Friday, February 29, 2008

I think I got my walk last night...

I was dancing last night at a huge new studio with these cool mylar panels on wheels in lieu of mirrors. Anyway, I was focusing on walking a bit - back and forth in front of the mirror (mylar) - and I noticed that my/our walk was looking pretty damn good. More importantly, feeling good. Really good. Natural, comfortable, relaxed.

I went from bitching and moaning a few months ago about not enough tango in my life - not dancing enough - wanh wanh wanh. To now.

As it always is with tango, the change was gradual...almost imperceptible. It's like one day - "boom" - it just hits you. At least that's what it seems like. No good, nasty walk one day, the next day you've got it nailed. Of course, we all know that it doesn't happen like this, even though this is what it can feel like sometimes.

I'm going back to the very beginning to tell a story about the evolution of my tango "walk". After my second divorce, I wanted to take dance lessons. I wanted to be a better dancer. A dancer, period. I didn't really dance much for all those years in my various (two) marriages. If I would drink, my inhibitions would come down and I would get out there and do okay. But, I didn't want to have to drink in order to dance. I reasoned that if I took lessons, then I would "know" what I was doing, would feel more comfortable, and would dance more...right?

Lucky for me, the only dance lessons I could find in Aspen were Argentine Tango lessons. A friend I worked with had planted the AT seed two years before. She had always been going to this tango class and that tango festival - so I called her to find out more about it.

I was such a dancing mess, that I couldn't even take group classes at first. I took four (or was it six?) hours of privates before I started the group classes. Also, I have to say that I met a woman at a party - we were dancing - she was showing me how to swing dance - I was doing my best at the Texas two-step. I told her about my plans to take Tango classes - and she was up for it.

So, we start the group classes in September - in the usual format of beginner first and more advanced students in the second class. I was going to just sit and watch the second class - but Heather grabbed me and said that since I had taken so many privates - that I could join in - that I would do fine. I figured that more was better, right? Jump in the deep end with both feet, right? Totally immerse myself in tango, right? (Big mistake...HUGE mistake!)

I did okay for a while - until we got to the molinete (grapevine) a couple of months into it. I just could not get it. My basic vocabulary and fundamentals were just not there - not in place yet. Plus, this woman quit in frustration (with tango, not with me) and I began to convince myself that I was rhythmically retarded or something. If you are beating yourself up, tango doesn't work. Tango is all about confidence - especially in the early days. Remember the story of the little train - "I think I can, I think I can..."?

So I quit after 4 months or so. Gave up. Wussed out. Didn't look back. Been there done that.

Don't worry, stay with me...the part about my walk is coming...soon...

Then I met another woman. We met through work. I was doing consulting work for a yahoo/jerk/prick and she was working in the office. One day, the casual conversation touched on Tango. Of course, I chimed in "I've taken tango lessons!" And we were off...starting group classes in September.

This time, it helped to have someone encouraging me to stick with it. She encouraged me, I encouraged her. There were tough times in the early months when we both wanted to quit. But we stuck with it - persevered - supported each other - practiced with each other - and practiced more even when we didn't feel like it. We were at each other's throats at times...but we came out the other side eventually. (It wasn't just the two of us...our little group of five/cinco...three followers and two leaders...we all stuck together...advanced together...practiced together...lamented together...wined and dined together...talked of tango and sex together...our little cinco...magnifico...I miss those times...)

My partner and I took class after class, workshop after workshop in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, and Denver. Every chance we could get we were dancing tango. We went to every Denver Tango Festival. Then we reached that point where you realize more is not always better. My retention (of workshop material) was zero. My mind was full. So we would go to the festivals just to dance - sometimes no classes at all - sometimes one or two classes. There is an osmosis with tango. It has to seep into your pores, your thoughts, your muscle fibers. The neural peptides have to get reworked and rewired. Hardwired. Muscle memory. Brain ingrained. You reach that point where you are dancing without thinking. The Zone. The Tangasm. The Tango Trance. Whatever you call it, it feels good.

But (and there always is a "but", right?), my walk sucked. From that September, through April or May, my walk sucked big time. Now I say that "I had a fucked up walk". I danced for close to a year with a fucked up walk. The pisser is that NO ONE TOLD ME! Or maybe they did and I wasn't hearing it. Luckily, through YouTube, I could see what the walk was suppposed to look like. It began to dawn on me, then waylaid me like a ton of bricks - "my walk sucks!". It sucked to realize that I sucked. Suckage. I love that word.

The fact that my teachers never told me was source of concern for me. If I am walking like this (with fucked-up-ed-ness) week after week, month after month and no one tells me - especially my teachers - that's not good. I made a decision that I needed outside help - outside of our little box canyon of a valley. So it was off to Santa Fe for a workshop and privates with Cecilia Gonzalez. Good god was I star struck. What a putz. More workshops and privates in Denver. Privates at festivals. Blah Blah Blah.

Then my tango partner moved away in August...2006.

But my walk continued to improve. It was gradual. (Remember that in small towns we don't get to dance much - one year in a small town is like three months in a big city...) It was "okay" enough for me to feel "okay" about going to Buenos Aires a year ago - last April ('07). Six days of intensive study with Gustavo y Giselle. Then G&G gave a workshop in Atlanta last summer - four more days of intensive work.

2007 was the year of tango osmosis for me - everything started to sink in. Even though there really wasn't that much dancing. Eleven days in Buenos Aires, one day at the Denver Tango fest (I almost quit tango again after that - all bad/unpleasant/heavy dances), five milongas in five nights at the Fandango de Tango Festival in Austin, some good practicas & milongas in Austin during the month of November - and that's about it. A few milongas and practicas in Aspen and Denver during the year - once a month maybe.

It was at a practica in Austin in November that I first tried dancing an entire song with nothing but the walk. No side steps, no nothing, just walking and pausing to the music. Of course, you need the right song to do this - something like DiSarli's Verdemar. It also helps to have a follower that you feel inspired to "only" walk. She said "it's nice to dance with someone who has the balls to only walk". That was three months ago. Just in the past two months of dancing did my walk really come together. And just last night - watching us walk in the reflective mylar - did I realize that it had.

The journey to rid myself of "my fucked up walk" started almost two years ago. And now, I only have another eighteen years to go to perfect it. 2026. I will be 66 years old that year. I'm looking forward to it.

[Postscript: One point I failed to make...tango cannot be rushed...more is defintely NOT may even be can't take classes/practice/dance 50 hours a week for a year and expect to learn can't be learned in a month...or a year...take a few't think....let it soak in...take more classes or't think about it...don't worry about it...don't fret...let it seep into your bones...into your patient, and it will come to you...]

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Ballroom, Palazzo Parisio

The Ballroom, Palazzo Parisio
Originally uploaded by archidave

Would tango, danced in a ballroom like this, be "better"? Feel better, seem better, actually "be" better?

I wonder....

Tango Fiction :: The Lavender Veil by Fantasia Sorenson

Fantasia Sorenson, a frequent contributor to Tango-L is now writing a fictional series based on Tango.

