a movement forward from what has been than an actual style of its own. What do you think? Nuevo styles in the future will be different in character but will probably use the same name.

In conclusion, one basic division in styles is those for social dancing and those danced during shows. What people understand as milonguero, tango de salon or any of the other styles seem to be blurring, making the general concensus over what these styles are nowadays move further away from what they were originally. Loosing the old dancers who were around in the times we have been discussing through this article means that now more than ever its important to find more clarity on what has been and document it before it leaves us forever. Or maybe, this loss is part of the evolution of tango and the history is carried in our steps. Food for thought. After some years of searching for the new way we have started to look for authenticity of the traditional tango.


Check out one of my other dance articles.

Make tango history and upload!
http://www.chicloca.com/2016/01/ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-style.html 

'A Vision of Tango'

'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

Why we love Pilates (and you should too)


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

6 ways to boost improvisation while using choreography

Depending on the type of dance you do you will find there is always some contention between the ideas of improvising and set choreography. Often the dances emphasizing social dance and freedom associate a street cred with being able to improvise cool moves on the spot. Tango is just such a dance. But over the last few years a new trend word formed that started to make long figures a taboe. Improvisation has been the kid on the block with a seemingly huge chasm between what people percieve as improvisation and what they actually want for their dance.

For the sake of what is written here improvisation is understood to be 'the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation.' (from oxford dictionary). SO when taking the above quote it implies creativity in coming up with something without previous preparation. This would imply that only someone born dancing tango could improvise. For all the people who had to learn dance at some point, it makes sense that we have in many ways prepared to go out social dancing. Often with the use of repetition of patterns however long or short. Improvisation  is an extreme, as is choreography. Both are tools if used correctly further your dance.

The same dictionaries take on choreography is:

'1. the art of composing ballets and other dances and planning and arranging the movements, steps, and patterns of dancers.
2. the technique of representing the various movements in dancing by a system of notation.
3. the arrangement or manipulation of actions leading up to an event'
Its also interesting to look at the definition of choreography. Coupled with some improvisation exercises, this choreography definition seems to describe the advice i would give to anyone wanting to learn a dance. The first point defines the type of dance, in tango we have sacadas, giros and forward ochos that are mini choreographies combined with improvising for social dancing. If a tango dancer starts locking or breaking is becomes another dance form. These small arrangements of steps help us to build body memory and good combinations of tango ingredients is often where the improvisation lies. While notation is not necessary in Argentine tango it is useful to have a systemised approach to the technique. Keeping in mind how this fits together with the bodies 'natural movement' ability and equilibrium in movement.

With all this i find a single message pertinent. Its the reality that no exercise is perfect and no term like improvisation will make you a perfect dancer. Instead its about remembering that most exercises are good for achieving a specific aim and aren't able to be universally performance enhancing. This is the case with terminology like choroegraphy and iprovisation. They are each tools to be used for the greater good of the dancer. Each individual will need more of one than the other, good and bad doesn't come into it.

1. Musicality building, Make a list of: 3 vocabulary items you would like to improve AND 3 orchestras or pick a music type e.g. waltz, milonga, tango (the more different the easier this is)
Once you have these things listed, go to your three pieces of music. Firstly listen and define what each individual piece means to you as a dancer and secondly how they are different from each other. Next create a short figure including your 3 pieces of vocabulary. The less extra steps and the more close connected your three vocabulary pieces are the easier this next step will be. Take your mini choroegraphy and dance to the first piece of music, express all the things you picked out in the previous steps. Do this for the second and third pieces of music. Once you are done you can change the order of your vocabulary in the figure making a new mini choreography. You can repeat the process again and again with new variations and totally new vocabulary.

2. Mapping exercise - Visualise a line going across the floor from one side of the room to the other. Choose a set of rules that define how you move along this line. The more rules and some combinations are harder than others so mix them up but be aware fo this. Possible rules include
  • The follower always has to step on the line. The leader always has to step on the line. Neither the follower or leader may step on the line but this must remain between the two of them.
  • Follower can only do forward steps, or forward and backwards steps or any mix of forward, back and side steps. This can be applie to leader and the couple as seperate rules.
  • Follower must do 3 free leg movements for every step she takes along the line. 3 free leg movements can be exchanged for shifts of weight or  volcadas, colgadas. Leaders can also take on the use of the rule.
  • Every second vocabulary step must be one of the following: sacada, barrida, giro, gancho, boleo, etc.
  • Laastly you can change the shape on the floor from a line to the line of dance for social dancing or crazy shapes for performances and fun.
3. Copy your leader - When out at a social dance leaders can dance directly behind another leader they admire and for one dance try to emulate the steps and style this leader dances with. 

4. Followers musicality - A musical follower is a beautiful thing, without her its very hard for a couple to be musical and without awareness of this its very easy to blame the leader for not dancing on the music. As a follower if we rely on our leader to give us the music we become passive in the dance and in our movements. Instead the exercise is to actively listen to the music and connect this to what your partner brings to the dance. So take a moment alone, list 10 pieces of traditional tango music by different orchestras. Search out the differences between these 8 pieces, how do you feel? what sort of steps would you imagine doing? Is there a strong rhythm/melody/patterns/singing? Just this simple exercise will open your ears for the next time you are dancing.

5. Musical choreography - music is made up in patterns. A simple one is the introduction, main body of the music, variation (often with violins or speeding up) and an ending. Recognizing the structure of the music can help to improvise. When you know when an ending is coming because you picked out the variation, you can find the last note with a great step. Another pattern comes in the phrasing or rhythms.


