Posts Tagged: milonga

What are those legs doing? Are they social or not?

Are those legs being social or not on the dance floor?

I’m talking about those frog shaped legs at the milonga. After a long slash along the entire length of my calf from a heel at a milonga I have been compelled to write about this. And leave you a short video.

After the slash, I sat and observed this particular woman as I wondered how she could have managed such a feat. She was clearly having a great time dancing with the same guy, giggling and enjoying their unskilled tanda. AND I am not here to criticize her enjoyment of being completely manipulated by her leader. But no wonder she was off balance at one point committing some version of a front boleo with a wide gap between her legs that resembled a #4 stretch with the heel in question facing straight out towards other unassuming victims.

LADIES, those legs are meant to come together for a reason. EVERYTHING in tango comes from your understanding of walking, which translates to your understanding of the relationship between your 2 legs, which will translate to your pivots and to your boleos and all decorations.

Your weighted leg, your standing leg is YOUR responsibility and through your connection to your partner you are given information on what the other, the moving leg, is to be doing.

In general throughout my teaching in the US and Europe, I have found a general misunderstanding about this 2 legged relationship. I find those who are extremely fixated on KLT Keeping the Legs Together and those whose LEA Legs are Extra Appendages that they have seemingly no control over!  With the KLT group this fixation renders them remarkably tight to the point they can hardly move their legs. I am not denying that the adductors (a group of muscles of the thigh that bring legs together) are at play here but what IS missing is the understanding that your legs still have to move, and they move because, just like in walking, the thigh bone, the amazing femur, is a ball and socket joint. Those thigh bones are meant to roll in their places, in their sockets, in your pelvis. If you are so tight in your musculature here, you can’t move easily – which hinders many things, including balance. And the same is true with the LEA group. Meaning, they lose their balance too because the appendages are so far away from their home.

There is a way to manage both of these groups to have beautiful functioning dance legs without risk of injuring those around you or yourself!

So I leave you with a little video!

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9 Suggestions for a Personally Improved Milonga Experience

An improved Milonga Experience you say? Ok, to be fair this blog will not be about my opinions on lighting or table seating arrangements, although I am sure I have opinions on that too, this is about YOU and how YOU can improve your own experience, or at least attempt to.

I hear so often (and have heard since I can remember) the diametrically opposed feelings of attending a milonga. I will addressPortland milonga the followers’ lament – the time spent dressing up, smelling good, really looking forward to the dance and the music. Then the apprehension from the mind chatter: will I get dances, will he like me, will I find “the one”, am I pretty enough? Am I good enough? Will I ever be like her? When? How many more classes?

And then comes the post-milonga chatter – why not me? Why her? Why not him? She’s so x? He’s so y? Maybe I’ll buy more shoes!

What if we could choose to change our milonga experience (obviously, if we were not having a good one)? Well, after a European tour of several hundred milongas with seas of women sitting down and then back in the US with the same dilemma, how are we going to change our experience? I suppose we could stop dancing – but I know for my soul and body, that’s not an option.

Can I really change my milonga experience?
I ventured more deeply into an understanding of energy and what I called, at the time, alternative thinkers, when I moved back to Arizona in 2003. With a strong link to Sedona, AZ where everyone is a mystic and seemingly blessed with endless happiness, my exposure came more intensely not only with a love interest but with a life coach.

If I am having a bad experience I am the common denominator, so how do I change it?Ladies sitting at milonga

So as I sat at another very large festival watching and wondering about the dynamics at play and being accosted occasionally by a negative rant from a female friend, then it came as no surprise that my reading of Dr. Wayne Dyer sparked these ideas.