Here is Episode #1: It's 19 pages, double spaced.

Here is the link to her blog, "The Lavender Veil", which is only a repository for the PDF file link to the episode - I suppose the posts would be too long to read in blog format:

I have my own thoughts on her writing, but would like to hear your thoughts and comments before I say anything here.

Have a read and let me know!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On Life :: Pienso en ti...

This girl has a voice...Shakira, from the film "Love in the time of cholera"...I may have posted something about this a while back...

Although embedding has been disabled, this person on YouTube has the best quality audio, with some nice black & white images - artistic nudes - so if nudity offends you, don't click on the link below...

On the universe...TED Talks...

Technology, Entertainment, Design...

Watch this vid until the very end...the part about the octopus...el pulpo...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alex's Deep Tango Thoughts

Howzabout the "turning cross footed rocking crossover"?

More later...actually, it's a Gustavo workshop thing...not an original thought on my part...more like a deep, dark memory that just bubbled to the surface like swamp gas...

The iWipe

Not to be confused with Wii, or WiFi, with the iWipe, you can take your tango music with you EVERYWHERE!

I almost choked to death laughing while I was posting this.

On Tango :: Traditional vs. Nuevo Debate

I've deliberately tried to stay away from this subject (I think), because ultimately I think the debate is going nowhere. As such, it (the debate) is counter-productive to the dance.

But...Ron of the Tango Society of Central Illinois Tango a great one on Tango-L - a lucid explanation of the differences and the conflicts between the two forms.

Message: 16
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2008 22:45:26 -0600
From: "Tango Society of Central Illinois"
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Posting & open discussion on Tango-
To: ""
Cc: tango-l

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

On 2/22/08, wrote:
> It appears to me that there is a strongly held opinion among many on this
> list that tango music from the golden age is the only acceptable dance
> music, and that "milonguero" style is the only acceptable social dance
> style, and that any other style of either music or dance is not tango.

The situation is a bit more complex. Porten~os recognize a type of
tango that is danced at milongas (generally called 'tango de salon')
and another type of tango that is danced for exhibition, either on the
stage or as a preformance that might occur at an intermission during a
milonga. These are recognized as separate, just as Carlos Gardel's
tangos (and later Piazzolla's) were recognized as not for dancing
(because of their musical qualities), and D'arienzo, Di Sarli, Canaro,
etc. were for dancing. Tango has expressed itself over time in several
different ways that are all recognized as 'tango', as part of an
intertwined culture with a common origin.

At milongas in Buenos Aires today, virtually all porten~os dance in a
close embrace.The actual form of the embrace varies somewhat in
orientation (directly in front vs. somewhat offset, with various
angles of 'lean' of the partners' frames). What has been called
'milonguero style', with an 'apilado' posture, represents one
variation of this embrace. There are some neighborhood differences in
the proportion of dancers who assume a particular embrace, but in
reality there is a continuum of characteristics of the embrace in the
dancing population rather than 2 distinct 'styles', with some of the
variation due to anatomy, experience, and skill level.

The tango music played at Buenos Aires milongas is almost always
classic tango from the 30s, 40s, and possibly 50s. The only exception
I have ever experienced is La Viruta, which is a very different kind
of gathering of young people lacking many of the qualities of
traditional milongas, which predominate. A porten~a with a lot of
dance experience told me La Viruta is considered an 'entry level
milonga', from which dancers graduate to more traditional milongas if
they are serious about tango. The practicas such as those at Villa
Malcolm and Practica X are different. They are not considered
milongas. Read what Andres Amarilla, an instructor of 'tango nuevo'
says about the difference between nuevo practicas and milongas in
Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, these are distinct.

There is a difference outside of Argentina, where 'tango de salon' and
some variations of tango for exhibition may both be danced at events
that are called 'milongas'. In addition there are 'alternative
milongas' where non-tango music is played for dancing. The
estblishment of performance oriented tango at milongas outside
Argentina had its start because the first instructors of tango outside
Argentina were usually from stage performance companies. Only after
non-Argentines went to Buenos Aires to visit milongas did they see
that the manner of dancing tango at milongas in Buenos Aires is
different. This led to several non-Argentines and later Argentines
teaching 'tango milonguero' or 'tango de salon' outside Argentina.

Thus, the transmission of Buenos Aires tango culture to foreign
nations has been inaccurate. The separation of tango for exhibiiton
and tango for social dancing was lost. Both types of dancing are
'tango', but in Buenos Aires only the close emrbace 'tango de salon'
is danced at milongas.

Cultures outside Argentina are free to adapt tango for their own
cultural tastes. Apparently the most prominent example of this
worldwide is Finnish tango.

The conflict that often occurs is between those who want to create a
Buenos Aires tango de salon environment at milongas outside Argentina,
and other people from within these non-Argentina cultures who want to
adapt tango to their cultural preferences.

In my opinion, those who wish to adapt tango to their own cultural
preferences should try to understand those of us who would like to
adopt the Argentine characteristics of tango as closely as is possible
in our milongas. We are trying to connect with the Argentine tango
culture. I fail to see why such frequent and intense criticism is
directed at those of us who have this preference.

My complaint with the predominant tango culture (performance oriented)
outside Argentina is not that it exists, that that it often fails to
respect the atmosphere social tango dancers wish to create, both on
and off the floor.


End of Tango-L Post

My only issue with nuevo is that it is not tango....(grin)...kidding...

My only issue with nuevo is the respect issue - ~~R E S P E C T~~ - respect for the music/musicality; respect for your partner, her axis, her safety; respect for the line of dance/ronda, his space on the floor, the dancers around you, floorcraft, dancefloor etiquette; respect for technique and hard work; and lastly, respect for the origins, traditions and history of tango.

Many (not all) nuevo dancers are oblivious to these concepts - and are out there dancing a "performance" - and endangering the rest of us.

There is a place for nuevo...but I, like Ron in his post, believe it should be a separate place.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ney Melo :: The Do's and Don'ts of Inviting

I was reading Elizabeth's post "No means what?" over at her blog "Working Artist" and it reminded me of something I posted a while back.

It's an article by Ney Melo (of Ney Melo & the divine Miss Jennifer Bratt) that he wrote about the do's and don'ts of inviting...saying "no"...the huge responsibility for followers to say "no" in order to motivate bad leaders to get better...and other pertinent tango etiquette.

And here it is....

The Do's and Don'ts of Inviting, by Ney Melo, July 2006

I have been thinking about writing this article for a long time, after having experienced many humorous and not-so-humorous episodes at the milonga. Many of us get caught up in learning the steps of the tango and then we get to the milonga and we don't know that there are certain unwritten rules about inviting and accepting or declining dances. While the 'cabeceo' - or inviting people to dance with eye contact and a nod - is alive and well in Buenos Aires, we live in North America and as such our customs have to adapt. (It would be great if the cabeceo were used here because it empowers both men and especially women to dance with the partners they most want to dance with. But the thing is, the cabeceo only works when everyone does it.) Therefore, I've put together a list of "rules" that, if somewhat adhered to, will make the milonga enjoyable for men and ladies alike.

