The Blog

Cabaceo – People are talking, I mean nodding, winking, etc….

I promised I would bring back some of my experience from the Women’s Retreat where I commented a week back about the class I was going to teach that centered on the pelvis and its function in alignment in tango.

Well, the Women’s Retreat was a wonderful way for me to connect with other women in tango. There were varied levels of experience in tango amongst us. There were some great conversations and insights into our shared interest of leading and following. I was delighted that a few older women commented on their excitement about the younger generation interest in tango. “Who is going to carry on when we’re gone?” I remember hearing this from some older students of mine as well.

I was inspired by sharing conversations with one lovely Hannah from the Portland area – an articulate brilliant young woman exploring and finding her way in tango. I was impressed by so many things she had to share but particularly by her interest in keeping the “cabaceo” alive and kicking. In her community – she says that people know already that she uses the cabaceo and she encourages her students to use it.

What is the “cabaceo”? There are many writings on this art of asking someone to dance but in a nutshell it is a word that comes from  Spanish or specifically castellano (Argentine Spanish) cabeza which means head. The cabaceo is the invitation to dance: a lock of the eyes, a simple subtle nod of the head, and typically from a distance. It is an invitation that no one else needs to know about. It is an invitation that can also be rejected without embarrassment, ideally. This means, for example, if someone catches my eye from across the dance floor and I choose not to dance with him then I do not lock eyes with them or nod my head in agreement. That leader may then move on looking for his next follower without “losing face”, so to speak.

Some of us use it strongly in our communities others not as much. But it seemed that there was a general consensus that the cabaceo works and is good for tango. The leader or a follower can ask for a dance through the use of the cabaceo and also be rejected from a dance by not acknowledging it. It was also remarked that the rejection needs to not necessarily be taken so personally. Someone mentioned that if you are “cabaceoing” someone all night and they have not caught your eye – then maybe they are trying to tell you something. This is sometimes hard to accept especially in smaller communities where everyone tends to know each other. I think the cabaceo works well in all circumstances actually.  We also spoke about cabaceoing another follower to dance with. This dynamic doesn’t seem to have been worked out completely yet… but I think in communities where followers know that other followers are leading the cabaceo works the same.

Upon my return from the retreat and back to the classroom for the final days of classes at ASU I was struck by 1 of my more enthusiastic beginners’ interest in discussing the cabaceo and how he had spent time researching it online. He too has decided that the cabaceo is worth keeping and using and was encouraging the rest of the class to try it out.

SO I think the cabaceo is still alive and well even in Tempe, AZ. I know many members of the community enjoy using it and you’ll be seeing more of my students trying it out!

How’s your cabaceo?

 

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New Classes Starting in January!

The holidays are upon us and you might be making your tango arrangements for the new year….Check out these classes and new locations too!

Classes at Interlingua AZ at 5107 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85014-3107
Level I

January 10th – February 7th
Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:15pm
5 lessons of 1 hour each and 15 minutes of practice. Price: $75 per person $150 per couple. Max 5 couples

Level II with Rommel Oramas
January 12th – February 9th
Thursdays 6:00pm – 7:15pm
5 lessons of 1 hour each and 15 minutes of practice. Price: $75 per person $150 per couple. Max 5 couples



NEW Classes at Plaza de Anaya
at 524 W. Broadway Rd, Tempe, AZ  85282
Fundamentals 8 week course
January 12th – March 1st
Thursdays
6:15pm – 7:15pm
Contact
Plaza de Anaya to register – (480) 894-8777

 

Spring 2012 Semester Long Courses:

Paradise Valley Community College
NEW INTERMEDIATE Argentine Tango
Begins 01/26/2012- 05/03/2012
Thursdays 7:45pm – 9:35pm
DAN125AE #38688

Scottsdale Community College
Beginner Argentine Tango

Begins 01/24/ 2012 – 05/11/2012
Tuesdays 7:15pm – 9:15pm
DAN125AE #36054

Arizona State University
Mondays and Wednesdays
Begins 01/09/12 – 04/23/12
DCE 110 (18483) – 6:45pm-8:15pm
DCE 210 (18517) – 8:30pm-10:00pm

 

REGISTER NOW!
Teachers are talking about this new unique tango experience!

ASU Tango Experience 2012 – A New Kind of Festival
March 2, 3, 4, 2012
http://tangofest.events.asu.edu/

 

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Women’s Tango Retreat and the Pelvis

So many things have been happening as of late and I’m trying to catch up with my blogging. There was my father’s 70th surprise party (and he was surprised!) and Thanksgiving, came and went, grading papers (its the end of semester again) and now I’m off to Breitenbush Hot Spring Retreat Center in the mountains of Oregon to teach a workshop.

I was asked to teach a “playshop” for this women- in- tango retreat. After much thought as to what to share with a group of women who know both leading and following roles I decided upon an exploration of a center of driving force in our lives, our pelvis.

The pelvis and tango? Think about it – where do those legs that take you walking originate from? and what about that torso?

 

 

The bones of the pelvis.

 

 

Can you identify this as being a part of your body?

