Video

Videos with Irfan Yüksel

Below are 2 videos with Irfan from Istanbul. They are improvised performances.

So fun to see Irfan and me dance and compare it to our video from 2008. He chose the music and we did not rehearse to them prior. We did learn a lot about each other through teaching together, putting together the classes with ideas from both of our years of experiences and shared toolboxes.

Coming from a dance background, where most of the time you are preparing for performances or looking to perform your own work or another’s choreography or possibly even an improvisational score, the skill of improvising a tango is still a work in progress for me. I am always questioning the role of performance in this genre and the role of the experience of the medium: live or video. I know I have experienced a live viewing of a dance and have been moved to emotions only to re-experience it on video, to show someone how great it was, for example, only to think, “hmm – not so great here”! I worked with a choreographer in my contemporary dance years who obsessively recorded every rehearsal. In the end, I found her work looked so great on video and yet, I was never moved by seeing the dancers perform live….

In short,  in the role of performance you have the perspective of the performer and of the audience. In a solo performance the artist, the dancer, has some control over the desired outcome. In group choreographies, the choreographer trusts the dancers to produce a vision. In tango, as we know, the trust is in your partner and your experience, with the music, your body, your partner.

But is there any responsibility to your audience?

I think there always is, and have always felt this way. As one of my brilliant students once said that he hoped in a performance that the dancers would show you something new, something that you, as the audience, hadn’t seen before. And this is not always in terms of figures, or patterns for, as we all know, they have all been done before. But the surprises, the act of being moved, is usually found in the musical interpretations, or the expression of the idea or content, and in tango, the connection, the understanding between the 2 people.

For me this year of opportunity has also been an exploration in performance. I feel that I have had very little experience with performing tango, and it has been a privilege and joy thus far performing with varied talented personas and having these new embodied experiences.

For me the question is, can I express myself and my love of the music, with any partner, and show my audience something transcendent, selfless? Can I move those who watch? I strive for this….

And I leave you with these:

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TeaHazPetraJózsef and KrisztiánThe TribeThe Tribe 2

On the Road Again – Bye Budapest! Hello Switzerland!

And yes I am on the road again!
Bye bye Budapest! Hello Switzerland!

5 weeks have passed in Budapest. And this post is probably the least about tango!
I had quite some adventures in the end! Like: Having tea in a very eclectic TeaHaz called Zold Teknós (something TeaHazabout turtles!)– decorated with actual teepees and native American paraphernalia. It was a maze of a place, and I can imagine many teenagers escaping here for a quick make-out session in one of the teepees or in a quiet corner behind a giant totem pole! There were over 173 kinds of tea to choose from! Black tea, white teas, red teas, green teas, herbal, etc… Really yummy!

The most fun part about going to this teahouse was the lovely person who suggested it and accompanied me. Her name is Kitty Kiss! What a great name!!! Although Kiss is a popular last name in Hungary I love her name! And she’s a really super nice person too! She has pretty blue eyes and is from outside Budapest. She too is gluten and dairy free so she was immensely helpful in guiding me to some places I had not discovered yet in Budapest.

I acquired a dedicated private student, who with a Russian temperament struggled to clean his tango but also torn by his love for “all the cool moves” he knew. He spent a lot of time quoting other teachers, “X told me to do it this way”, “Y taught me this”, “Z said never do…..” – and I just kept encouraging him to understand the nature of what he was doing – essentially giving him an intensive dose of technique. My desire as a teacher is never to criticize another teacher so I tried to remain calm and as politically correct as I could. I think some things get lost in translation and sometimes, short cuts in teaching are easier than explaining things. I also think that often times the student hears only what they are capable of hearing in that moment.
My unsolicited advice to any young teacher is to get dance students moving – their bodies know… the brain gets in the way….
As for a student learning – my advice is to find teachers you resonate with, ask other students about their experiences with teachers, educate yourself. Often times beautiful performers do not make good teachers. I experienced this first hand in the modern dance world first. I would admire a beautiful dancer – their technique, agility, stage presence – and then I would take a class with them and wonder where that confident person went. In this case, often times professional dancers have trained not to be teachers but to be beautiful dancers on stage in front of an audience as an instrument of a choreographer. And they do that very well. And sometimes they don’t really want to teach either.

