Friday, August 17, 2018

Advice to a new tango leader

Posted just now on a tango discussion forum thread...a new (6 month) leader who is having trouble staying relaxed, beating himself up after making mistakes, that then effects the rest of the song/ is what I offered:

Hola Warren!

Hang in there brother!

We were all beginners once, and can all empathize with where you are right now in tango. I'm nearing the end of my 14th year of tango. I started out and lasted 6-8 months and quit, then came back a few months later. Those first couple of years I remember thinking about quitting frequently. Looking back, my inner voice was way too negative - "self-downing" I think they call it. What helped me was falling into a small group (of five - 2 leads, 3 followers) of beginners who would support each other and practice together outside of class and practicas. We were lucky in our small town - we could use our (public building) class space after-hours to practice. There were times that I went there and practiced by myself - just walking, and doing a few exercises from classes. The other leader and I called it "air tango". Practice, even alone, helps with musicality, balance, etc. The "etc." is what one of my early teachers - Tom Stermitz in Denver - referred to as "the quality and character of movement through time and space - to the music". (But don't think of quality in our default western "good better best" vein. That's not what he meant. Quality as in qualities, attributes, the nature of the thing. Qualitative.)

Other thoughts:

I think others in the thread have mentioned trying to quiet the inner negative dialog - the self-downing. Try to be easier on yourself. More forgiving. Laugh it off when you catch yourself screwing up (internally, not audibly). I got into a bad habit of saying "oops" out loud when I would screw up. Avoid that. It took me too long to break it. Perhaps an "ah" (in your inner voice) when you make a mistake. Perhaps rise up, floating above yourself, in an "observer" role. "Ah, that was a mistake." Step into the observer role, versus the critic/al role. Observe yourself in your mind's eye and just note the mistake and move on. Don't dwell on it. Keep an inventory of things you need to work on - or perhaps get help correcting it with a teacher. Again, don't dwell on it. Be aware of that inner dialog, and inner observer - if he is being too chatty or distracting - then shut it down. Focus on the music and your partner. Just dance. Just walk.

The walk, and the embrace. 90% of tango imho. Well maybe 60%, with the other 30% being musicality. 10% is the "happy horseshit", as one of my teachers called it. Nail your embrace, nail your walk, then the musicality manifest/bloom over time.

Try to enlist someone to practice with you once or twice a week. Practice every other day for 20-30 minutes by yourself. Okay, even 10-15 minutes. 9 minutes. Three songs.

Work on your balance. You should be able to stand on one foot and tie your shoe - standing like a stork. I notice my balance deteriorating when I'm not dancing much. Practice exercises will help strengthen your foot, ankle and lower leg muscles, and improve your balance in the process. Balance being all the mechanisms in your inner ear/brain/eyesight that *can be improved upon.

Listen to really good tango music as much as you can. Get someone to help you with a play list of the "really good". In my third year, I listened to nothing but tango music for a year. For the past 10 years it's about 30-50% of what I listen to. Visualize yourself dancing to your favorite songs.

Video yourself dancing. It will be painful to watch, but don't judge yourself too harshly. This is probably the most difficult dance we could have chosen to endeavor to learn. Pat yourself on the back for that. Or as they say, "you don't choose tango, tango chooses you". I remember when I did it for the first time and watched the video - it was "what the hell is your foot doing way over there!?" Painful, but helpful.

What else? Ah. I'm not sure when I started doing this - but I began "transporting" myself back to the Golden Age. The 1930's and 1940's. Visualizing myself dancing with my partner in a milonga in Buenos Aires, with a live orchestra, with all of the people around us, in a beautiful venue - a complete picture of dancing in that time. Vicarious zeitgeist, I suppose. That has helped me, and I still do this frequently. The cigarette smoke never bothers me. :)

Also, impeccable floorcraft and navigation. Know the concepts of good floorcraft. Google around to find it. Do your best to force yourself to infuse your dance with impeccable floorcraft. "Sheer force of will" as I like to say. Do it even when there are only three couples on the dance floor.

