I live here now . . .

The first milonga of 2010. A new decade. So many wonderful tandas. A more relaxed milonga than NYE. Dancing with J. and F. in particular, always makes me feel so grateful to have stayed in tango. My first challenging/constantly apologizing/anxious dances with them all those months ago - I thought surely neither of them would ever ask me to dance again.

On making resolutions . . .

I'm not making resolutions this year. That is, I'm not making specifically New Year's resolutions. I am always working on things - always setting goals for myself. There are things I would like get through/get over/get done - as always, but they are ongoing. Sometimes I'm disappointed that I can be in such completely new territory and still have so many old, bad habits. That's the rub I guess - we always take ourselves with us, no matter how far we go.

For example, I would like to be consistent about not apologizing for the things I don't know, or don't do well. It's better - and getting better all the time. The words may not make it out of my mouth, but they're there - on the tip of my tongue.

I would like to stop being so nervous dancing with instructors. At the milonga, they aren't quizzing me, they're dancing socially. But I still fret. I have those fleeting moments, usually toward the end of the tanda, when I can let go of the instructor and just embrace the man. And let him embrace me. Those moments are such sweet relief. Why should it still be so hard? I should take dear Ampster's advice and turn it around. It needs to be all about him.

Milonga-Mari . . .

About 6 months ago I wrote about my world of tango and the rest of my world colliding. Johanna responded with a beautifully wise comment, and a prediction, that has now come to pass. She wrote:

"The truth is that you already ARE milonga-Mari. And it's not so much that you have to admit the outside you into the milonga, but that you invite milonga-Mari to visit more often in your "other" life."

There is less and less 'transition' between my tango life and the rest of my life - whatever that means now. I live in my tango life. There is still that exhilaration (and sometimes anxiety) right before entering the milonga. But, at least for now, my life is a life in tango. In all the lessons I learn during every class, practica and milonga - in the wisdom of my friends and teachers. My tango life is the lens through which I see everything else. The last hold out - that last piece of my life that seems devoid of tango heart, is my job - where I need it most. The lessons I've learned about reaching out, connecting, risking trust first - those are the lessons I need to apply most at my work. I could change everything. But it seems like such a big risk sometimes. To exert so much energy, to risk loving an organization that doesn't seem to love me back. But that's the point. Give first. Trust first. Otherwise I'll wonder - could I have done more?

Classes and Follower Drop-out

In the beginning of taking tango classes, I couldn't imagine a time when I wouldn't want to take every single class I could afford. Now I find I've changed my mind. Not because I think I don't need them - I do. But what I need from them has changed. I think that what followers and leaders need from classes change the longer they dance. The worst part, for me anyway, is when the gender balance is off and I find myself having to lead in an intermediate class.

It's one thing when you're in a beginner class, you're learning beginner lead technique and patterns. I'm in an intermediate class because I'm an intermediate follower. I'm a (very) beginner leader, however. Now I've found myself in the position of trying to lead patterns with sacadas and molinetes when I haven't even learned to lead a follower to the cross. That isn't to say I didn't learn anything from the classes - I did. My technique of various things always needs a lot of work. But rather than learning to follow these new combinations - I was focused on trying to learn to lead (at all) and trying to lead the patterns.

This comes on the heels of another incident that has had me questioning how many and which classes I should continue to take. Sitting on the bench waiting for the milonga to start, I watched the end of the intermediate class that was just wrapping up with a demo of what was taught. The gentleman sitting next to me asked me if I was taking notes to learn this new pattern. No, I answered, I'd already learned it in practica and the milongas. It was a a beautiful combination frequently led by two leaders I dance with a great deal.

This is going to make me sound like so many frequently vilified followers who say they learn all they need to know from the milongas - and that's not what I mean. I just think at this point, topic-based workshops, intensives and private lessons are going to be the way to progress my dance outside practicas and milongas. With up to 3 practicas and 3 milongas a week, that's probably all my schedule will allow anyway.

So Happy New Year tangueros y tangueras, near and far, who have been so wonderful, supportive and generous with their time and energy. I can never thank any of you enough for helping me get to this place. I hope the next year is filled with blessings and beautiful tandas.


Frances R said...

Hmm, 2010 is not a new decade. It is, in fact, the last year of the previous decade (same as 2000 was not the first year of the new millennium) :)
Nonetheless, great post. Happy New Year and congratulations on your growth!

Stéphanie said...

How do you do it? How do you climb into my head and enunciate clearly that mumbo-jumbo that's twirling around....?

As usual, great post.

It's so fun to see that even though we're far from each other, tango makes us go through the same stages in life :)

Happy new year to you and many great milongas...

Mari said...

Frances - you're right of course. But I like to start early and just have an extra year of overlap for celebration.

Stephanie - clearly, we're sharing a brain lol. Just think of all the trouble we could get into (and the shopping we could do) if we lived closer together!!!

Keno said...

Wonderful incite again Mari, As a leader all I can tell you is I still take a weekly class with my two favorite instructors, and one private once a month. What I want to learn in my privates is what I choose to work one for a month. Some times I skip a month but I always go to the practica and work on the basics, and what I choose to for the practica. As time goes on I find I am always finding a question on how do you do this, or what is the follower going to feel when I lead this. This is where my privates are, sometimes I work on leading and sometimes I work on following. I feel that when I understand what a follower wants to feel or needs to feel I become a better leader. Then there is the music issues, I love playing with music. No matter how often I hear or really listen to my favorite pieces of music, I always find something in the phrase I did not hear before. Something to play with again. A wonderful old soul of tango said to me once, try one song, two steps only, and see if you can make it fun. You learn to become part of the music.

As for 2010, Dance my dreams, that all I want to do this year and beyond. Best Wishes Mari, Keno

Obroa Skai said...

Thanks for a great post Mari. This is my first time at your blog and I must say, most of your thoughts rings a bell in my mind.
As for leading, many thanks! Though I'm not in your situation - a tanguera being forced to lead - quite the contrary, I volunteered; but being an unconditional doubter of my abilities (our mutual friend Stéphanie, will be able to confirm), at the end of course course I wonder what I'm doing there. That single phrase, it comes from the heart, definitively changed my perspective and I will keep it in mind.
Happy New Year to you! Great Health so you'll be in tip top shape for the wonderful milgongas to 2010.

Mari said...

Keno - thank you for your comments, as always. The real issue is of course what leaders get from continuing monthly classes - and what followers get from them. Our needs are not the same. I believe they can both be met in the same class - but it takes structure and organization to make sure that both followers and leaders are getting what they need.

Obroa Skai - thank you for visiting and commenting - I'm so glad you're here! Happy New Year to you too!