The first and last tango of the milonga experience have a significant meaning in the mind of a milonguero/a. Ideally, you'd want to start off on the right foot; you'd want to begin dancing with a capable and smooth partner in order to prepare for the long night of dancing that lies ahead.
But just as a good partner will raise you to the next level, a horrible partner will knock you down a few notches. The saying among milongueros is that it takes two good partners in a row to knock out the effects of one bad one. Therefore, be careful about who you accept or invite as your first
partner. The last tanda (a set of tangos) also has a significance. In Buenos Aires, it is said that you usually dance the last tanda with your lover or a potential lover. I take a more casual approach to this rule and I think that one should dance that last tanda with their significant other unless agreed
otherwise. If you are single, then it's open game whom to dance with. However if you are dancing with someone whom you know has a significant other at the milonga, and the last tanda is announced, it is a nice courtesy to ask them if they need to go dance with that other person.

Typical scenario: a lady is sitting down at a milonga and is approached by a gentleman who then invites her to dance. Rather than reject him outright, she says 'no, not right now', that she is tired, taking a break, waiting for a friend, etc. Instead of walking away, the guy decides to SIT DOWN BESIDE HER and wait for her to be ready to dance with him! This man has just committed what I call "babysitting". I have seen both ladies and gentlemen commit this fiendish act. When someone says no, it means that you should stay away from him/her for a certain period of time. This leads me to the next rule.

After discussing this with many milongueros and milongueras, I've come to the following onclusion. No means "No for a Little While". If you have been rejected, you cannot invite the same person to dance again at the beginning of the next tanda! Only after 2, 5, maybe more tandas later can you consider asking that person to dance again. Don't be a Stalker. Often times the person who rejected you may even track you down to claim that dance later on when they are ready -- that is if they were truly tired in the first place.

Rejecting someone does bring a consequence along with it. This is the rule that if you reject someone for a tango, you cannot dance that same tango with someone better who comes along. You have to, at least, wait for the next song or preferably for the next tanda. You can think of those minutes of waiting time as being in hockey's "penalty box". Sometimes this is a double-edged sword because let's say you are in the "penalty box" but then a really amazing dancer who never asks you to dance finally asks you. You know that if you turn them down then you may never get your chance again, but if you say yes you will look like a jerk in the eyes of the first person
that asked you (and then THEY may cease asking)! Sometimes you just can't win!

I've seen old black and white movies where a Clark Gable or an Errol Flynn type will cut in between the beautiful, young starlet of the movie and her lame-duck partner who audiences forget about seconds later. Well, that only happens in the movies. I'm pretty sure that "Cutting in" is banned in all milongas in all the countries in the world. Back when I was a beginner, I once had someone kindly ask me if they could "cut-in". I kindly cursed them and their family in my mind. That's how serious it is! Invitations to dance happen during the cortinas (the minute of ambient music that is played between the tandas) not when 2 people are standing and talking between the songs in a tanda. PERIOD.

A DJ will usually play 3 or 4 songs of the same orchestra or style followed by a one minute cortina. This "set" is called a tanda. It is only when we want to stop dancing with our partner that we say "thank you". Do not make the mistake of saying "thank you" after every tango. Try to wait until the
end of the tanda. If we do not wait until the end, then we are conveying a message. Here is a quick breakdown of the "messages":
We danced 4 songs: That was nice/ I enjoyed it/ Let's do it again in the near future, etc. etc.
We danced 3 songs: It was ok/ Sorry, my feet hurt/ Yikes! My ride home is leaving, gotta go!
We danced 2 songs: I've humored you long enough/ You need to take more lessons/ I thought the first bad tango was my fault, but now I see that its your fault.
We danced 1 song: It's just not happening/ Maybe you should just sit and watch for a while/ Please don't ask me to dance at this milonga again.

I truly believe that when women start using their power of declining dances and sending messages, then that is when the leaders will start working to improve their dance. It has to be a system of checks and balances. If we allow mediocre leaders to dance with amazing followers and vice versa, then why would they want to get better? I remember an argument that a friend and I had a long time ago. She was upset because a horrible leader basically manhandled her for a whole tanda and made her look and feel bad. I witnessed the whole thing and I didn't like what this leader did, but I also didn't like that my friend was too nice not to end the carnage early!! Ladies, please
use your power to say "no" to bad dances. It is better to sit all night, enjoy the music, and have a good conversation than to be dragged around the milonga floor like Hector was by Achilles after being slain in the movie "Troy". There were many times in my tango infancy that I was rejected by
good followers. I never took it personally. It only served to make me better.

I'm not saying you shouldn't dance with beginners. Everyone should do a dance or two with beginners at the milonga and look at it as 'community service' and make them feel welcome. But there is a difference between a beginner, and a bad dancer who just never 'gets it'. There are a number of guys at any given milonga who have been dancing for a long time, they maul the ladies, and they never have any incentive to get better because they get all the dances they want anyway.

Rejection is tough to accept. Feeling can be easily hurt. Please take this into consideration when rejecting someone. It might help to approach it as though you are going to break up with someone, making sure not to hurt their feelings but yet not giving them hope for a reunion. For example:
"Sorry, its not you it’s me"
"Look, I am not in a good place right now, I want to just be alone for a while"
"I just want you to be happy"
"You deserve better"
"I know we danced last night, but that was then, this is now"

For the rejectee, just accept it and move on. It doesn't help to reply:
"But why?"
"Just tell me why"
"Give me one good reason"
"I can change"
"Look, I'll be right here. Let me know if things change"
"But I thought we meant something"
"You suck"

This is when leaders or followers end the tanda early and then finish it off with someone else. This is bad business. What makes it worse is that in order to facilitate this trade, one usually has to make eye contact and cut a deal with the new partner while still on the dance floor with the original partner! I've seen this happen at the milonga and all I can say is that this is "shady, shady, shady". Like I mentioned in Rule # 5: Invitations to dance should happen during the cortinas (the minute of ambient music that is played between the tandas).

Every now and then I will be invited by a lady to dance and I will politely refuse because I will be in the process of doing something that prevents me from dancing with her at the moment (getting a drink, taking a rest, on my way to the bathroom to change shirts, etc. etc.) This is when the lady will
sometimes pull out the "dance with me now" card by saying "But I'm leaving the milonga in 5 minutes". This makes me uncomfortable because now I feel pressured to dance with her right then and there. What makes matters worse is when I do succumb to the pressure, I dance with the person, and the person DOES NOT LEAVE THE MILONGA! I think a lot of people agree with me when I say that if you are going to use the "dance with me now" card by claiming that you are about to leave, then I better not see you at the coat rack at the same time as me at the end of the night.

