Reflections on Tango

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year to you!

I just spent the last few days in Karslruhe, Germany at a small intimate Encuentro. And I did run into people that I knew!!Karlsruhe Which is becoming a fun surprise for me! I spent a lovely time connecting also with new dancers. It seems that a visit to Belgium is definitely in the cards.

I had my first adventure in a Hostel, since probably 1989 when I studied in France and toodled around France and Italy with fellow students staying in hostels. Let us just say, I seem to never have a dull moment! or maybe it’s just perfect content for a future book!

The visit to this event was very last minute and I jumped on the hostel bandwagon after the Airbnb booking I thought I had showed me that I needed to reconfirm with a code that I didn’t receive in time. Ironically, on the Hotels.com site I found a 3 night deal for the hostel right next to the train station in Karlsruhe, as long as it was a room for 4 people. Well, I arrived to an empty clean room and thought, yeppeee!!! But that was too soon to rejoice. I returned to my room at 2am after the milonga. As I got off the elevator on the 5th floor I heard quite a bit of moaning and thought, wow, some people are enjoying their evening. As I approached the door to my room, I thought, “O! my gosh! They are in my room! and then I thought, is this my room?” I hesitated a moment and backtracked to the elevator and thought, yes, this is my room. So I went in! Poor young things! Faster than a cartoon character someone dashed into the bathroom, which I hadn’t realized until she popped out of the bathroom several minutes later in a t-shirt, “hallo”! As we all: she, her poor young boyfriend, and I all acted like nothing happened, she crawled back into the twin bed with him as I proceeded to get ready for bed… No words were exchanged. They spoke in German to each other and said nothing to me. They left in the morning. Another couple came the next day and I saw them and mentioned to the young man that I would be back in the early hours of the morning so any activity should be conducted before hand! They were quiet and managed to sleep through my early AM arrival. And on my last night, an older gentleman came in with a lot of plastic bags. In the evening as I prepared for the milonga and to check out the next morning, he, in tank top and black tight boxer shorts, proceeded to make several smelly sandwiches in the room, then crawled into bed with his ipad and headphones to watch a movie and all those sandwiches – of which he ate and proceeded to put the crumbs on the floor behind him!! I returned to the room around 4am and as I opened the door was accosted by the smell of smelly feet, sauerkraut, sweaty man odor, cheese, and I don’t know what! Although cold outside, I opened the window! wow, that was a hard quick nap to endure! I checked out in the morning, danced all day and took the train back to Switzerland! Needless to say, I slept through most of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day! I did feel a little silly, being here in Europe with SO many great options for New Year’s Eve! Oh Well, I will plan better for next year!

I am off again to Zurich for a couple of days of dancing and sight seeing, then back to Bern and then off to Italy! Then back to Berlin in February!

I have had a lot of time to reflect over 2015. This journey has given me a lot of nice surprises and can really be called an adventure. I have found that I can’t be upset for long, or sad for too long, or angry for too long or anything! Just grateful for all that I am experiencing, even when it is difficult, or seemingly difficult.

I posted the following on New Year’s Eve on Facebook for those who did not see it and I share it with you.

I wrote to my maestra: “Nunca pensé que el tango me salvaría de inmensa soledad”. (“I never thought that tango would save me from immense loneliness”.)
2015 was an unexpected journey for me: of meeting new people, being in new places and self-discovery…. and it still continues…
I have never really needed to ‘rely’ on other people and it’s a skill I never really learned.. until this year. I am so so grateful to everyone who has helped me out this year – and in countless ways – from an act of kindness, to shared conversation, to finding places to live! The list of YOU is truly endless.. and I’m very grateful to my parents for their continued support. As a dancer my whole life I Know that dance can change people’s life and tango completely changed the course of mine, HOWEVER, I had NO idea the depth to which I would come to rely on Tango to help me as well….
I wish everyone a truly wonderful, prosperous, and joyful 2016. May it bring you all that you desire and need most.
I will see you passionately on the dance floor somewhere soon! And thank you for your support!

Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! Joyeux Nouvelle Année! etc….

Read more

Axis: the W’s and the H!

Accessing your Axis: the W’s and an H!

Where is it? What is it? How do I use it ? maintain it? Who has an axis? When do I need to use it? Why do I need to know about it?

