Festivals

Day 1 Argentine Tango Salon Championships SF

It was a great first day of rondas at the US Argentine Tango Salon Championships in San Francisco. There are 31 couples competing in Tango Salon and 9 in Stage this year. There are 4 couples representing Arizona! There is a link for the streaming event at: TVPBN.com. Apparently the deal is that it’s all reruns until Sunday, when they’ll recap Thurs-Sat. and then Sunday’s finals are live starting at 7pm. $15 if you use the coupon ATUSA5OFF.

US Tango Salon Day 1Tyler Litman and Inja Vojnovic were in ronda #1 and were couple #007. Our very own James Bond of tango!!! Rommel and I were in ronda #3 and were couple #019.
Everyone advances to tomorrow night  – Friday – after which they will begin to eliminate.

See Rommel and I performing in the first round below.

 

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The Most Exciting, Sexy, Hottest Moment in Argentine Tango!

About a year ago I found myself at a festival, being introduced to another dancer from somewhere down south (and to protect his identity we’ll keep it like that!). And this introduction had the implication that we would dance at some point that evening. The pressure was on then… This always makes me a little uneasy. He was introduced to me, he didn’t choose me and I didn’t choose him either! What if he really didn’t want to dance with me at all? I didn’t get to see him dance. Dancing with someone new is part of what tango is all about but an introduction can sometimes backfire as there is a feeling of pressure on both parts.

Little did I know that this person would set a precedence for tango dances to come.

So the time came for us to dance. I don’t remember whether in the end it was a cabeceo or we were just at the right place at the right time at the same time but however it went, we headed to the dance floor. I stood in front of this partner, and as we waited for the music to beginanother embrace there was little of the usual chit chat. The music began, he placed both of his hands gently and firmly on my ribs, and he waited, listening intently to the music or maybe to my heart that began racing in anticipation. His slow approach into the embrace transported me to memories of watching a black and white movie and scoffing at the idea that women actually swooned. I think I could have swooned in that moment from the anticipation and the excitement of this preclude. From his hands on my ribs his right arm continued its journey along my back and his left arm found my right arm hanging by my side as he gradually passed his hand along my forearm until he found my hand in his. Next thing I knew we were embracing and moving together in this passionate dance that was reignited for me in that moment.

Phew! just thinking about it makes me long for that focus-filled attentive embrace again.

How do you embrace? Are you anxious to jump into someone’s arms? Do you miss out on the WHOLE experience? And incidentally he is one of my most favorite dancers and a delicious embrace like that helps his rankings!

 

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So Inspired

It was chilly this last weekend in Flagstaff but refreshingly so. ASU Tango Club hosted their fall retreat with teachers Korey and Adeline Ireland. The crowd consisted mostly of tango students who had been dancing at least one semester +. There were a small group of tango newbies diving into the tango pond and they managed magnificently without too much splashing about and only sore feet! I was so happy with the presence in the classes on Saturday – I think I counted over 70 people in the room. WOW! There were community members from Flagstaff and Sedona. Some people from Phoenix came and Prescott.

Korey and Adeline jointly guided us through techniques for walking and connection and then later on pivoting and boleos. Korey graciously played his bandoneon for us to dance to or listen to on Korey playing bandoSaturday night. (The bandoneon is the signature instrument of the sound of Argentine Tango.) The atmosphere was fun and light. I was so happy to see so many young people enjoying tango and each others company, making new friends and visiting with tango club members from previous years.

I am reminded that tango is about connection – connecting to another person, to yourself, to your community or a new community, and to music. Korey and Adeline spoke about really listening to each person to hear with our bodies what is needed in the connection. The result of all that listening is where all the fancy moves come from.

I wish you a week of happy connections! Where are you connecting in your life this week?

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Informal with a judge

Sick as a dog on the eve of the Finals. The smell of menthol is on everyone’s breath at the milongas. Everyone seems to be sick or with some scratchy throat.

Rommel had the opportunity to speak informally and interpret for a teacher and a judge who was at the house coaching. Some highlights of that conversation follow.

This teacher/coach/judge considers himself a teacher, a maestro, and not so much a dancer anymore. He recommends that dancers should take classes with teachers not with other dancers. The teacher will show you how to dance as opposed to the dancer who will show you how he dances.

He expounded on how he reads the rules that are presented to him for Tango Salon. He needs to give points based on the the following criteria.

the Embrace – el AbrazoPre Finals
the connection
the step/or walk – la pisada
musicality
and execution of movement.

This last one is not on the rules for us. Maybe it is understood. He interprets this final piece as how does one feel what they are doing/dancing, como se siente lo que bailan. Rommel further interpreted this as the quality of movement that is directly powered by feeling. He sees many dancers as too tense or trying to impress the judges doing steps.

As a judge he has 15 seconds per couple (there are usually 10 couples on stage). A judge will see you at least twice and he needs to see all those things in that time.

He spoke about Tango Culture – la cultura del tango – one has to live the tango to be able to feel it. And in this journey find your true identity in tango that isn’t a copy of last year’s champion or of a teacher that you’ve had. So if you dance your own tango you will dance calmly without tension.

If you review previous champions, they all have their own tango identity in their dancing. They have their own style. He believes that the next champion has to be different than what has come before.

This is fascinating to me as it all is still so so subjective. But, yet, a common theme from all these maestros, has been the mention of uniqueness, individuality, and finding your own tango.

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Having just returned from the Finals in Luna Park. What an interesting experience. 41 couples participated. Again the results are Winners 2012somewhat hard to figure out. They showed the point results on the screens for the top 5 couples. It seems strange that couples’ scores could range from low 7’s to high 9’s, like no single couple’s scores from the judges (as shown on the screen) were consistent. Clearly some couples were favored with high scores by some judges and low scores by other.

Beautiful couples from Argentina made the top 3 spots. You can see the dancing online.

I have seen some amazing dancers this trip. It has been a fantastic journey to have shared stage with great dancers from all over the world.

Tomorrow night is our last night and we will be performing at a milonga Salon Canning. I think I am more nervous for that than I was for the Championship!

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El hombre que no marca no baila

It really has been inspiring and a delight to take classes with these old milongueros. They are so funny and sweet, they share from their heart. They definitely have seen changes in tango.

We took a class with Manolo y Marta Anton and again it was more than just a step that we learned.

We had heard about the Salida of the 40’s but Manolo taught us the Salida of the 30’s, which looks the same! We tried to find out the differences between the 2 but that led to a discussion of the heart and not the step! So no answers to that yet. He also showed us a beautiful parada step. He and Marta went around to each couple, answered questions, danced with each of us, told us more stories! These figures start with the leader facing to the outside of the circle of the line of dance. He said that you don’t want to go towards the middle of the dance floor but in the direction that you are dancing. His style had a lot of dramatic bent knees.

He began dancing when he was 16 and he is 80+ years now. He says he pursued Marta for 16 yearsManolo y Marta Class!

Manolo reminded us that any step by itself is a pavada (translates as silliness) but it’s the person who dances and brings his heart to that step and to the dance that makes it look good.

He was adamant about not using your whole foot on the paradas or sandwiches, only the tip of your shoe, so you don’t look pigeon toed. We were reminded that we are connected as a couple through the sternum. A man who doesn’t marcar (translates as lead but meaning signal or convey the lead) doesn’t dance. This sounds much better in Spanish: El hombre que no marca no baila.

There seemed to be an ongoing theme this trip about personal identity or finding ones own identity in the dance or simply your own dance.

We are taking another class tomorrow with one of the judges. Rommel had time to chat with him informally this week and I am looking forward to sharing that with you.

 

 

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