Sunday, August 8, 2010

July 29 - August 4

Jueves, 29 Julio 2010

I took a stroll in the ´hood and came upon Asignatura Pendiente Corrientes 2176. They have lots of tango clothes, well made, current, stylish, reasonably priced, and some a bargain on the clearance rack. They also had a small selection of tango shoes. Current model Tango Leike´s were 390 pesos. I tried on a few of their sale shoes (180 pesos) and found one pair of Negra y Portena brand (their house brand) that felt great and fit perfectly (normally 310 pesos), so I bought it even though I wasn´t expecting to.

Souple Shoes (Parana 384, apt 2A). This is one of those shoe stores that is located in an apartment (a la Fabio shoes). There is no signage, so you either have to hear about this place by word of mouth, or pick up one of their fliers at Nino Bien or see their ad in a tango guide. They are a new store, only open one year, and had 15 pairs of shoes in their offering. I tried on several, but none of the shoes fit me well (not enough coverage at the front of the shoe for me; both sides of my foot where the future bunion will be on the inside and the corresponding opposite bone below the pinkie toe on the outside would slide out). Interestingly, I was told by the owner that I was really a size 5 and not a 6 as I am everywhere else. Go figure. I found the shoes to be well made, and she said that they are the shoes that Geraldine Rojas wears. She even showed me a YouTube video of Geraldine dancing with Ezequiel in shoes that appeared to be their´s. The shoes that I did try on had very comfortable soles.

Nuevo Chique Milonga (San Juan 244, 15 pesos, elegante sport). I had such a good time here two days before that I went back for some more. Dancing here with the portenos is so much fun. I really get the feeling of "one body, four legs" with them. There is something about their solid uprightness of their posture, their confident energy and presence in their embrace (not forceful or overbearing or reliant on the Follower for their balance) that is absolutely divine.

Nino Bien Milonga (Humberto Primo 1462) The 20 peso entry fee gets you a free drink when you give the waitress your admission slip. There were many locals here on this night, and not so many international folks (I guess 10%). That being said, it was a tough cabaceo night since the locals all seemed to prefer to dance with each other, and there were many folks who just wanted to sit and watch and not dance at all. Still, it was great fun people watching with many local celebs in attendance social dance: El Flaco Dany, El Flaco Dany´s brother who is also a fantastic dancer, Maxi Copello, Luiza Paes, Alicia Muniz (the owner of Comme il Faut), and Judy y Jon. It was also interesting watching the dynamics of one young rather famous taxi dancer and his much older, much shorter client. I don´t know what his name is, but he was extremely attentive to his client, dancing every single tanda with her, and being very thoughtful toward her in many other ways. It was clear that they both got along quite well together, and she didn´t seem to mind that he invited his 3 other younger friends to join them at their prime table (next to El Flaco Dany´s and Maxi Copello´s table, where they sat with a group of men, all of whom I am sure are quite accomplished tangowise). I danced with an excellent leader from Italy who mentioned how much he liked Homer Ladas´s videos on YouTube. I asked him if he ever went to the link where the class notes are, and he said yes, and that he found them helpful in giving him ideas in how to develop his own dancing. I told him I was Anne who wrote the notes, and his eyes grew wide and he seemed very pleased and somewhat shocked to meet and dance with me. So, it was a very nice night despite not racking up much mileage on the dance floor.

Viernes, 30 Julio 2010
I didn´t do much in the afternoon since it was cold and rainy.

Sin Rumbo Milonga (Tamborini 6157, 20 pesos). I had a nice time at this milonga, even though the floor got very sticky after the first two tandas, likely because of the humidity caused by the rain. I got a chance to try their vacio y papas dinner (26 pesos). They ran out of papas, so I had salad instead. The meal was an excellent deal and very delicious. I really like Sin Rumbo. The dancing is very civilized, and they have a nice ratio of tables to dance floor space. Ariadna Naveira and Fernando stopped in later on in the evening.

Sabado, 31 Julio 2010
Asignatura Pendiente
Corrientes 2176. I ended up with two dresses and a top.

Marta Anton and El Gallego Manolo Canyengue lesson at EAT. It was a small class, more like an assisted practica since the experience ranged from extreme beginner to pretty decent. We went through several steps: basic, rock steps back on both the left and right leg of Follower (forward rock steps for Leader), regular ochos, forward ochos immediately to back ochos, back ochos immediately to forward ochos, Leader back cross step of left foot behind right foot as he walks forward, side steps (one to the Follower´s left, with an unweighted collection and then immediately to two steps to the Follower´s right (with Leader footwork the exact opposite for these side steps, series of Follower front cross steps to the right with exaggerated trailing left leg (this was done to the music and in series of 3s). It was a good lesson. Marta had some canyengue CDs for sale, with music that only she has the recordings to. They were normally 40 pesos each.