6. Repetition is the key - Create a small figure that is something you would like in your dance. perfect the technique and feel of the step. Once you have this (might involve help from a teacher), repeat the movement over and over again until you have it in your brains memory. Then add a second combination and do the same. Repeating over and over again. Slow build up a repertoire of repeat short choreographies and list them with names for reference. Each time you go to practice, go through the list repeating all your memorized figures until the flow easily. If you still have time left add NEW ones to the list. You will soon find that these short sequences come out into your social dancing, often with variations which is ideal for improvising.

Patterns are key to building body memory and perfecting movements for dance. Improvising on the learned patterns to bring more life and expression into the movements is magical, but without preparation this will only feel a mess. Instead see improvisation along with choreography as tools for helping you achieve your objectives. We shoudln't be ruled by a term that will go out of fashion in a few years.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing

 

As a professional dancer i have picked up quite a few little tricks over the years. Usually because i made a whole handful of mistakes and endeavor not to repeat them. Here are 10 quick tips to help dancers whether beginning students, experienced dancers or professionals (probably you have your own).

Build body memory. For each simplified basic movement of the dance or movement activity you wish to improve in. In the end a good teacher can simplify anything you need to understand, but you can't fudge the repetition needed to make a movement become learned.

Increase body awareness. With body awareness its a much quicker process to learn any movement based activity. Without it you can spend years trying to make changes that either will take longer to happen or your body simply won't understand on an intrinsic level.

Find your learning style. Become aware of the ways you learn best e.g. visual, kinesthetic, audio etc. Use the ones you are strongest in while translating to others you are less good in. The translation process makes the learning more profound. For example, i learn visually and kinesthetically but when i first started to teach i had to structure things in a verbal way for my students. Especially with questions but also to relate to the many students who aren't able to learn from a simply visual perspective. I found by making this translation of dance into words i learned a great deal myself too and continue to enjoy this new found learning style.

Give yourself time to find the learning space. Many students arrive at the start time of the class.  Totally understandable with the busyness of most of our lives. But it often results in feeling rushed, not something that promotes learning. With a bit of careful planning you can give yourself 5 minutes to acclimatize before the class starts by arriving a bit earlier. This 5 minutes is great for letting your brain become ready to learn.

Warm up before classes and social dancing. Sometimes it feels silly but warming up the body is really important. The more the activity asks from you, and this is personal, the more you should prepare yourself for it. When you are warm you also most better and more fluidly. The chances of one of those dances you will remember is much higher.

Learning is forgetting. Keep in mind that to learn something and take it in at a deeper level we often need to see it several times. Similar to body memory but for the brain. Let yourself forget things as part of the learning process.

Make sure your clothes don't hold you back. Depending on the type of activity you do, make sure your clothing allows for the movements you want to do as well as keeping you sufficiently covered. There is nothing worse than trying to do something and finding you either can't do it or don't want to as it leaves you exposed.

Take time for your own translation. Particularly for partner dancers but also for students who take a lot of classes. Its useful to take 5 minutes by yourself to put all the things you have learned into your own words and understanding. You can take a step deeper to try and link other things you do as part of your activity into this and check it with a trusted teacher or more experienced dancer. I always invite my students to check ideas with me and also tell them when its possible but not my personal approach or maybe i don't have the answer due to it being outside my expertise or comes down to a choice for the student i can't answer for them. After all i am not a guru but a dancer.

The first time you learn something sticks with you forever, or until you do a lot of hard work to change it. The first time we properly learn something we take it into our memory in a more profound way than the second and third times. Its good to make sure that you understand it correctly this first time and that you are getting quality information. This way you will avoid many bad habits that form due to misinformation. Secondly the amount of work it takes to change this first memory once made.

Ask your teachers why. If your activity is anything like Argentine tango then the question why is a good one. In tango everyone and anyone can teach, with a huge range in abilities to dance and abilities to teach. There are good dancers and terrible teachers, good teachers and terrible dancers and everything in between. The question why tends to cut through the crap. If they can give you a solid and clear reason why, then they probably know what they are talking about. If not then you can think on this. Just be a little aware of the difference between question about a step or subject being taught and questioning the teacher themselves. The second one is unpleasant on the receiving end and feels as though you are being asked for you credentials as a teacher. This is likely to close up most teachers making this a moot point. Active learning is essential to efficient learning and becoming more proficient. Its also rewarding and personally i find it gives a lot of enjoyment.

I hope these were useful. Try them out and if you want more information post a comment below. It would be great if you can spread the word about our new blog using some of the buttons below.We will regularly be posting information about dance, health and a little on Argentine tango.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The 9 Biggest Dance Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid



After years of watching dancers on the floor and working to improve the technique and posture of students. I have noticed some easy to avoid mistakes which tend to have big consequences in the dance both socially and for the dancers own health. Look at the list below and check where you stand, is there one you can avoid?


