Archive for April, 2009

The shoe shine

April 12, 2009

Beginners love their adornments. For some reason at one stage or another a lot of ladies learn how to rub the foot over a mans leg while stepping over his leg during a stop. I don’t know whether this adornment has a proper name, but one of my teachers once called it a shoe shine.

In case you haven’t been taught it before, I’m sure there are many videos on youtube teaching it (problem is I don’t know its name) but here’s a video of Osvaldo commenting on a student doing it to him it in the first 15 seconds of the clip (this video is part 3, you may want to view part 2 first to get some context on what happened previously).

Unfortunately some women with poor basics (especially beginners and improvers) compromise their balance and posture when walking over the man’s leg and trying to do adornments. Some get tense, some have poor balance and feel a bit wonky and start to lean into the man.

People don’t notice you rubbing your foot, what they see is you shaking like a tree on a windy day.

If you must do that adornment, the focus should be on you lifting your leg/knee, nice and clean and stepping over elegantly — and obviously to the music. There should be some contact with your foot and my leg – otherwise you’re just waving your foot around in front of me and looks even worse when you’ve got a wonky structure, and gazing down at your feet since you don’t know where my leg is, you don’t know where to step over.

One of my roles in tango is to make the women look and feel good. Why do you insist on doing the opposite?

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Empty your cup …

April 1, 2009

There’s an old story about a student learning martial arts from a master that I came across a while ago. I don’t remember it exactly but I’ll adapt it and post it here.

One evening before giving a lesson, a Milonguero is enjoying a bottle of fine wine when a tango student approaches him to discuss tango and hopefully get some advice to better himself. This student has been around and danced many tandas with all sorts of women and learnt from many famous teachers.

The student proceeds to tell the Milonguero of his experiences and all the different techniques he knows and he can do 99 different ganchos from the turn and knows all the different orchestras and then proceeds to the different teachers he’s had and how he’s looking forward to learning something from the Milonguero.

The Milonguero sits quietly and listens. After a while, he begins to slowly pour wine into this student’s glass. The glass slowly rises and fills up. But the Milonguero does not stop. Wine slowly begins to spill onto the table and eventually splashes onto the floor.

The student quickly yells “Stop! The glass is full, you cannot pour any more in!”.

The Milonguero responses, “Yes, that is true, just like you, the glass is full. Unless you come with an empty glass, how can I give you anything? No matter how fine this wine, it is all wasted”.

Here’s another version of this story which isn’t as good as the original I read many years ago. And I’ve came across other adaptations but they all share a similar story.

I attended a class the other night and although the sequence taught was focused on sacadas and giros, there was a detailed discussion on dissociation.

After the class, I was chatting to a friend who say that she learnt nothing from the class and thought that the men were rubbish. We dance. She is as straight as a brick.

A lot of students in London approach classes with a full cup expecting to fill it even more. The problem is not with the teachers who fail to add more to their cup, its with them not letting anything in. There are some who genuinely want to learn from a particular class or teacher – don’t waste their time if you can’t empty your cup.