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Advice: Traveling for Tango

Traveling for Tango 

I recently received a message from a young colleague who was asking for some advice on becoming a traveling teacher and expectations on traveling for Tango.

I know some of you are experienced in traveling for tango and some are just starting out on the great adventure. Those of you who are my longtime students will come to understand all that goes into traveling for tango.

I have put together a list of things that I have learned that you might find helpful.Traveling Norway 2015

As most of you already know, Tango for me is about connecting with others, it is essentially about relationships, and when you decide to host someone or to ask to be hosted you are forging another level of relationship with someone and their community.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always as glamorous as it might seem. And again I can’t emphasize enough, that you want your experience to be win / win for all parties involved. It does not pay to burn bridges. And in this day of social media, word gets around FASTER than before!!!

So here’s how I go about it…and I know more experienced teachers might have things to add (so please feel free to comment).

1) THE INITIAL CONTACT  

It could be via email or Facebook, with an invitation to me or with me requesting to visit.
If I am making the initial contact I try not to put too much information in this message, and of course depending on whether I know them or not, I also include my website. If I have dates in mind I put those, if there is something special I want to do, I will include that. If a host contacts me first it might take several emails before I actually get all the information I need to make a decision. I use my experience from my Executive-to-the-CEO days for these introductions and requests, i.e: be polite, make it clear what I want, check my grammar, etc.

So

2) FROM CONTACT TO CONTRACT
Whether it be a formal contract or an informal email outlining my understanding and my expectations, this is a must.Train Station 2016

Things to consider

Obviously the goal is to teach, to work, to make money. For some it is also about networking and building relationships. Sometimes I have had to weigh the pros and cons. Will I make enough money or is it best that I go to build a new network. Is it more about networking or about working?

Your transportation – Plane, train, taxi, bus, car rental. Know what your transportation situation is and discuss these logistics with your hosts. This includes will you drive me around? Will I be taking the subway?
Your lodging – What kind of accommodations are you willing to have for the time you will be teaching. Do you need your own room? Are you happy with a couch? Again you don’t want any surprises about this.
Food – Is food included? A food stipend or not. Do you expect to get fed? And how often? When you are teaching? 3 meals or 1 meal ?? do you need access to a refrigerator or a kitchen?
Other important things – for another colleague of mine it is important for her to have her own bathroom, maybe you have allergies. I put it all in writing.
Space – Where am I teaching? I like to be clear about this expectation too. Is it in someone’s home? Does it have mirrors? Do I care? Is it a studio? I’ve taught in homes, studios, churches, cold places, warm places. All good to know. In most communities the studio rental is expensive but an obviously necessary overhead.
Price – such a sensitive subject for some cultures and not so much for others. (A whole other blog!)
I know several teachers that either work a 70/30 for a weekend of workshops after transportation and studio fees. OR others who request a flat fee. I have done both and again it always depends on the situation. However, I still try to have some very clear ideas and goals before I hit the ground running.
I found all this a challenge at first, not to sell myself short and yet wanting to break into a scene and the ultimate goal to be asked to return.
It is important to be clear on what you need – you can always negotiate. And also take into consideration the local climate and the exchange rates. I find it valuable to ask my host for price ranges on private lessons. This gives me an idea of the price ranges the community is used to. Some communities were all about private lessons and some communities, forget it. I was told by someone in one community that “our teachers here are so good that students just don’t pay for private lessons from any guest instructors no matter who they are!!”
And how do you want to get paid? Cash? Deposit to a bank? Do you need to make an invoice to the hosting organization?

3) COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE 

No one likes surprises! It is so important to communicate with your host/s, exchange phone numbers etc. When in doubt call or send a message.
For those who are hosts, remember that if a teacher is traveling a lot consider time zones and when they might be teaching. I don’t want to put a time on what appropriate response time is but depending on the urgency of the matter (and even that can be argued over!) let at least a day go by before assuming that the event is off or that they have cancelled on you.