Domingo, 1 Agosto 2010
Loca! Milonga (Niceto Vega 5248, 15 pesos for milonga only). I had such a good time the week before, that here I was, back for more. The milonga started off a bit slow. It seemed that most of the people there were content to just chat for a bit before dancing. When the dancing did start, it went full force and floorcraft was a little bit frenzied at times. I got a chance to dance a few excellent tandas, which made it a great night for me.

Lunes, 2 Agosto 2010
Day 1 - Luciana Valle Intensivo B - off axis. The topic of the day was the Dynamics of the Free Leg. We began with warm up dances for the first half hour. Then we went on to the subject of the day, "Dynamics of the Free Leg". The goal was to free the free leg of the Follower, and the key is in the standing leg, pushing on it, then releasing it. After some discussion of the class topic, we would dance one dance, with the Follower being really focused on their supporting, standing leg, and the free leg being very free (not shaped or pretty or technically precise). Next, we did an exercise where Leader played with and controlled the free leg of the Follower by moving his axis (body\core, not arms), forward and back without moving his legs. The Follower moved her leg (NOT her axis or body) back and forward in response to the Leader´s axis moving forward and back. The axis is always on the front part of the feet, and we were playing with the motion before the motion, with Follower anchoring and releasing. We did this same exercise to the side, and then forward. Next, we played with intention, moving the foot, and then actually stepping. Followers were to let their legs get heavier and move down into the ground, and also react with the leg from the hip (not just below the knee). Next, our work developed into linear boleos, and we played with changing the dynamics of the Leader´s forward step, where he pushes off with more energy, doing a normal step in size, but with lots of energy, and then he stops the energy suddenly, remaining low, to lead Follower´s leg to go straight back and really freeing her leg. Both Leader and Follower have to really anchor. Follower does not control and Leader does not lead the return. We were just to focus on the Leader sending the Follower´s leg out straight back. Here, the Follower was to really use her left hand embrace of her thumb against the front of the Leader´s bicep as he moved forward toward her and the fingers against the back of the Leader´s bicep as he suddenly stopped the energy. Next, we did the same forward intention in the Leader´s walk, only doing it into the Follower front cross of left foot over right foot. She was not to shape the return, but to have it have a natural, organic movement. Next, we did three different types of straight to the side free leg movements: (1) straight linear forward to the side (dancers are at 90 degrees though Follower maintains bra line to Leader), (Leader should take care not to raise the Follower to get her lef7foot to rise) (2) Straight linear forward to the side in front of the Leader, then curving as she pivots, as if for an extremely rounded exaggerated ocho, and (3) straight linear forward to the side, with much more energy, and change the direction of her hips while her leg is at the highest point in the air (similar to doing an air rulo, only not shaped). This was to help us play with regular ochos and dynamic ochos. We did these as with boleos and contra (counter motion) boleos, with normal feet and crossed feet for the Leader. In the contra or counter motion boleos, the Leader creates dynamics by moving opposite to the Follower, and the ¨return¨is felt more than the ¨go¨. We also did these as forward and back boleos (the back ones were tricky). The underlying goal of the Follower during all these exercises and boleos was to focus on: (1) anchoring the standing leg and relaxing the free leg, (2) have good left hand connection with Leader´s right arm bicep of her thumb against the front as he comes into her and fingers against the back as he stops the energy suddenly. She should also keep her bra line toward the Leader.

