Maestra Time with Graciela González

Maestra Time with Graciela González

What a fabulous couple of weekends – Maestra Time!
Graciela González is on tour through Europe and I was lucky enough to catch her! I had the great fortune to spend 2 short weekends with my most influential teacher, Mi Maestra, Graciela González. (Who is Graciela? see below for a little bio or just google her!!) And for the record whenever I am with her, I always meet great people and sometimes magical things happen!

I was first in Hamburg where we had planned to meet to be her assistant and to translate her classes (into English, my German has hardly improved!) It was a great weekend. I really enjoyed the company of my generous host, the organizers, and getting to know some of the other invited teachers of the weekend event. These included Luis Bruni, Fabrizio Nunnari, Ramiro Gigliotti, and Ariadna Naveira and Fernando Sanchez.

I have had the privilege of translating her Technique classes before, have been with her in Buenos Aires several times, and had her in my home in AZ, and each time I find that even after studying notes that I have taken voraciously of her classes, something new and old strike me again as important. Her desire to refine the language and create new exercises to help explain her concepts make each visit with her and each class a new rich exploration into the world of tango technique.

In Hamburg I was hosted by a very special person who also hosted one of the Living Room Milongas. What is that you say? Actually quite a fun idea. Imagine several living rooms open for milongas and in advanced you and 19 other people are told to go to certain addresses – living rooms, between certain hours. And you will travel to 3 or 4 living rooms over the span of an evening. Cool! You get about 1.5 hours at each living room. The DJ is set up in one of the living rooms and is playing over the internet to the other living rooms!!! Such a fun way to meet people too. Volker, my host, commented that he was greeted by more people at the regular weekend milongas, than usual, and he suspected because he was recognized as one of the Living Room hosts. AND I suspected because those Living Room attendees all had a chance to connect on some level with the host, whether a greeting at the door or a dance!! It was very fun to experience. Some of the dancers brought small gifts to the host – like flowers or chocolate!!! Really nice! The host in turn provided wine, water, Apfelschorle (apple juice spritzer!) and some snacks!Notre Dame with La Leona

I had not planned to go to Paris, but the next stop on Graciela’s tour was Luis Bruni’s, La Tanguedia, she asked me to come and from Berlin I was able to sneak away on a Sunday to Wednesday, in between teaching gigs.

So here are some of the highlights from both weekends:

Partaking in the course taught by Ramiro and Graciela in Hamburg, which spoke about differences between dancers of the epoca. It was a class comprised of stories and video and movement. It included stories of Carmencita Calderon who died at 100 (who I remember seeing at a milonga in Buenos Aires before her passing), of Pupy (Graciela’s partner), and several others. There were also videos to demonstrate how the dancers vary in their dance. As this class ended the other teachers in the weekend were there working on the material that was presented. I was high on life, as was Graciela when we talked later. Being with other dancers who I admire and respect, working on these embodiments of the old milongueros was fantastic.

Exploring movement and certain common figures in tango from the perspective of different old milongueros as passed on by Graciela and Ramiro, really grounded my theory that body type makes a difference in our dance. How we move is greatly influenced by our physicality, how tall we are, our weight, etc.

Graciela Gonzalez CertificateIn Paris, I assisted more classes with Graciela and participated in a pedagogical group with some younger dancers who I again, greatly admire in tango. We explored different ways to execute movements with the flavors of some of the old milongueros, clarifying technique along the way, clarifying lead and follow and it was delicious!

Finally, Graciela honored me with a certificate allowing me to implement her method in my tango classes. “Método Graciela González”. Wow! Truly an honor to be recognized by her and a part of a small group of most talented dancers who have worked with her for even much longer than I have. Muchisimas Gracias!

WHO IS GRACIELA? La Leona Del Tango?

She is the most famous women techniques teacher as she was the first to create a specialized course for female dancers. She began to dance in 1988, her teachers were the legends of tango: Pupy Castello, Pepito Avellaneda, Antonio Todaro, Juan Bruno. Graciela worked with Pupy for more than 20 years and imparts his tango secrets in her courses! In 1977, she gathered the first group of tango teachers, Grupo Graciela González, to help promote and popularize Argentine Tango and her teaching methods

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Videos with Irfan Yüksel

Below are 2 videos with Irfan from Istanbul. They are improvised performances.