And codigos. The codigos came into being over the past eighty plus years. They work.

And cabeceo. I suck at it after all this time, but I'm getting better.

Also. Be quiet. Be still. You don't have to be moving all the time. Stand there and let the beats and phrases pass you by.


Cherish and respect and protect your partner. Dance for her. No, that's not it. Focus on her, on her dance, on what her experience is with you on the dance floor. This one is esoteric/nebulous/difficult to explain. She will feel it if you do it right.

I know you're thinking "I can't think about all this other stuff, I'm focused on just leading her to the cross!". I remember being laser focused on all the basic vocabulary/elements. There's a lot going on around us, and a lot of brain activity going on. It can be stressful. I remember struggling to just pull off those basics - not even able to complete a phrase or a sentence, much less a paragraph. It will come, my friend. It will come.

Patience. Fortitude. Give yourself a break if you need it - take a month off. Go easy on yourself. Water off the duck's back, the Taoist approach. Forgive yourself for making mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn this thing called tango. Try the observer role versus the critic role. Turn off (or turn down) the self-downing negative inner dialog. Observe the mistake, note it, work on it. Most importantly immediately forget it and dance through it - don't let it mess with your head, or the current song, or the tanda.

Know that it ("it" being the improvement) does come in time. "It" being your tango. "It" being El Tango. It's inevitable. With practice, and with dancing, it will come.

To close out, I love Dan Boccia's definition of the "tango trance". “The state of being so completely immersed in the music, and so profoundly connected to your partner, that movement flows from within the partnership uninhibited by conscious thought.” This can and does happen. For me, it has been rare. My first was in my 2nd year, as I recall. I think this is what we in tango aspire to - that fleeting tango trance. It's a profound and beautiful thing. Unforgettable. (Dan is a dancer and DJ from Anchorage, AK...)

I hope this helps. Hang in there.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Climate Re-Analyzer

Climate Reanalyzer 

Climate is a description of the long term weather patterns in a region, typically over a period of 30 or more years.  These patterns can include factors such as temperature, wind speed, air pressure, precipitation and cloud cover.  When shown graphically, the data tell a story about our planet. The Climate Reanalyzer produced by the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine is a tool to examine that story. View compiled animations or begin an investigation by plotting factors of your own choosing using available datasets.

This interactive visualization is a suite of weather and climate datasets as well as tools with which to manipulate and display them visually.

• Climate Change Research Institute, University of Maine, USA.


Sent from my iPad

Monday, July 30, 2018

the continual practice of radical empathy, theory of mind, self-reflexive critical thinking

One of my photos...along I-35 near New Braunfels...heavily edited...

I like this...hat-tip to Jessamyn...a fb post from a friend of hers...

5. It requires the continual practice of radical empathy, theory of mind, self-reflexive critical thinking, and an intersectional perspective on structures of power to navigate ANY relationship...

Wendy Chin-Tanner
July 24 at 10:51 AM
I am a woman of color who is deeply committed on every level, with every fiber of my being to feminism, anti-racism, and social justice. I have also been partnered with a white man from a privileged background for fifteen years. I don't often share much about the inner workings of my marriage, but suffice it to say that we work on it together and we work on it individually on a continual and sustained basis in order to make this marriage work. This morning, we were talking and I wanted to share a few things from that talk, in case they're helpful to others who may be in similar relationships:

1. To be equal in your house, you have to agree on the fact that you are not equal in the world.

2. He said that the most difficult thing for him as a privileged white male is to acknowledge that he cannot rely on his own perspective or experience to understand the world as poc and women do. Listen to your partner. Believe what they say. Act accordingly.

3. Your objective reality may not be your partner's objective reality. Stay curious about each other's realities.

4. He said, "When it comes to issues of race and gender, if it's your problem, then it's my problem." Be on the same side of the problem.

5. It requires the continual practice of radical empathy, theory of mind, self-reflexive critical thinking, and an intersectional perspective on structures of power to navigate ANY relationship, but especially a relationship with disparities of power.