It has been my experience, both as a modern dancer and in my studies of Mindful Movement (SM), that even an awareness of some of the boney landmarks of the pelvis can improve posture and mobility. Much of my modern dance training was around an awareness of the connection of my sits bones (ischial tuberosities) to the floor and from my coccyx (tail bone) to my head.

My playshop this weekend will be centered around an awareness of the bones of the pelvis and how that awareness can help in our leading and our following.

I presume most of you are sitting down reading this. Let’s try a little exploration. First, uncross those legs. Place both feet on the floor (or change chairs so you can). Can you feel your sits bones on your chair? If you can feel them place one hand at your pubic bone and the other hand on the lower small of your back, at your sacrum. Now, just imagine breathing into both of your hands. Take about 5 deep breaths here or more.

Then get up and go for a little walk. Notice anything?

Sometimes just from feeling the sits bones on the chair the spine straightens out. With time and awareness the legs often find their place in their sockets which allow for greater mobility. The awareness of the dimensionality of the pelvis reminds me that I am not just the front of my body in 1 dimension and that I bring all of me when I move through life – front and back!

I tie this back to tango not just for posture and for walking but also because I have often heard teachers refer to “the hips”. Hmm – where are your hips? What are the hips? I just looked it up – it appears that the “hips” cover a lot of area  – the butt, the top of the legs… to me, who loves details, I want more specificity. Some teachers refer to it meaning the leg joint – the iliofemoral joint and they ask us to walk or to turn with more flexion in this joint. What if you don’t have a lot of movement there in the first place? Could be a challenging movement to find.

I know that followers are also exploring their roles more through the use of their “hips”. This begins a whole new subject for me relating to the planes of movement of the pelvis. 1 is dropping the pelvis – which I believe throws the spine out of whack and influences the leaders connection to the legs and pelvis and has begun to change the embrace in many ways. And the other is the rotation of the legs in the pelvis – which sometimes causes more pelvic tilt anteriorly (which looks like sway back or sticking out the butt).

The body is a fascinating thing, isn’t it? These are just thoughts about the pelvis in dancing. Remember that we are all built differently and I think any dance form invites you to discover who you really are and to share that with the world.

Let me know if you have any discoveries and I’ll share mine when I return.

(Thanks to Gray’s Anatomy and Wikipedia for the image of the pelvis.)

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Videos of Meng and Daniela in Sedona

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Performing Socially versus Performing

A few weekends ago now,  ASU Argentine Tango Club hosted their annual fall tango retreat. They invited Meng Wang (pronounced “mung”) as a guest instructor and we all went to Sedona for a weekend of tango fun! It is a great way for the ASU students to immerse themselves into the dance and also to get to know the tango community in a different context.

I was along for the ride and to assist Meng in the classes. And I performed with him, not just once but several times over the weekend. I even was exposed to a little Meng choreography!

This brought up a few tango questions that I have yet to address and they pertain to performing.

It appears that there are several levels of performing in the tango world: socially at a milonga as an informal demonstration, performing at a festival could be improvised or choreographed and then tango for stage. I have always thought and this has been discussed amongst my colleagues that performances by tango couples at a festival is sometimes arbitrary or even boring! Some festivals don’t have any performances and some have MANY performances! I think it is a part of my job as a tango teacher, advocate, coach, educator to perform. My dance background was really about performing and choreographing so how is that different in tango. Well, here’s the glitch. Some dancers are better teachers than performers and visa versa. I personally think that there should be some ‘coaching’ for those teachers who are “obliged” or asked to perform often at milongas or during festivals. And who sets the bar for what makes us “like” or enjoy a performance?

We can argue a few points. From my theatre and dance background I have learned certain criteria for “better” choreography and better performing, better positions of the body relative to the audience (ie: no crotch shots or butts to an audience), also positions of a performance space in relation to the audience (ie: drama happens in the center). There is also the point about how to “bring in” the audience to a dance form that looks a little strange from the outside. I mean, there are 2 people dancing usually very close (as some of my students observe) and they don’t look at each other. They sometimes intertwine their legs sometimes they move fast or slowly. Sometimes there is dramatic tension through the movement itself and sometimes it just looks like you’re watching something intimate through a window, like a peeping tom. I think dancers don’t always know any of this. But again I ask the question – what makes 1 couple interesting to watch perform and the other look like just another improvised tango performance at a festival?

I think choreography sometimes helps some of these situations. A couple can plan certain movements in advance to certain parts of the music to bring in a sense of tension or release or playfulness. Maybe a couple who practices a lot together helps with this and if they are choreographing they must be dancing and practicing a lot together! Maybe the dancers’ relationship to the music? Maybe just technique? Maybe a combination of all of these elements. And I will let this idea sit with you.

I post here several videos of Meng and I performing at the milongas of the Retreat weekend. They are improvised. He and I practiced a little bit. He showed me a little bit of choreography. He had a plan! And my goal was to dance with him as beautifully and comfortably as possible!

Due to technical difficulties – the following post includes videos of Meng Wang and I performing at Relics Restaurant in Sedona, AZ

 

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