Tango Hangover

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8 week Argentine Tango 1.5 course at Plaza de Anaya call (480) 894-8777

Tango Experience teachers and board

After an action packed tango week comes the tango hangover.

The ASU Tango Experience was a step up from last year’s festival. Although I was thoroughly immersed in assisting classes and being on time it was so wonderful to watch as students took their dancing challenges head on.

I realize for this entry that I have so much to write about: the festival experience, my time with Graciela Gonzalez, the classes, the milongas, etc.  And even though I am Faculty Adviser to the tango club and only really supposed to be advising, I was asked to jump in and help in several aspects of the planning and execution of the event.

I also think it’s important for people to understand that bringing instructors to teach is an expensive endeavor. The teachers all have fees for their time investment as well as their travel and lodging expenses. ASU Tango Club applies for support to fund venues and a few other miscellaneous items but it’s the support from attendees that actually make it possible. And because it’s a student run organization they are learning valuable life skills: communication, delegation, organization, handling budgets, etc.

Having Graciela Gonzalez stay with me for a week and working as her translator in classes gave me a renewed appreciation for our dance. The intricacies, the nuances, the explanations for styles, the embrace, the walk, where vocabulary comes from, why do we dance the way we do? It is pretty amusing to speculate that at some point in time milongueros just did what they did, they danced!

Until my next encounter with her, I am left with exercises and reminders – not just dance reminders but life reminders. The notiTango Festival Classon of using the whole foot in the dance is one that I am so happy to have heard her say as I have been leaning in this direction with my teaching and so to hear her say it was a relief! Although she has let go of her famous “fountain” image for followers I really appreciated the idea of a fixed point for both the follower and leader – an intention that helps to suspend us 50% up and 50% grounded. She had mentioned that an ideal room would be one that would allow us to hang suspended from the ceiling, with our legs dangling towards the floor. A lot of what I heard from her this weekend addresses an issue that I think is a current trend, posture and alignment. I think this will continue to be a hot topic since many of us spend so much of our time sitting down in chairs that don’t serve us posturally.

She mentioned that she had an obsession with hands this weekend. She kept reminding me to touch her when we were demonstrating, that somehow my touch was too light, that I wasn’t really touching, holding her. You can hold your own body up and hold your own arms up and still touch and connect through the hands with your partner. She reminded us that our hands help us to to balance as well.

Graciela, Jaimes & Christa

Graciela, Jaimes & Christa

Graciela also reminded me that I have to be on my own, working on my dance, in my body. We can’t blame someone else for our bad dancing or our disconnection from the dance or our partner. A good one right? And all I could think about was, where did I go? Have I gotten lost in the mentality of “I have to do more to get better” when all I really need to do is be me and enjoy dancing? This is a tricky one for me, as I was a trained dancer and an only child – I have always felt comfortable on my own. I took class and trained my body – and I was responsible for it and I knew that! So how did Tango become different in my mind? I guess it’s just a simple reminder that I am me and you are who you are and if we dance honestly without wanting to change the other it will be great!

One of the last questions I asked Graciela was “is it supposed to just feel easy?” and she opened her eyes widely and cracked a smile, nodding her head, and said, “yes”.

Now you know why there’s a tango hangover. Graciela changed my dancing when I first met her and she continues to do so. I am grateful for her insights into the dance, its people, and feel that her images are clear and easy to assimilate. Anyone who takes class with her is always impressed.

Thanks to all who shared the festival with us. Keep dancing…