Monday, February 20, 2012

January 12 to February 20

Saturday, January 28, 2012
Mariela Franganillo’s La Practica at Dance Manhattan.
I got there early as I felt guilty that I hadn’t danced in ages and wanted to pack as much in as possible. The practica started out a bit slow, and the DJ didn’t show up until noon. So before that, the music was from CDs with no cortinas, which made it even more difficult to get time in on the dance floor if you weren’t already dancing. But noon soon rolled around, and the DJ got things going with tandas and cortinas. I felt a bit jittery and sluggish, unsure. My mental game was obviously very shaky. But thankfully some of my usual favorites were there and they asked me to dance, working off a bit of my rust. I must have been doing OK because later on, one tanguera came to me from across the room specifically to tell me I had beautiful footwork. She was so genuine and earnest in her compliment. Needless to say, I was floored by her charm. I was dancing with more precision in every little thing that I did, but with fewer embellishments since mentally I wasn’t there, didn’t feel free. So that was really nice of her to say, it made me feel happy, more confident and secure. Only the afternoon experience was spanked down later on by a leader who seems to have put me on his list, who made a comment that I had not been around much, and that it definitely showed in my dancing. :::sigh:::

After La Practica, I made my way over to Qdoba (, 12 West 23rd) because I was dying for a fountain soda. I figured that would sharpen my wits a bit more, make me a little less sluggish, and hopefully a little less jittery (which seems counterintuitive). The menu looked interesting, but I wasn’t hungry, so I just enjoyed my caffeinated soda and cooled my heels, people watching out the front window, which was pretty interesting since it’s right next to Home Depot. So it was very entertaining watching these stylish New Yorkers with their fashion forward high-heeled boots, sunglasses, spot-on current winter coats, perfect hair, perfect makeup, and cute little dogs schlepping pots and plants, shelving, and lumber down the street. It was a very different scene from the Home Depots in California.

Triangulo afternoon milonga. I was warmly welcomed by the hostess, just like last time. I also noticed that they had floor craft cards at the counter, which I remarked on positively. It was great to see that at least one milonga organizer/school is obviously emphasizing the need to educate the community about floor crafting. The milonga started out a bit slow, and there were more followers than leaders. So I had quite a bit of time warming the bench. That was OK though, as I wasn’t that keen to dance; I was having a good time just watching, plus I was a little tired from dancing that afternoon. Still, I did manage to dance with several new and newish to me dancers, so that was nice. This milonga has ample yummy snacks, a little heavy on the sweets with all the cakes, cookies, and candy, but there was a nice pile of triscuits and pepper jack cubes to satisfy our savory desires. There was also ample water and wine. It’s a nice, mellow Saturday afternoon milonga.

Sunday, January 29, 2012
Milonga RoKo.
The lesson, taught by Robin Thomas and Jenna Rohrbacher, was excellent as usual. We began with an walking exercise to improve our connection. We walked together with chest-to-chest contact only, no arms. Our arms were held up in the air. Leader makes right foot back step, and Follower needed to maintain connection and make a left foot forward step. For the movement, the Leader needed to extend first, and then transfer the weight. Same goes for the Follower. Then we tried to do the six-count basic box with just this chest-to-chest connection with our arms up in the air. To make sure we weren’t cheating and there were no bubbles in the embrace, a lesson prop was used: a piece of paper was placed between the Leader’s and Follower’s chest. We practiced walking, weight changes, and doing the six-count basic box with this paper between our chests. It was difficult. Then we added the Leader’s right foot back step and Follower’s right foot forward step rock step to this box. Then we added a different rock step of the Leader’s right foot forward step and Follower’s left foot back step, then out to close. Then we made this more challenging by changing the Leader’s left foot side step close into a left foot forward step. Again, we did all of this with the paper between our chests, and using no arms, so that we could improve our connection with each other. This was one of the most difficult lessons I have ever taken, but was also one of the best I’ve ever had, really great!

I had an excellent time at the milonga. I think I danced nearly every tanda before I bonked around 11 (I am such a lightweight these days). It seemed everyone and their cousin had noticed my recent absence, and welcomed me back warmly. Yes, I know the weather has been a lame excuse, but I am just not used to such cold weather, or having to schlep from a state away to go dancing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012
Milonga Roko.
Lesson by Robin Thomas and Jenna Rohrbacher. We worked on an ocho-parada variation, cleaning up the details. The Leaders were to lead and the Followers were to execute linear, no-pivot ochos, to a Leader’s right foot parada on the close side of the embrace, after which the Follower pasadas over with her left foot. We worked a lot on cleaning up the details, improving the quality of movement and adding nuance to our steps. It was an excellent lesson, as usual.