In a class recently a student was having a hard time with a “barrida” or a “drag”. And after many tries and different versions of the same concept, the question came up: Why can’t I do this? Or what am I doing wrong? And I replied, “The same concept that gets the follower to move in a walking situation is the same mechanics at work here.” He stared, not really blankly, but with a slight grin to his face!. I said, “So explain to me how or why my follower moves when I am walking in front of her?” He said, “I don’t know actually.” A HA – herein is where the problem lies.

He continued, “Well, in beginner classes you don’t get feedback and it’s hard to learn so now I need the fundamentals and I don’t want to go back to a beginner’s class”. (Actually, I’m not sure that’s exactly what he said but basically this is how I interpreted it!)

This is not only a rant about axis but also about pedagogy. What are teachers teaching if not a very basic fundamental concept in tango, AXIS. Sigh….

I guess cuz it’s not “cool” and not really what students want. But we as teachers do a disservice to the students without tackling this concept somehow! Because it shows up over and over and over again regardless of style.

Where is it?
Some teachers like to talk about the spine as the axis. I like this because even though you might never have had your spine purposefully touched you have an idea of what it is and where it is. The next level is imagining this line being in the middle of the body. I have also tried to access the idea by mentioning buttons on a shirt – your midline. Something to give students an idea of their dimensionality or, as I remember Los Dinzel saying, “your volume”.

What is it?
Axis is a fundamental tool for understanding how tango works with your partner. Your own individual movement relates to your own axis and to your partner’s. Some think of it as a “line” in the middle of the body but for me it’s more than a single plane or place.

How do I use it?
I like to think of the axis and moving through my body across my foot by using the articulation in my ankle. Did you get all that? Try this: stand on one foot (try barefoot first) and bend your ankle. Or move your spine across the length of the foot. Those who have taken my classes (or Rommel’s) think of 1, 2, 3 on your foot.
So you can use your axis along this transverse plane as well as combining the sagittal plane which would begin to add a spiral dimension along this axis.

Axis (PSF)

By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By maintaining it. I think awareness is a big step in the right direction. Are you falling over? Did you stick your butt out too far? Is there still a relationship between your sternum and your pubic bone (or your 2 centers as I like to call them!)

Who has an axis?
Aw! I know you know the answer!

When do I use it?
All the time.

Why do I need to know about it?
In order to dance and communicate affectively and clearly with your partner. (this is in both directions – as a leader and a follower)

Definition thanks to Merriam Webster
: the imaginary straight line that something (such as the Earth) turns around
: a straight line that divides a shape evenly into two parts

Back to that student: open and willing to understand he is now ready to practice and actually wants to work on this to get it more into his body. He knows it’s boring but willing to put in the effort in order to improve his tango skills.

Come explore more about the axis with me on Tuesday nights in the technique classes in Budapest. Or take an individual session to explore this concept directly with me.

Happy dancing!

Read more

Bergen and Oslo Norway

Made it to Bergen and Oslo Norway safely. I arrived (stressed) after a long journey of cancelled and delayed flights. I really am astonished that I made it to Bergen, Norway, where I attended the 8th Annual Bergen Tango Marathon, with about 200 other people! I guess that the Tango Goddesses were on my side, they wanted me to be here!

I arrived on a nice day, not too cold, maybe about 60 F which didn’t last. It rained most of the rest of the time here. The landscape is gorgeous in Bergen and as one of the ladies from Technique class said, “Bergen would be paradise if it wasn’t for all the rain”! I might agree if I had seen more of it. So a return visit might be in order and several umbrellas and super duper rain gear. Although it seems like the locals are accustomed to being wet. I was bundled up AND wet and there were many locals (clearly) wandering in jeans and sneakers! I was cold for them!

I really enjoyed the marathon. I had met one of the organizer, Birger at a marathon in Berlin. He did everything in his power to convince me to come to Bergen. (He clearly is very persuasive, and truly one of the kindest people I know to date.) I was lucky to have a lovely hostess, Ellen, although we didn’t see much of each other, she was handling several aspects of the kitchen management for the marathon. She was very organized and efficient. I would hire for a project manager any day! Again in these events, I run into familiar faces and also meet new ones.