  1. Before you even start to get dressed for the milonga, take a moment to assess your mood. How am I feeling right now? Happy? Apprehensive? Stressed? On a scale would it be a 10 = yepee I feel happy or close to a 6 or below. Don’t judge it or beat yourself up. Just assess it. Notice it.
  2. I vowed several years ago that I would not go dancing unless I was feeling really great. And I also vowed that when I felt content at a milonga and satisfied, I would give myself permission to leave. Whether it was after 1 tanda in 4 hours or 4 tandas in 2 hours, whatever it was, that when I was still happy and feeling satisfied I would leave and leave happy. But this still put the milonga in control of me, the milonga as the ruler of my mood and how I would feel for a few hours afterwards or days sometimes!!! So I worked on raising my mood anytime I felt a little down. We can change our mood by eating well, exercising, yoga, a little meditation, breathing, listening to music we love, dancing alone, affirmations. Whatever it takes. If you want to wear those cute shoes, dress, scarf, wear them if that makes you feel good. Recognize when there’s a shift in your mood to the negative and see if you can change it or at least release it.
  3. Intention – Have a clear intention. “I intend to feel great and to have great dances”. (And the clincher here is not to censor it afterwards with a buzz kill, ie: “I intend great dances unless that guy that smells badly who always asks me to dance asks me.”
  4. Take a sip of water! Sometimes hydrating helps to move energy and can change how you feel.
  5. Acceptance – Anytime a thought comes to you that judges another person, say to yourself, “I allow everyone their own experience”. And then be happy for them!
  6. And SMILE to your self! (breathe and relax!)
  7. And then smile more! And pay someone a compliment, “What a beautiful dress, what a nice tie, lovely earrings, I love your shoes”!  Last year in a European marathon I knew only a couple of people and I really was putting these ideas into action! There was a woman whose necklace I had noticed earlier in the evening and I found myself standing in front of her, and I told her I thought her necklace was lovely. She told me thank you and commented that women rarely compliment each other and how nice it was to receive a compliment. SO LADIES sincere compliments are nice!
  8. Practicality – On a practical note, get to know people, circulate in a room, figure out a way to meet people. Where are people congregating? Where are the exits and entrances to the dance floor? You have to do the work of meeting people or knowing people. Do the work pre-milonga, during the milonga and post milonga or take a class to meet people. This too will help your mood! I like to circulate, especially in a large room. Sometimes this is a hindrance, because a leader will say to me, “I saw you sitting over there and then I couldn’t find you!” BUT overall, taking a walk-about can let people see you, you get to see who is there, it allows me the time to assess the milonga as well.
  9. And finally (or maybe firstly) – don’t care what others think about you. It doesn’t matter because you can’t control that. What you think about you is all that matters. Wouldn’t you want to choose to be happy and want to stay that way? I would.

What do you do to have a great milonga experience?

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My Milonga Tips for Those Who Don’t Get It

My Milonga tips, the dance and music, not the place, for those who have a hard time getting it.

The dance, milonga, seems to elude people. You either love it, somehow plod through it, or avoid it all together. Which is a SHAME! Recently one of my fun dancers, a lead, asked me to teach him milonga. What? Why? “Because I just don’t get it”, he said. No wonder we never danced it before, we always seemed to dance the romantic tandas.

I mention this because I perceive tango and dancers in 2 categories: rhythmic or melodic. Not that we can’t be both but in general my experience (and remember my experience has been mostly with beginners at the university) is that people tend to lean towards one or the other. They might actually favor one over the other too, and it is reflected in their learning as well. Maybe not a great example but I love romantic tandas; I grew up listening to classical music and playing classical piano to become a concert pianist. Rommel (my former partner) grew up on salsas and cumbias, these are close to his heart and he manages to find rhythmic parts to even the most melodic of tangos!

My belief is that we can all hear music but some sounds resonate more than others. I often notice this in my classes as well. I have been known to change orchestras based on how I perceive a student moving. I had a student who couldn’t figure out a Di Sarli but managed well with Canaro!

So let’s get back to my friend who can’t find his milonga!

Because we had to establish a baseline for understanding I told him I’d start him off like I do my beginners so we would have a foundation and a shared language.

Firstly, I create some soft rules, for as we know rules are meant to be broken (sometimes)! They are: no using “la cruzada”, only use parallel system, remember that milonga is happy, and follows be ready to move. I find this allows the student to focus on finding the music and their “milonga-body”.

After establishing this the mind can relax a bit and I we continue:

1) Listening and putting music in the body. I play some Canaro milongas and I encourage students to find, what I call the stepping or marching rhythm or beats and we walk to these.

2) Finding the “milonga-body”. How the body is – a certain tone in the body to start with (since most beginners lack body awareness I find that hips and ribs and shoulders and knees can be moving all over the place) in order to arrive on the beat in this “milonga-body”, which has to feel different than their tango body. The body can’t be too lax at this stage because your body will be delayed in arriving on the beat of the music. In order to find this “milonga-body” I asked my friend to soften his knees (which means bend them) and imagine stepping with his whole foot.

3) The accent is down into the floor, if you straighten your knees you will tend to move out of the floor and look like you are bouncing.

The above outline comes first. Repeated to several different milongas and worked on alone.

The next phase is that I use “la milonga basico” or a variation of “la baldosa” step as a an anchor. I normally have introduced parts of this step in my tango classes so the form looks familiar and I now have them repeat the step to the music with a partner. I use parts of this pattern to launch into other combinations of steps and later into traspie.

Remember, I am just getting students jump started into their milonga and to not fear it. Also, when I taught semesterly at the University I spent about 6 hours on milonga and then would play milongas in subsequent classes as refreshers and practices.

So tell me, what has worked for you as a student or a teacher? Any of my former students feel free to comment as well.

(dedicated to NC – enjoy your milonga training until we dance again!)

Here are 2 videos of milongas: by Dany El Flaco Garcia y Luna Palacios en Buenos Aires and the other Maximiliano Cristiani y Jesica Arfenoni

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Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year to you!

