Preparations…..

Preparations…..

Here we are, 6+ hours of private lessons, waking up every morning/afternoon to hammering in the building, pouring rain and bubbling with excitement!

The Tango Salon Championship Qualification rounds are Monday and Tuesday.

I just got off the phone with NPR’s Tell Me More program from Washington DC where they interviewed me by phone about the Salon Championships and Tango in general. That was exciting!!!

Salon Canning with Alex and LisaBetween taking classes with Los Maestros and milongas I also managed to be part of Alex and Lisa’s 23rd wedding. Read more at 2people1life.  Alex contacted me in late July telling me about their Around the World Wedding plans and I responded to his email a little skeptically. He asked if I would be available for tango lessons and could help arrange a midnight tango wedding. It just so happened that I would be in Buenos Aires at the same time they were going to be here. After about 8 more emails and a few phone conversation, we had Alex and Lisa outfitted in Rommel and my clothes and shoes, we took them to Salon Canning to see Argentine Tango in action; to hear Color Tango play; to see a performance; they almost exchanged vows (again) at Confiteria Ideal but instead on the streets of San Telmo! Phew! all in 24 hours! They did manage to learn a few tango steps and we had pictures taken in front of the Obelisco. We can’t wait to see them!

Today we are off to some more classes. There are so many free events as part of the tango festival and we hope to catch some of them.

Next update will be the times we are dancing on Monday and Tuesday. And Rommel got his hair cut per “la maestras” orders!!!

 

 

 

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“Mente Corazon y Pierna”

Raining inside Club AtlantaThe Head, Heart and Legs, you have to feel the dance in these 3 places according to Eduardo Pareja (Parejita). You dance what you can and what you feel.

As I said in the last blog, I was so moved by all the fantastic information and stories that these Maestros recounted, that I wanted to continue to share some highlights here.

Out of the 8 planned classes only 6 actually happened due to the maestros cancellation or sickness. We took a cab during rush hour to arrive timely for these 2 hour classes. When it rained the space became flooded and the organizers would be found mopping. Mariella and Rolo were wonderful organizers of the event: young, enthusiastic, passionate, fun dancers, inquisitive and just lovely to be around!

All of the teachers spoke about their learning to dance and yes, they learned men with men. For example, El Toto Faraldo told us that he had an older brother who would come to the house with his friends and they would practice moves from the milongas at the house. Toto had a keen eye and would end up correcting the guys if they were doing the steps incorrectly.

Clase con Los AgudioElvira Agudio said that she learned to dance with her girlfriends at home. Her husband, Osvaldo, recounted that he grew up just a few streets behind the Club Atlanta and the guys would be practicing out on the streets. He was young then. He would go to them and ask them to show him a figure and they would tell him to go watch in a milonga and bring steps back to practice.

The idea was not to copy steps but to be inventive and creative. One milonguero would do his steps quickly in hopes that no one would see his moves and be able to copy them! This idea of creativity and uniqueness is something that Osvaldo Agudio expounded upon. He said what frustrates him is to see a teacher show a paso (step), then ask the class to imitate it, and then the teacher will ask the students to dance and they are all doing the same step, it looks like a choreography, like a ballet. The minute the woman moves herself it is no longer tango. Osvaldo Agudio was asking us about some moves and asking if they were really led. He didn’t seem convinced!

Clase con ParejitaBaila con amor, sin egoismo y con risa  Parejita

Translates as: Dance with love, without being selfish, and with laughter. Just another beautiful quote from Eduardo Parejita. He came to class with his wife who sat on the sidelines watching and his dance partner, Laura Grandi. He is 82 years old, so sweet and generous. Laura is 30 and she has been dancing with him for 15 of them. He spoke so naturally that you could feel his passion for tango and for his family. (He is a proud grandfather to a current famous soccer player.)

Another thing he said that completely stands out is never speak badly about a colleague, just do your dance. It’s hard sometimes for me not to be passionate and opinionated about what I do and I have never been one to keep my mouth shut. I will continue to strive to do so hearing these words repeated in my head!