So fun to see Irfan and me dance and compare it to our video from 2008. He chose the music and we did not rehearse to them prior. We did learn a lot about each other through teaching together, putting together the classes with ideas from both of our years of experiences and shared toolboxes.

Coming from a dance background, where most of the time you are preparing for performances or looking to perform your own work or another’s choreography or possibly even an improvisational score, the skill of improvising a tango is still a work in progress for me. I am always questioning the role of performance in this genre and the role of the experience of the medium: live or video. I know I have experienced a live viewing of a dance and have been moved to emotions only to re-experience it on video, to show someone how great it was, for example, only to think, “hmm – not so great here”! I worked with a choreographer in my contemporary dance years who obsessively recorded every rehearsal. In the end, I found her work looked so great on video and yet, I was never moved by seeing the dancers perform live….

In short,  in the role of performance you have the perspective of the performer and of the audience. In a solo performance the artist, the dancer, has some control over the desired outcome. In group choreographies, the choreographer trusts the dancers to produce a vision. In tango, as we know, the trust is in your partner and your experience, with the music, your body, your partner.

But is there any responsibility to your audience?

I think there always is, and have always felt this way. As one of my brilliant students once said that he hoped in a performance that the dancers would show you something new, something that you, as the audience, hadn’t seen before. And this is not always in terms of figures, or patterns for, as we all know, they have all been done before. But the surprises, the act of being moved, is usually found in the musical interpretations, or the expression of the idea or content, and in tango, the connection, the understanding between the 2 people.

For me this year of opportunity has also been an exploration in performance. I feel that I have had very little experience with performing tango, and it has been a privilege and joy thus far performing with varied talented personas and having these new embodied experiences.

For me the question is, can I express myself and my love of the music, with any partner, and show my audience something transcendent, selfless? Can I move those who watch? I strive for this….

And I leave you with these:

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Classes in May

I will be substitute teaching at TangoLoft Berlin in May while Lilia and Jens Christian are away.

The Classes in May schedule looks like this:

Saturday 7, Mai  – 1800 – 1900 Introduction / Beginners
1900 – 2000 – Open Level Course
2000 – 2100 Practica
Wednesday 11, Mai  – 1900 – 2030 Advanced
2030 – 2200 Intermediate
Wednesday 18, Mai – 1900 – 2030 Advanced
2030 – 2200 Intermediate
Saturday 21, Mai  -1800 – 1900 Introduction / Beginners
1900 – 2000 – Open Level Course
2000 – 2100 Practica
Wednesday 25, Mai  – 1900 – 2030 Advanced
2030 – 2200 Intermediate
Saturday 28, Mai  -1800 – 1900 Introduction / Beginners
1900 – 2000 – Open Level Course
2000 – 2100 Practica
Monday 30, Mai  – 1900 – 2030 Intermediate
2030 – 2200 Beginners

Course fees for tango lessons in TangoloftDaniela Teaching Classes in May

Individual lessons: 10, – / reduced 8.
10 value card (10 times): 80, –
Practica 5, – including the milonga: 9, –

Classes will be conducted in English and when possible I will have a German speaking assistant to help me with translation.

Any questions please or private lesson bookings, send me a message or also find me on FB @accesstango

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All Comes From Love – Istanbul Part 2

All Come From LoveHerşey Aşk’tan – All Comes from Love. The name of a shop near Galata Tower. The symbol is lovely and of course, I have earrings!

I really enjoyed my visit in Istanbul. And now that I am back in Berlin I miss certain aspects.
It helped that the weather was sunny and warm-ish and that I could see the sea almost anywhere I looked.

I went to several milongas and found that possibly due to the many different studio locations’ sizes, that the milongas were small and not as packed as I would have assumed them to be. But I found some nice dancers at each milonga and even managed to dance with several new dancers at each. It seemed that each milonga I went to had a different set of people attending. Only a couple of times did I see the same, one or two people a couple of nights in a row. Interesting.

I was so happy to share Restorative Exercise with a handful of eager and attentive students. What a great thing to see bodies change and make sense of the information quickly.
Teaching Ladies Technique is always fun for me and I couldn’t believe that 3 hours of it was too short!!! The biggest thing I notice time and again is the stopping of momentum on pivots.
I don’t think you can have energy efficient pivots if you don’t fully understand where your body is.

