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Post England, Visa Berlin

Post-England and Visa in Berlin, can you tell what I have been up to? This is a long overdue post, I know. Much has happened!

I spent a few weeks in England, where I attended a festival with my colleague, Stefan (from Wuppertal). The highlights were the scenery; love the English countryside… can you say, green and lovely! I got to hear/see a fantastic tango orchestra from France, Orquesta Silbando, absolutely fantastic! And they were joined by Miguel Di Genova of Otros Aires!! Can you say SMOKING! It was GREAT! And I really enjoyed doing some classes with Stefan, since he and I had never done that before!
I stayed one night in a beautiful B&B in Ardingly (pronounced Ardingl-I). I can’t comment enough about English hospitality. I met so many many nice people while in England! I have a list of people who hosted me and treated me so well in the Bury, Diss, London, and Norwich Tango Communities. It was a genuine pleasure to be there. I look forward to visiting with them all again.

Another fantastic highlight in England was hanging out in London and going to see Bradley Cooper in The Elephant ManI was SO impressed; so much so, that I would see it again. I went with Amanda (Belinda’s daughter – some of you may know her!) – an excellent hostess during my quick stays in London.

I did manage to go dancing in London. (I knew you were all waiting for that!) I had a really nice time. I had all good tandas! I was happy to be recognized by the leaders I wanted to dance with. (I think a birdie might have helped me out a bit, as I remember being asked, “so who do you want to dance with?”) But hey! We could all use a few birdies some times!! My only question would be, why in the world are the milongas so dark???

Back in Germany the great news is: I received a visa to remain in Berlin for 13 months. It officially states in my passport that I can work as a Freelance artist / dance teacher! Fantastic!!! So now the next phase begins. I have to mention that I was on such a high today from this news and it was a bright, sunny, blue-sky day in Berlin, I sat along the Spree in the sun, like a Berliner!

I have found several favorites dancers here in Berlin and my favorite milongas. Now with the nice weather there will be lots of outdoor opportunities to dance as well. I now will put my focus on teaching, finding a place to live, and learning some conversational German!

Remember: I will be in Phoenix in October for workshops. AND I’ll be at the Albuquerque Tango Festival as well.
And finally, I have started to put some attention into my alignment website: My Alignment Practice and will be posting some more interesting blogs soon, as well as reposting some of my colleagues’ blogs.

Keep dancing!

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A Few More Weeks In Berlin

Here I am, a few more weeks now in Berlin. I was hoping to post something more exciting or to actually finish and post 1 of the 3 informational tango blogs I have sitting in the wings waiting to be finished but nope, this will just be another update from Berlin.

Berlin view 2The last time I wrote I shared with you the details of pulling together my material to present to the Visa office. At this time I have a German bank account, a German ID number to file taxes, and some form of acceptable health insurance, all needed to apply for a visa. I also have an appointment with the Visa office scheduled for June 11th. This is much later than I wanted as it puts me too close to my “90 day tourist visa is expired” status. But there was not a single appointment available in May. I have a choice to wait or go to the office and pick a number and wait. The downside to that is getting a German friend who can wait with me for as long as it takes to translate… not ideal! We’ll see how this pans out.

I have been going out dancing ALMOST every night and Sunday afternoons. This is a change for me! An exciting and interesting one for sure. And like most milongas anywhere in the world (that I have been so far), there are good nights, with a lot of dancing and some slow nights with not a lot of dancing. I seem to have found a handful of favorite dancers and I think I have made it onto their dance card as well. Again what impresses me most is the quantity of dancers. Every milonga I have been to costs around €5. (This past weekend there were guest tango dancers performing and the milonga cost was €9.) AND there are SO many dancers, basically all the time. And there’s no air conditioning!!! I have found if I wear something that reveals my shoulders I tend to stay cooler. So I will need to shop for more tube tops!! The level of dancing is quite varied. The cabaceo is a bit confused but often used, sometimes unfortunately with a nearby hovering, which obviously defeats the purpose of the cabaceo!!!  (As most of my readers know, the cabaceo is a nod of the head as an invitation to dance.)Asado Brandenberg

The weather continues to be very unpredictable, rain, sun, cold, gray, but the minute the sun shines people are outside in it!

I had the pleasure of hanging out with some dancers and friends at their home just outside of Berlin. They had an asado and people brought food and drink. It was so quiet, we were the noise! (And it was a cold early evening even if the sun shone earlier!)

