Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 1-7

Friday, April 2, 2010

Verdi Club Milonga with lesson beforehand by Carolina Rozenstroch and Gary Weinberg on Linear Boleos. I had my doubts about going here, since I didn’t have a stellar time at this milonga the last time I went because of the excessive aggressive followers, and since there was the Palo Alto milonga that same night (and there is no shortage of leaders down that way near Man Jose … oops, I mean San Jose). But I have a deep and profound respect for Maestra and our friendship, and I wanted to support her efforts. And my linear boleos, while they no longer totally, completely, and utterly suck, they still do need more work.

We began with an exercise to get the feeling of grounding into the floor with our leg, and then the other one coming through and being free. We were not to kick the free leg or lift the free leg unnaturally or exaggeratedly, but let it come forward naturally as a consequence of the energy of our other leg being ground into the floor, and our body arriving to axis and being stopped there, not going any more forward. Since our free leg should be free, it goes forward as a consequence of the energy stopping our body from going forward, not because we are forcing the free leg to go up or faking it. Then we practiced walking, and then stopping and grounding, causing our other leg to go free. Leader and Follower did this simultaneously in this exercise. Then we changed to exercise to the Leader leading it, and the Follower following it, but with the Leader not doing any free legwork with his legs. So his job was to be very clear in his stop energy, and the Follower needed to be responsive with stopping her body as well, and being honest in letting her free foot free, but not causing it to have more energy that it should. She needs to keep it honest.

We then worked on linear boleos to the side, where dancers are at a 90-degree angle to each other. For the side linear boleo to the open side of the embrace, it is important that the Follower’s right arm not collapse or absorb the energy as the Leader stops her body from going forward with his left hand. The Leader’s left hand must also not collapse. From here, he can lead her to do an ocho as her free right leg goes up, leading her to pivot in the ocho at almost the point of the apex of where her free leg will go, so that she does a pivoted air boleo, to step out back to the close side of the embrace. Since there were twice as many Followers in the class as Leaders, I sat out a fair bit voluntarily, since it seemed like my fellow follower classmates could probably use more experience working on the exercises with the Leaders.

The significant class gender imbalance had me worried about the milonga, and I questioned whether or not it would have been better to have gone to Palo Alto. My concerns were unfounded though, because the milonga soon became better balanced, and the leaders who were there were free to be their wonderful, charming and community-building selves since their efforts were not hampered by needy, demanding tanguera ambushers. So even though there were several more followers at the milonga, none of us had to sit out for more than a tanda. So all in all, I had a very nice time, and I think most folks did as well. I got a chance to dance with several of my favorite leaders, and some new ones, too.

On Friday, April 9, maestros teach Interesting Volcadas – not the usual regular forward or back volcada -- and the students who were there were all instructed to bring in two leaders each. So any of you leaders reading this, please come to the Monte Cristo Friday, April 9; I need a good volcada class partner (or three) since I absolutely love love love doing volcadas. :o)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Again, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. :::sigh::: I was eyeing the clock, planning on going to the Late Shift, but got waylaid into installing yet another dishwasher. By the time I was done, my body was quite tired from using different muscles and getting down on the floor and then back up multiple times.

Déjà vu? The new dishwasher that I installed a few weeks ago was just plain irritating. The rack design didn’t fit my exactly portion-controlled size Tupperware, and the button functions were downright weird, demanding, and high maintenance thanks to a team of overzealous engineers, and it was noisier than the dishwasher it replaced (a mid-range Bosch, at 52 db). So even though the particular dishwasher (the current entry level Bosch, 57 db) was rated a “Best Buy” by a famous consumer magazine (yes, it’s the one you are thinking of), I thought it was really, shockingly awful. So did the roommate, who insisted I get a new one. So, a few mouse clicks, 45 miles round trip, and half a C note later, I got a really sweet top-of-line Bosch, brand spankin’ new and never installed, but circa 2004, with a couple of dents on the door and obviously completely out of warranty, but which sang a sweet 48 db when running. And so yet another Saturday was spent fussing with dishwashers… removing a current generation low-end Bosch and then installing a previous generation top-of-the-line Bosch. My opinion so far? The older generation is vastly superior. I am shocked at myself at how irritating I found the sound levels of the current entry level one, even though most people wouldn’t notice much difference between 57 db and 52 db or 48 db for that matter. But I absolutely love my new 48 db dishwasher. The gentle swish of the water sloshing around is melodic and soothing, unlike the grinding, whining, gurgling, and clunking of my two other louder Bosch dishwashers. Some people (sound engineers, musicians, composers and the like) sometimes comment on the pitches of dishwasher noises. I am not that sensitive; I just want the darn thing to be as close to silent as possible. And so, for now at least, I am blissfully happy with my new six-year-old dishwasher (and if it misbehaves I will just rip it out and put yet another new-to-me one on in its place). And I am also very thankful that Sears takes appliance returns (less a 15% restocking fee and within 90 days of purchase). So what on earth does all this have to do with tango? Well, not much. But at least I can listen to tango music with nearly no background dishwasher noises. :o)

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