Wednesday, May 5, 2010

April 22-May 5

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Late Shift Milonga. I missed the lesson. The milonga itself was lightly attended. I didn’t stay very long, but what I found striking was how the food on that particular night was significantly different, better than usual.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Diego and Negracha Lanau milonga at Lake Merritt Dance Center, upstairs ballroom #2. I missed the lesson. This ballroom is the smaller ballroom on the second floor, with textured pergo floor. Seating is on the two opposite sides of the wall, almost militaristic style. Ventilation wasn’t the greatest, but was much better once the windows were open to let in the cool night breeze. Maestros are incredibly warm, charming, inclusive hosts, and they make everyone feel extremely welcome at their milongas, and so they have more of a family party vibe to them rather than commercial endeavors. There were ample and delicious drinks and food, some of which was cooked personally by Maestra, and some of which was potluck. Diego did a find job spinning the tunes. There was a raffle; the four separate prizes were two private lessons and two TangoZapa magazines, generously donated by publisher Tammy as she walked in. During the show portion of the evening, Negracha sang two tangos, and one simple, regular chacarera, all accompanied by Trio Garufa’s Guillermo Garcia on guitar. We danced the chacarera respectably enough, though oddly, the person I was partnered up with in line very publicly walked away, ditching me before the song actually began…what was up with that?! Rather than slink back to my seat, tail tucked between my legs and face burning in embarrassment, I went ahead and danced to it by myself anyway, with only my ideal invisible partner, who as it turned out since I made him up in my head, was incredibly charming and understanding at my being slightly rusty. Maestros’ buddies maestros Andrea Monti y Gato Valdez did a fine show tango performance of two songs. and Andrea has incredible strength, agility, and technical precision, so it was very inspiring to watch her. Gato, of course, is a great leader. Rachel Greenberg came by just in time to do a performance without warming up with Diego. It was great. You can see it at The milonga got somewhat crowded since several of the other usual Friday tango events were cancelled (no free tango movie night and no St. Aiden’s milonga. :o( ), but not so much that floor craft ever got obnoxious. All in all, it was a pleasant night.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Late Shift Milonga with lesson beforehand by Rachel Greenberg. I was planning on going to the Free TangoRevolution Concert and Milonga since the price was right, but at the milonga the night before, two local tangueros, whose opinions I respect, made it a point to let me know that Rachel Greenberg was an excellent teacher. Since I had not yet been blessed with experiencing her teaching, the pull was too great to ignore, though I knew it was extremely likely that there would be more followers than leaders at the milonga that night. If that turned out to the case, I figured I could make my way over to the TangoRevolution milonga easily enough, thanks to my handy dandy GPS.

The lesson focused on playing with the Follower’s cross and the Americana. We began with a figure that was the 8CB to the cross, followed by a Follower forward ocho to the Leader’s outside right while the Leader steps back. Then he pivots her bigger than usual to do another forward ocho into the Americana. When the Leader leads the Follower into the Americana, his arm should slide around her, or he should relax his elbow so that they can get closer to each other.

For Follower’s technique, she should always face the Leader’s torso, even during the Americana. She also needs to be complete with her weight changes and pivot a lot into the Americana.

After the Americana, both dancers can walk forward, but eventually the Leader brings the Follower back to be in front of him, and she continues to walk back two steps. Then the Leader can accompany the Follower as he leads her to do back ochos.

In the Americana, the Leader needs to coordinate the transfer of weight of both dancers simultaneously. The Leader transfers the weight forward as he brings the Follower around to do a small right foot side step returning in front of him. Then the Follower steps back with her left foot, with her chest always facing the Leader’s chest.

Sometimes the Follower will do contra tiempo (QQS) while the Leader does tiempo (SS). The Follower should always try to be close to the Leader in this sequence and not float away.

Next, we played with the sequence, with the Leader pivoting the Follower at the point of the cross (8CB to cross), so that they come into the Americana position, and she steps forward with her left foot out. The Leader needs to transfer the Follower’s weight and make her turn forward in the Americana as she goes into the cross.