  1.  Bad quality shoes or wearing really old ones might very well be beautiful or super comfy, but do very little for you feet. Ranging from breaking when you only have one pair of shoes with you to physically placing your feet in an estranged position affecting muscles and alignment.
  2. Cling filming. What is that you say? well imagine the super thing plastic rapped around a vegetable and then imagine that this is what many women do with their hips. Rapping the guys package that in the least can be annoying and make guys avoid dancing and girlfriends won't like it. Make the social side of dancing easier and take your hips away from the leader. Its titillating and to all the women out there, that guy who loves to dance with you while you are doing this probably doesn't dance with you for your skill!
  3. Not caring for each others bounderies and the bounderies of the people around you. Often we become more relaxed about contact as we become more advanced in dancing. Caring for the bounderies others have around you takes a little bit of thought and can make a huge difference to the relaxation of the social environment. Respect individuals, their relationships and your own.
  4.  If you have a storm cloud above your head people won't ask you to dance in social settings. Imagine you are in their place and you see someone sitting there, obviously wanting to dance but is really saying with the body language that you will have a terrible time if you dance with me. You are probably very unlikely to go and ask them to dance.
  5. The dress that always moves up and too tight trousers. While the rules in dancing about clothing is often more relaxed so good pointers would be to make sure you choose clothes that won't become indecent when you move and avoid tight ones that will hold you back. A short tight dress will always move up.
  6. Not warming up before dancing. this is a well known one i think but well worth mentioning. Whether its light exercise or a rigorous workout, warming up the body is essential and gives time for the mind to get into the flow too.
  7. Apoligizing too much when things don't go well. This is a little counter intuitive but saying sorry for every mistake will not only make the others around loose focus but also make the likelihood of more mistakes higher. Everyone from beginner to advanced dancer is making mistakes all the time. The only difference is that higher level dancers aren't worried about it and actively search to deal with the thing that happens like regaining balance, rather than stop the dance to say sorry.
  8. Doing all the dance moves you know in the first dance. Whether you are a solo dancer or a couple dancing, bringing out your whole repertoire is usually overkill especially with a new dance partner who has to decipher or an audience who don't have enough time to absorb some of the great things you are doing in the barrage of steps. In many cases less is more.
  9. Expectations of dancing with the best dancers or an amount of dancers in one evening. I think we all fall into this trap at times, but consider this. If for example you have a storm cloud over your head (point 4) would you dance with you? probably not so why go into an evening expecting a certain number of dances. Secondly if you are less experienced why go creating a pressure that you must dance with all the best dancers in the room in order to have a good evening. Often as one of the experienced dancers in the room i will active avoid those who want to dance with me because i am a teacher and instead will go to those who see me as a person and with whom i can have fun with at what ever level of dancing. Going without expectation can give some pretty incredible evenings full of fun, socialising and dancing.



Any more things to add? I am sure there are a whole load more for this list. Add suggestions to the comments section below or check out one of my other dance articles.

Make tango history and upload!
http://www.chicloca.com/2016/01/ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-style.html

'A Vision of Tango'

'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Make tango history and upload!


 


Introducing 10 tips to find great tango on the web


In this day and age the internet and all things social media are opening up some interesting options for niche groups like Argentine tango lovers to share and bring new information to the surface. Many tango dancers resist all things modernized in the upkeep of the old ways and the charm that comes with them. While i too must confess to being in love with many of the social and practical etiquettes of tango, i am also loving the new information at my fingertips. Like the old black and white videos of people dancing in prehistoric tango times or the up and coming dancers doing their first promotion videos.

Much of tango history has gone uncatalogued making it harder for those who would like to spread informed and widely respected information about Argentine tango. Whether about how tango was danced in the early days with the stories of that time, or indeed techniques every student should learn to become a good dancer. We each have our ideas on this, but with time some of the best resources have diminished with the ageing of orchestra leaders and notable dancers who were around in the good old days when Argentine tango was forming and being shaped. With the natural cycle of life and ageing come the deaths of some of our most renowned maestros and the generations that have witnessed a lifetime of tango and its evolution. Prompting a wish amongst the many Tangueros out there to preserve some of this knowledge in the shape of video interviews, documentaries, articles, and online resources making this information available to the world.

We can actively take part in our Tangos history by becoming active in uploading old footage and publicizing the new dances being created. Below is a short list of some of these new fountains of knowledge, in no particular order.


Tip 1: TENGO UNA PREGUNTA PARA VOS por Pepa Palazon,


A video series where Pepa interviews many of the worlds best known tango dancers. Getting their take on all things tango. Search the above title in youtube to find a huge number of video interviews. Including Julio Balmaceda, Gloria y Rodolfo Dinzel, Milena Plebs. (spanish)
http://www.youtube.com


Tips 2: The Youtube search


Type any of the following words in together and you will find a whole wealth of old videos of everything from D’arienzos dramatic leading of his orchestra in the 1940s to black and white movies of some of the first tangos ever recorded on film. search terms to try: tango orquesta, 1920 tango, 1930 tango, 1940 tango, golden age tango. (various languages) http://www.youtube.com


Tip 3: Todo tango website


Probably one of the best known tango website resources out there, giving deep and informative information about dancers, musicians and all things tango. If you understand spanish then its well worth checking the spanish pages and each language has a different amount of information available. I found the rap sheets on the orchestras useful in getting a feel for how all the different musicians interrelated and through this how the end result we hear today came to be. (Spanish, English, German, Portugese) http://todotango.com/


Tip 4: Tango.info site


This is very basic in the way it looks but if you are interested in no fuss information it provides a great source of information laid out in a utilitarian but easy to understand way. (various languages due to user content submission). https://tango.info/

Tip 5: To tango net


This site has some great articles about everything included in the tango genre http://www.totango.net./


Tip 6: Cyber tango site by Cristian mensing


An incredibly useful site with listings such as links for journals around the world, articles, books, websites and blogs for more information about tango. Its a great resource. (english) http://www.cyber-tango.com/e/art_e.html


Tip 7: Articles and book by Christine Denniston


i found her articles and website when i first started dancing and in want of more knowledge. With easy to understand and informative writing style, this is a great place to start reading about tango history. (english) http://www.history-of-tango.com/


Tip 8: Tejas tango dictionary


A great regularly updated tango glossery of terms explained. (english) www.tejastango.com/terminology.html


Tip 9: Argentine tango videos net


This is a website dedicated to videos old and new, http://www.argentinetangovideos.net/

Tip 10: Tango and Chaos


Read stories of recent times in Buenos aires with Tango and chaos website - (english) http://www.tangoandchaos.org


With the new information coming to the surface all the time it enables us to further research argentine tangos murky beginnings and hopefully write with a more informed approach than the regurgitation of tango histories out there. Many containing the same play on words, vocabulary and factual information. Wanting to offer my students a history of tango on my website at one time or other, i was also culprit of this. With the continual new information we have a very natural record being created like never before. There are many ways to be an active part in the history of tango, come and join in the fun.