I digress. My last weeks in Budapest had some of my students take me to a “Ruin Pub”. Exactly what it sounds like my friends! A dilapidated building being used as a bar. Fascinating places! I actually went to 2! Although my Hungarian is still at pretty close to 4 words (including thank you, nice, and a very useful (not really) mild swear word), and many of my students’ English was limited, we managed to laugh a lot. The recurring joke was that there were 50 words to express almost anything in Hungarian. With 40+ letters in their alphabet and all kinds of sounds that even my years of French è, é, û, couldn’t help me with!

I rode the 4/6 tram almost every day and the stop before mine made me laugh every time. “Tekeshektekesik” – was basically what I heard! How could so many consonants together make a word or sentence? But it was the name of the station along with the announcement of the next stop.

And I really had some more firsts! I tried my first Hungarian stuffed cabbage, which was too rich for me, but I did taste it! Thanks to Viktor!  and I finally went to a spa and hung out in pools of different temperatures, to 3 kinds of saunas until I became a prune. The main bath in the spa called the “Turkish bath” was a common pool more or less circular in size with a dome like ceiling, the water was a perfect temperature, the design of the room was so that all the talking sort of merged into one muffled sound but yet quite loud. And those who are dying to know, this wasn’t like a german spa for all those blogs/stories you have read, so swim suits were required!

It is the time for the Christmas Markets everywhere I go and I also had my first roasted chestnut! How did I manage not to have roasted chestnuts before this? The smell wafted from every corner and one of my students bought some for me to try!

The final fun for me in Budapest was performing with my lovely host – Bela. He has been out of town all week so we did not practice at all. I was nervous about this but a lot of our students were at the milonga and the minute Bela and I started dancing I recalled our playful nature. Bela is so good at listening that even when something goes amiss he knows exactly where I am and we both recoup! As I watched the video of our performance, sometimes the recuperating doesn’t quite show through! But I prefer a dance filled with joy from both partners in this case.

I send a quick thank you to the lovely Budapest tribe that made me feel welcome and helped me out a lot during my stay: Bela, Kitty, Krisztian, Zsolt, Viktor, Petra, Robby, Joszef, Arbi, Zsofi, Kata, Judith, Katrine, Ildi and Laszlo from Costa Coffee for making me laugh!

So I am now in Switzerland doing a little exploring, of the area and of the milongas.

Some of you may be asking “what’s your plan?” And I am sorry to report, I still don’t know…. I am on trains and planes and seeing places I never thought I would see, meeting some really interesting people, also seeing how much we are alike… our dramas, our sorrows, our desires….

I am also beginning to see a bit of what is “American cultural identity” – or how they are perceived by some.

I was told by an older student in Budapest, in translation, “you are so free, so individual, you don’t follow”. This was hard for me to grasp at the time as he stared at me with his big blue eyes, I asked him if he thought it was a cultural thing? He said maybe but also individual, that women in Hungary follow. Then recently I was talking to a Swiss born young person who was saying that they wanted to start teaching something specifically in tango, and I said, “just do it”. And he commented that this was an American thing not a Swiss thing. The Swiss way is to study and wish and want and never really do. Interesting perceptions.

I also think it is a bit American or part of American to be positive or maybe that it’s not so uncommon to be able to say in America, be positive or think positively and be ok with it. The pounds of negativity or maybe I should say Kilos that I have had to wade through has been difficult. I think the language barrier has helped a lot! But still, everyone has demons they wrestle with but for how long? And when can you just exorcise them, make a decision and move into your life?

