Teaching Tango

WELCOME 2015

It has been 2 weeks since I left Arizona. I have been visiting with my parents, sharing alignment tips with them, and working feverishly on my Car in TexasTango Workbook for the upcoming tango newbies who will be enrolled at ASU. I have been going through old boxes that my parents had stored as well as registering my car in the state of Texas. It has been a busy couple of weeks and the weather has been as emotional as I have been!

In preparing to Welcome 2015, it has been fun to come across new ways to bring in the New Year by goal setting and making resolutions.

3 of my favorite:

1) From David Wolfe: get colored slips of paper and write 20+ goals for the new year in a jar and put the jar away. Open them at the end of 2015 and see what magic you created.
2) From Liz Gilbert: almost like a vision board but more of a mood board. Cut out colors and textures that you want for yourself in 2015 and create a collage. Takes some of the stress off the vision board thing!
3) Forget the resolutions, make a list of those things you are most grateful for, wonderful things that happened to you in 2014, go for at least 10. The End.
What will you do to prepare a great new blank set of 365 days?

Have a Happy New Year!

And a gift to you: the following video from my Ladies Technique Class summary that I did in ABQ after 6 hours of private coaching. Of course, the material has been pieced together from all of my great teachers. I thank them.

See you at the end of February 2015 in Phoenix.

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Technique with Maxi and Jesica Friday

As you probably are aware, Maximiliano Cristiani and Jesica Arfenoni are back in town for workshops, private lessons and performances. We have created a schedule of classes that is progressive in nature starting with a Leader and Followers Technique class on Friday night. No partner necessary just a desire to work on yourself. Maxi & Jess 4

Friday 8:00pm – 9:30pm Followed by an informal practica: a chance to just dance and to ask Maxi and Jesica questions.

Why take a technique class? Let alone focused only on myself for a couples dance?
I think this is a good question.
Technique is a fundamental basic part of your dance. Like a building, if this isn’t well established you will not be as sturdy. How many times have you asked about how to improve your balance or about how to do a more elegant embellishment? Or how about those enrosques that you have been wanting to try? All of these and more are possible when you understand your own body and have a technique to build upon.
I have found that taking technique classes helps me to find my own axis and to be clear about it on my own. It allows me the time and space to make connections to things in my dance that get blurred when working within the couple: like the relationship of my arms to my pelvis, for example. What? They are related??? See!

If you need more information contact Rommel 928-301-5215. I can only encourage you to support the improvement of your dance and take advantage of these 2 great teachers.

And lastly – $50 for the Friday class and practica and we will include the Saturday milonga. It all happens at Bond Hall at SNAP 4425 N. Granite Reef Rd. Scottsdale, AZ.

 

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Tango Etiquette and the Infamous Cabeceo

The rituals surrounding the milonga are prized among dancers. Almost like a rite of passage that once you know and have put them into practice you feel like you have actually been admitted into the social realm of Argentine Tango.

Fanning HerselfCabeza translates to “head” and a cabezeo is a nod of the head. This “codigo” or custom signals the invitation to dance. You do not need to approach someone to ask them to dance you can merely catch their eye, nod your head, and if there is a nod in response you have an agreement to dance. The follower will stay seated to wait for the nodee to come to her table to be sure that there is no confusion in a crowded milonga.

There is a lot written about this custom and in the US many argue for it and against it. The cabezeo means never having to say “no”. If you choose not to accept a cabeceo, you merely look away and no one needs to know.

Some milongas are small and it is convenient and expected to use the cabeceo. Other milongas are in very large dance halls and it is very difficult to cabeceo long distances. In this case the dancer looking for a dance (either the lead or follow) may approach who they would like to dance with and try to make eye contact from a closer distance. The goal is always to be subtle and polite. If you are at a milonga in a new city, observe to see what the locals are doing.
(Taken from the Tango Workbook Draft)

I want to make it clear at this point that I am not arguing the usefulness of this invitation, or the reason why it exists or why many people outside of Argentina (read mainly US, where I am most familiar) are very attached to this codigo. Tango etiquette and the infamous Cabeceo are part of the allure of the milonga! But I had a very interesting experience during my most recent trip to Buenos Aires.

I had the pleasure of taking several fantastic classes with well known teachers/dancers / performers. And the one remark that applies here is the following: “Times are different in Buenos Aires’ Milongas. Each milonga now has their own etiquette. Not every milonga uses the same rules.” And this applied to the cabeceo as well. There are milongas in Buenos Aires that are very ritualized and very adamant about los codigos. It is very clear from the moment you enter those milongas, I think you can feel it in the air, if you can’t see it right away. There are milongas where the women are seated by the hosts on one side of the dance floor and the gentlemen on the other, with the veterans or the faithful attendees sitting at their reserved and expected table every week. Ironically the spacing of these milongas usually adds to the ritual, as you often can not walk around and seek dancers out, you must be found at your seat or do the seeking from your seat, thus the cabeceo functions pretty well.