4) GRATITUDE
You would be surprised at how many of these details are often overlooked by those who are hosting and therefore, I had to take charge of the conversation. And when I didn’t, and I didn’t get paid what I thought or didn’t even know what I was being paid, well, I couldn’t complain now could I? It is so important to protect ourselves as teachers, as artists, as servers to community.
And in turn it is so important for us, as artists, to be gracious. Because if you are not, you kill it for other artists.

During my stay in an unnamed european country, I was warned that if I stated that I was from one part of the world they would not be happy to receive me as they had had so many bad experiences with teachers from that particular region. I was shocked but then understood everyone’s hesitancy about hosting me.

There is a difference between being a diva and treating people well.

I recently heard a shockingly horrifying story from a colleague who was put up in a sparse apartment (including the visiting vermin, yes, rats!) with an empty refrigerator and was told to walk to the local convenient store at night alone for food. REALLY? I was so horrified by this story. I again ask that hosts take a look around and decide if they would want to be treated the way they are treating? And to the teachers on tour, make sure to bring your credit card along and be ready to use it if you need to. In this situation, the host was not willing to assist, or make things better, or move my colleague. My colleague took the matter into their hands and spent the night (awake) looking for a hotel and then moved.

So I leave you with my utmost amazing hostess experience…

My hostess did all my advertising for me, collected fees in advance from participants, communicated regularly with them via Facebook and I was able to see some of that communication and participate by adding my excitement to the event. She picked me up from the airport, took me grocery shopping, fed me as much food as I could possibly eat and then some. I had my own comfortable room and bathroom. She drove me to classes and to the milongas. I felt so comfortable there I slept amazingly! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! – you know who you are. Happy teacher Happy classes Happy community!

May all your travels be joyful and easy!!
If I forgot something I would love to hear from you….We can always help each other to make it easier and safe for all of us.

 

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A Letter

A few years ago I started blogging and dedicated that first blog to my father, Carlos Borgialli. Recently we were in discussion about tango and my travels, isolation, loneliness, why do people want to learn tango, etc. Shortly after he crafted a letter to a doctor friend and he cc’d me on it. I am sharing the letter with you today. (I edited it for grammar and spelling and I took out the parts that weren’t relevant.)

Welcome 2017!

January 5, 2017

Dear Dr. M,

Happy New Year to you!
As you well know, I am not a psychologist or a sociologist but I do have over 40 years of experience managing technical teams and the most challenging experience of being a father.

During the last few weeks I was attracted and intrigued by the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, in his 2016 commencement at the University of Arizona in which, among other things he stated:

 … We have stronger internet connections but weaker personal connections… I learned early on in medicine that isolation was the most common challenge my patients faced. It has real consequences. Isolation and weakening social connections are associated with increased risk of heart disease, declining brain function and shorter life spans.

Dad and I in Mar del Plata

Dad and I in Mar del Plata

I thought that these were issues facing retirees or old people but at the same time my daughter forwarded me a video interview of Simon Sinek regarding the millennials. Among the key points of his presentation there is one passage that caught my attention:

Friendships are superficial they will admit to their friends that they don’t count on their friends, they don’t rely on their friends. They have fun with their friends but they also know that their friends will cancel on them if something better comes along. Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practice the skill.

Every generation has its challenges and each generation has found ways to overcome them. However, in all of them, it required interacting with a human being. So social skills were paramount to find a job, a wife, partner, friends, etc. etc. in short, to live in a society.

I drive by a school bus stop every morning and I see the kids waiting and no one is talking, all of them are hooked to their phone. Is this the new norm? They are becoming handicapped because by the time they enter the “workforce” they will need to interact with other humans. However, I am finding that his problem is also affecting the older generations. Watch the mall, lonely people walking alone. Maybe it is an epidemic and we, me, are in denial.

As Mother Teresa said, “loneliness (and the feeling of being unwanted) is the most terrible of poverty”. Are we becoming the richest, most technologically advanced but individually “poor” society?