6. When you do harm, acknowledge it, repair what you can, and do better going forward. Ask your partner what they need, as those needs, like people and relationships, are ever-shifting.

Orquesta Típica :: Tango or Death :: Documentary Film

Documentary film about Orquesta TípicaFernandez Fierro directed by Nicolas Entel. I read something about tango meets punk rock, or tango meets Metallica. I hadn't heard of them, nor this film, before this morning. Will have to watch...

Separate but related...the origins of the "orquesta típica" in

Documentary website here:

Trailer here:

Full-length doc here, although search out and purchase it if it's available...on iTunes or wherever...

Monday, July 9, 2018

Two Word Dreams :: The Sister

It's rare that I have vivid dreams, at least ones that I can remember. Ones that leave me impacted when I wake up. I feel compelled to write this one down.

Two Jewish women - one older, gorgeous, my age. Her younger sister, a bit homely.

Something was going on, locally or in the world.

We sought out a Rabbi or religious figure/mystic to pray with us. There was an urgent need to pray. The three of us had our heads bowed, we were standing or kneeling close together. I was next to the sister on her left, the older sister was on her other side.

We were praying for a positive resolution/outcome to this event, whatever it was. It's hazy whether it was a cataclysmic global event, or something less grave. But it did seem grave. I don't think the Rabbi figure was praying out loud. Nothing was being said, and yet everything was being heard by all of us. ESP or whatever. During the prayer, I was feeling supreme power, or felt I was witnessing it or in the presence of supreme power. That there were no ifs ands or buts that our prayer would be answered. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. That feeling was unsettling to me somehow. It felt like we had a weapon no one else had. A weapon for good.

After the prayer, we just stood there for a moment, coming closer, huddling, foreheads now touching. I wasn't aware of the older sister - she may or may not have been huddling with us. Over a moment or two, we came together closer and closer, our bodies now in full contact. We were communing. Joined. Two human beings needing contact. Physical contact. Spiritual contact. We could feel each others' hot breath. I could smell her scent. I could feel her fine hair against my face.

Then we parted, preparing to go our separate ways, saying our goodbyes. Awkward goodbyes where you don't want to go, but know you must. The younger sister asked me what I thought about what had just happened. "Beautiful and scary." was my response. That was it. Beautiful and scary. Scary not in the sense of being scared about something. Hazy again here. Scared of the power that was going to make this come true - whatever it was we had prayed for. Scared of the unknown? Again, hazy in this regard.

I went/ended up somewhere that I would call my home. I was looking on my computer or iPad, facebooking no doubt. Or perhaps it was a vision. I could see the sister drawing a sketch - on white paper, with a red Sharpie. (and goddammit if I didn't just this instant forget the two words that she wrote underneath...) As she sketched, actually, as the sketch resolved on the screen or in the vision, it was just the image of the paper - not her sketching really. As the sketch resolved, I could see it was a clown. In the dream I was thinking it was Puddles the Clown. She colored in his eyes completely red. And she wrote something at the bottom. Two words as I recall. Two words that I now forget as I'm writing this. Dammitt! That may have been the crux of the dream! Fucking piss-ant memory.

And then it was gone. As if she took down or deleted the post. It seemed clear to me she was using the app or whatever (now it seems it wasn't a vision) to make the sketch for herself, then deleted it from public view. I felt like I need to contact her to ask her to send me a full resolution copy of her sketch. I think I wanted to post it to my Instagram, or on this blog. Or a blog. I didn't have her email, didn't know it. I needed to get to my work computer. It was on that computer, or someone there knew it.

"Work" was a fenced in compound of ramshackle structures. Locked gates. The end of the day or early evening and all locked up. Me without a key. There were workers, perhaps tradesmen, milling around outside, coming and going. Talking in small groups. Foreign. Not speaking English. Spanish maybe. Probably. One guy came along and unlocked the gate to get inside. I told him who I was, and that I was the new project manager, (which I am in real life), and that I needed to get into the office. He was going into the office anyway, so he let me in.