Those who know me and know my classes, will appreciate hearing that I exposed a (special) dancer to the stick, also known as the shopping cart exercise. This great exercise thanks to Graciela Gonzalez always clarifies issues and it did once again! Thank you J for letting me share it with you. It is always so nice to share the simple aspects of tango with dancers: technique, simple social movements, that make all the difference in the world. And when a dancer loves to receive them and their dance clearly changes, my heart is filled with so much joy, love, too, for this dance and the gifts it has given me and the gifts I can share. Thank you for being open! (D too)

The lovely surprise was to see 3 of my favorite Berliners there. Suzanne, Alex and Carola – we had several good laughs. It really made me very aware of what I do miss of Berlin right now, many of the lovely people I met during those initial 6 months this year. I will go back, it is just uncertain when. I did receive news that I was not accepted as a teaching partner at one of the studios but will be doing a course of some kind in the New Year! In the meantime I toodle around and see where I land next!

I am now spending the weekend in Oslo, where the sun has greeted me! I am visiting a woman with whom I went to school in France! (A very long time ago!) We have not seen each other since. I remember saying, however, that I would like to visit her in Norway one day and never thought the day would come! There was no tango in the cards but I am very much enjoying the much needed rest and visiting with Marianne after such a long time. She and her husband are great hosts! I am so grateful for the time with them.

I am really enjoying meeting people and connecting with them. I hear so many times that there are many tango teachers who are not very friendly. I do not understand this. And I have seen it myself. What does it take to be nice to people? Nothing! I love meeting people! It is very much a high for me. But I have been told more than once that “I am so nice”! And I didn’t understand but now I am beginning to put it together. Attitude is everything. And I really have met some wonderful people, this weekend included.

Pictures of Bergen:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pictures of Oslo, a really lovely city!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

See you in Budapest.

Read more

End of a Chapter

End of a chapter

6 months has gone by…

Really so much has happened..

MC on the DanubeAs I sit here in a polish town called Lodz at a HUGE 800 person festival and reflect that in a few days I will be back in the US I am struck by the strangeness I feel: an overwhelming amount of feelings as I go packing once again…..

Here are a few reflections in no particular order:

* I spent 3 months working on getting a visa, successfully; I moved 6 times in Berlin to find a place to call “home for now” and didn’t find it, and when I return to Berlin I will be looking again; I wanted to enroll in German language classes and somehow didn’t; I traveled to 5 cities I never in my wildest dreams thought I would visit: Budapest, Belgrade, Lodz, Erfurt, Gyor. I met people from so many different countries and encountered faces that I hadn’t seen in a while! Tango is a small world.

* I discovered that if I don’t speak their language trying to communicate in English only goes so far. I still feel disconnected from connecting without language, this is why it’s called a language barrier.

* When you need help to do something or if you want something, you really have to ask for it. I learned to ask… “I need help with X do you have time or can you help me with it?” (who knew that I didn’t know really how to ask without shame or embarrassment?)

* You really have to enjoy the sunshine in Berlin because before you know it, it’s cold again – I’m wearing the same clothes I wore in April, when I arrived and am a bit cold already!

* I have a blog sitting for editing regarding the concept of Community and I paused on it as I was now seeing myself as an outsider trying to enter and belong to many communities of this large community of tango. Funny thing the idea of community and our expectations of community. I was sitting on a gorgeous hot and horribly humid Berlin day at a lake accessible by train. Watching everyone vying for any access to cooling off. Everyone piled next to each other changing shamelessly in the sun (very agile with a towel, I must say). And I thought, “you are not a part of it until you are a part of it. You will be on the outside, until when? Well, until you are somehow invited in? You have to contribute to belong.” and somehow through the rantings of a lonely reflection, I actually found solace from my solitude in tango. The ideas on community are still rolling around in my head but they will be blogged soon.

Daniela & Raimund at High Noon Marathon

Daniela & Raimund at High Noon Marathon

* Learning to rely on something so much bigger than myself – call it god, spirit, what you will – just when I would reach a point (and believe me, there wasn’t just one) I would say practically out loud ‘What for?’ and magically, a live person would reach out to me and say something so nice and so kind. Or I would get a message from someone saying, “come teach please”. These signs have kept me often from real despair.
One such incidence came from a chance meeting with a young Hungarian who put me in contact with one of Budapest’s local teachers, Bela Barabas and his lovely wife. We had several great classes teaching together and rumor has it there may be more!