Technology should be a resource to assist humans and not a vice or addiction just as Simon Sinek stated.

The reality is that technology will continue to evolve and perhaps will make isolation more prevalent. Social media and the likes of Facebook do not create friends, nor do dating sites.

My daughter has a masters in dance and teaches tango, travels all over and she confirmed that loneliness and isolation is one of the reasons why she has so many participants in her classes. Some of them have stated time and again that “tango” has changed their lives. I do not think that tango changed their lives, I think that the mere act of socializing, interacting with others is what Dad and I as toddlermade the difference, a new world for many, perhaps.

And by the way, learning tango is not an easy task but it does promote nonverbal communication and interactions that are not technically assisted. You have to leave your phones, connect with people!!!!

It could be the cheapest medicine for isolation, although insurance does not cover it, but the results could be a longer life.

All the best,

Carlos G. Borgialli

 

 

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Au Revoir Montreal Hello Private Lessons in Phoenix

Au Revoir Montreal! Hello Phoenix!
It is snowing on my last full day in Montreal. It appears that snow opened and closed my trip here. I met some wonderfully Longueil Class Canadawarm and enthusiastic people during my stay. It was such a pleasure to be here and to reconnect with some “old” bodies (!) and new ones!
During my travels, it is always fun to experience running into some of my mentors and teachers who have impacted my life in some way. Here in Montreal I ran into Tomas Howlin and Graciela Gonzalez.  I had an insightful conversation with Tomas and seeing Graciela always brings me great joy.
I so appreciate Tomas’ clarity of the bigger picture and how articulate he is in this expression. In discussing tango and realizing that there are fewer dancers now who were ever in touch with the old milonguer(os) (as); the idea that going to Buenos Aires and being able to get a glimpse of those “greats” dancing is basically gone. A lineage of people to be able to look up to or to emulate or to say, “aha, that’s where that came from”. And now, we ask, what is truth in tango? Is there really permanence at all? You can find all things on the internet, all truths, all ideas, opinions. Youtube shows us how it can all be done without really understanding or knowing or grasping a context for it all. How great on one hand that if you look up how to walk in tango or how to execute a certain move, you can probably find it, done and explained a variety of ways. No real experts, just a sea of voices, bodies. And what gets left behind? Well, probably the next person who outranks you in Google views and “thumbs”!Anca and Jean Sebastien
And Graciela continues to inspire me with her body intelligence in conveying tango in a most natural way, free of tension – THIS IS THE WAY TO BE! just sayin’!!!

I am off to Phoenix, Arizona, arriving on Thursday. Happy to be teaching in familiar places with some familiar faces! I have a week of activity and technique and dancing to share with you! Hope to see you first off at Mijana for the open class at Nostalgias Milonga.

I have set aside some time on Monday, December 12th for private lessons. If you are interested please contact me directly.
I have three 1 hour slots from 4pm – 7pm available. There is some other times available as well just send me a message. If it is to go over material from the weekend or to work on body alignment topics, I am here for you!!! As we all know one on one time can really make a difference in your dancing!

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Phoenix Schedule of Classes

My Phoenix Schedule of classes is now out! It’s less than a month away. I will be off to my much anticipated trip to Montreal Daniela with Ricardo UTnext week before I see you all in Phoenix.

Planning one’s life “trip by trip” definitely takes away a bit of the inspiration for writing a creative blog! As some of you know, I have been in Austin doing a bit of teaching, a lot of organizing, cleaning my traveling closets, catching up on sleep, siting in Austin traffic, and visiting with my parents.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing everyone who is in the Phoenix area in December. Remember to message me directly if you want to schedule a session of private lessons or to RSVP for Leading Ladies.

My Phoenix schedule is listed at these sites as well as : TangoMango.org and TangoArizona.com and Accesstango.com!!!!
Phoenix Workshops 2016 flyer here!