Also, resist the urge to use excessive force when asking for a dance, i.e. grabbing your target and dragging him or her to the floor while exclaiming "Let's dance! Let's dance!" You should give the other person a choice of whether or not to dance with you, being polite and civilized about it. Bottom line: The dance is not enjoyable if the inviter (male or female) pressures the invitee. People want to dance out of pleasure, not duty.

Because rejection can be hard to take, one method devised by some ladies of communicating to the men that they are not accepting invitations at the moment is to take their shoes off. This serves as 'proof' that they really are taking a break, should anyone ask them. All they have to do is raise up the bare foot 'white flag'. They can rest the balls of their feet from those 4 inch heels and not get hassled by potential dance partners. (On the flip side, they can also make a guy feel great if they do decide to dance when asked and say 'let me put my shoes back on for you'.)

Pay attention to your potential partner's body language when you are getting ready to ask them for a dance. There are non-verbal signals that you should try to clue in to. Gentlemen, if you are headed towards a woman and she sees you and quickly turns away, reaches down to fiddle with her shoe strap, digs in her purse endlessly - it means she DOESN'T WANT TO DANCE. If she even jumps up and heads for the ladies room, don't pursue her and grab her shoulder as she flees thinking 'maybe she didn't see me'. If she notices you and maintains eye contact, or smiles, or waves, or in general looks pleased that you are headed her way, then by all means ask her! If you are not sure, go over and say hello, and judge by her reaction whether she wants to dance.

You can look around the room as well and guess which people are wanting to dance. If they are sitting or standing right by the dance floor, looking intently and wistfully at the dancers, looking around to catch the attention of potential partners, etc, then they are most certainly available. If they are sitting with all their attention focused on their companion, deep in conversation, eating, enjoying a drink and looking otherwise very comfortable where they are, approach with caution. See if you can catch their eye. If they look away, then save your invitation for later. Yes, this is a version of the cabeceo. If someone is in the midst of an animated conversation, do not hang around in the periphery of their vision, tapping your foot, waiting for the split-second when they pause for breath to interject your invitation. Ask someone else.

Maybe some people will think this is very old-fashioned but I think it is nice: When you approach a couple who are dating or married and they are sitting together, it is nice to 'ask permission' of the other when you want to ask one of them to dance. Often it is the man asking the other man for 'permission' to dance with his lady. This is not because the man 'owns' the woman or because the woman needs her date's permission. It is simply showing the courtesy of acknowledging the other human at the table when you come to take their companion away. I think it is rude to come up to a couple and ask one person without even saying 'hello' or 'excuse me' or 'may I?' to the other. This rule of course only applies if the couple is actually seated together. And this rule also applies to women asking permission of another woman to dance with her man. Ladies, if a gentleman is standing with his arm around his significant other and you come up and ask him, make sure to greet both people, don't just grab him and drag him away. Yes, this happens, and yes it is rude.

Most of these rules may seem like they shouldn't need to be laid out, but you would be surprised. Anytime someone violates these rules, its because they are letting their ego get the best of them. In the end, we are all tango music lovers and we all love to dance, and we all must learn to get along at the milonga. Being aware of, sensitive to, and in tune with another person are what partner dancing is all about. Use these skills off the dance floor as well as on.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Alex's Deep Tango Thoughts

Side step left...but weight on both feet equally...then a subtle weight shift back (this part is not real clear - kind of a hippy/swishy feeling)...then forward left cross...(she steps forward with her left like a front ocho)...when she transfers her weight to the left foot...a quick torsional pivot by the leader...her right foot pendulums around in an arc and hooks (ankle to ankle) the leader's left...keep the ankle to ankle contact, the leader then crosses her right over her left (in front)...(right over left cross)...shift her weight to the other foot...volcada...and then walk out...

It came to me in a dream last night...

Got it?

The whole thing prior to cross and the volcada is a milonguero-ish downleading twisty torsional thing...a counter clockwise torsion in the lead's upper body...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tango Short Films & Clips

Here are the ones I know of...all in one place...

Tanghi Argentini :: Tango Short Film
This 2006 Belgian short was nominated this year (2008) for the Academy Awards, but it did not win...

Tango Surrender :: Tango Documentary
A documentary film by Marcia Rock filmed in its entirety in NYC. Here is the YouTube trailer:

La Apertura :: Tango Short Film

En Tus Brazos :: Animated Tango Short Film

Perdizione :: Tango Short Film [Italian Grocery Store]
Link to the full version:

Perdizione :: YouTube Trailer

Houston Tango [Mikas] :: Invitation clip [to the Houston Tango Festival]

Houston Tango [Mikas] :: Dream

Monica Bellucci in Heart Tango :: Commercial for Intimissi Lingerie

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Loan me a dime

I was looking on YouTube for the 13 minute version of this song from the Duane Allman Anthology Album...

This isn't a bad version by some other band...very good in fact...comes close to the essence...the emotion of the original...

Unfortunately due to file size restrictions on YouTube, they had to split it into two parts...

Federico Aubele

Does everyone know about this young musician from Buenos Aires? I discovered him in 2006 and have been a fan ever since.

There is a definite tango influence in his "nuevo" creations...Somebody commented that his music is "fresh - a mix of tango, trip hop, dub, club, and reggae...."

My personal favorite is "El Amor de este Pueblo"...although I couldn't find a YouTube video of it...there is a player at the end of this post...with instructions...

You should be able to buy his CD's most anywhere...and they are available on iTunes...

This one is titled "Postales" ::

Here is "Ante tus ojos" ::

You should be able to click on "El amor de este pueblo" on the player widget below...and have a listen...

Click it...then click the scroll bar on the right a couple of times and you will see the title...then just click the song once...and it should start playing...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If love were a choice...

From the movie "Anna and the King" with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat ...

"If love were a choice, who would choose such exquisite pain?"

A beautiful line...from a beautiful film...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tango :: Sally Potter & Sandra Bullock

I wonder if Sally Potter still dances tango on a regular basis - or if she only danced for a while - in order to make the film "The Tango Lesson?

I also wonder if Sandra Bullock (bought the movie rights to "Kiss and Tango" and now in early production on the film - you may have heard she is taking tango lessons in NYC...) will only dance to make the film, or if she will get bit by the bug and chronically (sp?) afflicted/addicted like the rest of us.

I wonder if it is still tango when it's about making money. It once dawned on me that it is possible that true art...artistic endeavor in its truest and purest and most noble form...spontaneous and beautiful creation...only occurs in the absence of financial/economic considerations/goals.

I wonder...

On life :: Family Photos

My older brother has been working for many years on family history stuff, family tree, scanning old family photos. He just sent me a CD loaded with old family photos.

This one is of my mom in her wedding dress...
Ellen Todd Bridal Portrait

And me/bro/sis...I'm the "baby"...
Jim, Bess and Alex 1962

Sunday, February 17, 2008

On life and the universe...

I was just reading Danzarin's blog...she's just had her one year anniversary in blogdom! Congrats!