Other articles in the dance genre:

'A Vision of Tango'

'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

5 fantastic dances to improve your fitness, which fits your personality type?

Ever wondered why some people tango and others do rock and roll? With a few exceptions that like to mix it up, many people get attracted to different dances. What brings people to a dance in the binning and what keeps people training once they have started? Well I am not sure i have the answers to this but to have a little fun, I have listed 9 dances below and their personality types.


Bohemian thinker / artist

Argentine tango is a mixture of introvert and extrovert. Both for show and social, in full view and danced for the couple alone. Scientists and artists looking for a way to communicate, usually finding hard to do this in every day life. It appeals to the masculine mind with its geometric concepts of lanes and line of dance, circles and angles for turning and much more. Sophistication and trampery in one foul swoop, not to mention the more commonly seen variations in dance couples, men leading men, women leading women gives tango the title Bohemian dance of the group.

Party animal

Salsa - generally extraverted unless you see the natives dance (people dancing a long time to a high level), then it can be slow and sensual. Salsa tends to attract the younger generations who like to party but want something more than simply bouncing around. Full and curvacious, even men will discover hips in this dance. Culture and modern music mixed in a party atmosphere with bright colours and vivacious music filling the whole room,  think carnaval. This dance is queen of the party.

 Sorceress / magician

Flamenco - dramatic outward appearance and a lot more going on inside, strong rhythmic movements. Masculine and feminine mixed together with energy and purpose. Traditional feel and dress exuding the best of old times in performances that make your hair stand up on end. The duality of the masculine and feminine found in this dance rarely seen so equally standing side by side make this the dance of those who want to explore their inner power and expression enabled by the play with live musicians. Making this dance the one divine connection of all things.

    Hippy fest

    Folkdance or Balfolk - high energy, fun with simple movements compared to other dances. Great for getting everyone up on the dance floor, its the social animal of all the dances listed here to the point of attracting all those who don't want to go mainstream. Cross culture sharing, hippy hugging and live music create lots of great sharing experiences with this dance.

    Chilled out groover

    Swing - with different moves set groovily in the 1920s-1940s jazz scene. Golden oldy or nostalgic young one who likes to get a feel for the richness of a whole range of different dances included in this genre. This dance brings lots of great historic references together with the dance that is still very actively danced today and increasing momentum by all accounts. This dance is king of chilling out and variety.

    Please take this as a little fun, i love dancing and think every dance has its charm. 

    Liked this? then it would be great if you share you dance personality, even if its not the dance you actuality dance at this moment. I often wondered at the personalities of different dances and there are so many that aren't on this list. i made a shortlist this time but maybe another time its nice to broaden it out. i hope you enjoy.


    Other articles in the dance genre:


    10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing
    http://www.chicloca.com/2016/01/10-quick-tips-about-dancing.html

    'A Vision of Tango'

    'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

    Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

    Friday, 8 January 2016

    10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing



    As a professional dancer i have picked up quite a few little tricks over the years. Usually because i made a whole handful of mistakes and endeavor not to repeat them. Here are 10 quick tips to help dancers whether beginning students, experienced dancers or professionals (probably you have your own).

    1. Build body memory. For each simplified basic movement of the dance or movement activity you wish to improve in. In the end a good teacher can simplify anything you need to understand, but you can't fudge the repetition needed to make a movement become learned.
    2. Increase body awareness. With body awareness its a much quicker process to learn any movement based activity. Without it you can spend years trying to make changes that either will take longer to happen or your body simply won't understand on an intrinsic level.
    3. Find your learning style. Become aware of the ways you learn best e.g. visual, kinesthetic, audio etc. Use the ones you are strongest in while translating to others you are less good in. The translation process makes the learning more profound. For example, i learn visually and kinesthetically but when i first started to teach i had to structure things in a verbal way for my students. Especially with questions but also to relate to the many students who aren't able to learn from a simply visual perspective. I found by making this translation of dance into words i learned a great deal myself too and continue to enjoy this new found learning style.
    4. Give yourself time to find the learning space. Many students arrive at the start time of the class.  Totally understandable with the busyness of most of our lives. But it often results in feeling rushed, not something that promotes learning. With a bit of careful planning you can give yourself 5 minutes to acclimatize before the class starts by arriving a bit earlier. This 5 minutes is great for letting your brain become ready to learn.
    5. Warm up before classes and social dancing. Sometimes it feels silly but warming up the body is really important. The more the activity asks from you, and this is personal, the more you should prepare yourself for it. When you are warm you also most better and more fluidly. The chances of one of those dances you will remember is much higher.
    6. Learning is forgetting. Keep in mind that to learn something and take it in at a deeper level we often need to see it several times. Similar to body memory but for the brain. Let yourself forget things as part of the learning process. 
    7. Make sure your clothes don't hold you back. Depending on the type of activity you do, make sure your clothing allows for the movements you want to do as well as keeping you sufficiently covered. There is nothing worse than trying to do something and finding you either can't do it or don't want to as it leaves you exposed.
    8. Take time for your own translation. Particularly for partner dancers but also for students who take a lot of classes. Its useful to take 5 minutes by yourself to put all the things you have learned into your own words and understanding. You can take a step deeper to try and link other things you do as part of your activity into this and check it with a trusted teacher or more experienced dancer. I always invite my students to check ideas with me and also tell them when its possible but not my personal approach or maybe i don't have the answer due to it being outside my expertise or comes down to a choice for the student i can't answer for them. After all i am not a guru but a dancer. 
    9. The first time you learn something sticks with you forever, or until you do a lot of hard work to change it. The first time we properly learn something we take it into our memory in a more profound way than the second and third times. Its good to make sure that you understand it correctly this first time and that you are getting quality information. This way you will avoid many bad habits that form due to misinformation. Secondly the amount of work it takes to change this first memory once made. 
    10. Ask your teachers why. If your activity is anything like Argentine tango then the question why is a good one. In tango everyone and anyone can teach, with a huge range in abilities to dance and abilities to teach. There are good dancers and terrible teachers, good teachers and terrible dancers and everything in between. The question why tends to cut through the crap. If they can give you a solid and clear reason why, then they probably know what they are talking about. If not then you can think on this. Just be a little aware of the difference between question about a step or subject being taught and questioning the teacher themselves. The second one is unpleasant on the receiving end and feels as though you are being asked for you credentials as a teacher. This is likely to close up most teachers making this a moot point. Active learning is essential to efficient learning and becoming more proficient. Its also rewarding and personally i find it gives a lot of enjoyment. 