I sat at my desk and booted up my computer. He was at the next workstation, seemingly trying to be aware of what I was doing at this hour. Not eavesdropping. "Seemingly trying to be aware." There was some interaction online with the younger clown-sketcher sister. I think. Maybe. I asked her for her email, although if I was interacting with her I wouldn't need her email, right? I could just ask her to send the image. Of Puddles the Clown. In bold, red inked strokes. With big crocodile tears. With two words underneath.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tango Dollars :: how many years how many dollars? Please comment

15 years...$20k plus

Including travel airfare lodging food drink clothes shoes entradas festival registrations classes workshops music

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Tango, No Todo Es Rock :: Documentary

I'm working on finding the full doc...this is the trailer...the first video is an interview with Pedro Lombardi at a screening/exhibition in Beruit...

Ten years after having photographed the young dancers who sparked the Tango revival,
Pedro Lombardi comes back to the shores of the Rio de La Plata.

Support this movie on :

From the Ulele Crowdfunding site:

« Tango, no todo es rock » could have been a documentary about Tango, a dance that has
sparked a renewed interest during the last few years. It is rather a movie on the intimate and
fascinating world of the “Tangueros” and their “Milongas”, a world where the myths of
Tango are being relentlessly reinvented since the early 20th century.

Jacques Goldstein follows photographer Pedro Lombardi in a treck around the Rio de la Plata, between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the capitals of Tango.

Through his encounters with old acquaintances, he examines what they've become.

This discovery of the circle of those who keep Tango alive and the prospect of a common work between two confirmed visual artists, drove them to make this movie.

Pedro Lombardi, author of a photography book that has become areference for tango connoisseurs, “Invitation au Tango” (2005, Editions du Collectionneur). He shared with the great figures of that culture some key moments in the dance's evolution.
He has developed a love story with, and also practiced, Tango. More than his culture, it is a
part of his life. Thus was he able to make friends the Maestros: Mariano “Chicho” Frumboli, Esteban Cortez, Evelyn Rivera and Gisela Natoli.
This allows him to gather not only rare, but authentic testimonies. His involvement and
reputation enable him to pry into each one's personal stories : love stories, mob stories, failure
and success stories in a continent which is undergoing a complete cultural and economical

Synopsys :

Ten years after having photographed the young dancers who sparked the Tango revival, Pedro
Lombardi comes back to the shores of the Rio de La Plata. During these new photo sessions,
the “tangueros” confide in the privileged witness of their beginnings. Through these intimate
testimonies, one can see the outline of the great history of Tango. A mythology made of
dreams of glory - sometimes accomplished -, of couples breaking up, of European exile and of
returns to the homeland.

An eternal movement back and forth :

It is a project which fits into the very history of Tango, into its perpetual shift back and forth between the black dark shores of the Rio de la Plata and the white shores of the Seine river.

Can an authentic popular culturre thrive in the energy of an emerging country, away from the world's former centerof gravity, the old Europe ?

Through the cliches and myths - which, as Roland Barthes once wrote, are meant to be
reinvented and re-appropriated -, there is always a truth to be found about who we are, or
think we are.

And if one cares to look, these myths tell the story of our world.
A world that awakens, “creole”, that is neither black nor white, but in black and white.

What are the funds for?

We've received a subsidy from the National Center for Cinema (CNC), which allows
us to launch the shooting, albeit in very precarious conditions and with no budget security...
Despite this, the shooting crew came back from it's trip with great enthusiam, magnificent pictures and beautiful interviews;

That's why, we solicit your help in order to finalize the movie most of our budget has been assigned to the shooting. Today, we still lack 5000€ to finish the post-production :

Color Grading
Musical broadcasting rights
Translation and transcription from Spanish to French necessary for eventual subtitles
and dubbing.

We are, of course, aware that your help is more than valuable, not only for the financial boost,
but also to finish convincing various oganisms and investors to fund our movie.

About the project owner
Vidéo de poche :

Antonin, Benjamin and Felix, the new generation of workers at Vidéo de Poche, are the
promoters of this documentary project.
Eager to get Vidéo de Poche's film production branch back on track, they initiated the project and put a breath of youth into the movie.

