28 July 2011

The music dictates...

A few years ago, I always wondered, that after years of learning technique I found my tango still wanting. My dances ended with a feeling of "Coldness." I looked and searched for the reason. I found it in the most ubiquitous and permeating elements of tango... The Music

A boring dancer was I
I had a vast repertoire of steps and patterns. I knew how to lead. I knew where to place my weight, I knew where her weight was. I was not lacking of things to do. Despite all of this, I could not get over the feeling that when the tanda was over, I was not fulfilled. Because, I did not see my partners totally happy. It looked as though they had just finished a very long tedious activity. It dawned on me—Despite of what I thought of good technique, I was monotonously boring!

Being a former ballroom dancer, we went through drills and exercises to the point that we could do dance moves without the music. The thinking was that we could dance to anything. To a non-ballroom dancer, this would seem a bit absurd. But, In ballroom dancing's defense, a lot of it has to do with technical perfection. This was a training technique to be ultimately competitive.

A total change in perspective
In order to make my dancing more "enjoyable," I did a data-dump of my previous learning techniques. I changed my perspective to focus on tango,  and just tango.

I embraced the techniques native to tango, it's dynamics, it's nuances. I listened to the music. I got over the Tango technique part quite well with lots of patience and perseverance. The music however, was a different problem to handle. I couldn't get over the "Old" feel of the music, no percussion, sometimes, the singing voice I found distracting. I kept at it as I accepted the fact that if I need to be proficient in tango, I need to appreciate tango music to dance to it.

My tango music epiphany
This was a major turning point for me.

Despite my self-confidence in leading and passable tango technique, I still felt like I wasn't dancing. Rather, I was simply "shuffling" across the milonga floor. One day, I found the answer. I internalized the music! It made a world of difference. Allow me to explain...

The music dictates
The answer was simple. As I danced, I listened to the music and channeled the mood of the music through my dance. So, if the music was slow, I dance slow. If I the music was fast, I danced fast. If the music changed pace, so did I. It if were an intense piece, say, a Pugliese, my tango was intense and passionate. If the music was sweet, like Canaro's Poema, my dancing reflected the loving embrace for my partner—I matched my mood and movement to the music.

-  -  -

I've found my tango now to be much improved. After this small improvement, I no longer leave my partners with a glazed look. They leave me with a smile, and my heart sings.


26 July 2011

Volcano Tango

Mrs. Ampster and I went on a 10 mile hike up to Coldwater Peak. A mountain within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, and directly in the blast zone of Mount St. Helens.

To celebrate our summit, we danced a Tango on uneven volcanic ash in-between two trees that were instantly scorched and knocked down when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980.

P.S. If anyone is wondering what I'm wearing, I hike (and dance) in a Seattle Utilikilt (it's a Seattle thing).


03 July 2011

Mountain Tango

June 2, 2011 was a particularly beautiful day. Mrs. Ampster and I decided to do a day-hike to the summit of Tiger Mountain (WA).

We found ourselves atop the summit. The sky was clear with visibility unlimited. We could see cities in the distance surrounded by the evergreen forests of Western Washington surrounded by the magnificent Cascades Mountain range.

The day was warm and the breeze cool. The sun was beginning to set and the subdued hues from horizon to horizon created a beautiful burst of inspiration—A Mountain Tango!