I will be heading to England at the end of the month (ironically the same time as ANOTHER major tango festival will be rockin’ it here in Berlin!) I will be attending the England International Festival with my tango buddy from Wuppertal, Stefan. Maximiliano Cristiani will be there with his current partner, Juliana. I am looking forward to some classes with them and Stefan is looking forward to classes with Homer and Cristina!

From this Festival in Sussex I will be heading to teach some workshops and classes for Norwich Tango. Thanks to my friend Rachel who helped to organize them. I am really excited about being in England and will have some time to explore London again and Norwich.

Berlin OberbaumbrückeThose are the highlights so far my friends!

Some unfortunate news came my way, that ASU has decided not to have Tango in the fall due to budget cuts. This is hard hitting… I have encouraged the ASU Tango Club to keep things alive. I hope they will.

I have reserved space at SNAP for OCTOBER 10 & 11th for workshops in Scottsdale. I hope you will be able to attend. More information about that will be forthcoming. And of course, ideas, feedback or notice of any conflicts is greatly appreciated.


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First Weekend in Berlin2015-04-12 15.36.232015-04-12 15.32.132015-04-11 17.00.512015-04-11 16.14.142015-04-11 16.16.45

One Week in Berlin

This post is for those who would like news of my adventures.

I have been in Berlin for one week already. I have gone to milongas almost every night. I have met a few people and have danced a bit. I got my cell phone hooked up with a German phone number (so if anyone has the app What’s App you can find me now at: +49 – 15753564080.

I managed to register myself as a resident of Berlin. This is necessary for me to obtain other things and to apply for a freelance visa if I choose to stay in Berlin. This was an interesting process. There are several locations throughout the city that you can register. Technically you have to make an appointment online and show up at your time slot. This is after obtaining some kind of written note saying that you live at a certain address signed by the person you are staying with (ideally!) As I was stressing about this a german tango friend made a phone call to this office and found out that they actually don’t have any more online appointments until July! She was explaining to me how humane she found these office workers to be as the woman on the line explained to her that it was their fault and that I could drop in to an office and that would be fine. With all this handy information a couple of other german (non-tango) friends prepared a short document stating that I am living with them (which I am) and we went all together to one of these offices – called Bürgeramt. Arriving 1/2 hour prior to their opening there was a short line of people already waiting. From this office we were given a number and told to go to the 4th floor! We were there at 9:30am, office opened at 10am, we were given numbers about 10:20am for appointments at 10:50am and 11:00am. We were all out of there by 11:30am with our housing document! This paper is needed for me to get health insurance and a bank account and anything else (I’m told!). Apparently you have to change your address with this office anytime you move and when I leave Germany permanently I must unregister with them 14 days prior to my departure. So there you have it. My first major task done!

I have to say that I was told by one of my favorite dancers here in Berlin, that he was happy to see me in this desert. Imagine – there are 2 – 3 milongas every night here! But I’m slowly discovering, like with everything, not every milonga is the right fit!

I had a really nice first weekend. On Saturday one of my new German friends took me to Teufelsberg. (click to go to wikipedia). What an ominous place. This is the former US listening station. We did not get there early enough to take the tour or to explore inside. Which means I will have to return. But it rises up into the sky in the middle of this forest. This hill that it sits upon is comprised of all the rubble from the war. It was a beautiful day so there were plenty of people out and about, walking, biking, picnicking. There was a wind blowing too and I almost took some video just to see if the sound would have come through as the wind blows through the main tower. As with most things in Berlin, there is graffiti all around. And so when I go back I’m sure there will be pictures of that! It truly looked like a scene out of a movie.

On Sunday I went to Mauerpark. There is a gynormous flea market here. It’s like the Feria in Recoleta meets the Swap Meet in Phoenix, meets the above average food street fair! Not to mention the biggest outdoor karaoke scene I have ever seen!!! And being one of the first beautiful days, EVERYONE was out! It was a nice weekend. Now with one major endeavor under my belt we will see what happens next.

Abrazos to all of you and thanks for reading the blogs!

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Invitations, Proposals, Esperar y Seguir

As I am here in Berlin also waiting for invitations and making proposals, I thought of leading. Invitations, Proposals, Esperar y Seguir are they all the makings of a great leader? I thought about how the role of the leader has had so many explanations on how it is supposed to be or how it is supposed to happen. (I apologize in advance for using the terms he and she or her and him only to make my writing easy and fluid, not to discredit any leading and following done by the other gender.)