I just spent the last few days in Karslruhe, Germany at a small intimate Encuentro. And I did run into people that I knew!!Karlsruhe Which is becoming a fun surprise for me! I spent a lovely time connecting also with new dancers. It seems that a visit to Belgium is definitely in the cards.

I had my first adventure in a Hostel, since probably 1989 when I studied in France and toodled around France and Italy with fellow students staying in hostels. Let us just say, I seem to never have a dull moment! or maybe it’s just perfect content for a future book!

The visit to this event was very last minute and I jumped on the hostel bandwagon after the Airbnb booking I thought I had showed me that I needed to reconfirm with a code that I didn’t receive in time. Ironically, on the Hotels.com site I found a 3 night deal for the hostel right next to the train station in Karlsruhe, as long as it was a room for 4 people. Well, I arrived to an empty clean room and thought, yeppeee!!! But that was too soon to rejoice. I returned to my room at 2am after the milonga. As I got off the elevator on the 5th floor I heard quite a bit of moaning and thought, wow, some people are enjoying their evening. As I approached the door to my room, I thought, “O! my gosh! They are in my room! and then I thought, is this my room?” I hesitated a moment and backtracked to the elevator and thought, yes, this is my room. So I went in! Poor young things! Faster than a cartoon character someone dashed into the bathroom, which I hadn’t realized until she popped out of the bathroom several minutes later in a t-shirt, “hallo”! As we all: she, her poor young boyfriend, and I all acted like nothing happened, she crawled back into the twin bed with him as I proceeded to get ready for bed… No words were exchanged. They spoke in German to each other and said nothing to me. They left in the morning. Another couple came the next day and I saw them and mentioned to the young man that I would be back in the early hours of the morning so any activity should be conducted before hand! They were quiet and managed to sleep through my early AM arrival. And on my last night, an older gentleman came in with a lot of plastic bags. In the evening as I prepared for the milonga and to check out the next morning, he, in tank top and black tight boxer shorts, proceeded to make several smelly sandwiches in the room, then crawled into bed with his ipad and headphones to watch a movie and all those sandwiches – of which he ate and proceeded to put the crumbs on the floor behind him!! I returned to the room around 4am and as I opened the door was accosted by the smell of smelly feet, sauerkraut, sweaty man odor, cheese, and I don’t know what! Although cold outside, I opened the window! wow, that was a hard quick nap to endure! I checked out in the morning, danced all day and took the train back to Switzerland! Needless to say, I slept through most of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day! I did feel a little silly, being here in Europe with SO many great options for New Year’s Eve! Oh Well, I will plan better for next year!

I am off again to Zurich for a couple of days of dancing and sight seeing, then back to Bern and then off to Italy! Then back to Berlin in February!

I have had a lot of time to reflect over 2015. This journey has given me a lot of nice surprises and can really be called an adventure. I have found that I can’t be upset for long, or sad for too long, or angry for too long or anything! Just grateful for all that I am experiencing, even when it is difficult, or seemingly difficult.

I posted the following on New Year’s Eve on Facebook for those who did not see it and I share it with you.

I wrote to my maestra: “Nunca pensé que el tango me salvaría de inmensa soledad”. (“I never thought that tango would save me from immense loneliness”.)
2015 was an unexpected journey for me: of meeting new people, being in new places and self-discovery…. and it still continues…
I have never really needed to ‘rely’ on other people and it’s a skill I never really learned.. until this year. I am so so grateful to everyone who has helped me out this year – and in countless ways – from an act of kindness, to shared conversation, to finding places to live! The list of YOU is truly endless.. and I’m very grateful to my parents for their continued support. As a dancer my whole life I Know that dance can change people’s life and tango completely changed the course of mine, HOWEVER, I had NO idea the depth to which I would come to rely on Tango to help me as well….
I wish everyone a truly wonderful, prosperous, and joyful 2016. May it bring you all that you desire and need most.
I will see you passionately on the dance floor somewhere soon! And thank you for your support!

Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! Joyeux Nouvelle Année! etc….

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Tango Packed Week

So much Tango this week!!!

TuesdayPracticando fun @SNAP. Class starts at 7- 8:30pm. 8:30 continues Practica. This will be my last Tuesday night practica and Rommel will take over into January.

ThursdayDIA DEL TANGO
Rommel and I will be hosting a free tango class from 7:30 – 8:15pm at Mijana Restaurant followed by performances followed by the Nostalgias Milonga! Come join us for my last Milonga in Tempe.

FridayLast Solana Milonga
7pm – onward @ the Solana Tango Room 335 E. Solana Drive Tempe, AZ. BYOB $5 come share snacks and dancing.

Saturday2 Final Workshops
Rommel and I teach the last of our series of workshops on Saturday.

Be sure that you are subscribed to my Blog so you can follow me on my adventures.

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