Posts Tagged ‘tango’

Hugo Diaz …

August 5, 2012

Damian Boggio was playing a tanda of Hugo Diaz which I was sitting out when a local teacher (who runs a small milonga and does the DJing there) comes up to me and complains that she find this nuevo stuff boring. I pointed out that this was Hugo Diaz and she managed to remember he’s the one who plays the harmonica (quite obvious from what was being played). I said I think Hugo Diaz is folk as opposed to nuevo. She didn’t quite agree so I googled it this morning but don’t see many Nuevo links to Hugo Diaz.

The same teacher later taps me behind the back and asks if I knew how to dance and wanted me to dance the tanda with her. After about three songs, she wondered who the orchestra was. Well, assuming Damian didn’t just play Francisco Canaro’s Poema and then switch orchestras, I would say that it was a Canaro tanda.

What can I say? If you’re a teacher please please please study the music, especially if you DJ for your own milonga. Thank God she didn’t try to sell me stuff this week.


Saying ‘yes’ to say ‘no’

June 20, 2012

I haven’t stopped dancing, its just that I changed companies and WordPress is blocked at work and I’m usually too tired/busy after work to write new entries … I’ve been dancing less lately, partly due to other things happening in life and partly due to not really having a great time in milongas.

One thing that really kills it for me is when I’m trying to cabeceo a lady for a dance, some sod comes up and sticks their hands out to invite the woman, and the woman accepts. So if I’m in an environment where walking up to invite is so common, what do I do?

Javier was talking about codigos recently and I was lucky enough to attend his very popular classes. He promotes the cabeceo without any reservations and he talking about various strategies to use and educate it.

Disclaimer: what I present below is what I made out from his broken English (which is getting a lot better) and also the interpreter’s broken English. Javier may have been tying to make an entirely different point but these are what I think he was saying.

Firstly, never walk up to a woman and invite her to dance. If she’s not someone who uses the cabeceo much (or at all), you can walk up to her, chat but do not invite her to dance. Instead, ask if she wants to dance to XYZ orchestra later when it comes on. (Of course, if that orchestra doesn’t come on then this may not work). But the idea is to suggest to her to look for you at a later time in the evening.

And for the women, saying no is nasty. Its not nice to say it and its even worse to receive it. When a particular poor dancer or beginner who does not know the cabeceo walks up to invite, there are ways to reject them and not make them feel so bad. The suggestion first involved saying yes – you will help them by going to classes with them (if you want) or practising with them so that they get better. But no, you will not dance with them at this particular time because you want to dance with XYZ over there who instead.

I have read that no is no and women don’t ever need to explain why, but I’ve been on the receiving end of many rejections and its never nice. If you’re in a particularly quiet milonga, it can get a little awkward as well and I do think Javier’s suggestions of saying yes to say no is nice.

Tango Siempre at Royal Festival Hall

January 2, 2011

Tango Siempre performed one set this year at the Royal Festival Hall from 6pm to 7pm on the 28th December 2010.

A lot of dancers turned up for the live music but we all agreed it was too short. Last year, Jenny Surelia was involved and also gave a performance and it was a whole afternoon of very good tango.

They played a good number of very danceable tracks, I personally don’t like dancing to live music as music as recorded golden age tracks but Tango Siempre are one of the groups that play danceable music.

A lot of people turned up for the event, not only dancers but the general public and it was clear that everyone enjoyed it. Lets hope that next year there’ll be another set and whole afternoon of fun again.

Carlos & Rosa Perez

October 28, 2010

Carlos and Rosa Perez are back in London. Last year Carlos had some difficulty getting up the stairs in Negracha but no difficulty in giving this performance.

Adrian and Amanda’s musicality classes

October 28, 2010

Most musicality classes I go to are about clapping and stepping to the beat, then maybe stepping in double time and also stepping in half time. Even classes that were labelled as dancing to Di Sarli or D’Arienzo are like this. After those classes, I have no greater understanding of Di Sarli or D’Arienzo, afterall, there are moments where stepping in half or double time makes sense in most songs of both orchestras.

Adrian and Amanda’s musicality classes are different. They first introduce the double bass which plays the most obvious beat to dance to. But then the other instruments in a tango orchestra aren’t there to look pretty, they can be there to dance to as well. There are other instruments such as the violin, piano, bandoneón and the singer all contribute to the music. There are layers to tango music. They all contribute to a different feeling inside you and you can choose how you wish to express the music when you dance.

Adrian and Amanda’s musicality classes are the best I’ve been to. There is no dancing, just sitting down and discussing the various possibilities about tango music. What to listen for various ways that music can be interpreted. If you’ve not been before watch out for them again next year on Brigitte’s website. Its a shame noone in London teaches just the music.

Who needs lights?

June 6, 2010

You need decent lighting to be able to cabeceo someone.

Why do you want to cabeceo someone? Well, its the traditional way of inviting someone to dance in Argentine Tango.

Its useful for the man because he can get rejected without everyone else in the room noticing. Men will always be men. We hate being rejected and we certainly don’t want the world to know about it! So I use the cabeceo where and when I can.

However, if you’re at a milonga where its so dark that you can only see half the width of the dance floor, eye contact is very difficult. Not to mention that half the ladies aren’t even looking out for the cabeceo because there are so many men that don’t use it. Those men are happy for the whole dancefloor to see that they got rejected.

