18 August 2009

My intensely silent tango

I wrote about taking breaks during the milongas to watch and appreciate other tango dancers. In doing so, I have made another epiphany—That I don't have to be like/look like anyone else—I can have a method and style of my own.

Really good dancers I've observed
  • Swooshers
I just call them swooshers because of the way they tango. They have large circular movements that "Swoosh" their way across the milonga floor. They go by in a blur of motion.

I once idolized these dancers because of the admirable agility of their delivery. It was like watching a show. I thought that it would be cool to gain the adulation of the audience. IT was a good ego stroker.

I have since gotten tired of this, as (IMHE) its a lot of motion. There is very good connection between the partners as they are concentrating on their motion. Its fun to watch when one expertly swooshes down the floor. It is however, a bit too much on the "Show" aspect of things.

  • Walkers
These are the dancers who tango very simply, yet elegantly. They move smoothly as if on rollers. There really is not much to see when they dance, other than the fact that their followers look like they're in a trance. To a beginner, these guys would look "Boring." The big difference here was that magical tango connection.

After watching intensely, I have come to appreciate this form of tango, and decided to make it my own.

My intensely silent tango

Everyone needs to dance their own tango. I call mine, an "Intensely silent tango." A tango that to the casual observer, is not much to watch. However, to my partner at the time, the lead is LOUD, clear, and vibrant. This, regardless of how simple the motion being led.

In order to do this, I have had to develop the following:

  • Control the power and delivery
I had to temper my movements to be confident and resolute with no tentativeness. No excessive/unnecessary motions. Do just enough to make the movement happen. No more no less.

  • Know where her feet are at all times
I have had to learn to lead her. Land her weight where I need her to be before I continue the next movement.

  • Wait for her
Wait for her to finish her step, movement, embellishment before continuing. Tango is a two way street, and sometimes my partner embellishes. Let her finish and and enjoy the moment.

  • Keep the chest consistent
Now more than ever, my lead has come from the chest, as it should be. I am always conscious of my tango posture. If the posture fails, the lead becomes weak.

  • Assisting the lead with Impulses (Micro leads)
I sometimes use muscular impulses to make my leading clearer for my follow. A muscular twitch here and there as appropriate. I utilize this most especially while dancing to complicated music and/or fast music.

I employ these techniques in the attempt to not only better my tango. But most importantly, to make the experience better for my partner.

08 August 2009

The first time I danced with a "Stranger"

When I first learned tango, it was with Mrs. Ampster. She was my permanent partner. We practiced together, we got good together, we progressed together. I was one of the fortunate ones to have had a partner who shares the same interest.

When we were still learning, we normally attended group classes where you shift partners. Ok, this was class, that was normal, I guess. This experience was my first exposure to different partners. We were all beginners learning in open embrace. No big deal.

After a few months, Mrs. Ampster and I started going to milongas. I'd like to think we were getting good. At least, Mrs. Ampster was. She was getting asked to dance a lot.

I on the other hand, I was to too terrified to ask anyone else. I think it was fear of rejection over anything else. My "fragile" ego would not survive a trouncing...

On one particularly bland milonga evening where dancing was sparse with the evening's ambience dead. A beautiful blond lady came up from behind me and asked...

"Would you like to dance with me?"

I gasped, turned around and said,

"I would love to."

What the hell am I doing!!??
This the monologue of my brain in turmoil that followed:

OMG, What the hell am I doing?

That's OK, we can make this work.

Here's my left arm. Oh good she took it

Here she comes!

Oh no, her arm just went over my shoulder, Gaaah! Close embrace!

I can't move.

These are NOT my wife's boobs!

Breathe, breathe, breeeeaaaatheee

My heart's racing. Relax, relaaaxxxx, breaaaaathe in annnnd ouuuut

When's the music going to start? Oh, it already began...

Now what!? I can feel HER breathing! She's alive!

Ok, calm down. Think of what your teacher taught you

Keep it simple, keep it simple... and, walk, walk, pause... pause... ocho aaaaand boleo

Hey, this works! Let's walk some more. Just walk, keep walking...

Listen to the music, syncopate, rhythm, follow the beat....

I'll stop talking to myself now...

That was the first time I had REALLY danced with a stranger. I was amazed at how well it worked. I kept it simple. After I had gotten over the initial shock, I was able to think clearly. After which, I had enough confidence in myself to just let go. It was one of the very first tango epiphanies I've had.

It was an eye opening, and magnificently liberating experience.

05 August 2009

Ampster's other blog

AmpsterTango is my blog exclusively for things tango. I recently added a couple of posts that related to Philippine history. Interesting, but out of context.

That being said, I created a new blog, "Ampster Ponders... Filipino style." This alternate blog will house my ruminations of living in this wonderful land called the area in and around Seattle from a Philippine point of view.

Oh, and that will be the venue where I post my "Foodie Porn."

Please come visit sometime——> Ampster Ponders