    I hope these were useful. Try them out and if you want more information post a comment below. It would be great if you can spread the word about our new blog using some of the buttons below.We will regularly be posting information about dance, health and a little on Argentine tango.



    Other articles in the dance genre:


    'A Vision of Tango'

    'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

    Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

    Wednesday, 6 January 2016

    How to Solve the Biggest Problems With dance shoes



    Shoe problems for anyone who relies on shoes for a particular purpose will find it annoying to get problems. Whether you are a runner, cyclist or dancer, your shoes and in fact clothes are important to enhance what you are doing and able to bring. Read this article further to find out some of the problems faced by dancers and tips for working around them or avoiding them altogether.

    Top 6 categories for problems dancers have with shoes:


    1. Breaking in new shoes: Especially as there is often a recommendation to start with a smaller size than you actually wear. This is due to the material expanding and as dancers we want an as near perfect fit as possible. The what degree smaller depends on the dance, the shoe and type of material its made from.
    • Tip, I would suggest here with leather and suede shoes is to put them on a heater for 20 minutes before wearing them. Note that the heater shouldn't be hot enough to damage the shoes, just warm them past body temperature so the material expands. When you place them on your foot the material is softer and if this is repeat a number of times it begins to mold the shoes to your feet, fitting them perfectly without the normal process of wearing them in.


    2. Getting used to different heel heights (even for men with cuban heels). Many women aren't used to heels and when they come to dance they find it difficult as suddenly they are asked to don heels in many dances. Dancers are rarely taught how to use their shoes in the movement. Its all very well putting good looking shoes on your feet but if you don't include them in your technique they will trip you up.
    • Tips is to wear new shoes on uneven surfaces, or ones that make your ankles work. Usually when we put on new shoes we forget that we need to accustom our bodies and in particular muscles to the changes created. Ankles are often too weak to offer stability when someone wears high heeled shoes for the first time. The thicker the heel the easier it is on your ankle, the lower the heel the easier too. The other thing is the that a dancer needs to build their technique to include shoes as a tool for the trade or hobbie. Simply sticking shoes on our feet regardless of how beautiful is a common mistake.
    3. Shoes that don't fit correctly can be a pain, quite literally. Either through rubbing, being too small or so big that you are unable to move properly in them. The style of the shoe is also important when working with feet of different proportions.
    • Tip,  Length, width, high arch, flat foot, shape of foot are all factors to consider when buying new dance shoes. Best thing is to ask a dance teacher or a knowledgeable shop assistant. Good ones are often trained in dance shoe fitting. After owning a few pairs of shoes you can also look back and see which shoes where the most comfortable and worked best for you in terms of shape and style.


    4. Dance shoes that break are a problem.
    • Tip: many can be fixed easily and its well worth training a cobbler or shoe repairer in your city to mend dance shoes. Particularly if you are a professional and wear shoes out like no tomorrow.
    5. Our old dance shoes affecting our movement. This can come in the form of wear and tear that simply means you have to work harder to maintain balance and equilibrium in old shoes. The other problem that arises for newer dancers who have drastically changed the technique of how they use their feet, is that the wear of the shoe often reinforces old habits. How does this work? well if you imagine someone moved and danced with all their weight on the outside of the foot and mostly on their heels. You will find that the outside of the heel is worn down and the engineering of the shoe starts to break with wearing the shoe in a way its not built for. Yes there is shoe engineering and design that enhances certain things we want as dancers in our shoes.  Ballet shoes are a great example of this.
    • Tip: Even though old shoes are at their most comfortable and if worn a lot are dear friends, know when their time it up. Comfort is usually a sign that the engineering of the dance shoe is breaking down and past a certain point it doesn't do anyone any good. Get to know a cobbler in your city who can repair some aspects of aged shoes, particularly if the shoe is good but its the heel that has worn down. This is often easy to fix, as are straps that have got loose due to expanding and worn out soles.


    6. The engineering of shoes. Have the shoes been balanced correctly, basic test for this is if they can stand up by themselves without falling over. Other factors include twisted heels, the foot pattern being well proportioned, the orientation of the heel distributing weight to different parts of the foot if not aligned properly. Then you get into things like distance between the heel and the place where the ball of the foot meet the floor. Its rare to find a shoe that is perfect and rarer still to find two. So the suggestion here is to be aware of what you have, don't buy something that is terrible quality and work with how the shoe balance affects you.
    If you find any other problems it would be great if you add them in a comment. I hope this list and tips help. More articles like this will be coming soon. 

    Other articles in the dance genre:


    'A Vision of Tango'

    'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

    Why we love Pilates (and you should too)
    'Abundant Obsession' Argentine tango dance
    'Abundant Obsession' Argentine tango dance

    Tuesday, 5 January 2016

    Why We Love pilates (And You Should, Too!)