Anyway, I was re-reading her "Tagged" post wherein she talked about being an acapella singer. (I told her that I hope that she still sings as much as she can...) In that instant that I was reading this, a memory bubbled up in the primordial ooze of my brain. A primal-psycho-electro-chemical-reading-induced-physical-manifestation-something-or-other. Thoughts are "physical" right? They "exist", right? Just be reading some lines on a page - a virtual page at that - caused some neural peptide to be released (rent the documentary "What the Bleep?") - in my neural cortex or wherever those thingamajiggers originate.

And the thought/memory was this: I remembered a dear friend - a lady friend. We had a torrid six month relationship very soon after my last divorce. Too soon. Too soon for me after having very recently exited twenty-five years of married life. But I explained this to her - up front. I was blatant, almost brutal in my honesty that I wasn't looking for anything serious/long term/monagamous. I explained that I was only interested in women "friends" - that I could do "stuff" with. Dinner, a movie, bike rides, snow skiing - you know, "stuff".

At the time, I was operating under what I called "my thousand mile rule". I didn't "see" (date) anyone who lived closer than one thousand miles. Austin, L.A., Santa Fe (500 miles), NYC. She happened to live in a town very near Aspen as the crow flies - 25 miles. In the winter, it was, however, a five hour drive - the long way around. In the summer it was perhaps 3-4 hours. Not "one thousand miles", but far enough away to keep things on an even keel - or so I thought.

We met on We first had an email exchange wherein I asked her for another photo. She only had one posted and it was blurry. In the photo, she appeared to be older than her stated age. I wanted some confirmation. She wrote me off as being too interested in the "physical". I never heard from her again.

I know this because I contacted her again a few months later to ask why. "Why did I never hear from you again?" I asked in an email. I explained that I was simply curious - trying to do a little research - trying to understand this whole concept of "dating". After all, it was brand new to me. I met my first ex-wife at the ripe old age of 18. I turned 20 two months after we were married. We were both way too young. It should be against the law to get married prior to the age of 28.

When I explained myself to her - that her photo was blurry and I was simply looking for a visual age confirmation (because of then recent experience with women fudging on their age) - she said that she understood. Then we were off on the obligatory two to three week emailing "getting to know each other" period. Then another week of so of chit-chat on the phone.

I was at a friend's ranch for Thanksgiving that year up in McCoy, Colorado. Okay, a friend of friend's ranch. Okay, four women and me. And some horses. And a couple of doggies. Okay. Horseback riding in the sagebrush. Dancing two step by the woodstove. Drinking too much wine. Taking a drunk walk down the gravel road after Thanksgiving dinner. Gazing at the Milky Way galaxy with four women to keep me warm. In reality, I only have two arms - so one under each. Sidenote: Some of you may know this. You can actually see the Milky Way galaxy in the mountains. It's a bright stripe of an increased density of stars - a bright stripe of stars and worlds and perhaps some of my past thoughts floating around up there - streaking across the night sky.

Don't get any ideas about the four women thing. I am such a fucking "gentleman". Friends are friends after all. I slept all by my lonesome in a fucking twin bed - or was it a fucking cot? But it is nice to be woken up in the morning by four warm, soft, good smelling women - woken up to come fix them my famous buttermilk pancakes with thick-cut applewood smoked bacon.

The day after Thanksgiving, I drove the six hours in the other direction - over hills and mountain passes, up the creeks and down the creeks, and finally up the river and through the valley to her house. After we hugged in her foyer - I fussed at her and said to never do that again - to just let a stranger into her house - after all, I could have been some wierdo from

We sat on the sofa - actually sofa and loveseat - a little distance at first. We drank wine and chatted. I take that back - I drank the wine - a bottle that I brought. When I arrived it was dark - maybe six or seven in the evening. We talked for hours - probably until one in the morning. I re-iterated to her - face-to-face - about my goals/desires in this - this "nothing serious" scenario. We talked about the stuff you talk about with a new friend - born/raised/family/past - all that "getting to know" each other stuff.

With regard to the "lady friend stuff" - one thing I pointed out is that even though I was looking for something platonic(ish?) - I remained open to the possibility of things turning physical. Uh-oh! I'm not sure if I was till sitting on the love seat - or if I had moved next to her on the sofa - but suffice it to say, we were by this point tangled up and making out. Just like high school. She was a really good kisser. Really good. We meshed orally.

On the way to her room she showed me around her house. She had nice stuff, nice taste. Nice art on the walls. Nice pieces of furniture. Stuff like this is important to me - design, style sense, good taste, class - you get the picture.

Her king size bed was nice, too - a big, honkin', pine log bed - soft, high thread count sheets, piled high with down comforters. It's cold in this particular valley. Very cold. It can be 40 degrees colder than Aspen in the winter. That means from 20 degrees (F) to minus 20 degrees (F). In short order we were nekkid under the covers. (Just writing this now is bringing back such sweet memories...) Let's just say that men in her little town - non-drunk, non-ski bum, non-violent, non-asshole, men in her little town were few and far between. Slim pickin's. I suppose this fact made me highly desirable. It had been a while for both of us. Months for me, I think a year or longer for her. Pent-up sexual frustration.

So there we were nekkid under the thick, piled high, down comforters. Doing what nekkid people do under thick, piled high down comforters. Doing it again and again. Taking naps to get our strength back. My feet sticking out from the covers at the foot of the bed, then her feet sticking out at the foot of the bed. Getting up to fix a snack in the kitchen - nekkid. Getting dressed to go rent movies and have dinner in town. Watching movies - nekkid. Snuggling and making love and talking. For three days. Goodness gracious did that woman have some skill in bed...! I left for the drive home to Aspen on Monday afternoon - just after lunch.

In between sexual fantasies and memories and latent scents of lovemaking, I had time to think on the way home. What an idiot! Mr. "thousand mile rule" man. Mr. "nothing serious" man. Mr. "platonic, but open to the physical" man. Mr. Man. Mr. Man from Aspen Man. Mr. Idiot Man. I knew it but I didn't know it - that she had just fallen in love with me. I had fallen in love with her. Asshole. Dickweed. Dumbshit.

I saw her once a month or so after that. I went to her. She came to me. We'd meet on the roadside and consolidate into one car for the drive to Denver for a weekend. We got snowed in once at the Ritz Carlton at Beaver Creek for three days. It was there that she confessed her love to me, during early morning pillow talk. She told me that it was love at first sight for her. That when she saw me through the glass - standing outside her door that first night - that she fell in love with me in that moment.

I had to look her in the eye - eye to eye sharing a pillow - having just had three days of incredible snowed-in sex - having just made love in the hour before - and tell her that I did not love her. Even though I probably did - and probably still do - in a way. I loved her but I did not want to live out my days with her. I knew that. It would have been so easy for me to tell her that I loved her - so easy for me to default back into twenty-five years of what I knew. Twenty-five years of what I was most comfortable with. Twenty-five years of what I was really good at. There were reasons we weren't right for each other - I won't delve into them - lots of reasons. Or perhaps we were right for each - but timing wasn't right.