There are other dancing casuallymilongas where you find dancers searching for their friends, (in a dimly lit crowded space) and the gentlemen will approach a table, wait for the woman to look at him and nod respectfully and sometimes even ask, “Bailas”? If the woman ignores his hangout out by her table, he moves on. (Just as there are milongas where the dress code is different.)

Other milongas are in very large halls, a cabezeo from your seat would be almost ridiculous, although it is done. As the ladies scan the seated gentlemen during the cortinas,  you may spy a head nodding dramatically, emphatically and adamantly with eyebrows lifted in your direction. I think it is important to remember too that in Buenos Aires, if you do not live there and are only visiting, that you are entering into their weekly ritual. Dancers have milongas that they regularly attend and expect to see their friends and favorite dancers there. I always recommend that if you go to Buenos Aires, you must go for no less than 3 weeks and make your schedule milonga -filled (if that is your intention, which usually it is). Dancers will begin to recognize you and you will see what the etiquette is for those milongas you attend.

Generally speaking the milonga rules and codes are good ones. They respect others, the flow of the dance, and yet, the cabeceo is the one that people have the hardest time with. It takes a little practice and it’s not so unfamiliar to us in this culture. I see it among the young crowd in a “hey, what’s up man”, accompanied by a nod of the head.

Happy Dancing!

(Quote taken from The Tango Workbook that is currently in a draft stage.)

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2 New Tango Intensives

Reminder about the upcoming New Saturday Tango intensives in September.

First, if you or someone you know is interested in learning to Argentine tango send them to the:

NEW 4 week Beginner Tango Blast SEPTEMBER

4 two-hour sessions on the following Saturdays: SEPTEMBER 6, 13, 20, 27
4pm – 6pm
SNAP (Scottsdale Neighborhood Arts Place) 4425 N. Granite Reef Rd. Scottsdale, AZ
Fee $100
includes 8 hours of Argentine Tango instruction and free pass to 4 tango practicas on Tuesday nights.
Send Email if interested.

or if you have completed a Beginner Blast or other Beginner course and are interested in the next level:

NEW 4 week “Taking your Tango to the Next Level” – SEPTEMBER 6, 13, 20, 27

6:00pm – 7:30pm
SNAP  (Scottsdale Neighborhood Arts Place) 4425 N. Granite Reef Rd. Scottsdale, AZ
Fee: $75
Send Email if interested.

What students have said about THE BLAST!

I am very thrilled to be a student of yours.

Thanks for your great instruction. I am learning so much!

I am looking forward to “Taking my Dance to the Next Level” ! Sign me up!

I look forward to seeing you next week!

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Surrender vs. Submission

What do you think? As a follower in this dance of Argentine Tango do you think of yourself as submitting or as surrendering? Leaders, do you think of your follower as being submissive or surrendering?

These 2 words came up recently in a tango discussion in relation to the follower’s role in tango. And of course, I thought how much language gets in the way of our actual dance experience but nonetheless I wanted to tackle the ideas for a blog. So I went to Merriam (Webster) first and was not really pleased with what I found for both of these words and, not so surprisingly, they were similar.

Surrender
: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win
: to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another

Submission
: the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant
: an act of submitting to the authority or control of another
: the state of being obedient : the act of accepting the authority or control of someone else

Having been brought up as an independent woman, I cringe at the thought of these definitions in relation to my dancing (or to my life!). I don’t think of myself as being or doing either when I dance.

I began to look further, as the person I was conversing with was suggesting that he perceived many dancers as submissive and not as surrendering in the dance. This might be interpreted as the idea of “I am dancing  you” vs “I am dancing with you”. And so I searched further and found myself back in the realm of metaphysics and modern day mystics.

One person who immediately came to mind was author, David Deida, who I know some people find thoroughly amazing and life changing. I found this quote:

The word “surrender” is often interpreted as giving up, as weakness, as admitting defeat. Although this is one way to use the word, we will use it in a different way. Surrendering means letting go of your resistance to the total openness of who you are. It means giving up the tension of the little vortex you believe yourself to be and realizing the deep power of the ocean you truly are. It means to open with no boundaries, emotional or physical, so you ease wide beyond any limiting sense of self you might have.
David Deida

Of course when people think of or refer to Deida they are often talking about sex and funny how that is the case in tango too!

Hannah Marcotti on her website offers us another variation on the theme of surrender:

There is an ease when we learn how to embrace surrender. Feeling without fight. Fear and struggle are met with truth and grace. Releasing and allowing feel spectacular with the flow from stuck into surrender. Surrender is an entry point for joy. Surrender can guide you into stillness, moving, creating, acting and flowing.

And flowing is what we want in our dances. As I have said in another blog, even the English words that we use, Lead and Follow, don’t really do justice to the magnificence of what we do in our roles in this dance.

Think about it and consider your very important role next time you dance.

For more inspiring quotes including Deida’s:
http://www.abundance-and-happiness.com/surrender-quotes.html

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