Thursday, February 3, 2011

January 27 to February 2

Friday, January 28, 2011
Palo Alto Milonga with Chacarera Lesson beforehand by Pampa Cortez.
I missed the lesson because I was having way too good of a time to tear myself away from dinner. Who would have thought that Chili's could be so fun?! Still, I arrived just in time to catch the last bit of the lesson, and everyone looked really good doing the Chacarera. The milonga was reasonably attended, with a good balance of Leaders and Followers. So I think we all pretty much danced with each other, and had a good time. Pampa's Folkloric Troupe did a performance, with Pampa doing a solo with these hard balls on string things (obviously I don't know the name of them), twirling them so that the hard balls rhythmically hit the hardwood floors, similar to how nunchucks would perform if they were made of a hard ball and string (instead of stick and chain), and reached to the floor. It was a truly astounding, amazing performance, and it's great to see the progress that the Folkloric Troupe is making and how happy Maestro is to perform and teach Argentine Folkloric dances. The Zapateo footwork that he and the male members of the Troupe do is truly breathtaking in it's sharp precision and elegance. I am not a guy, but I certainly love Chacarera, and if I weren't so completely neurotic about my ankle ligaments and tendons, I would be sorely tempted to join just to learn the intricacies of the Zapateo footwork (and I'd have a cool reason to buy some really some nifty, stylish boots). The milonga was fun. The vibe was mellow and chill, and the crowd blissfully drama-free. I was too stuffed with dinner to even glance at the food table, but I did notice later on that it was vacuumed clean by everyone else in attendance. It was a very nice, pleasant night. And luckily for me, the Palo Alto Milongas hosted by Elaine are now on the second and last Fridays, so they won't conflict with the MUSE milongas, which start up again on February 18 and will be on every first and third Fridays. I am very excited about MUSE, can you tell? :o)

Saturday, January 29, 2011
The Late Shift Milonga grand re-opening at the old space with lesson beforehand by Pier and Debbie Goodwin.
I missed the lesson. When I got there around 10:30 p.m., it was already packed. It seemed everyone and their cousin was in attendance to celebrate the return of the Late Shift to the larger (former Metronome, former Cheryl Burke) ballroom. The room is somewhat more austere than it used to be, with all the pictures of the dance teachers and much of the furniture (like the tall bar tables) gone. Still, there were benches around the perimeter for adequate seating, and which happily made for larger dance floor space, which was definitely needed and appreciated on this full-house night. Even the mini practice room space where Tango Con*Fusion held their boutique had no tables, so all the shoes were placed on the floor for display. Still, it was great to see so many people in attendance. I truly hope that the momentum is maintained because this was always one of my favorite Saturday Night milongas, even though several times I went, it was only lightly attended. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it would be great to see continued support from the local tango community of this milonga. David and Mariana did a nice demo, as did Tango Con*Fusion of some material they are working on. The Tango Con*Fusion gals had a cake to celebrate their 7th anniversary, and they invited Brigitta Winkler to join them in blowing out the candles, since she was and continues to be a source of inspiration for the troupe (and for lots of dancers in SF -- heck, the world!!! - as well). It was a very nice night and great to see so many faces, old friends and new, and I stayed until the very end.

Sunday, January 30, 2011
Studio Gracia Milonga with lesson beforehand by Paula Gurini & Mariano Bielak.
I missed the lesson, but was impressed by Maetros' demo later on. They are extremely elegant, poised, musical dancers, and after their two numbers they blessed us with an encore of one more, which included a few lifts and jumps toward the end to shake things up a bit.

The Milonga was quite crowded, so floorcrafting was a bit tough at times. I had a fun time for the most part, though I did have a small mishap (total Shoe FAIL!) later on in the evening. I was cooling my heels, waiting for the milonga tanda to end because Darrel didn't want to dance milonga. Well, Morena inspired him to get out there and finish up the tanda. So as we were burning up the floor, someone stepped on my heel cap at the exact moment I was pivoting away. At first after the contact, I didn't know what had happened. I knew I wasn't injured at all (no scrapes or bruises), and I could still feel my heel, but I could also feel that it was not sitting properly level on the floor. The physics gods must have been angry at me because the force and torsion combined was enough to dislodge the stiletto from my shoe, breaking clear through the center screw and all the glue on the edge of the stiletto top. Looking at the shoe later, it must have been torqued and twisted in some weird way, because there are two other small screws that go in at an angle from the shoe to the heel, but I can't seem to get them back into the holes properly. Obviously, the shoe doctor is going to have to come to the rescue on this one, as just a squirt of glue is not going to be enough or a lasting fix. Luckily, my shoe bag was still full of other shoes from the milongas I had gone to the two days before, so a quick change had me out on the dance floor just as Morena ended.