I told her that I didn't love her, wiped away her tears, and held her close to me.

She was a singer. In the months that followed, I continued to encourage her to sing again. I'm not sure if she ever did.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Southern rock...

How many people remember the "southern rock" music genre that evolved in the early 1970's? The Allman Brothers, Derek & the Dominos, Black Oak Arkansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Edgar and Johnny Winter, ZZ Top, and this gem, from The Marshall Tucker Band...I grew up on this stuff...

Duane Allman :: Little Martha

The Allman Brothers :: In Memory of Elizabeth Reed :: Live at The Fillmore East

ZZ Top :: Jesus Just Left Chicago :: Live in Germany 1982
Jesus Just Left Chicago starts at time marker 2:45...the first song is a little hard/acid rock for me...the bluesy rock is more my style...

Oh mood just changed...

Early Fleetwood Mac...before Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie came on the scene...

And the long version...which I prefer...I have been listening to this album [Then Play On] and this song [Oh Well] since the mid 1970's...when all my friends were listening to disco...this is what I was listening to...the best part comes at time stamp 2:20...

On mood in a song...

They say we Cancerians are "moody"...perhaps a better word is "expressive"...but because Cancers can also tend to be introverted, we tend to hold this expressiveness in...not in a festering sort of way...but in a "want to feel it" way...we want to experience the full depth of our emotions...the true meaning of our emotions...even if it hurts...

So, here is my current "mood" in a song...

I'm headed to the Cantina now for some EEEnchiladas...

Post script on the "Tagged" post...where we were to write seven random things about ourselves...I forgot about the biggest random thing in my popped into my head the other day...I was married for 25 years...17 years the first time...8 years the second.....all my ex's live in Texas...all two of them...and I always refer to them in conversation as "my first ex-wife"...and "my second ex-wife"...twenty-five years...a quarter of a century...long time...very long time...


Originally uploaded by mensaka

summer's not too far off...a couple of more months and things will start greening up...and warming up....

Callanwolde Milonga

I just returned from the Callanwolde Milonga. Very, very interesting old estate - now on the national register of historic places. Although, there were actually some idiots who where going to demolish it in the early 1970's. It was built by one of the heirs to the CocaCola fortune.

Anyway, now they have a milonga there once in a while. There were mostly beginner/ing dancers there - but that didn't stop me from having fun with a couple of tango babes. Actually three or four. It was fun.

Also, a killer wood floor. Very nice, smooth, almost too slippery.

Building Exterior :: 1 sec exposure/handheld (a bit blurry)
Callanwolde Milonga

Main Ballroom :: Low light/high noise
Callanwolde Milonga :: Main Dance Floor

Adjacent Ballroom :: the newbies were in here practicing and playing
The fireplace is handcarved marble...with a level of detail I have never seen...
Callanwolde Milonga :: Adjacent ballroom

The main staircase :: intricate ceiling medallion overhead
Callanwolde Milonga :: Main Staircase
Overall, a very nice experience, worth the almost 2 hour drive...if only there were a few more experienced followers...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tango :: Musicality :: What it "looks" get to what it "feels like"...

We/I seem to always be "talking" about musicality in tango. Let's see what it "looks" like. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a YouTube video must be worth at least ten thousand...

Keep in mind these are professional couples/instructors...and this is "demo" tango, not really what you will see/do on the social dance floor. The point is musicality can be expressed in many ways - small and almost imperceptible on the social dance floor - and contradicting myself here - musicality ultimately is not about what it looks like, but what it feels like.

Chico Frumboli y Eugenia Parrilla :: Rodolfo Biagi's "El Recodo" [short clip]

Murat y Michelle Erdemsel :: Anibal Troilo's "En Esta Tarde Gris"

Los Hermanos Macana :: Francisco Canaro's "Relíquias Porteñas"
Musicality and Humor combined...

Detlef Engel y Melina Sedo :: Canaro's "Milonga Sentimental"

Ney Melo y Jennifer Bratt :: Carlos DiSarli's "Nido Gaucho"

One of the weaknesses of YouTube is that sometimes the audio and video are "de"-synchronized when uploaded and the audio and video do not track properly together. This video is an example of this. I have the original CITA DVD version of this dance, and their musicality is perfect - dead on with the music. It appears to me in this YouTube version that the audio is lagging as much as one or two seconds behind the video.
Ezequiel Farfaro y Milena Plebs :: Alfredo Zitarrosa's Pa'l que se va"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

A rose for the ladies...and much more...from me on Valentine's Day...a day of love...lost love...unrequited love...memories...sweet kisses...deep kisses...tangled tongues and lips...a tender caress...lips caressing soft skin...champagne and raspberries...bubble baths in front of the fireplace...lovemaking on rooftops...medium rare filet mignon drizzled with buttery flaked salmon...bordeaux wine...sweetness...tenderness...chocolate...loving someone with a thousand hearts...a romantic tango with the love of your life...I hope you all have little expression of love...
Valentine's Day...a rose...

The first time ever I saw your face...Roberta Flack

Mariana Felício

Say goodbye...Dave Matthews...

Dave Matthews Band - Say Goodbye Lyrics

So here we are tonight
You and me together
The storm outside, the fire is bright
And in your eyes I see
What's on my mind
You've got me wild
Turned around inside
And then desire, see, is creeping
Up heavy inside here
And know you feel the same way
I do now
Now let's make this an evening
Lovers for a night, lovers for tonight
Stay here with me, love, tonight
Just for an evening
When we make
Our passion pictures
You and me twist up
Secret creatures
And we'll stay here
Tomorrow go back to being friends

Go back to being friends
But tonight let's be lovers,
We kiss and sweat
We'll turn this better thing
To the best
Of all we can offer, Just a rogue kiss
Tangled tongues and lips,
See me this way
I'm turning and turning for you
Girl just tonight

Float away here with me
An evening just wait and see
But tomorrow go back to your man
I'm back to my world
And we're back to being friends
Wait and see me,
Tonight let's do this thing
All we are is wasting hours until the sun comes up it's all ours
On our way here
Tomorrow go back to being friends

Go back to being friends
Tonight let's be lovers, say you will
And hear me call, soft-spoken whispering love
A thing or two I have to say here
Tonight let's go all the way then
Love I'll see you,
Just for this evening
Let's strip down, trip out at this
One evening starts with a kiss
Run away

And tomorrow
back to being friends
Just for tonight, one you
And tomorrow say goodbye


My funny valentine...Sammy Davis, Jr.


Killing me softly...The Fugees


If you were a bluebird...Joe Ely

Angel, a portrait
.Eolo Perfido

Every little thing about you...Raul Malo & The Mavericks


Tonight I Can Write by Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Shadow & Light

Over the rainbow...Eva Cassidy


Come away with me...Norah Jones

At last...Etta James

Evening, March, 1983
.Marcelo Montecino

Malagueña...Jose Feliciano


Light my fire...Jose Feliciano, Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana

.Franca Alejandra

I will always love you...Whitney Houston (in her prime)

la rossa mette le scarpe da tango

I'll be seeing you...Billie Holiday

di ritorno

Unforgettable...Nat King Cole

Love's divine...Seal

I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood

La vie en rose....Edith Piaf

El tango de Roxanne...from the film Moulin Rouge

Ain't no sunshine...Bill Withers


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tango Technique :: Enganche/Enganchada Combo

This stuff sometimes just pops into my when I order a non-fat triple mocha at Starbucks.

