Daniela Arcuri's Workshop at GoDance Studio

Sorry for the delay in getting this post written - seems like ages since the workshop.

I was only able to take the first of Daniela's classes which focused on posture, strength and balance exercises. The class included around 30 people from experienced dancers to "I just walked in off the street, what class is this?" dancers and I believe that she accomodated all of us very well. The exercises, while simple and straightforward, were not easy to hold - which was her point. Bending knees deeply into lunges, while disassociating the torso and twisting - and, because you can always do more afterall, check foot position so that the toe is pointed out. She walked up and down the lines of dancers to check foot position, lower shoulders, straighten backs - meanwhile several dancers (including me) were starting to quiver from the exertion. We were barely moving but we were working hard just holding the forms.

Most of the time Daniela maintained a careful balance between pointing out areas that needed to be improved without making anyone feel singled out. She did address one gentleman's walk (the ballroom panther sort of walk) by saying it looked feminine, but quickly added that the style he was walking is commonly taught that way - but that she didn't teach it. She then demonstrated the style that she preferred instead. The rest of the time any criticism she made, she made subtly and quietly (in that class anyway.) I can't speak to the rest of the classes since I only attended the first one. I was told later that the other classes were quite good and complemented the material being taught by our local teachers.

After the class I talked with another follower who was a little disappointed in the class because it didn't cover any new patterns and steps. There seems to be a segment of dancers in every class (most often followers, strangely) who believe that the classes never go fast enough, never teach enough new steps, never cover enough new ground. I find myself repeating the same advice I was given a couple of months ago - if you already know the steps/pattern/style being taught, then work on your technique. As a dancer, you're never, ever done working on technique.

If Daniela holds any further classes in Austin, I'll try to check them out - particularly if they focus on form and technique.


Triman Beaumont said...

"...As a dancer, you're never, ever done working on technique..."

I used to be a ballroom dancer. After 8 years of everyday training, as a Master-class dancer, I still was taking lectures to improve my Natural turn in English Waltz.

Now, after ten years of tango dancing, I'm spending a lot of time trying to improve my caminata :-)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you had a good workshop! Better than the last it seems.

But the persoon who said Daniela complemented the material of other local teachers? I guess if they were only looking at the surface of the material (ie - just the steps), but not the connection. I'd have to differ with the commenter on that.

Daniela teaches a slightly offset "v" embrace with full torso connection (ie- partner's body and posture are towards their partner) which is not at all what I have seen taught or danced in the local area.

Most people seem to use what I call the "no embrace embrace" or "almost embrace" with minimal to no body contact, fully upright to almost backweighted, and follows hand on either the leads shoulder or shoulder blade. Or they use the parallel (as opposed to offset) open "v" with body connection mainly at the shoulder joint of the couple.

It's a lot more rare to see the fully closed "v" here or it's brother the flat on chest to chest style, though the chest to chest style is quite common in places like Portland or other "close embrace" towns.

Mari said...

bastetsbeads - After I read your post on the classes, I wish I'd attended more than the first class - sounds like I missed a lot!

Forgive my huge lack of vocabulary when it comes to this, but when you talk about the "v" - are you referring to the close connection of the "closed" side, and then the open side of the embrace, arms pointed down?

The couple of partners I dance with most use close embrace varying from fully parallel and connected almost from bellybutton to sternum - to offset slightly, but still connected through much of the torso - and arms bent up, rather than down.

Oy, this is so hard to describe lol. What I'm trying to ask is what is that embrace called?

Anonymous said...

Well- I've been dancing for awhile in Central Texas and one thing I will say is maybe some people here have "jury-rigged" something like a close embrace, but I can gauantee you it isn't something a person can see and go copy. It takes a classes specifically on it to learn it well.

I don't know really who you dance with regularly, but I do know the local crowd, and many of them use a parallel but very very upright form of embrace with leads and follows mostly dancing "in front of" each other so I am not sure what to tell you.

A fully connected frontal style si what I call "chest to chest" and I literally had to leave the state to learn how to do it right. There are less than a handful of leads in the area who dance it at all socially (so far).

The closed "v" you may see a little more of in this area, perhaps, escpecially with some of the older gentlemen and even then it is not supposed to be a body offset, just upper torso. But if you take some time to watch at your next milonga, you will see that a lot of the newer couples connect along the closed side and keep the connection mainly in the armpit area, and the shoulders and head pulled back from the partner. This is not what Daniela was teaching. Her's was shoulders forward much like the chest on chest stlye. It seems like a little thing but entirely chages the balance and axis of the couple.

I am an advocate of learning several types of embrace (which generally means several teachers) so that you can cover as many possibilities as you can socially, even though I have preferences. I do wish more people would go take classes on fundamentals though, instead of making it up and thinking their embrace feels great because it superficially looks like something they've seen.

For example, when I first learned close embrace, the teacher gave me a visual to try to replecate which caused me to engange muscles she hadn't intended and I didn't understand and it hurt so I stopped doing close embrace. Later, I learned close embrace again, with several other teachers, and though they didn't specifically tell me what to do, they would correct my posture to where they wanted me. When I figured out where they wanted me, I sensed that certain muscles were engaged in these cases, and then looked at myself in the mirror and realized that the "look" was what my first teacher was going for, but it used entirely different muscles.

Sorry for the long essay- moral of the story- I don't go by looks. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Err- maybe I still didn't answer the question...yes- the "v' shaped is formed on the closed side.

tangocherie said...

Daniela is an excellent teacher and I urge anyone who can to take classes with her when she is in your area!

Mari said...

Thank you bastetsbeads for all your comments - and I'm so glad we've had the opportunity to talk, in person even, more about this topic.

Tangocherie - I took your advice and took another workshop - with a private coming up soon. I like Daniela very much.