    Pilates is such a great exercise system both holistic and hands on. Its often underestimated as yet another class you can do at your local gym. But it can be so much more in terms of fitness, health, a great figure and not to mention great for dancers. Find out what Pilates can do for you and some great links to professionals near you. Find out the great things it can do for your health below.

    The top 6 reasons you should include Pilates into your daily routine:


    1. Increase circulation and relieve tension - Great for when you have been behind a computer all day and your circulation is sluggish due to inactivity. 

    2. Improves posture - For those style conscious people who love to wear nice clothes. The better you look and feel about your body the more you can make out of the things you wear.

    3. Enhances body awareness - In this day and age of computers and technology, people are loosing the sense of moving in their own body. Sound strange? Building up greater body awareness can help to improve core body strength and movement. Not to mention make  dance and movement activities fun while technique is quick to integrate.

    4. Improves muscle tone - working with the core muscles of the torso as a central focus for powering the arms and legs. Giving a powerhouse for controlling the multiple movements we do in everyday life. With the right muscles toned and active it also decreases the likelihood of injuries. 

    5. Improves breathing practices and energizes - The Pilates system uses a thought out and deliberate way of breathing during exercises. Consciously used doing particular types of movement for different effects. Many people these days don't have good breathing practices. These would be to breath efficiently using the stomach and lungs each time you breath in and out. We get into habits like not breathing through the nose or short shallow breaths. Breathing slower and deeper energizes the body while being more efficient. 

    6. Great for people with mobility problems - many exercises are done on the floor, sitting in chairs and using other props for help and support. You don't need to be a dancer to try this, in fact quite the opposite applies.

       

       

       My personal experience and your, build up some knowledge about yourself


      I have mixed a number of pilates exercises into a daily routine which keeps my body toned and working effeciently. I have to admit to off times where i don't practice, but always feel the difference when i get back into the flow of regular practice. My body loves it.

      For me its important to find out what you need from a daily or even 2 times weekly workout. Manageable sessions that can be repeated are key here. Important factors can include:

      • Strength
      • Flexibility
      • Build
      • Proportions of the body.
      • Movement Activities hobbies or work.
      • Health issues or weaknesses in the body



       

      Taking the above list and using myself as an example:


      • Strength - I am very strong in my legs and strong in my core muscles. weak in my arms and neck.
      • Flexibility - I am super flexible in my lower back, less in my upper back, not naturally flexible in my legs while arms and shoulder blades are very flexible.
      • Build - I am tall, with long legs and arms, medium shoulder width and hourglass figure.
      • Proportions of the body - I have longer legs than my torso but have a balanced proportion, with a long back.
      • Movement Activities hobbies or work - I am a professional dancer for my work, i like to learn other dances and movement forms to a high level including pilates, yoga, kung fu amongst others, fashion and posture are important to me as they bring an extra quality to how i look and feel.
      • Health issues or weaknesses in the body - I am super flexible in my hips and have to watch for injuries when exercise. Health issues around digestion and dizzyness due to an operation I had on one of my ears affects me from time to time.


      Find the answers for yourself:


      How to find out where you are stronger and weaker? 


      Think back to times when you are lifting things, this should give you some good answers. Otherwise check with a health specialist like Pilates, dance, or health related teaching/practitioner. This information can help to tell you where you need to work on your strength and where you should maintain your current level.

      How to find out your areas of flexibility?


      Do some simple stretching exercises and be careful of your bodies limits. Again ask a dance teacher or other movement professional for some exercises if you are unsure which ones to use. This information can help to tell you where you need to work on your flexibility and where you should maintain your current level.


       What type of build and body proportions do i have?


      Body build is often a bit difficult to know offhand. Ask some people around you what they think and find people in the street who match how you see your self and then ask where you would but their build on the scale of things. There is a lot of great information on the web about build and proportions so maybe give google a try. Otherwise get in touch with our contact form, i am happy to help. For proportions get a long mirror and ask yourself 2 questions: 1. Is my body longer than my legs or vice versa, 2. what are the general lengths of my arms, legs, torso in relation to the size of my head.

      This information can help to tell you where you about your body, how to work with posture and also how the length of the body often shows the things you can work on. Longer limbs usually need core body exercises and movement control/awareness while being naturally graceful. Shorter limbs often get more tension and need to work with relaxation. These are gross generalisations. Its difficult to describe the complexities of proportions and body build here and its always best to get expert advice in person.

      If you find some funny things out, please don't worry. When we really look at ourselfs we reallize we are a bit strange looking and beautiful. Keep in mind everyone who does  this will probably feel the same. You are unique and beautiful, don't forget it.


      Why are my health weakness's, work and hobby activities important?


      These allow you to keep in mind important factors that you should keep in mind while exercising. Any health problems of weaknesses you might have should be taken into account when trying Pilates or any other activity alone. Notify your teacher if doing a class. In places where you body is weaker do less repetitions and lower level intensity exercises to build up the strength in that area. Too much can lead to injuries, take care of yourself.

      The movement things we do for work and hobbies are useful bits of information. It tells us how fit we are, whether our body is used to moving or not and the types of movement it knows in its body memory already. A more movement active person can often learn things faster and take more intensity while those less used to moving need a little more time to build up on knowledge and intensity.

      Couple your growing knowledge with a great exercise system like Pilates and you are made for life. If Pilates doesn't workout then try one of the other great ways to exercise and experiment until you find one that is right for you.

