Second lesson with Gregory "Grisha" Nisnevich

(Grisha performing at Esquina Tango, Austin, TX)

Lessons with Gregory "Grisha" Nisnevich are always fun and very rewarding. My partner and I shared an hour lesson to work on basic technique, but also to learn some more versatile options for milonga and for some Biagi pieces. If you've got musicality stuff to work on, Grisha's a wonderful resource.

Not surprising, my right hip still locks through side steps and some turns, but not as much - and I can get it out more smoothly now. In fact Grisha worked with both my partner and me on releasing the tension in our hips to keep from locking them.

My balance is still an issue, though. For short movements, a few steps, maybe a molinete, not so much a problem. When Grisha led a couple molinetes in a longer sequence, however, I was not so consistent. At the end he'd lightly let go of me, and I'd tilt forward slightly before regaining my balance. (I was also "drifting" away from him in turns.) My balance is better than last month, but still lots of work to be done there. Daniela Arcuri's balance-strengthening yoga-tango moves are fantastic and have given me faster results than any other exercise I tried (and not just related to tango). It's a lot like being in physical therapy again.

Another technique that not only helps keep me from tightening and pulling my shoulder blades together (which I still occasionally do), but also seems to help with my balance, is consciously trying to spread and relax my shoulder blades (not just keep them from going up) to widen and soften my back. When I manage to do it consistently, I've been told I feel much lighter and more relaxed in my dance - and also quicker to respond to leads. This technique was later echoed by Silvina and Oliver, and I've been making an extra effort throughout the day, every day, to monitor and adjust my posture. I feel so much taller and better balanced when I do.

Milonga and Ocho Madness

We spent some time working on milonga rhythm and combinations so that we have a little more versatility in expressing the music. For me, I needed to focus on turning more tightly around my partner as there's far less time for me to get back in front of him in milongas, when I "drift" away (especially during molinetes, and even a little during ocho cortados.) Another issue that can come up with "drift" is losing the tighter connection required to execute very fast and/or more intricate movements - especially faster double-time ochos. Speaking of ochos . . .

Working on milonga can be a daunting amount of work for a leader. It's serious business. So why can't I get through one set of double-time ochos without laughing? Not to mention triple-time (at which point I thought the bottoms of my shoes might spontaneously combust). I'm working hard, really I am. While my partner is (probably) thinking something like 'rock step, turn, pause, which foot is she on?' - I'm thinking "wheeeeeeeeeeee!"

Hardly seems fair, does it?

To think I used to be absolutely terrified of milonga tandas!

As far as Biagi goes, that was mostly a matter of experimenting with different elements in the pieces of music - rather than focusing on just the beat. As he told my partner, we don't need to necessarily follow a particular line in the music, but can add a complementary "line" with our interpretation. There's a lot to work with in Biagi's music - a lot of fun to be had. I think we just needed permission (and a few ideas of how) to play with it a little more and be more adventurous.
Now back to the grindstone - and practice, practice, practice!

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