Posts Tagged: argentine tango

Welcome 2012!

2011 was an interesting year in my tango journey, as I guess they always are!

A highlight is always the new students that I meet and watching them dance! Some students move on and some get hooked! Some even return from long distances. I was very fortunate this year to be a part of 180 new students at ASU’s tango journey and to be a part of ASU’s first tango festival. I marveled at the creativity, ingenuity, and steadfastness of those who made that festival a first!

I traveled to several new cities making new friends, sharing more tango, bonding with some furry pals, and even re-connected with old friends at my high school reunion.

To challenge myself is to grow and sometimes it can change even my strong opinion about things. 2011 did just that with my first tango competition with my partner, Rommel Oramas, placing 5th. (read about it here.) Thank you Rommel for all the fun performances and festivals we have experienced together.

Thank you 2011 for the great dances and the new shoes! Thanks to all of you who have been a part of my growth as a teacher, a dancer, organizer, consultant, and a human being.

2012 is sure to bring new surprises, new challenges and new students!

May 2012 bring you all much happiness, abundance, compassion, success, love, and peace.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more

Women’s Tango Retreat and the Pelvis

So many things have been happening as of late and I’m trying to catch up with my blogging. There was my father’s 70th surprise party (and he was surprised!) and Thanksgiving, came and went, grading papers (its the end of semester again) and now I’m off to Breitenbush Hot Spring Retreat Center in the mountains of Oregon to teach a workshop.

I was asked to teach a “playshop” for this women- in- tango retreat. After much thought as to what to share with a group of women who know both leading and following roles I decided upon an exploration of a center of driving force in our lives, our pelvis.

The pelvis and tango? Think about it – where do those legs that take you walking originate from? and what about that torso?

 

 

The bones of the pelvis.

 

 

Can you identify this as being a part of your body?

It has been my experience, both as a modern dancer and in my studies of Mindful Movement (SM), that even an awareness of some of the boney landmarks of the pelvis can improve posture and mobility. Much of my modern dance training was around an awareness of the connection of my sits bones (ischial tuberosities) to the floor and from my coccyx (tail bone) to my head.

My playshop this weekend will be centered around an awareness of the bones of the pelvis and how that awareness can help in our leading and our following.

I presume most of you are sitting down reading this. Let’s try a little exploration. First, uncross those legs. Place both feet on the floor (or change chairs so you can). Can you feel your sits bones on your chair? If you can feel them place one hand at your pubic bone and the other hand on the lower small of your back, at your sacrum. Now, just imagine breathing into both of your hands. Take about 5 deep breaths here or more.

Then get up and go for a little walk. Notice anything?

Sometimes just from feeling the sits bones on the chair the spine straightens out. With time and awareness the legs often find their place in their sockets which allow for greater mobility. The awareness of the dimensionality of the pelvis reminds me that I am not just the front of my body in 1 dimension and that I bring all of me when I move through life – front and back!

I tie this back to tango not just for posture and for walking but also because I have often heard teachers refer to “the hips”. Hmm – where are your hips? What are the hips? I just looked it up – it appears that the “hips” cover a lot of area  – the butt, the top of the legs… to me, who loves details, I want more specificity. Some teachers refer to it meaning the leg joint – the iliofemoral joint and they ask us to walk or to turn with more flexion in this joint. What if you don’t have a lot of movement there in the first place? Could be a challenging movement to find.

I know that followers are also exploring their roles more through the use of their “hips”. This begins a whole new subject for me relating to the planes of movement of the pelvis. 1 is dropping the pelvis – which I believe throws the spine out of whack and influences the leaders connection to the legs and pelvis and has begun to change the embrace in many ways. And the other is the rotation of the legs in the pelvis – which sometimes causes more pelvic tilt anteriorly (which looks like sway back or sticking out the butt).

The body is a fascinating thing, isn’t it? These are just thoughts about the pelvis in dancing. Remember that we are all built differently and I think any dance form invites you to discover who you really are and to share that with the world.

Let me know if you have any discoveries and I’ll share mine when I return.

(Thanks to Gray’s Anatomy and Wikipedia for the image of the pelvis.)

Read more

Videos of Meng and Daniela in Sedona

Read more

Taxi Dancing with Rommel Oramas

I’m on my way to another Tango Festival and I am excited to visit with old tango friends and to create new ones.
It is usually during a weekend like this that followers will commiserate and share the hopes and desires for their evening milongas. Their desire to dance all night long, to connect, to have that amazing tanda or 2 that keeps us all coming back for more. And unfortunately, sometimes this doesn’t work out as perfectly as we had hoped. Taxi dancing might be a solution.

I first came across taxi dancing on my trips to Buenos Aires.  Dancers, usually female, hire a male dancer to partner them at milongas. Then when I started my tours to Buenos Aires I hired taxi dancers to assist in milongas and in the classes. I have always had mixed feelings about taxi dancing but found it absolutely essential and beneficial on my tours.

My partner Rommel Oramas is a taxi dancer and he speaks passionately about taxi dancing. I was struck by his articulateness and dedication to being a taxi dancer and asked him to shares his thoughts with me here.

“It’s a paid profession for me,” says Rommel. He started taxi dancing in Phoenix, AZ to enhance the confidence of some of his female students in dancing socially.  “My intention and purpose varies with each partner.  Most dancers just want to have a  nice dance, a tanda or 2 without having to wait 2 or 3 hours or all night to dance. Sometimes  it is about mismatched skill levels and therefore, taxi dancing becomes a solution for that dancer.  Sometimes partners want to be shown off at the milonga so other dancers can look for them.”