      Other articles that may be of interest in the fitness genre are:

      What is the relationship between nutrition, healthy eating and fitness
      Whats the relationship between nutrition, healthy food and fitness - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/relationship-nutrition-heathy-food-fitness.html#sthash.8yKzmRHF.dpuf
      Whats the relationship between nutrition, healthy food and fitness - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/relationship-nutrition-heathy-food-fitness.html#sthash.8yKzmRHF.dpuf
      Tokyo street fashion (東京のストリートファッション), inspired Starwars and imitating Manga - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/tokyo-street-fashion-inspired-starwars.html#sthash.I5INGx4X.dpuf
      Other articles of interest in the style genre:

      Other articles of interest in the style genre:

      Other articles in the Travel genre:
      Little black dress, all its cracked up to be
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/little-black-dress.html - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/tokyo-street-fashion-inspired-starwars.html#sthash.I5INGx4X.dpuf

      Other articles of interest in the style genre:

      Other articles in the Travel genre:
      Little black dress, all its cracked up to be
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/little-black-dress.html - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/tokyo-street-fashion-inspired-starwars.html#sthash.I5INGx4X.dpuf
      Whats the relationship between nutrition, healthy food and fitness - See more at: http://www.chicloca.com/search/label/Health#sthash.gptmqDHq.dpuf
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/relationship-nutrition-heathy-food-fitness.html


      Womens health and body building
      Womens health and body building
      http://www.chicloca.com/2015/12/womens-health-and-body-building.html




    Friday, 18 December 2015

    We are collecting your tango stories


    UPDATE (March 2018): After many stories were shared with us we made a book that the authors could share with family and friends. This book was sold out within days of being printed. There were no reprints due to the project being about sharing rather than making income. But recently we had more questions about the stories and if it would be possible to publish some of them here. While the authors wished to remain anonymous we were given permission to publish to this blog. see this link for the first story shared. Feel free to shares yours by sending an email to info@cielito.nl. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Original article and search for stories: 12/18/15


    Our latest mini project at Cielito is to invite all you Argentine tango dancers out there to share your creative skills and experiences with Argentine tango. What was your first experience? What comes to mind when we say the words Argentine Tango? Have you got a story to share? it can be anonymous if you are sure about being known.

    All the stories that are submitted will be edited for spelling and pictures will be added when it fits. Not all stories will be added particularly in the case where the content is deemed unfit for general public use. If you wish to remain anonymous please make sure you press the anonymous button within the submission form.

    Click here for the link to Cielito's website and Story submission page.

    Why are we doing this?

    For a long time i have wishes to bring together many of our stories into one place. There are many sites with tango videos, teaching tango demos, and hostory of tango information. But few focus on the people aspect of tango which is fundamentally so interesting because while many of the stories might indeed be similar the motivations, the reasoning and feelings behind them are universally different.

    Unlock the hidden creative writer in you and share a little of what keeps you busy.

    Greetings Loca


    Wednesday, 16 December 2015

    'Question'-Why become a high level dancer?

    28/6/10
    by Isolde Kanikani

    Why become a high level dancer? What is the need behind this search? Is it the promise of more dances or a deeper more qualitative connection? Is there a line we can reach when there are fewer people we want to dance with? Why?

    At some point in our tango adventures something changes or we leave for another activity that suits us better. For most of us this change is intrinsically personal but the need to become a better dancer seems to be a common outcome. Why? Whether its to become good at something or to be accepted in the ‘cool crowd’, to not be left out when people come asking or that we are hooked on the self learning process possible with this dance. I can’t answer for you, only bring the questions to aid your own searching. Always question and you will go far. Its when we stagnate in our knowledge that we are ‘good’ or that we have ‘achieved what is desired’, that we inevitably become normal or loose the things we found because we no longer work for them. I can only offer my own experience and that of those close to me.

    My first lesson hooked me on tango and I wasn’t to know this until later on. I will always remember my first teacher Adele who was so beautiful in her deep red dress and graceful flowing movements. A bit cliché maybe but I was stuck by her beauty in the way she moved and more deeply as a woman. I was 16 at the time and searched for the discovery of what it was to be womanly, moving comfortably in my body.

    But it was only about 6 months later, when I had a really bad lesson from another teacher that I questioned why each and every week I turned up to dance with people 2-3 times my age. The difficulty of the lesson that provoked the question was having to look into the eyes of my partner and walk around them in various ways, for about 15 minutes. This is fine if you feel safe, but he happened to be the known letch of the group and I felt decidedly more uncomfortable as we went on.

    My only answer was that I loved this dance, and wanted to become a better dancer. In my case I had wanted to learn a dance since I was about 12 but never had the chance until I moved into an area with more things going on. The unconditional freedom one can have to move with partner and music, while confined in the movements and vocabulary of the Tango. These confines or boundaries, becoming the tools for creativity and fun. Without them we are left standing. I got addicted to the feeling of dancing in my body and connecting with other people. Also to the endless adventures I found myself in, travelling to faraway places and flowing spontaneously with those wonderful situations that can only happen when you are in the moment. Be it in the tango or simply in life. I was learning to be present with now and yet I found myself always planning the next big adventure, to the extent of not really living in the present one. Something that later become apparent in my search for people I wanted to dance with.

    I travelled, I learnt and I grew as a dancer. After a little more than a year I was asked if I would like to teach. Something I had childishly dreamed I might do but never thought it was a real possibility. I was going to be a barrister and had every intention of going to law school in later years. But when I was asked, it was like something clicked into place. I said yes, and I started to teach. I carried on learning. I am still learning. I love teaching and I love dancing.

    As I travelled I grew as a person and in the understanding of myself. When I was 18 I went to Buenos Aires for the first time. I grew in experience, the people I wanted to dance with when I got back home become harder and harder to find. I think many people can identify with this. Two things happened for me in this time. The first was that I felt people wouldn’t accept me as myself. They were becoming a mirror. I would see myself as 16 in their eyes. At 21, I went to America to help some friends with their tango scene while they went to Argentina. I taught regular classes, workshops and travelled to other tango scenes in the USA. Linking this with being in Buenos Aires for the 3rd time meant that it was about 4.5 months before returning to the UK. During this period, I realised that by allowing people to see me as a 16 year old, I was denying all the experience worked for and gained in the last 5 years. , in dancing ability, in understanding of teaching and most importantly with life itself. Some of my old ‘friends’ thought of me as an angel, innocent in many things. What they didn’t want to see is that I was more experienced in life, coming closer to the image of the woman in red I had seen at my first Tango lesson.

