I just returned from a weekend in Albuquerque where I attended workshops with Eric Jorissen. One of my favorite tango teachers on the planet! His knowledge of the dance form, his pedagogical approach, his wit, charm – he has got it all!
I met Eric many years ago now, I think in New York City. After that in Denver, and then I attended the El Corte Teacher Training Program in its 2nd year in 2006. El Corte is Eric’s Tango School in Nijmegen. To my knowledge 1 of the only of its kind. I view Eric as a forward thinker and doer. Creating models for tango that the US is just now implementing.
He reminded me of several things when considering community development that I had simply forgotten. One, for example, that due to the distance of the United States it is much harder to continue to encourage the integration of communities without creating saturation. In Europe the distances to travel are much less in a short train ride or car ride with friends you can be dancing in another community. Europeans are used to traveling. I know many of us travel for tango but it is not always a reciprocated venture – I may have gone to ABQ but when will they come here? maybe for a festival? or for a workshop, but the bottom line is our distances to travel are more.
Another reminder about human nature from Eric was that when you arrive at a milonga or at a festival, the first people you are inevitably going to dance with are people you know. The longer the hours of a milonga eventually you begin to add new faces to your dancing. This is true when you have a lot of people attending milongas.
But are these still just excuses? As I continue to look for answers to help grow the Phoenix tango community. “just start something new” is also what Eric said.
Along with conversations about community and trends I enhanced my leading vocabulary with some really delightful “salon” movements. The whole weekend was meant for social dancing, taking movements within your embrace, keeping it social, friendly and fun.
I am often reminded that I look like a “girl leading”, regardless of the compliments from followers on being a good leader! This weekend I was able to work on my leading and received some great pointers.
We are often confusedly told to “lead with our chests”. Which causes chaos in our bodies – shoulders by our ears, left arm too high and tense, and not enough “groundedness” in our legs. I think these could be the case for any leader regardless of gender. I was encouraged this weekend to remind myself of the connection of my legs to the floor and more importantly the relationship of my pelvis to leading. YES, my pelvis as a driving force behind my torso! Sometimes we move our torso and pelvis as a unit and sometimes the torso and the pelvis do not join that action. But the torso is still attached to those legs through the pelvis.
I look forward to returning to Albuquerque for their Tango Festival in November.
And am very inspired by the efforts of their communities of Santa Fe and Abq, to the Tango Club and to Radi’s Tango Academy.