Monday, January 31, 2011
La Cumparsita Milonga with lesson beforehand by Korey and Adeline Ireland: "Musical Finess: Adapting for Lyrical and Rhythmic Opportunities".
We began the lesson with some body exercises, moving our body parts randomly, but to the music, doing moves like shaking our hands, bopping our heads up and down, tapping our feet, etc. Then we were to do this in counts of four only. Next, we all did a clapping exercise to a song, clapping on the 1, the 2, the 3, and the 4. Then we were split into four groups, and we clapped again, but only during our group's assigned beat. Then we practiced clapping to different rhythms as a group 1-3-1, 1-4-1, 1-2-3, 3-4-1, etc. Next, we applied our rhythmic exercise to the Follower's back ocho using a D'Arienzo song. We were to do the double time when we heard the music accelerate, but also slow down to regular time when the music slowed. Our goal was to work on accelerating and breaking the ocho. The Leader does a rock step and while he breaks the Follower's back ocho (similar to how an alteration or change of direction feels). Directionally, the momentum continues, so left to left or right to right. For the Follower broken ocho, she needs to really pivot on her supporting, standing leg during the break. Next, we worked on our musical interaction and responsiveness to each other, with the Leader asking with his eyes and his head marking the 1 in a nod, and the Follower answering with her hands on his shoulders, tapping out the 2-3-4 (or 2-3, or 2, whatever the music dictates). Then we tried to really put this musical interaction and responsiveness to each other in the context of the broken or half ocho, trying to do a different sort of acceleration (double time). Next, we worked on a different step whereby the Leader does QQS footwork moving his body counterclockwise around the Follower, while she does an ocho calesita (Follower left foot steps back, so she is on her right foot as the standing, supporting leg. Here, the Leader should be ahead of the Follower's hips. A Follower can do an adorno of a front caress of the floor with her left foot big toe bunion area tracing around her standing, supporting right foot as her body spirals top down counterclockwise, to use the time elegantly and gracefully. Next, we changed the music to Demare, which has more drawn-out violin and more wavelike qualities. After drilling to Demare a while, the music was again changed to DiSarli's Bahia Blanca. Maestros demo'd how silly it would look to dance to DiSarli as if you were dancing to D'Arienzo (rhythmic, fast and humorously). Next, we practiced dancing to accentuate the 4-1 in the music, by accelerating into the next phrase. We could do this at the cross, and afterwards respect the pause in the music. The goal of the class was to change the music and our acceleration to give our steps different flavors.

The milonga was fun for me. It wasn't super crowded, but there were some very strong leaders who also attended the musicality lesson (and kudos to them for that, since some of them are local teachers/organizers/DJs), so it made for a very nice time. After I had changed back into my street shoes, Meastro came over and asked me to dance. I was shocked! I quickly changed back into my dance shoes and we gave it a whirl. For some not-so-bizarre and not-so-surprising reason (probably as my mind was screaming to me "Oh my God!!! I am dancing with Korey Ireland!!!!), there was a point in the song (don't remember what it was, but I think it was a DiSarli) where I just completely choked. I lost my balance and started to tip over like a falling tree. I felt Maestro feel me going over, and then I felt him surely, confidently, and strongly properly right me up so that I was straight and on balance again. I laughed and my own horrible dancing and remarked that he could pretty much fix any follower's dancing (including and especially mine). He smiled and said something charming. It was a very fun dance, lucky me to be so blessed with his asking. After that, Brookings showed up, so I danced a full tanda with him, and a few more tandas with a few more people, until I was completely exhausted and really, really had to go. It was a fun night.


The next MUSE Milonga, February 18, 2011.
I will be volunteering for it, and Homer and Cristina are teaching the pre-milonga class, a precursor lesson to the Stanford Volcada/Colgada Lalapaloosa. Be there or be square.

El Russo de Portland, that Dancer From Soul, coming to town this weekend. The SF tangueras will be very lucky indeed.

No comments: