Two Steps Forward, One Step Back and other frustrations . . .

I seem to be developing a pattern. Take class or a private. Work on something and start to see some improvement. Find out something else has started to suffer. Multitasking has never been my strength.

For example, my instructors were able to help me work on breaking the habit of pulling my shoulders back away from my partner. But then I found I was using my hip (and collapsing my torso) to complete giros - especially when I got tired. When did I start doing that? Have I been doing it all along?

When I focus on my musicality, my posture slips. When I strengthen my core, direct my energy - suddenly I'm walking on the outer portion of feet (and looking rather pigeon-toed.)

Same answer as always, I know. Keep getting feedback and keep practising, practising, practising.

< --Very Biased Rant-->

(Special note to leaders reading this - please read the post all the way to the end.)

In other news, I found out that lately there have been more workshops and classes on volcadas, ganchos and boleos. Unfortunately for me, this usually means that lots of leaders are going to be trying out their new moves at the next milonga. Miles Tangos sums it up best on his "@ the Milonga Page":

"The Flashy Move! Do not go to a workshop, pick up some flashy move and expect to pull it off immediately. You won’t. The only way that that will be true, is if your name is Homer Ladas. Is your name Homer ? (Apologies to Homer) I think not. Instead, here’s the right thing to do. Go home and practice, then practice, then practice some more. And we’re not talking for an hour or two once a week, you practice every day for a month. You practice not just the flashy move, but the underlaying technique involved…more than likely you’ll see that its related to one of two things, walking or disassociation or a combination of both. In short, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, and did I mention practice ? Now for the kicker, use of the flashy move…ONCE IN A BLUE MOON! That’s it, that’s all. The staple of your dance should be walking her, ochos, and the molenete. Nothing more fancy than that. Spice up your dance with a flashy move ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, just not every 5 seconds…ok ?"

At a milonga a couple of weeks ago, many of the leaders in attendance had just had a workshop on ganchos. Nearly every leader I danced with led them repeatedly. I "got it" - followed the lead correctly without hesitation - exactly one time. Gentleman, I was not in that class with you. I'm probably already going to have a bit of trouble following it. So if you don't have it down confidently, I'm not going to be able to help you with it and we'll both be frustrated. Occasional ganchos are fun and I know that there's a lot of pressure on leaders by followers who really want to do them, (and sometimes do them whether they are led or not.) I also know that much of this is my own personal bias on those sort of moves on the social dance floor. Okay, maybe 99% of this is my personal bias. But that's a topic for another post.

Dance what you know. I don't get to choreograph the dance to play to my strengths and abilities - so I'm trusting you to choreograph our dance according to yours.

PS. To the wonderful leaders who wanted to lead those moves - thank you for thinking (okay, maybe just hoping) I'd be able to follow them. Thank you for trying to create an exciting and musical dance. And thank you for your patience while I tried to figure it out. (And then having to endure my little rant above.) Every one of the leaders I danced with that night was a beautiful dancer. I just hate to leave the milonga floor feeling that I somehow failed my partner.

< --/Rant-- >

(pictured above, Silvina Valz and Oliver Kolker demo at Esquina Tango.)


Keno said...

I know how you feel, big flashy moves and all, You have to remember that the difference between a good lead and a great lead is the way a great lead will change the way he dances to make you look and feel wonderful. After all, isn't this a dance all about the woman and emotion?
Best Keno

Frances R said...

Look. When you say "yes" to somebody in a milonga, you only agree to give him a dance, give your best to it.
If by asking you to a tanda or two the leader intents you to become his following dummy for practicing the new moves he just kinda sorta learned in that fabulous advanced workshop, it is entirely his problem. You did not sign up for it. So, you absolutely do not have to feel bad about anything. You are a person, not a prop.
If your partner does not understand that, and get frustrated, it is not your fault. It only means he has got a lot more to learn about tango. And it ain't fancy moves, either.

Claudita said...

Mmmm, 'a lot of pressure on leaders by followers' - maybe in your community. Where I'm from most women tell the guys that dancing to the music and with feeling, a comfortable embrace, walking well, taking care of the women and other couples on the floor is most important.
And then, just two minutes after letting them know what we like, they'll tell us - 'but I'm scared I'm boring you. I never DO anything etc.etc.' Ok, did they just listen? Do they think we tell them a lot of nonsense? A lot of the 'pressure' exists only in leaders' heads, I think. Although there probably are places where it's different.

Mari said...

Claudita - regarding regional differences - I think it's a matter of different instructors focusing on different things. My first instructor, and the one I take classes with most often still, emphasizes connection before anything else. Technique is discussed as it relates to the improvement or detriment of the connection. (For example, if your partner has to maintain your balance, as well his own, the connection suffers.)

Other teachers emphasize a skill set, proper body movement and technique (though I question whether you can actually separate connection from good technique) before addressing connection between partners. So the expectations of the leaders and the followers are different in each school.

And I have heard leaders say that even though a follower may say they like a simple dance, they're just being nice or that they don't really mean it.

m i l e s said...

Mari, thanks for the plug. That was very nice of you. I've actually changed the structure a bit, you'll find it all under "GOING DANCING" of the site at this point....but thanks Mari.

Mari said...

thank you Miles - as always I love your site!