They need your help to go through with this adventure, starting point for a new era in their professional

Jacques Goldstein : Director

After studying philosophy and aesthetics, Jacques Goldstein turned to television. Entering
France 2, France's second national network, he worked as an assistant on a popular music
program, “Les Enfants du Rock” (The Children of Rock). He produced several musical
documentaries for the show, including a portrait of Miles Davis in 1986. He then directed
documentaries exploring the relations between Black culture and White Culture, exile and
creation, music and society.

Documentary Filmography
« Matthew Shipp, a black mystère pianist » 45mn. Mezzo 2011.
« Retour en Afrique-Konono N°1 » 52mn Trace TV 2009, TV Nantes.
« Do you still ? » 52mn Mezzo, June 2008.
« David Murray , I am a Jazzman » 52mn nominated for Arts et spectacle competiton
FIPA 2008, ARTE.
"Hors chant" 52mn, Selected for « Séance spéciale : regards sur le spectacle vivant »
FIPA 2007, shown on january 23rd 2007, opening night for FIPA's twentieth anniversary.
"Jungle Blue" 70mn. SACEM Musical creation documentary award, Special jury
award at the États généraux du documentaire Lussas 2005, Nominated for a "Rose d'or" at
Lucerne 2005.
"La Nouvelle-Orléans" 45mn Les Films d'Ici. Broadcast on 02/21/2002 on Arte and in
2003 on RTBF (Belgium) and TSR (Switzerland).
"What’s going on?" 52 mn portrait of musician Femi Kuti, broadcast on ARTE on the
show Music Planet, produced by La Huit production. Shown on 09/22/2001 non-competing
selection FIPA 2001. Rerun on France O in January 2006, selected for the Radio France
festival in Montpellier in July 2007.
"Johannesburg" 52mn broadcast on Paris Première, produced by Films d’ici. Rerun on 08/
29/2002 this film was shot in 2000 and braodcast for the first time in 2001. Selected by the
MK2 Beaubourg for Documentary Month 2002.
"La route des Roms" 26mn,in collaboration with journalist Laurent Cibien. An Arte/
Arbracam co production for "Reportages". Broadcast on Arte on 23/04/2003 and on TV5 in 2004.
"This is our music" 52mn Produced by La Huit Production and Universal Jazz France,
broadcast on Mezzo in March of 2003.
"Un sang d’encre, Black as ink" 52mn With Aimé Césaire, Melvin Van Peeble, and
Gordon Parks produced by La Huit Production for Planète, Histoire, PBS USA, CFI.
Rerun on Histoire in June of 2001.
"Wadada, Leo Smith" 52mn, produced by La Huit Production 2010.

Pedro LOMBARDI – photographer

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Pedro LOMBARDI has been living in Paris for 25 years.
Eager to learn about different things and – especially - people, his work as a photographer
started with several photo reports in Russia, the U.S., Morocco, Canada, and New Caledonia.
Two angles emerge from this work : at once witness and actor, social and cultural - through
theater, music and dance. Du to his cosmopolitan background, he is fascinated by the
universal language of music. He has been working for several years on Candombe, the Afro-
Uruguayan rhythm, “collective practice” that has been transmitted from one generation to the
next (exposed at the Fnac and the Biarritz International Festival 1998).

Always building bridges between Latin America and Europe, he took up the theme of Tango
in Paris in 1998 (Exposition and catalog : Unesco, 1999), and has since pursued it in both of
the cities that gave it birth : Montevideo and Buenos Aires. His approach is both that of an
esthete and that of a connoisseur, a Tanguero. He looks at the women invited to dance with
that same eye, and in this relation, as in dance, all the sensuality the complicity and intimacy
that make Tango magic build up.
That work has been published in a beautiful book :
« Invitation au Tango » (Editions du Collectionneur, Paris 2005) and in a musical

LA TIPICA SANATA :: Spectacle "En Crudo" au festival "Tarbes en Tango", Tarbes

Starting at 1:05