Again, it was another great night at this milonga. I danced with Christobal, someone who I had seen around at the premilonga lesson but had never danced socially with before. When we did, he felt oddly familiar. When I asked who his main teachers were, he said Luciana Valle! As far as I knew, I don’t think LV has taught much if at all here in NYC. Turns out, Christobal had been to as many Intensivos as I have, even the most recent Al Cuadrado. Blissfully for me, he is serious student, very skilled and drama-free! Woo hooo! So it was great to be able to practice some of the things we’ve been slogging away at these past few years, and the LV style is quite unlike any seen here in these parts. My body had not been as spirally and pivotally worked, my free leg hadn’t been made so free, since my last trip to BsAs and many hours practicing with LV’s assistants.

I danced so much my feet started to hurt. Since I was volunteering, I was very happy to have my shift end the night.

Saturday, February 18, 2012
Mariela Franganillo’s La Practica at Dance Manhattan.
I wanted to get there right when it opened since I wanted to get as much floor time as possible. When I got there, there were a few more Leaders than Followers, so I started dancing immediately. Soon, a steady stream of people came in, and we were a full house. I danced a lot, but had a chance to sit out as well, which I welcomed. This place seems to get quite warm and humid no matter what the temperature is outside. On this particular day it was a bit warm (40s/50s?) for February, so the fans were turned on and the windows open. But still, many folks were sweaty messes (including your truly), and as usual, I dearly wished they had turned on the AC. People were also hungry as the breakfast goodies were snarffled up right quick (shockingly to Mariela). I danced with several new people. I especially liked dancing with this visitor from Chicago.

I usually hang out a bit in the city so that I can go to another milonga later that day, but this time I had to get back home because I had a bowling date that night. Some of my fellow dancers expressed disappointment and surprise at that, but hey, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. I had barely enough time to make my way home before it was time to drive to the bowling center. And my bowling buddies were shocked that I came in full drag, false eyelashes and all, since I didn’t have time to shower, and just barely enough time to change out of my tango attire into my bowling clothes, on top of them used to seeing me on our hiking jaunts with not a stick of makeup on.

Extreme Bowling @ Nutmeg Bowl in Fairfield, CT. What does bowling have to do with tango? Well, actually quite a lot. To get good at bowling, it takes a lot of doing the same things over and over and over again, thousands, tens of thousands of times. Being very methodical in how you pick up a ball, how your fingers are perfectly placed in the ball, getting up on the lane and knowing where you are standing, walking forward in a straight line with even steps, taking the same number of steps each time, bringing the ball back with a straight arm, staying behind the ball at all time, and keeping your hand at exactly the same angle on release, and having the same amount of squeeze or gentle roll off the middle and ring fingers and having the thumb be completely free on release. Pay attention to the results of how your efforts carried the ball down the lane. Adjust footwork accordingly to lane conditions. It’s only after you’ve mastered all these these things, these major details but small, minute movements, that you realize that you have mastered your own body, and hopefully by then you’ve seen your bowling vastly improve along the way. Which is pretty much how tango is, IMHO.

Sunday, February 19, 2012
Milonga Roko.
The lesson taught beforehand by Robin and Jenna, was a good one, focusing on the circular ocho cortado, with much discussion on the technical aspects of the Leader leading it through his torso rotation. This step was preceded by an interesting footwork of Leader’s right foot back (Follower’s left foot forward), Leader’s right foot to the side a little bit (Follower’s left foot to the side a little bit), Leader’s right foot forward (Follower’s left foot back), Leader’s right foot to the side a little bit (Follower’s left foot to the side a little bit). For the most part, the Follower’s did all of her part with her eyes closed to increase her sensitivity to the lead and so that the Leader was required to be very clear in how he communicated the lead. It was a very good lesson, very rich on technique, and taught to a full house.

It was packed at the milonga, as is usual on the day before a holiday. So while it was fun seeing everyone, it quickly became very warm and floor crafting was a little hairy at times. The food was snarffled up right quick. I got a chance to dance with Christobal again, and asked about his friend Susana, as she was at the Intensivo too and is an excellent leader. He told her about me and she’s excited too because eventually we will all be able to work on the LV material together. It was a very happy night.