Even though I am surrounded by Christmas markets and music in malls I have sort of forgotten it is Christmas time. I wish all of you a wonderful holiday. I hope that you find peace and enjoy being with family and friends at this time. More adventures for 2016.

I leave you with the videos of Bela and my performances. There will be another more professional version on youtube and Facebook soon….

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Belgian Marathon and Videos in Budapest

Belgium PierA Belgian Marathon and 3 Performance Videos from Budapest

I just returned from a lovely weekend in Belgium at a marathon on the coast on a Pier in Blackenberge. A rather small marathon (as they usually are) with about 200 in attendance.The dancing level was quite mixed but I think this is the way these marathons are for the most part. I have been told of marathons where the level of dancing is quite high. I wonder what that would be like!!!!

I also had the opportunity to have a quick snapshot tour of Brugge. Oh My Loveliness! This is a place I must return to. It was quaint and romantic and filled with roaming tourists but otherwise, there was splendid and beautiful buildings to look at and cobble stoned streets to wander through and the canals…  and of course, chocolate. We arrived on the bus arranged by the organizers of the weekend marathon and immediately the smell of sugar and chocolate filled our heads!

I ran into some friends from other marathons and places in Europe, such as Daniela and Anya from Berlin and Agi from Poland (living in England). And I made some new friends, starting with my lovely Italian roommate, Irene. This marathon had many Italians in attendance and I enjoyed hanging out with them and laughing a lot! My Italian-ness feeling very at home listening to them talk and laugh!  I had some great tandas of course! And fantastic food. What a spread! These marathons really often have lovely food – so far, anyway. I have been told that some of them do not have splendid food. This El AbrazodelMar was another fun marathon for me! I am glad I picked it. Not sure why I did but I did and it was a great interruption to the rhythm in Budapest.

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As the holidays are fast approaching, decorations and markets are everywhere. I actually really love to see the lights. Budapest has street light decorations and a vast outdoor market. You can get mulled wine everywhere! Brugge was decorated too! I love the lights! I was in a shopping mall close to me here in Budapest and heard American Christmas music playing and had to laugh out loud! Almost made me cringe a little too!

I had the opportunity to perform at a Saturday milonga in Budapest after I shared some tango to a room full of quiet locals! I have posted the 3 songs here. János and I did not practice at all prior to this performance – so it truly is an improvisation! (And I apologize if you have seen multiple versions as I completely switched 2 letters of János’ last name and had to re-edit the video! I will really remember his last name now!)

I will be in Budapest until December 18th and then I will be off again…..

 

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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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Pichuco Movie and a Milonga Night!

What an exciting opportunity we have! Come join us for Pichuco, the movie and Milonga night!
I have been contacted by a close friend of the director to offer to show this documentary on the tango orchestra leader, Anibal Troilo, nicknamed, Pichuco. He heard the magical instrument of tango, the bandoneon, when he was little and got his first one when he was 10 years old. Come learn Pichuco postermore about this influential musician, the music and the orchestra. THEN stay for a milonga!

November 21st
Movie starts promptly @ 7:35pm Milonga to follow.
Please arrive by 7pm to find your spot.
Bring a chair or a pillow, there will be some chairs available.
First come first served.
BYOB
$15 covers the cost of the movie & milonga.
$10 goes directly to the Director
Pichuco group

SYNOPSIS:
A professor at the Escuela de Música Popular de Avellaneda (School of Popular Music of Avellaneda)  is in the process of digitizing close to 500 original manuscripts  with the help of his students. Arrangements from the Aníbal ¨Pichuco¨ Troilo Orchestra that have been preserved until now. Through interviews with musicians from several generations and styles, who play live the most memorable songs from the master, this documentary takes a musical journey through the works of one of the main characters in the history of Tango and of the Argentine music. 80 minutes (Spanish with subtitles)

♫ MORE INFORMATION TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb2aZnZyuMM FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/PichucoFilm TWITTER: www.twitter.com/PichucoFilm IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3689614 WEB: www.pichucofilm.com

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