Posts Tagged: milonga

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.

 

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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!

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TANGO TOURS ANNOUNCED

Happy New Year!

I am happy to announce my Tango Tours for 2011 and also happy to have Rommel Oramas join me once again; his assistance is invaluable in these tours.

We have 3 choices of tours this year: Mendoza – Vino y Tango, Buenos Aires 10 day Cultural Immersion; and NEW this year, Buenos Aires 8 day Tour de Lujo.

In chronological order:

MENDOZA – Vino y Tango  May 19 – May 24, 2011 $900

Buenos Aires 10-day Cultural Immersion Tango Tour May 25 – June 4, 2011 $1700

Buenos Aires 8 day Tour de Lujo June 6 – 14, 2011 $2350

Non-refundable deposit of $500 due March 15th to hold your place.  First come first serve. 
Tours do not include airfare, tips, and Reciprocity Tax to enter Argentina of $131 (paid at EZE airport)

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My Las Cruces / El Paso Experience

Las Cruces - The GANG

As some of you already know, I was teaching in Las Cruces / El Paso on November 20 – 23, 2009.

I flew into El Paso and had a delightful lunch with Joanie (dancer, owner of El Paso Ballroom Dance Academy) and John (lovely student).  Joanie had a great day planned for me:  privates and a little performance with Tommy at the milonga that evening. 

On Saturday and Sunday in Las Cruces, we worked our buns off in 3 hour sessions.  Even though both session were very mixed levels I continued to encourage all levels to work with their partners and to execute what they did know effortlessly.  As I always have stated you start with what you do know, or that which makes sense and you build from there: adding on 1 piece at a time, always making sure that you and your partner are still on the same page, or on the desired foot, might be the better analogy!  This is always a challenge, I suspect for most teachers, trying to keep "everyone" entertained and challenged.  But I also know that it is up to the student to keep challenging themselves as well. 

Everyone was incredibly nice, open, generous of spirit.  I am so grateful to everyone who worked very hard to make my trip possible.  I think I even have to go so far as to thank Will S. since he’s the first one from Las Cruces who drove to take a lesson from me, first contacting me in November 2008.  So thank you Will for helping to introduce me to your now former community!  Jack and Karen and Cris and Nicky came soon after and how wonderful to watch them grow as dancers and to have them as friends too! 

It was great to share dances with Tommy, who has a nice sense of the music and was totally fun even if his ribs were hurting him.  I hope he is feeling much better.  El Paso - Joanie and TommyJoanie really knows her students (I think this is a sign of a good teacher) and was very kind to set up privates and bring some of her students to Las Cruces for the weekend.  It was so nice to "talk shop" with her.

I have received some of the feedback that Nicky has gathered and forwarded to me and it sounds like most everyone had as wonderful a weekend as I did.  I will go back and look forward to it enthusiastically.

Thank you LAS CUCES and EL PASO!!!!

Daniela did a wonderful job connecting with the attendees. She was very
positive and extremely talented. The way she explained moves was exceptional. I truly think I now have enough confidence to tackle the dance that I once disliked very much.
Daniela has wonderful energy, an engaging teaching style and did a great job of addressing skills for all levels. I’m happy that so many of our Las Cruces dancers attended and feel that our community will be strengthened due to the experience.
I was quite pleased with the workshop with Daniela. I thought it was a great success. We had all levels of Tango background and knowledge. It was interesting to see how everyone worked together to learn and improve on this most wonderful dance.
I really enjoyed the weekend workshops and feel like it was time and money well spent. I found Daniela to be a delightful person to be around and appreciate the way she presents the dance, making it not only a good learning and practicing experience but a fun time as well.
I think that it was refreshing, educational, and good for our developing community to have a playful voice like this here— one, who, at the same time, comes with recent experience of how the thing is being danced in Buenos Aires.

 

Darryl in Las Cruces
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September 12th MILONGA!

HERE’S YOUR SATURDAY NIGHT PLAN:

Saturday September 12th at the Art of Dance, School of Ballroom and Latin
In the heart of Downtown Scottsdale’s Gallery District – there will be a class and a milonga to follow.

7 – 8pm Introductory Argentine Tango Class with Rommel and Daniela
8pm – 1am Milonga
DJ – Dr. Milonga (Steve Mumaw)

FREE Intro Class
Milonga = $8
ASU students Welcome with ID – $4

http://www.artofdanceaz.com/
7077 East Main Street
Suite 11-12
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Plenty of parking on the street in front or in the back of the building or in the parking garage behind the studio (enter on N. Marshall Avenue)
At this point no alcoholic beverages allowed in the space.
AND we have a couple of small surprises for you…. SO DON’T MISS OUT!

Rommel and Daniela will be your hosts. We look forward to introducing this lovely space to you.

Let’s Tango!

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