I was at The Light’s Saturday night opening. It was a nice venue but the lights weren’t very powerful and it was a blue-ish tint which makes it even darker. It was quite difficult to see very far in terms of trying to cabeceo someone. BUT – what I noticed was that I could barely make out who was who anyway. Except towards the end when most people had left and you could guess who was who, but earlier in the evening, even if you got rejected, people across the room certainly wouldn’t have known who you were.

So who needs lights and cabeceo when milonga organisers can just off the lights and make it as dim as possible so you can’t see people being rejected?

Homer and Christina talk about floorcraft …

April 25, 2010

Whenever I think of Nuevo Tango, I always think of couples dancing large, kicks, lots of cool moves but not very social and very bad floorcraft.

I’ve always considered Homer and Christina nuevo teachers and only ever seen them on youtube.

They were in London recently teaching musicality and like most teachers, they explain a concept and then get the student to dance a song with that concept in mind.

After dancing just one song in their musicality class, they paused for a bit and mentioned two things about floorcraft:

  1. Always try to reach the corners of the floor and not cut corners (or the corners of your lane)
  2. When entering the dancefloor, try to get eye contact with the couple you’re going to dance in front of, let them acknowledge that you are there and they’ll give you space.

Obviously theres a lot more to floorcraft but it was a lesson on musicality and after just one dance, they had to stop for a bit to make these comments.

I guess I’m wrong about Nuevo teachers not caring about floorcraft. Now I hope some students got the message and try a little harder to maintain good floorcraft.

Why we need good DJs …

February 10, 2010

Was dancing on Saturday night on a very crowded floor. Actually, the number of couples on the floor itself wasn’t that many, it was the fact that there were at least five couples dancing large, some more skilfully than others. It was almost impossible to avoid them and the music was something upbeat, probably D’Arienzo and so they were probably getting more excited than normal.

While dancing, I was really hoping that the next tanda that would come on would be a DiSarli or something a bit calmer so that the dancers won’t be as wild. But instead, a milonga came on which was even more upbeat. But instead of it being a total derby, a lot of people in London don’t dance milonga and the DJ knew this, the floor started clearing up leaving plenty of space for those unscathed from the previous tanda.

A good DJ not only knows good tracks to get everyone dancing, but also when the floor is a bit chaotic and puts on the music that was allow it to settle down a bit. Good to know that there are some decent DJs in London.

Lessons with Javier and Andrea

November 21, 2009

Several months ago I posted a question on Ask Arlene’s about taking lessons from Javier and Andrea and I raised a lot more attention than I had anticipated.

I think it would be fair to respond to those who were kind enough to offer me advice.

In short, the workshops were very good and I was glad I went. While Javier did not speak English, he was very animated when explaining concepts and Andrea done some translating when required.

For those who expected to learn exactly what was advertised will be a little disappointed. The workshops vaguely followed the topics but often Javier saw some things he wanted to correct and would focus on those points instead.

Throughout the weekend, Javier emphasied a couple of points for us to focus on:

  • Stop thinking about doing something fancy with the stepping leg and think more about the pushing off the stepping leg
  • When a woman accepts an invitation to dance, she embraces him 100% – she doesn’t look at him and think that he’s only worth 50% of an embrace
  • Ladies need to work on a look that makes the men come to them, they shouldn’t go out looking for the men.
  • Ladies need to free their legs, some are so worried that they must close their legs, knees and ankles that their walk is restricted.
  • Learn to relax in the dance – especially the lower back and feet. Otherwise after an hour of dancing, you’ll be in pain and can’t go on any more.
  • and so on … the point is, I didn’t learn one new ‘step’ or ‘figure’ from the workshops

The milonga was a little disappointing, the music was great but it wasn’t so well attended. There were loads of room but being used to a packed London milonga, I was hoping a bit more people turn up. Also, Javier and Andrea didn’t dance socially in the milonga either. I always like to see how teachers dance in a social environment.

Overall it was a good weekend and I’m glad they taught useful things like connection and embrace as opposed to Tango Fantasia (which is what they sometimes teach in other countries).

If the event is held again, I’d go providing that the topics of the workshops are similar to this year’s. If they change to what we have millions of visiting teachers teach use like ganchos, colgadas and flashy combinations, I’d give it a miss.

Achieving fluidity

November 3, 2009

This is one of the things I’d like to achieve in my dance.

The other day, Andreas Wichter talked about walking around holding a bowl of water and being very careful not to spill any of it. Try not to cut the movements and use counter-movements when changing directions.

Bruno and Mariangeles used a similar idea in their fluidity workshops the other day. The leaders and followers shared a ball or rolled up jacket between them and walked around trying not to cut the motion and letting the movement come to a natural stop or counter-movements when changing directions.

Both ideas remind me of a Japanese anime called Initial D where the protagonist is a tofu delivery boy for his father’s business and often races around the mountains. There is a small cup of water on his dashboard, which he must be careful not to spill as that would mean he was driving too hard and the tofu would have been damaged.

I like to dance fluidly, soft and gentle and taking care of my partner as if she was that tofu which must not be damaged, ensuring that I can deliver her to the end of the tanda in one piece.