I was at a tango festival recently watching several women leading. What struck me most was – can you guess? – Of course, their posture and the lack of clear attention to their intention and to being grounded.
The power in the lead comes from the legs and their connection to the ground, not from trying to thrust our chest into our partners’. (No side comments please!) This is all about physics, which I will leave to those who can speak that language. However, the strength in our stride comes from the connection of our legs to the ground, think about your hamstrings reaching all the way down the back of the leg to the heel. (Just for the record, they do not reach the floor but stop below the knee.) The understanding of how to use this power, from our natural centers and how it relates to your axis and that of your partners’ is the key. If you are thrusting your chest then you are falling forward into your partner and thus, forcing a counter activity from your partners’ axis. It is so frustrating for me to see such misuse of body mechanics.
I have been enjoying very much my Leading Ladies workshops in Phoenix, watching ladies of all ages engage in taking the lead. Some come because they are interested in learning to lead but I would say they come out of curiosity and with that curiosity comes amazing insight. Again, understanding the technique of how to move the body with another person through the connection of the embrace is essential. And they soon discover that following doesn’t work either when these things aren’t!
I can hear some of the critics including my tango partner who says, “ladies need to learn to lead from a man who leads”. I hear that, I understand that argument, but I find that a lovely gaggle of ladies together is not only fun but helpful to each other. So many times in classes (almost all the time that I have experienced) the attention is given to the leader. In the classroom setting it is a challenge to try to address leaders and followers equally and for all parties to feel that they too have equal voice. (And this is another topic for another blog!) Gathering the ladies to introduce them to leading skills improves their following and, I am going to guess, that it could have farther reaches into improving the community overall.
I have found that the types of questions that are posed in my leading ladies workshops are similar to the line of inquiry that I get from my college students. It is SO exciting!
If you are interested in coming to the next Leading Ladies – it will be Saturday February 8th at 12:00pm – 1:30pm at the Solana Tango Room. RSVP please and I’ll pass on the address if you don’t already have it.
For those who were in class on Sunday 1/12 at Milonga Cooperativa I am posting the demo. Thanks to Ed, Paula, and the cooperativa gang for having us. Ed videotaped the demo and didn’t know that it would be useful to all of us!
The class was on Barridas y Ganchos. A big topic to cover in a 1 hour class but a fun combination to keep our brains active. I think learning more advanced combinations can often just remind us of our fundamentals – ie: where is my axis? where is yours?
If you are interested in having Rommel and I at the Milonga Cooperativa to teach a class please let the Cooperativa know.
Rommel and Daniela Demo from 1/12/14
I am looking forward to hosting the first Leading Ladies workshop of the year. Saturday January 11th at 12:00pm – 1:30pm at Solana Tango Room. $15.
Leading Ladies is designed for ladies who are interested in learning how to lead. It is a casual atmosphere to explore all that goes into leading and we get to improve our following technique along the way.
The next one will be Friday January 17th at 6:30pmish!
Please RSVP to me if you will be joining.
What is success
in tango? Is it just learning a new dance to add to your list? Is it about meeting people and making new friends? I hear quite a bit about how Argentine Tango has changed people’s lives. So in the spirit of the Top 10, here are my Top 3 for this year.
Most of you know that I spend a significant amount of time teaching college students. This year Wes found Argentine Tango. He told me prior to starting that he knew he lacked social skills and didn’t spend a lot of time interacting with members of the opposite sex. Wes dedicated the year to tango, 2 full semesters. He mentioned to me prior to the end of school that he enjoyed tango so much for the friends he had made in class. He felt that his confidence had significantly improved.
Lisa met her current beau traveling to dance Argentine Tango in another city. She fell head over high heels for Argentine Tango and soon found time on her business trips to sneak tango in after her meetings. She has tango friends in nearly every major city in the US and now she has a beau too! Sounds like the best of both worlds!
It isn’t enough to say that this passionate dance will build confidence, make you feel smart and sexy, and allow you to have tango friends all over the world but hear how Mabel found some stress relief.
It is amazing how Mabel found tango at all. She worked full time and was pursuing a new career by going to school at night. But she knew that she needed a distractor, as she called it! So she, being very organized and committed, told me ahead of time what she wanted and how much she could dedicate to learning this dance. So she took a private lesson once a week and a group class when she could. She found that the time she focused on her tango classes allowed her to feel more relaxed and energized for her studies and allowed her to de-stress from her job.
The Phoenix area has opportunities to enjoy this fun dance at least 3 times per week and sometimes more. Workshops, visiting artists, practice time, even tours to Buenos Aires, and quality instruction are available for those who want to learn the most impressive and elegant dance there is!
Have a Wonderful New Year and may the Argentine Tango continue to inspire you!
*names have been changed.
I’m at the tail end of another semester of tango classes at ASU. Even though enrollment is down from previous years, the enthusiasm and interest in tango still manages to be there. It surprises me each semester what brings the students to try something like Argentine Tango. Some are curious, some come for their friends, or because of their friends, and some just need something different from their usual; a stress-reliever too.
As I am almost done with grades I am excited that this Saturday’s workshop is on volcadas. The verb volcar translates to overturn, like when a car overturns. I looked up the definition in Spanish as I was trying to tie a blog in with reminders of the weekend workshop. The Spanish dictionary suggest that you are turning something so it is no longer in its normal position but on a side. From these definitions it would sound like we would be practicing handstands or rolling around on the floor! It’s a funny idea that this word defines such a much wanted move in tango! The leader does take the follower off of her normal position but does not put her on her side, thankfully.
I remember when I was first exposed to the infamous volcada by an Argentine and an American teacher. As I watched as they dissected and explained how to execute it I found that it completely made sense to my visual learning sensibilities. The trick is in the axes! (not the chopping ones but the ones that we need to be centered on – our axis!) I told a student recently that I still think sacadas are so much harder than volcadas to learn and to execute. Well, you can be the judge. Saturday’s workshop starts at 12 – 1:30pm at the Solana Tango Room. $15 and RSVP’ing would be great.
See you soon.