Monday, 5 October 2015

Random tanda thoughts

Adelaide has just finished hosting a lovely long-weekend of tango, bringing together dancers and DJs from far and wide, including New Zealand! No workshops, just social dancing. It was delightful discovering 'new' dance partners and having the opportunity to reconnect with 'old' ones.

This brought me to reflect on a sense of being somewhat short-changed at times. Allow me to explain: I would be enjoying a lovely dance with someone I hadn't seen in 12 months or so, and after 3 tangos the cortina was already playing. Or my new partner and I were just 'getting to know' each other in our first ever tanda together - really starting to connect during the second track of the tanda, and found that there was only one tango left to enjoy.

People who prefer three tango tandas often express the opinion that the arrangement allows dancers to circulate more and therefore dance with more people at the milonga. I can see that viewpoint.  However, that argument doesn't seem to work for those of us who perhaps prefer to dance less often, but with partners we really want to dance with. A four tango tanda leaves me feeling pleasantly satisfied and ready to happily float back to my table, rather than the sensation of an unfinished dish being snatched away from me by an over-zealous restaurant waiter.

I'm sure some will read this post and vigorously shake their heads.  They might even label my views as anti-tango community.  But there you are....

On another tanda note...
I recently came across this interesting background of the origin of the tanda.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Are you really there for your partner?

I was initially attracted to tango by what I saw and heard when couples were dancing. Obviously, it was an observer's response. Then, I tried to recreate what I had observed.

Like the peeling away layers of an onion, it dawned on me much later that the experience of genuinely dancing tango is largely private, unseen and incredibly satisfying.

Good technique can be taught and developed ....
... frequently listening to tango music will improve your appreciation and response....
....... both will enhance your dance a great deal.
But, in my view, they won't get you beyond a certain point unless you have the right attitude.

So .. what is your state of mind when you dance tango?

Does the music compel you to seek out a dance partner? (Or do you dance to whatever music is put on?)

.... then, are you really present for your partner?

Do you listen to your partner throughout the dance?

..... so, are you always doing your best to connect with your partner and his/her response to the music?

Is your dance governed by the music and your partner? (Or is the next figure your dominant thought?)

.... once again, do you really listen to your partner at each moment of the dance?

Are you prepared to give yourself to your partner? (This implies trust, of course.)

.... and is it your intention to make each part of the dance pleasurable for your partner?

If so, and if your partner is doing the same, then chances are that you may both experience a lovely connection.  You know the sort I mean?  It leaves you floating on air at the end of the tanda (and just a teensy bit sad), as though you were returning to reality from another dimension.

So, what do YOU want when you dance tango? Just a bit of fun on the dance-floor? Or do you want more?


Sunday, 9 August 2015

What tango tales these walls could tell!

Recently a friend came across photos of some historic cabarets & nightclubs of Buenos Aires - haunts of many great tango bands. Sadly, they were demolished in the name of progress. One, eventually replaced by a supermarket!

Ever wondered what Pabellon de Rosas, the popular D'Arienzo vals, was about? Well, this collection of nostalgia is also thoughtfully peppered with videos of compositions dedicated to these legendary venues.

On a more recent note, many will remember the milonga venue Maipu 444 with great nostalgia - demolished just a few years ago to make way for yet another bank. It didn't have the architectural merit of those old venues, but oh, what memories those walls held.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

How are your conversation/tango skills?

Recently a relatively new member of our tango community was asking me about the cabeceo and tango etiquette. As we chatted, he commented on the strong similarities between good manners relating to conversation and tango.

This got me thinking, and I decided to design a little quiz.  Here goes:

Before trying to engage a person in conversation, do you ...
  1. look at them first to see if they might be interested in engaging with you?
  2. tap them on the shoulder and expect them to want to talk to you?
If that person is already involved in a conversation with someone else, do you ...
  1. interrupt that conversation and take over?
  2. wait until that person is 'free' & looks interested in talking to you?
If you start talking with that person ...
  1. do you really listen to them?
  2. are you planning what you want to say next, while they are still speaking?
While speaking with them, do you ...
  1. talk at length, without allowing them opportunity to engage in the conversation?
  2. express an idea, listen to their response, and then respond to that?
How did you go with the quiz? (My preferred answers: 1, 2, 1, 2)

Does it sound like tango to you, too? Perhaps you might think of something to add to the quiz.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Fermín (a real tango movie) - revisited

Oliver Kolker's experience of tango in the United States (2005) provided the stimulus for the film Fermín. As a dancer of tango and actor, raised in Buenos Aires, Kolker was puzzled that at the time, North Americans loved the dance, but didn't appear to like the rich, traditional music of tango. Because of their limited exposure to the music of the Golden Age, he speculated that it hadn't reached their hearts and souls.

Such was the beginning of a chain of events which led to the genesis of this captivating film - his remarkable script and directorial debut, where the central character, deeply troubled by his past, expresses himself only in lyrics of tango. Here's a revealing chat with Kolker, for those who understand Spanish.

The movie Fermín was released last year, and we were very fortunate to see it when it screened in Buenos Aires.  It had lost none of its impact when we saw it for a second time (with sub-titles, this time), as part of the wonderful Tango in the Spring event  in Canberra. Although deeply moving the first time, seeing it with sub-titles revealed so much more of its depth.

Surprisingly, getting hold of the DVD while in Buenos Aires this year proved to be difficult. None of the normal retailers had it in stock, and some had not even heard of it! However, an internet search revealed that the DVD can be purchased online.

Calling the company, who should reply? None other than Oliver Kolker himself (Fermín's writer and co-director, as well as the actor who played a key role at the beginning)! Later, when the door at the company's address was opened to us, we appeared to be faced with the young Ciempies (the character played by Kolker in the movie - so called, because of his fast footwork on the dance-floor).

If you haven't yet had a chance to view this gem of a movie, or would like to see it again, here's a chance to get your own copy with sub-titles in English, French Russian and Turkish.

When visiting Buenos Aires, don't miss the atmospheric Bar Los Laureles which featured in the movie.  Here's a photograph taken while we were enjoying live music, dinner and later, dancing, at Los Laureles.

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