* Recognizing my privilege or forced to see it when I was asked by a friend in another country if I had moved to Berlin because I couldn’t find a job where I was. The impression to him was that I went to find work. As this is the state of so many of the people running around frustrated in Europe right now. I reflected heavily on this trying not to feel guilty for my opportunity to do this ‘sabbatical’ while so many are looking for jobs or would like to change their current situations in their countries. But also, that the general unfriendliness of the area is probably merely a reflection of the huge influx of people frustrated to have left their homes, combined with people frustrated that you are now in their home. Are you taking or contributing? One Berliner told me, that they (in general) were afraid to speak to people for fear that you might want something from them. Interesting…..

* I attended a few tango marathons and had a great time at both. I was given a quite extensive explanation on the differences between a Tango Marathon and a Tango Festival. I really had no idea!!!! Obviously very important if you are an organizer and clearly now important for me as I will have choices to go to both and have also been asked to attend several!

* I never thought it possible to be standing, let alone dancing in the same room with about 5 other Daniela’s!!! Now I know how Lisa, Jane, John, and Mike might have felt!

3 D's in Rawtastic

3 D’s in the new Raw Food Restaurant, Rawtastic Berlin

* Maybe not finally but having had plenty of time to think I came up with blog titles that have yet to be written:
Summer Only Lasts 1 Day, At A Time (just when you think it’s gone, it manages to come back, briefly)
Girls in Skirts Riding Bikes (actually feels great!)
Girls Riding on Trains in the Wrong Direction 

Those who follow me on Facebook have been able to see my posts regarding travel and pictures. However, I have been quite conservative on my posts. I hope this blog serves to fill in some gaps and I look forward to our continued connections.

If you are in Scottsdale, Austin or Albuquerque in October come visit, have tea, or take a class.
My schedule is being updated and can be found here.
ALSO I have edited my ABOUT ME page check it out!

Stay tuned for Chapter 2. Starts in November in Norway! Otherwise, see you stateside starting October 2nd.

Read more

Embracing Connection

Embracing is your connection!

A Chilean living in Amsterdam, A Norwegian, an Argentine living in Nice, A Portuguese and me, an American living in Berlin all dancing tango in the same place! This is only one of my European experiences …..and it reminded me of this email message from a dear student who asks:

Would you consider discussing strategies for facilitating forming connection with tango partners within the short span of a typical tanda? I was dancing recently with a leader who made this observation: “You’re like me, it takes a while for you to relax and connect with your partner.”
Often, I feel like I’m just figuring it out when the tanda ends and I have to start the process all over! Is this normal? Does it improve over time, or?

I love this email. And here’s my answer:

I bring all my tools with me that I have learned up until now on how to be a follower. And I think the most important one is to embrace honestly and really embrace. I immediately hear my dear Maestra, Graciela Gonzalez’s voice in my head, ENTREGARSE. The woman has to give herself over to the leader, by really placing trust from that first embrace.

During my recent visit to Budapest I was conversing with one of their lovely local teachers, Bela Barabas, and he said, I like how you really fit into my embrace. The idea that he embraces me and I situate myself with him. Versus, a static idea of how I will embrace him. (or entering into the embrace the same way with everyone.)

I have some physical things I do to attempt to find that connection from the very first moment. I start inside my body first – I imagine my legs deeply rooted into the floor and from the floor I create an imaginary circle up to my arms that are reaching into the embrace and both sides of my back in the embrace reach, as if they could reach completely around my partner, and they connect into the embrace with him, I continue my circle of energy above and around him as I grow a little taller diagonally but still maintain my grounded-ness into the floor. My circle is transmitting information to my partner about where my legs are and that I am ready. I might inhale into my back space, as I call it – I inhale and allow my back to fill his embrace, his container that he has provided for me. I am meeting my partner where he is. And I give him opportunity to find me where I am.

It all is in the embrace 🙂 So Embrace!

See you at the FALL WORKSHOPS in SCOTTSDALE

To sign up for a private lesson please go to this google doc link click here

 

Read more
« Previous PageNext Page »