You can do an enganche (leader's left to follower's right leg) immediately followed by the enganchada I talked about in a prior post.

When you are practicing it, it helps if you use the following sound effects: "boom, boom".

I will try to post some video...but it may be a week or partner is "on holiday"...

Milonga :: El Flaco y Silvina

Dancing a milonga at Porteño y Bailarín in Buenos Aires...Fransisco Canaro's "Milongon"...

I've had the distinct pleasure of dancing with both of them...Silvina in private lessons in Atlanta...and dancing next to El Flaco (Dany Garcia) at Salon Canning. It's an interesting effect, when you go to BsAs and see the "famous" people - it's like they are movie stars. In addition to El Flaco, I saw Facundo y Kely Posadas, and spent a week learning from Gustavo y Giselle Anne.

Tango Technique :: Back Ochos in Parallel

Normally, we do back ochos in crossed system - the lead changes his weight - so lead and follow are right/right & left/left in terms of their foot placement. In parallel system - the normal walk is right/left & left/right - in terms of which foot/leg we are stepping with. (This basic primer is for the beginner/readers.)

It is possible to do back ochos in parallel - essentially the leader is doing a front ocho to her back ocho - stepping with the right to her right (outside) and then pivoting and stepping with the left to her left (outside).

The key for the lead is not to change weight - at the moment when you lead her into the first back ocho (to your left) - step across (in parallel system) with your left - placing your foot on her left side - then as you lead the next ocho - you pivot on your right foot and step across with your left foot.

I had forgotten this. It's kinda cool. Try it.

I didn't really try it in close embrace. Our students here have been dancing salon/open for the past year. We're going to have to gradually introduce them to milonguero/close embrace.

I think it's possible in close embrace, but with a very fluid/dynamic embrace. I'll have to give a try.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tango Quotes :: Tango Sayings

From Igor Polk's Blog ::

A friend of his who is a professional modern dancer said this to him once:

"I come to tango to relax - the music carries me and makes a dance for me. With other music, I have to make a dance myself"

I like this...

Tango :: Parkinson's Patients Benefit from Tango

From today's New York Times ::

Here's the link to the actual research article in the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy.

I have always thought this about Argentine Tango - that it would be good/theraputic for lots of folks suffering from neuromuscular issues and musco-skeletal injuries.

The article doesn't specifically say whether it's Argetine Tango or not. I suspect it is, because we all know Ballroom Tango could not have these same theraputic benefits 8)...(grin)

The only thing I want to take issue with is the cliche'd use of the "rose in mouth" in the little graphic drawing....when will people learn that we don't dance AT with roses in our mouths...?????

Deep Tango Thoughts :: Musicality :: Repost for Doug Fox

This is a repost from a while back. I thought if it because of a question Doug Fox asked Johanna in a comment - about him being new to tango and wanting to know more about the concepts Musicality and Musical Expression.

Below (in italics) is the original post from Tango-L - which came from Tom Stermitz (creator/organizer of the Denver Tango Festivals). Tom explains "musicality" very well. For Doug and other readers new to tango, musicality is the holy grail of tango. Somewhat nebulous, difficult to convey verbally, difficult (for many) to achieve. Constantly improved musicality is what many of us strive for.

To me (from a leader's perspective) musicality is about listening to the music as you dance (and listening to tango music a lot outside of dancing), and it "making sense" to apply/invoke certain vocabulary at certain times. There are times during a song when all it "makes sense" to do is walk. There are times when the rhythm makes sense to do ochos. Times when it makes sense to do an ocho cortado - nailing her cross "to the music", "to the beat". Sticking the ending in milonga is an expression of musicality. The bigger you "stick it", the better the feeling to both you and your follower. There are times when traspie makes sense. If you do it out of the music, out of the rhythm, it feels bad, awkward.

As a beginner, this comes with time. It can't be rushed, it can barely be taught. It is an osmosis that happens over the months. The music begins to make more sense rhythmically. It comes from listening to music and tapping to the beat. It comes from listening to each instrument (or section) in the orchestra - listening to the percussive rhythms of the bandoneons - listening to the melody of the violins - the beat of the bass. It comes from watching advanced dancers with great musicality. You begin to hear opportunities to do certain things - ochos, ocho cortado, walking, the molinete. Then you begin to try to execute those things - tentatively at first - they may not feel right, but eventually it begins to feel better - more "on". Then you begin to hear the traspie in the music - you can't do anything about it - but you hear it. Then you begin to be able to hit the traspie - and it feels good - to both of you.

For me, where my musicality is right now - I don't lead ganchos or boleos because I have not figured out how to incorporate them into my dance "with musicality". I hear the opportunities - but then it's too late. I will get there. I do have a milonguero "belly" boleo. And a back boleo to the cross. But that's about it. Others are awkward and forced, out of synch with the musical opportunities.

Be patient, focus, pay attention, practice at home and it will come to you.

Someone once said (Stermitz I think) that "you don't want to dance 'on top of the music', you want dance 'inside the music'...."

There is a new thread on Tango-L on the subject of "musicality". As usual, Tom Stermitz, the organizer of Denver Tango Festivals, is the voice of experience and reason. Here is what he had to say on the subject (in response to Igor Polk's post):

Message: 5

Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 16:07:08 -0700

From: Tom Stermitz

Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Musicality. What is it?

To: Tango-L


Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes

I have a simple description. Admittedly, you can find more complicated explanations:

Musicality is when Movement Energy Corresponds to Musical Energy.

Energy is still a fuzzy, undefined concept, but it includes various

aspects of movement such as speed, force, size, suspension,

acceleration, lift, grounded-ness.

So musicality is about adjusting your physical movements to go with

the music in a pleasing (again undefined) manner.

To teach it, you have to provide examples of musicality in the

exercises. The goal is to offer enough varied examples, that people

can ultimately learn it how it feels in the kinesthetic sense.

So, for example, I teach brand new beginners to walk with musicality

by matching their short elements to the musical phrase. Tango is built

on four plus four equals eight walking beats. Initiate movement

(compression and accelerate or surge) on the one or five, and come

together stationary on the four or eight (suspend, momentum = zero).

I'm very deterministic, and really insist on beginning at one and

ending at four.

Wooden? Yes at first, but at least they are wooden WITH the music

instead of walking woodenly and aimlessly around the room.

The value here is that when movement energy corresponds to musical

energy for these 4+4=8 steps, then they "FEEL" right, the leaders are

more confident, the followers learn about their musicality (i.e. how

they respond through the connection), and that all adds up to bringing

people closer to kinesthetic awareness (i.e. achieving musicality

through intuitive learning).