And ironically I was at milonga in Wuppertal recently (prior to coming to Berlin) and they were showing a BBC 4 documentary, La Confiteria Ideal: The Tango Salon (of which I am unable to view on youtube here in Germany – but you might be able to see it in the US, not sure. You can let me know!)

But anyway the point is that Javier Rodriguez (famous tango dancer) says in the video something to the effect – that he really has 2 options as a leader: esperar y seguir. “To wait and to follow”. However, I’d like to comment on the verb esperar, which yes, means to wait, but can also mean to hope and to expect. So this waiting implies an activity as opposed to a waiting in passivity. I think of this in body posturing as well. I see sometimes in my students that when I say, “wait for her”, their body posture changes from forwardly present and seemingly active in appearance (I see this posture as being forward) to passive and checked out energetically, sometimes seen as the posture shifted towards the heels. I try to make this distinction by saying that it’s an active moment of waiting, not a “check out, have a cocktail and a cigarette, moment”. (ok, not the most appropriate image for certain audiences, but I hope you get my point.)

A possibly more useful word would be to say that the lead is listening to his follow and waiting for her and by doing this the follower can often inspire the leader to lead something different or unexpected. Very exciting! And of course the leader needs to be ready for this, which goes back to the embrace. Through the embrace the possibilities will always be dictated: where the waiting with anticipation is, the listening, the following.

I know that Fernanda y Guillermo who now have a school in Boston enjoy using the terms “propose and dispose”, which I interpreted as meaning exactly what we are discussing: an opportunity is given and the opportunity is interpreted!

I have found however, that sometimes the leader has learned a pattern without understanding this concept fully and so the follower might be left in the unknown, guessing or not moving at all. I experience this often at a parada or a stop. The leader has stopped me and expects me to read his mind because he has blocked all other options through his embrace. Where is the invitation? l get the waiting, usually, but then what? The waiting Javier is talking about is usually preceded with an idea for the follower, the lead, the marca, the invitation. So the leader has to be clear in all aspects of his embrace, lead, and intention as to what he might want from his follower. And then he accompanies her, follows through with her, dancing with her!

If I open the door for you the path for you to enter is clear. The same in tango. Is your door half open? did you step in front of the path or abandon the path once you created it?

PS Just to clarify – my context for the use of the word proposal: put forward (an idea or plan) for consideration or discussion by others.

PS2 – sorry no pictures this time.




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Reflecting on Competition

It’s that time of year again and I couldn’t resist peaking on Facebook to see how the US Tango Competition went this year. And to see how some students of mine had faired. It is an interesting place to be after participating four years in a row, to be a voyeur so far away!

Also interesting to have discussions here in Germany with my friend, Stefan, who can speak about competition from the perspective of the ballroom world. He says that even though there is a European Tango Salon Championship and several subsidiaries throughout Europe, that Tango competition has just not caught on in Germany (although I did meet the champions from last year, last year!) It was only about four years ago that he had heard of Tango Salon competitions. He says that the teachers do not promote this here. Our conversation continued with him expressing his thoughts that competition is a good thing. He reflected on his own experiences in competition where the process, the rehearsals, the journey, were the best parts, not the actual competition. The actual competition happens so fast. It is so quick that sometimes that really isn’t what you remember most! Competition is a good thing for people and it helps them grow. The common sentiment has been – tango is for passion and for socializing not for competition. And I understand this, having had this same sentiment.

It appears that Shaun Rosenberg in his Blog, 10 Reasons Why Competition Is A Good Thing agrees with Stefan (and Rommel Oramas, former partner for Salon Championships). He presents some good arguments for competition, beginning with how it promotes growth, creativity, helps to advance civilization, how it teaches us by making us want to win the next time, it promotes taking chances, makes us goal oriented. I know that these are all the reasons why Rommel chose to compete and why he competition 2014continues to pursuit this passion. “Everyone needs to have some passion to live and some passion to win”, says Rosenberg. Competition is good in business, we see it all the time, why do you think there are more products and sometimes better than before products – think Apple!

I don’t think it’s for everyone, but I do think it helps to improve the level and quality of one’s own dancing and the level of dancing overall. Everyone needs someone to admire. It helps to promote Tango to new audiences, and can help to excite those who might feel like giving themselves a goal in their dancing. For me, I still cannot stress enough how much my understanding of the dance has expanded. I feel like I had a narrow vision of the dance and struggled to convey certain aspects of it to my students. I know my training has made me a better teacher. And what I love to do is contextualize the understanding of the dance and now I can. Congrats to those who braved the competition and DID it this year!

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