    The second reason that people I wanted to dance with got fewer was a matter of perception and level of dancing. It was true that there weren’t so many people with the same level of experience to dance with in my area. As I learnt this got more and more pronounced. If I focused on this I would get frustrated and finally take myself away somewhere to find people who inspired me. But then the realisation came that all this is also a matter of perception. Yes there were few people around of the same level but why is that so important to enjoy a dance. Ok, one wants to be comfortable and stretched at times too. But one can be comfortable with a beginner. We can also have those amazing dance connections with someone who has danced under 10 hours. I know because it has happened many times. So why this idea that beginners should dance with each other and if you are ‘an advanced dancer’ then you do them a favour by dancing one dance.

    Try looking at it from another perspective. If you can only lead ‘an advanced’ follower are you really so proficient? Can you make an absolute beginner feel like they have had the best 3 dances they could possibly have, with the clarity of your lead allowing them to find ochos, turns and at times even the cross? Have you tried it? As a follower have you given a new leader the feeling that he can lead you? Yes he is unclear in his body language, but are you sensitive enough to know what he is after? Ok last question; can you remember how it was to be a beginner when an experienced dancer danced with you, instead of giving advice on the dance floor? I can remember that far, just about (smiling). As a beginner that there were two men who would regularly ask me to dance. They were at a more advanced level. It was wonderful because they showed me I could dance with very little experience. Later it swapped round, I became more advanced and we still dance.

    Some friends got as far as making the decision to stop classes, the figured that if they got more advanced than a lot of their peers it wouldn’t be so much fun. Prolonging the enjoyment they can have with tango. Some have still kept it up and have a great time in milongas. While others stopped learning and questioning their dance. Inevitably falling behind and in some cases stopping.

    Whether you choose to find some way to prolonging the journey of learning and enjoying. Changing perception, maintaining level or travelling to faraway places. Or you take it for what it is a story with an end to tango, but a beginning to something else. Taking all the discoveries you have made along the way with you. Who knows, many go both roads. Can we try and savour this experience too long who knows. Keep asking yourself the questions that only you can know.

    'Inside Story' Argentine tango traveling the world

     


    Smooth Moves Ezine March 2008

    Argentine Tango came about in the late 1800's, at a time when many cultures were mixing (mainly European and Argentine), in music, in culture and in a basic need to survive in a place where work was scarce, The lure of promised riches from fertile land in Argentina were laid barren when many immigrant men arrived from countries all around the world. They found desert or rock in their allotted land, and so most migrated into the big cities, namely Buenos Aires and Montevideo. At one time there was approximately 70% men to 30% women and it was said to be even worse, this was due to many of the immigrants having left their families behind. These where the circumstances that lead to the formation of Tango, and the common representation of two men practicing together in order to increase their chances of dancing with a woman.

    Its very hard to say exactly where it came from or how it formed, due to the many myths that engulf its past adding to the element of mystery in the dance which is so much a part of our intrigue as dancers. Some say it developed in the brothels of La Boca a barrio of Buenos Aires, others whisper conspiracy in saying that it originated in Montevideo and isn’t of Argentine origin at all. For me as a dancer I feel its origin isn’t so much important as its nature to evolve and change with the times, and even the fashions of clothes, music and the way people are expected to relate to each other in society have had influence. The pencil skirt for example, made it impossible for the women to make large steps, so in the 50s when this was ‘ la mode’ the movements become smaller and much more compact. But there is also a wonderful sense of preserving the old, there are many organizers that promote traditional tango in a form that is as close to Buenos Aires as it ever can be considering that we live in a another culture with a different way of life, tempered also by a change in times and the roles of men and women.

    But the dance is something more than an explanation of its existence. This is merely a context for tango, a generality or cerebral way to try and understand it. My personal experience of Tango has been an adventure I could not have predicted. Improvisation, playfulness and a willingness to explore are characteristics in the dance that have unconsciously diffused and taken residences as a way of life.

    I still remember my first lesson which was in a big theatre, edges darkened, lights dimmed for atmosphere and its most prized possession was a perfect wooden dance floor. A woman clad in a beautiful flowing dress, red when caught by the light, took us through the first steps of tango. There was one moment about half way through the class, when she gave me some hint or glimmer of what the dance could be like in experience both in terms the sensuality in the body while creating the movements of tango, and the feeling of simply expressing the music. I was hooked in the space of half an hour only to be told afterwards that there were too many followers, and that I being the last to sign up would have to wait until the new classes started. I was upset and crying when I left, but was soon rescued by another teacher who had more men than women. So the precarious start to my tango journey had begun only to lead to more obsessions in body and movement as the months past. I now teach and dance all around the world, moving from one dimly lit room to another.

    I am always in search of something that the dance gives me and still I cannot name it. But what I do know is this dance is beautiful for the fact that you can never stop learning if only you are open to the possibilities. The improvised nature of Argentine Tango gives special moments of spontaneity and connection very hard to find elsewhere. With music and a space to explore and freely express it being introduced to the concoction, I am surprised any of us ever find a reason to stop.

    The dances existence was provoked by the differences between men and women. Its evolution and origin forming from the immigrants with their many dances, and music traditions when arriving to Argentina. Its status and reputation growing with the travel between Buenos Aires, Paris and the popularity that is growing around the world. Continually evolving with the times but protectively coveting the old and the traditional. Lastly Tango is the technique and playful improvisation that allow two people to experience connection with each other around and through the music.