Some more highlights included of course the visit to the Spice Bazaar. Zeynep had interviewed Ucuzcular - Stall 51one of the stall owners for her documentary and highly recommended I go to stall 51 – Ucuzcular. What a wonderful highlight. The owner, Bilge, gave me a tasting of several of the spice concoctions: delicious flavors and scents filled my head! A creamy garlicky powder to add to sauces or dips. A spicy but delicate mix for a rub. A chef’s delight for sure. A must visit if you ever go to Istanbul.

Sharing Raki and Balik – an anisette like beverage that really does go well with fish (balik).

Irfan and I performed and I still don’t have the videos of that! So that will have to be a surprise at a later date.

I ate my way through several turkish lira of my favorite dried mulberries (dut) and cashews. And the day before I left, cherries showed up on the market stalls! Absolute heaven for me!

I received such wonderful feedback from the students I taught. I really can’t imagine doing anything but teaching!

Here I share more lovely pictures from my visit.

I am in Berlin for most of the month of May. I am looking forward to substitute teaching at TangoLoft again for several Saturdays (see my calendar for the schedule). Also, I will be heading to Hamburg to see Graciela Gonzalez. She is part of a Festivalito there and I can’t wait to see her and take class with her again and I will be translating for her as well. It will be my first time in Hamburg.

Some of you have missed me so much that we have had the opportunity to skype and do some lessons and body alignment work that way. SO let me know if you are interested.

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Istanbul Part 1

Istanbul Class Week One

TangoJean with Irfan Yuksel and Class

I have been in Istanbul for one week.
I have read about the magic of Istanbul and I was here before but something about this place begins to intoxicate! When I first arrived I was overwhelmed by the amount of people on the streets (but there are no tourists, they tell me), and the amounts of traffic, and a bit of pollution hanging in the air. And now a week later, I have issues with finding the words to describe the magic…. the melodic call to prayer over the city enthralls me with the melody. I find myself wanting to sing the tones as they permeate the air and resonate like ripples on the water.

It’s a man’s world, as all the men seem to be perfectly coiffed all the time, most with the now trendy full beard (the lumber-sexual look). As I leave the studio, which is in Taksim at night, I am amazed that so many barber shops are still open, for a shave, a trim, a haircut, a facial masque, eye treatments, eyebrow grooming, etc… And there are men of all ages in there getting groomed at all hours!

The little markets are open too when we are returning after class to purchase fruit or veggies or miscellaneous snacks and the nuts and dried fruit guy too is still open. I have been feasting on figs, dried mulberries, almonds, cashews and raisins. How can I resist?

Cats everywhere! Did I miss this the last time I was in Istanbul 8 years ago? Or did I just forget? I think there might be more cats than people here! And these multicolored, varied sized creatures are not shy! I think they think they own the place (of course we are talking about cats!) And the turks seem compassionate or have managed to create a symbiotic relationship with them, as there is always food lying around for them to eat. In restaurants they stalk the tables to see what might be available. Sitting on a Terrace cafe yesterday having turkish tea, one tabby stalked passed our table and then actually reached up to peek to see what we were having. Funny that my tea companion did not notice! O so sly and such experts these Turkish cats!

Classes are well attended and the weather has been warm!

I’ve managed to go to a few local milongas and dancing has been fine. Like most new places it REALLY helps to know someone and have some introductions made.

The classes go a bit slowly as my partner and I both need translation, Irfan to English so I know what he is talking about and me to Turkish, so the students know what I am talking about! There are a handful of students who understand English but this seems to be working out well and Irfan and I have slowly found a rhythm with our lovely translator. We have engaged students with several topics and of course, as many of you know, I pack them with technique and specific details, hoping to improve their dancing!

I have also had the amazing luxury to be hanging out with a friend and (former) student, Zeynep Kilic, who has been to Buenos Aires with me on one of my tours, and I came with her in 2008 to Istanbul. She is an amazing woman. She is here in Istanbul for multiple screenings of her documentary, Tables of Istanbul or Sofra Sofra Istanbul. I attended one of the screenings in Turkish and was still really moved by the documentary. I firmly believe her documentary is a very important contribution to expanding people’s understanding of culture in general, and in this film, from the perspective of food. How do we perceive food in culture and how is one really attached to their home food? Maybe this is why we say nothing beats a home cooked meal!  Having dated a chef, I have always perceived them as passionate and creative artists.. And many of the chefs she interviewed vibrate with passion from the screen, even in Turkish. It will be exciting to see watch the success of this film. And if you get to see it – please do!

Next up Istanbul Part 2! More stories and more people!

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