Martes, 3 Agosto 2010
Day 2 - Luciana Valle Intensivo B (off axis). Topic: Colgadas. We began with an hour review of what we learned yesterday in terms of freeing up the free leg and doing linear boleos to the front and back facing the Leader and to the side (forward and back) where dancers are at 90 degrees (though Follower maintains her bra line to Leader). Off-axis moves always refer to the Follower´s axis, not the Leader (who is always on axis, or perhaps slightly backwardly intended, but still on axis). It is important in off-axis moves that the Follower maintain her connection of her left hand on the Leader´s right arm, with thumb pushing forward against him, or pulling toward her with the rest of her fingers, to respond adequately and correctly when Leader extends or compresses the embrace, expanding or contracting the space between the dancers. We began with an exercise where the Follower moves her center back (thus it is now off axis) so that it is off her feet. When Leader sends her out to do this, it is important that she take it with the lower half of her body (hips\legs) and that she not absorb it in the chest or torso and lean back with her head back. She should not be on her heels, but on the balls of her feet, and her legs should be straight (not bent at the knee). Shoulders should be on top of the hips (not butt). Follower should try to think about being out and UP, and the Leader must really anchor his toes, otherwise she will pull him forward. Next, we rotated this from side to side, one foot to the other. We got into a very simple colgada, which was basically an exaggerated, more dynamic parada to a Follower front cross step, while dancers face each other. We were to use our knees and really propel to exit the colgada. We tried this on either side. Follower´s technique\posture are key: Stay in front of each other. The movement is not huge, but dynamic. Distance the hips from the Leader, not the shoulders\torso\head. Colgadas are a motion of the centers, not of the arms. The Follower´s hips are back a little further than her shoulders, but not much. Legs\knees are soft, not locked or straight, but not excessively bent either. Keep torso posture the same throughout, even on the rotation, and do not lean back in the upper body\head. The Follower should maintain the torsion in her upper body, starting with the torso and her hips coming around in dynamic movement as the Leader leads it. Next, we did another colgada facing each other, one that is very planeo-like in that the Follower´s axis and left leg or right leg are sent straight back out, and then Leader walks around her while her axis is still out. Here, the Leader first sends her leg out with down energy and not moving his axis, then he opens the embrace to send her hips out and axis back. Next, still facing each other, we did a colgada that was reverse pasada like in that the Follower does a back ocho with her right leg, then Leader stops her right leg with his right leg, and Follower does a reverse pasada of her left leg either out as if for a planeo, then gets a rotation clockwise, or her hips out and then back in with rotation clockwise to resolution. Whether her leg goes out or her hips go out and then comes back in are a function of how the Leader leads it (with more downward intention for the leg going out). The Follower must not rush the legs to let Leader decide which one he wants to do, the leg extension\planeo colgada or just the regular hips out, then back in to axis. Next, we did side colgadas, starting with an exercise facing each other, and the Leader anchoring and being like a wall while Follower sent her left leg and left hip out to the side away from him, and then we did this to the right side as well. We turned this into the side colgada, which we did from the Follower left leg barrida of Leader´s right leg, to colgada on her left leg to pasada with her right leg out to clockwise resolution.

Miercoles, 4 Agosto 2010
Day 3 - Luciana Valle Intensivo B (off axis). Topic: Forward Volcadas. We began the day with the first hour reviewing all of the Colgadas we learned yesterday, really trying to take the motion of the Leader´s top with the Follower´s bottom (hips, not shoulders). The new topic of the day was Volcadas, the opposite of colgadas in terms of off axis. The way maestra teaches volcadas is that they are an interrupted step, not necessarily an inclination. We began with an exercise of the Leader just counterbalancing the Follower, moving opposite the Follower, not carrying her, but creating a vacuum and emptying the space in front of her, obligating her to step. The Leader takes an open step to his left side (Follower´s right side), then he steps around her 90 degrees (to 3 o´clock) in an open step. The Follower follows from the top of her body to the bottom, in a spiral. We also did this with the Leader stepping to the other side (9 o´clock). The Leader moving around follower in 90 degrees creates the pendulum motion. The Follower really tries to get torsion from the top down spiral. The Leader needs to have power in his step, pushing off, so that Follower feels the curve on the body and does not spiral and not move in a block. Next exercise: The Leader takes the 90 degree step, but does so a little farther away, so that Follower feels the invitation to step (and she steps). Next exercise: Adding to the prior exercise, the Leader moves toward Follower when the Follower wants to step. This is to help us understand the concept of counter motion and is done in the context of the open embrace. We did not add any off axis during this exercise. For Follower´s technique, she needs to have good spiral in her upper body with her hips coming around as a consequence and her feeling the need to take a step, and then the Leader waling toward you. We did this on the left side and right side. This exercise was to help the Leader understand the feeling of inviting her, then playing with the counter motion. From here, we added the close embrace, and did it for real, taking Follower off axis. Maestra noted that every Follower open step (from boleo, sacada, molinete, colgada, etc.) is an opportunity to do a volcada. The Leader just needs to step around her in 90 degrees. Maestra noted that Follower´s feet should always be in an upside down V shape at the end of the volcada (not parallel or pigeon toed). We spent most of the last half our of class dancing with each other, with the Leaders exploring the idea of the volcada coming from any Follower open step, and the Follower just trying to be ready and alert and able to do the volcada without anticipating it.

1 comment:

tangocherie said...

I enjoyed reading about your BsAs experiences--and I must have been at Nuevo Chique when you were (because we always go.)