Thursdays, December 8 & 15  – class prior to milonga at Mijana’s  7:30 – 8:30


Friday, December 9 – LEADING LADIES is back! If you want to lead or learn more about leading come join us! 7:30 – 9:30pm – RSVP and I’ll send you the home studio address.


Saturday, December 10 –  Two workshops on dancing to the rhythmic orchestras @ SNAP. 1:00pm – 2:30pm Rhythmic Steps for Social Dancing 2:30 – 4:00pm Milonga Traspie vs Lisa


Sunday, December 11 – It’s Ok to Pause: Sexy Moves for Busy Dance Floors 2:00 – 3:00pm thanks to the Milonga Cooperativa at the Bethany Lutheran Church


Tuesday, December 13 – I’ll be hosting class and practica @SNAP. Class starts at 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Daniela with Smiley Onel DressAND as always, I’m available for private lessons, a great way to improve your dancing with a 1 on 1 coaching session. Special for those who purchase more than 1 lesson or if you are interested in classes designed as Tango for the Championship or on improving your Alignment for Dancing.

Monday and Wednesday (December 12 and 14) I have several hours booked for Private Lessons contact me directly before those times are gone.

 

*thanks Kyon for the photos taken at UT Austin Tango Club milonga

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Successful Women’s Weekend Berlin

It was a successful Women’s Weekend in Berlin filled with leading, Daniela FW Saturdayfollowing, dancing, laughter and great enthusiasm.

When Daniela (Feilcke -Wolff) and I spoke about doing A Women’s Weekend there was no hesitation for either one of us. She has been doing Tangueras workshops as I had done the leading ladies evenings in Phoenix. The bigger questions were about how to make it different or special. One thing we did was to add our Women’s Only milonga to it. I’m not completely sure, but it does seem like it was the first one in Berlin (hard to believe, so the fact finding on that is still open).

Daniela and I have similar and yet, very different Tango background stories and therefore our pedagogical approaches are also differently flavored. Our goals were to give these varied insights into learning how to lead as women. With mixed experience levels the women in attendance took 12 hours of tango class which included laying a foundational structure that included in general walking, turning, embrace, and ideas for being creative and musical in your social dancing.

On the heels of a wonderful women’s weekend of Tangueras – leading, following, dancing – Sharna Fabiano and Mitra Martin of Oxygen Tango both posted great blogs around the theme of women only events in Tango. How timely and how supportive! In Sharna’s Blog she addresses one of the biggest questions that I get from men (and some women), WHY? She mentions 3 reasons as to WHY: the Happiness Quotient, Practical Skills, and Stress Busting. Which I totally agree with. And probably falling under all 3 of these categories, came a message from a young man who shared that young women are sometimes bothered by men who come to events and milongas to meet women or to take them home. An all woman’s event takes this pressure and worry off of the women; busting the stress factors!

Women are natural nurturers and empathic givers. It is vital for them to receive and be nourished as continual giving out ends in depletion, an increasingly common health problem. Women instinctually know how to nourish each other, and just being with each other is restorative.
– Tanja Taljaard and Azriel Re’Shel in Why Women Need a Tribe

Weiber Milonga

The All Women’s milonga had 35 women in attendance. We were so happy to have this many women at the first one of these events. We had a lovely young up and coming DJ Deborah Maus, who did a fantastic job of keeping us dancing tanda after tanda the whole night! And the feedback was immensely positive: “Can’t wait for the next one”, “Fantastic!”, “Nice relaxed atmosphere”.

All the ladies danced and of course chatted as when you get women in a room, we must chatter! I was overwhelmed by ALL the smiling faces!!!! Honestly, there was so much presence and joy in the room!

The women came from all different groups of the Berlin Tango scene and really, everyone danced with practically everyone!!!!

What are your thoughts on Women’s Events and Milongas? Would love to hear your feedback.
When’s the next one you ask? Stay tuned!!!!

(In respecting the privacy of the dancers in attendance, I posted pictures with the permission of the dancers.)

 

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