“Taxi dancing has a code of conduct,” Rommel continues, “knowing that a tango dancer flirts with sensuality and sexuality the code of conduct is necessary. To be come a good taxi dancer, I have to be respectful of my partner, kind, and professional.”

“R.A.P,” he says, smiling.
“RAP?” I ask him.

“Yes, Respectful Amicable and Professional!  Respectful – because I understand that the dance is for my client, for the compañera de baile. I have to put my effort and attention into that person so that they look good and so that they feel comfortable and confident and safe. It’s not about me in that moment.  I wear my smile, I introduce her to other dancers – this is important. Professional – I’m doing a job – I’m there to dance, it’s not a lesson, I’m not there to teach or criticize”.

I asked Rommel how he handles a follow who might feel heavy or who is squeezing his hand too tightly and he admitted that every once in awhile he might give slight feedback especially if he feels that it is physically hurting him, like his back or his shoulder.  And that would be given after a song or even the tanda is finished. He usually already has a good rapport with that dancer and knows that they are open to it. He continues, “I know as a skillful dancer that I can adjust myself in order to continue to make her look good. So for example – I relax my arm if she is pushing too strongly or if she feels heavy I open the embrace slightly. Usually she notices through this silent communication and adjusts as well, ie: she relaxes that arm. If she asks for feedback I tell her that it’s a milonga and we’re here to dance. If she has a good time and has good dances and doesn’t ask for feedback then I’ve done my job. And this encourages the referral system – they speak highly of me and will tell their friends. Most of my business is done by word of mouth”.

I ask him if he ever says “no”?  “I am always open and available. I start with 2 or 3 tandas. If there’s a good rapport we can take it from there. I try to spread out my time of tandas with a single person over the course of the milonga – to change the energy – to dance with others. Sometimes there are musical preferences – ie: she likes vals tandas or milonga or a tanda of Di Sarli. This allows me to share that tanda with that person and then go dance with others. I can have several paid tandas in a milonga”.

Rommel feels strongly that taxi dancers need to be trained. “Not all great dancers can be a good taxi dancer.  You have to be able to morph to your partners’ needs and to their level of dancing. You have to have the tools necessary to make the dancer the most important part of the dance.  A taxi dancer is good if his intentions are to serve the partner and to serve the art form of tango”.

“Taxi dancing has made me a better dancer. It has helped me to better understand my partners and their needs in the dance. In reality they aren’t far from my own. I want to connect, have a good time, enjoy the dance, and maybe learn about my partner a little bit more”.

“Everybody has a right to pursue happiness, to get their needs met. Taxi dancing offers this possibility”.

I am always fascinated to watch Rommel in action at a milonga. He moves from 1 tanda to another from 1 partner to another pretty seamlessly. You might never know if he is “working” or just dancing. But the ladies always seem pleased with him and they hire him for the events they know he will be attending.

I know that taxi dancing can be very controversial and often brings out strong opinions in people, like most tango-things! But options are a good thing and if having a taxi dancer improves your quality of life and brings a smile to your face, then why not.

 

Read more

Negotiation

negotiation |nəˌgō sh ēˈā sh ən|
noun
discussion aimed at reaching an agreement

I am always repeating to my students that Tango is a negotiation. There is always a negotiation in dance both in the learning and doing of it. And in a couple’s dance like Argentine Tango, i think there’s a lot of it!

I was in Flagstaff last weekend teaching and had a wonderful time. A discussion on negotiating came up again. One thing is for me to say it and then another for students to want to talk about it or need an explanation of how it works.

Negotiations begin in a social setting from the moment we arrive at a milonga – who to sit with? Where to sit? Maybe this is only really about choice or also about negotiating with others or with oneself – the psyche? Or the ego?

When you’re asked to dance – are you already defensive? Then why did you say yes? You have to negotiate this? Can you decide that this will be a new dance? A fun time? An actual dance and not a “roll of the eyes” moment that will be complained about for hours?

When you’re in the dance – I often get asked – what do I do when or if my partner does x or y? My question back is – what do you want? Do you want to fight? Or do you want to enjoy it? can you negotiate in that moment to not struggle?

I think all dance is about negotiations. As a modern dancer there were negotiations with myself, my body, my mind, with my choreographers, my dancers, my colleagues, my teachers. It is the same in tango and I believe in most modern and social dance forms.

A specific example came up:
Leader: What do I do when I feel the follower “vibrating” beneath me? I am not sure if she is decorating or what but her whole body seems to move and jiggle in my arms.

And this leader clearly had an opinion about this jiggling by his tone. So I proposed to him 2 scenarios.

Daniela: well you could try to stop her because clearly you don’t like it. Or what if you actually guided her movement, almost like joining in on it? so it might feel less like she’s vibrating and more like she’s being accompanied in her movement and maybe that’s the support she needs. 

Every scenario is different and sometimes we will choose not to negotiate – a non-negotiable moment!  Just like life!  And other times, I encourage considering a negotiation. And most of all, remember, dancing is supposed to put a smile on our faces!

(Funny how I was searching for a picture to post with this blog and most of the pictures I found were either people shaking hands, 1 person throwing a punch, or there was money involved!)

No throwing punches, no money, and lots of smiling!

Read more
« Previous PageNext Page »