Clase con TotoI dance what I feel and if I don’t like the music, I don’t dance. Osvaldo Agudio

We do that which corresponds with age, the youth bring the dance into the future otherwise the dance stays closed or boxed in with older people. Osvaldo Agudio

Disfrutar Disfrutar Disfrutar – Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy

El Toto told us that the ratio of men to women was 20:1. The woman would check out the men from head to toe and if anything was out of place she could refuse him. People were conscientious about their appearance. Everything and everyone were very humble in those days.

There were several other comments about the Championship and stories about milongas and orchestras, personal hobbies and ideologies, which I hope to be able to incorporate into future blogs.

Clase con Jorge RodriguezRommel was very interested in hearing their opinions about the Championship. I think for the most part there were very degrees of enthusiasm. With comments ranging from Great idea – muy bien to I was juror once and won’t do it again!

There was some discussion about labels and one of the maestros said, the labels are money. Easy for them to say living here where most strive to express the same thing in a dance called Argentine Tango to the music of the same name. It is very clear for them and they know amongst themselves who was where, in what neighborhood, when, and why moves were danced the way they were danced!

Such a wonderful opportunity to be with these milongueros. Thank you Maestros!

(translation is mine with some help from Rommel)

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“It’s an Art, not Gymnastics”

Club AtlantaMAESTROS de MAESTROS – The Teachers of Teachers, a workshop with those milongueros, who can speak about dancing in their early days with tango in Buenos Aires, and it, the workshops, started out, well, slowly! 4 days, 2 classes per day.

Rommel and I and Tyler show up to this famous historic stadium, Atlanta (which is right down the street from Tyler’s place). The previous night’s torrential rains caused a bit of havoc on the space. We arrived 20 minutes early to find the space being mopped. Not the whole space but a few very large places on the floor were covered in water. After 1 hour of waiting, the first teacher never arrived. The next teacher and his wife show up a little early so the young organizers arrange for those of us who were still there to ask questions and for this couple to tell us a bit about the building, Atlanta, and tango in the early days.

The neighborhood and the space is historic. It was the biggest dance club during its heyday. The actual place opened in 1904 as a soccer club. But it was and is an athletic club and had 1 of the largest dance floors in the 40’s. Many great orchestras came through here and it was known fClub Atletico Atlanta insideor its “Carnevales” – big parties during carnival time (before Easter).

http://www.atlantapasion.com.ar/historia.php

The first class was not really a typical class – it really felt more like a practica. The maestro would show a step, we would dance and dance and dance and he would walk around and check us all out!

As the week has worn on and we have gone diligently to these classes, I am fascinated, inspired, and touched by all of the teachers. They came and opened their hearts, shared stories, some personal, some silly, but all with a very real feeling of sharing. Some of them showed us steps and we worked on them over and over again. Some watched us dance and gave advice on our embrace or our walking. And some even talked about the Championship and their opinion of it.

We heard over and over again about how dancers need to slow down. We are not running, there is no race, the dance has lasted and has many more years to go! This was said by Jorge Rodriguez.

Most of the teachers commented on the “chaos” at the milongas that they see now, that it’s basically dangerous dancing at milongas with high kicks and tables being knocked about. Rodriguez said that the dance, “necesitamos apoyar a nosotros”, meaning that the dance needs the dancers’ support, the communal tango support on the milonga dance floor. The feeling that I got from his explanation is that all of us on the social dance floor are responsible for tango – for where it goes and how it grows.

Internet was down today and I tried desperately to post this sooner. More Maestros to be continued….

 

 

 

 

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A New Week

R & D & Acacia in BATo say that the last week has been a whirlwind would be an understatement. We have been doing private classes, group classes, milongas, trying to stay healthy, dealing with rain and torrential down pours, 1 day of sun, clouds, cold – whoosh! But none-the-less so far, so good!