For the Follower, when the Leader changes her direction, she needs to keep her torso toward the Leader and her feet crossed and collected before she steps out with her left foot.

Next, we played some more with this, pivoting her QQ without the cross. This is a surprising change of direction for the Follower.

Finally, we mixed everything up: The cross to Americana, to back ocho, to cross, to Americana, to pivoted Americana with no cross.

The Leader can add a boleo lead as he takes a right side step with Follower on her right foot back step to lead her to do a boleo with her left foot.

The lesson was good and confirmed that Maestra is an excellent teacher. There was clear explanation and ample time to drill with lots of instructor individual feedback to everyone.

At the lesson, I heard from another two local tangueros, whose opinions I respect, that Rachel Greenberg was an excellent teacher, and they strongly recommended that I go to her workshops the next day. This was kind of strange and surprising in that I had never been told quite so fervently from so many different people – all leaders -- that I should go to a lesson taught by a specific teacher. It made me think that we’ve been visited by La Bruja and she has cast a spell upon the entire Bay Area tango community, from the looks of how many avid fans she has.

The milonga was pretty good. I danced with a lot of my favorite leaders, and some newish-to-me ones, who are beginners but with a lot of potential and no horrendously bad habits/bad posture at this point, and one specifically with a shockingly delicious embrace. Dale & Cathy did a fine job spinning the tunes, and I think they were particularly inspired by milonga that night since there were no fewer than four milonga tandas! The milonga had a very nice vibe to it. As expected, there were more Followers than Leaders, but the crowd was good and most people were very social. So we all got to dance, we all got to rest, and there was no frenzied competitiveness of fighting for the “good dancers” by the tango ambushers trying to rack up mileage on the dance floor at the expense of others.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Afternoon Practilonga at La Pista. This practilonga happened in the downstairs ballroom right after Rachel Greenberg’s workshops that day, which I unfortunately missed. The first one was on the Ocho Cortado (which I was OK skipping since I have had many, many lessons on the ocho cortado), and the second one was on Boleos, which I had wanted to take. Since many of the workshop students stayed for the practilonga, it was clear that the boleo workshop had more followers than leaders. No surprise there, but it was a shame that it was as imbalanced as it was. When I arrived at the practilonga, there seemed to be a ratio of 1:5 leaders to followers. It never quite evened out at the practica, but the leaders who were there were social and danced with all the patiently waiting followers, who seemed happy enough to chat among themselves or watch the other dancers. One of the Leaders led me in the boleo class work, which was a series of 4 Follower boleos, alternating back, then front, then back, then front, out to a back ocho for Follower or forward front cross step for Follower, all while the Leader walked around her. This Leader was pleased that I could execute this, even though I was not in the class. Then I verbally guided one other Leader who was leading me into a back boleo. I just told him to lead me into a back boleo, immediately into a front boleo, and then to keep doing them as he walked around me clockwise. He got carried away and did 6, 8, 10 then 12 boleos while walking around me. That’s when I told him it was enough and that he was backing up traffic behind us. I speculate there was much time spent on Follower boleo technique during the workshop since the mirrors had plenty of fingerprints on them. And I am sure Maestra was very good at explaining the Leader’s side of the intricacies of leading boleos and their timing.

At the practilonga, I decided to give myself a swift kick in the pants, put my money where my mouth was, and actually practice a lesson I took in November 2009 that I wanted to work on. It was an extremely technical colgada that Fabian Salas and Lola taught at Fandango de Tango 2009, and I brought my class notes to the practica. I think I got it back reasonably well, and I think other dancers at the practilonga were inspired to work on their colagadas too, even though it was not what I would consider a Nuevo crowd. I had a surprisingly very good time and was totally OK with not dancing the entire time. It was very freeing to be experimental and creative and work on new material without feeling like a doofus if it didn’t work out. The leaders who danced were all good to excellent, social, creative, and polite, so I imagine all the followers had a decent time, despite the substantial bench warming.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cellspace Alt Milonga. I didn’t catch the lesson. The milonga itself was just OK for me. Not magic, not tragic. I got to dance with some new-to-me leaders, and several of my usual favorites.

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