10 May 2010

When the cabeceo REALLY came in handy...

At one milonga past...

I was on a break and making my to the snack table. Strolling past, I see a friend sitting. What struck me was that she was being "talked to." This guy looked like he was talking "at" her. 

Her body language looked polite, yet, uncomfortable. It seemed to be a one way conversation as it didn't looked like she was interested at all. He leaned into her, as she was trying to (slightly) lean away.

As I walk past, she looks my way, and makes eye contact. I see what's happening, and (instinctively) give a cabeceo. She nods, begs her leave, stands up, and we dance.

As we dance, she tells me, "Thank you for saving me." I smile and reply, "My pleasure," and we finish the tanda...

05 May 2010

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

Here's a brief outline of how, and what I've learned from various tango teachers...

I'm no virtuoso, nor am I a protégé
I, and my tango are not products of any one teacher. Neither have I adopted the style of any single instructor. 

It took me at least two years to become decently passable as a leader. The first year was spent with my first teacher learning moves. His teachings laid the basic foundations of what was to be, "My own tango."

The next few years were spent adjusting, refining, building, and still learning. These "tweaks" came from different instructors. Each with their own areas of expertise. Each with something to contribute. Each one providing important pieces of the puzzle.

I had trouble with each of them, and it was up to me to figure out the value, internalize and mesh all of their lessons into a cohesive whole.

I am a "hybrid" tango student
Throughout the years, I have had a hodge-podge of instructors, lessons and workshops. That's A LOT to take in. Going down this road I have come away with a few lessons learned:
  • I can't absorb all of what they teach
During lessons and workshops, people will ask me, "Did you get all of that?" I would give them a look of consternation and say, "No." I don't. I REALLY don't get everything I'm taught. I'm a slow learner. I just persevere through it all.

I can confidently say that I only remember 10% of each session. Afterwards, it probably takes me a month or so to make it work on the milonga floor.
  • Not everything taught to me is applicable
Some of my teachers are REALLY good. I am in no way, shape, or form capable doing what they do. I can only use the lessons that I am capable of doing on my own without frustrating, aggravating, nor injuring my partner.
  • Retain just the important lessons
I remember and implement only the lessons that are useful and executable, in relation to my abilities.
  • Adopt their methodology, adapt it to yourself
My first teacher said, "You need to make your dance yours." A lesson that has stuck with me from the beginning. I learned from all of them, but in the end, I have to adapt their lessons into tango. It may not be perfect, nor may it be beautiful, but it gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment, as it has become part of who I am.

To all of my teachers, I am grateful. Thank you for your diligence and your patience. Without you, I would not have "My own tango."

And so my learning continues...

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My teachers and the enduring lessons I retain to this day (In chronological order):
  • Sonny Newman: "Make your dance your own," Philosophies of dance, Basic techniques: caminadas, sacadas, calecitas, giros, enrosques, barridas, lapizes, Ochos, ocho cortados, dissociation, sanguchitos, walking in parallel and crossed... etc, etc, etc
  • Lucianna Valle: Explanations of how tango music is phrased, musicality in tango
  • Miriam Larici: How to lead with the center, confidence in leading
  • Muma: Walking and turning (milonguero style), proper milonguero posture 
  • Alicia Pons: Proper and effective weight distribution, management of center of gravity
  • Eva Lucero and Patricio Touceda: Where to hold your balance, advanced refinements on leader's technique, refinements on walking, posture corrections

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