La Maestra has recommended that we take a workshop that begins today with 8 of the oldies but goodies. It’s 4 days with 1.5 hours with each teacher, 2 per day. It’s called Maestros de Maestros. It’s a good opportunity to learn from those who are the oldest, as for what they know, goes with them if they don’t pass it on….. So that begins today.

And the rain has stopped!

I find that one of the funnest reasons to be here in BA is to catch up with people who I R & D and Yumikohaven’t seen in a long time. I finally ran into a tango friend from England who I haven’t seen since teacher training in 2006. How great to catch up. Also have connected with a family from a visit to Charleston. It’s amazing how tango brings people together even after a long time apart!!!

It appears that the Festival of events that accompany the Mundial are posted.
http://www.tangobuenosaires.gob.ar/festivalymundial12/web/es/events/index.html

All these events are free! It’s so exciting!!! I have already seen some really really beautiful dancers at some of the milongas. It appears that the overall attendance at the milongas I have been to are low. And this is not surprising. I am still dying to know how many people are competing this year…..

As I prepare to head out today, I share with you a tango reminder. I have been working on not collapsing my torso on the closed side of the embrace. It appears that I have acquired a habit of shortening the left side of my torso (picture a sideways bend, but not so dramatically!). Ladies, pay attention to this in your own bodies, making sure that your torso is not compromised in anyway in your embraces.

Keep dancing!

 

 

 

 

 

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4th Day in BA

After, what feels like a whirlwind of an arrival, we are already at the end of day 4 in BA.

We arrived on Friday morning to very long lines in EZE (the airport), so long that our luggage was already off the carousel by the time we went through customs/immigration! AND torrential down pours. We crammed all of our luggage and the 4 of us into my uncle’s car, typical Argentine style with luggage in between and on top of each of us! and made it into Buenos Aires to our lovely home for the next 3 weeks.

My star ASU student, Tyler, is on a first major adventure with his brand new first ever passport and his tango sneakers, armed with very little Spanish, he is here, participating in milongas and Leader’s Tango Week with some very fine tango leaders, already eating pasta and empanadas like a local!

It is strange to find myself here without a tour to guide but nice that several ASU students are here for their exchange programs and Tyler, here to dance and experience tango to the fullest. Love having some of “my kids” close by.

Already I have seen my maestra, taken a private lesson with her, been to 3 milongas, and saw “old” friends who I either see traveling or in Buenos Aires! And tonite I will connect with more family.

The weather is chilly – especially for our thinned out Arizona blood! Our housemates have colds and we are fending that off with Vitamin C and Chinese herbs, thanks to J from Flagstaff. So far – so good.Congreso Buenos Aires

We are staying in a lovely tango house near Congreso – which is just a few blocks away from some great milongas and the Congress Building. Of course, we have not seen any of the weather that is in this picture!

I had heard enough about inflation prior to coming here but now being here we are seeing and feeling the impact first hand. The peso has 2 rates, the bank rate and the black market rate, of which there’s plenty of opportunity to purchase the latter. And that is significantly higher than the bank rate, of course. The cost of food is higher, taxis, buses, subways, everything, milongas, shoes – all of it, is higher. Even with the higher exchange rate it seems almost ridiculous to pay so much for that which was so much cheaper even a year ago and even markedly cheaper 5 years ago. It is common to pay between 12 – 14 pesos for a soda or bottled water at a milonga. At the bank rate, that’s $3. The milongas are between 30 – 45 pesos. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot of money but it’s almost normal prices for someone coming from the US. In other words, it’s not a cheap vacation anymore. (12 pesos for a dozen eggs.) It used to cost around 25 pesos to travel almost anywhere in the city by taxi, now it’s double that. From Congreso to Palermo it has been 45 pesos. Those were the milongas we chose for the last few nights.

Today in my class I was reminded – intention before stepping. So I leave you with that idea as well. Where is your intention when you take your steps both as a leader and a follower? Are you taking a step and then arriving where you want to be? Consider the inverse, “I want to be there” and then step there.

we are here!

Tyler and his ghosts!

 

happy to be among greatness!

 

 

 

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