On Nov 30, 2007, at 3:24 PM, Igor Polk wrote:

> Following Steve's thoughts,

> I have deepen more into that, and to my surprise have found that I can not

> really define what people understand under the term "Musicality".

> I can not say what it is. I know that dancing supposed to be with music.

> And I believe I myself dance musically too ) But on a logical side, or

> rather sociological side I am confused.


> If it is so common, can one define what "musicality" is?

> What most people understand under "musicality"?

> So if one say: "This is a musicality lesson" what people expect?

> Those who come and those who do not?


> Another question is how to develop it.


> Igor Polk

My first thought upon reading this, perhaps obvious, is that "musicality" can be expressed differently, elegantly, eloquently by different people. Indeed, the same couple, dancing to the same song, should, in theory, express different musicality when dancing to that same song on different nights. That is, going with the theory that Tango is an improvised dance.

Some people obviously have "nailed" their musicality - especially on the "demo" and "performance" videos we all watch on YouTube. Some of this, I am sure, comes from practice, practice, practice. I am also sure that much of it comes from listening to tango music over and over - in effect, memorizing a song. There may be a certain spot where the rhythm and melody make it good to do traspie ochos - and a leader may do these in this spot every time he dances to a song.

Speaking for myself, I know I have difficulty being "musical" to a song I have never heard before. I had this problem in the early months of my tango - I didn't know what was coming next. This problem was solved by listening to tango music almost exclusively for over two years now.

I don't really reach any conclusions here - no real "deep tango thoughts" - except that musicality in and of itself is a fairly deep subject. My only conclusion is that good musicality is "a good thing" and that we should all strive to be better with our musical interpretations of a song, and the music in general.

Oh, this just popped into my head - "musicality" does not mean pumping (leader) or flapping (follower) your arms to the music. I hate that - it's not tango. Don't do it. Cuz I said so. (Alex)

End of original post...

And here's more from Igor Polk's blog...on musicality...

Deep Tango Thoughts :: Women who think during milonga,,,

Not milonga dances as in tango or vals at a milonga, but milonga at a milonga.

I was commenting to a comment by Ms. Caroline, and it made me think about something I sometimes encounter when dancing milonga. Mostly with new-ish beginner or intermediate dancers - rarely with advanced followers. I suppose this is why we call them "advanced" or "experienced".

When my follower starts "thinking" (about the dance/her footwork), I can tell immediately. So, I whisper in her ear...very quietly..."don't think". Sometimes I follow that with a "let me lead".

In milonga, a woman doesn't have time to think about what she is doing. In milonga con traspie, this is magnified ten fold - okay - maybe like two fold. The point is, there is really no time to think. Her mind must be totally clear, her mind and body in a total state of surrender. Not surrender like a rag doll. A surrender to allow oneself to be led. Surrendering control of her axis and her feet to me. Not her weight, not her body, but her axis - three different things.

Not submission, but surrender. Permission...for me to lead her. She has to give herself to me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tango Quotes :: Tango Sayings :: Johanna

If Johanna doesn't mind...I got this from her blog..."Tangri-La"

"I believe that Tango has the potential to bring out the best in each of us, at least while in the embrace. We surrender our egos; leave prickly personality traits at the table; and cease to be CEOs, taxi drivers, engineers, unemployed. We replace all our externals with a purity of spirit, a generosity of kindness, splendid caring. And when these elements flow freely between partners, it is...the joy." (Johanna)

Tango Technique :: The traspie side step in milonga

Here are Javier y Andrea again...demo'ing a milonga...note the traspie side step...from time stamp 0:32 to 0:36

He also leads it right from the get go with Geraldine Rojas in this demo to Biagi's "Flor de Monserrat"

I still have issues leading that...I can lead it "to the beat"...but when I try to lead it traspie, I lose the follower. One of my teachers told me the key is to uplead it...then she has no choice but to move her trailing foot quickly to stay with me...

Any comments?

Tango Quotes :: Tango Sayings

"Tango is not about what is done, but how it is done"
(E. Santos Discepolo)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Javier shaved his head...

Originally uploaded by red.sandal

This photo was taken last summer in Bologna, Italy. So, he went from the photo below...long hair (it was dyed platinum blonde for a while) this.

But, most of all, I like his suit. I need a suit like that...

Tango :: Article on Tango Estilo Villa Urquiza

Ala Azzurra Bologna :: Javier Rodriguez & Andrea Misse...noted Villa Urquiza style dancers...
Originally uploaded by gabymann

Article credited to Victor Hernandez...posted by Oleh Kovalchuke ( to Tango-L...

The "estilo Villa Urquiza" (the "Villa Urquiza"

To understand what it follows, it will help to
visualize Buenos Aires for what it is: a gigantic
metropolis of mind-bogling proportions and daunting
distances. A puzzle of immigrants, cultures, languages
and communities. When Alberto Castillo sings his
trademark vals hit "Cien barrios" (one hundred
neighborhoods) he is describing exactly "that Buenos
Aires": one hundred "cities", one hundred faces, one
hundred accents, one hundred personalities.

Even in today's world of cars, subways and technology,
it is not infrequent for thousands of portenos to be
born, live, work and die within the borders of his or
her "barrio" and greet each other - immediately after
their names - with their "barrio" co-ordinates. That
information is good enough for the speakers to "set"
and "clarify" with whom they are interacting.

If this is true today, imagine, one hundred years ago,
or even fifty, the "adventure" - and often the risks -
associated with moving from one barrio to another
(from Matadero to Avellaneda, from San Telmo to
Devoto) to live, work, very often to support your
local soccer team, or, to hear a particular tango
orchestra recital or to see first-hand how "good" were
the footwork of legendary and rival "milongueros"

Tango is a culture. In its deep ethnological sense is
the ultimate culture: from the people, by the people,
to the people. It is the real story, in music, lyrics,
movements and emotions, of those arriving by boat (and
by the scores) to La Boca and then moving, with fists
and knives, fast and painfully, to the "barrios" and
"villas" of the metropolis'periphery. Only "el
centro", the rich downtown, was (for a long while,
anyways) off-limits. This is the background to
understand why and how the many different "styles"
were born.

Without risking much, for the debate rages since the
beginning of time, it is safe to group the basic Tango
styles into six families (no, the so-called Tango
"Nuevo", does not qualify for the seventh one under
the parameters of this commentary. Sorry), each easily
sub-divided, to the trained eye, in more categories
depending again on when, where and by whom, they were

Thus, "Canyengue", "Liso", "Orillero", "Salon (or the
family clubs)", "Apilado" and "Escenario (or show)"
came to see the light at different times - and often
co-existing with each other. Of course all were Tango,
all embracing, all silent conversation, all emotional
confession, and yet, all different. Each had a reason,
a story, a logic of its own and - very importantly - a
few names of legendary proportions, names pronounced
in whispers and quasi-religious awe.

At the end of the day, as with everything touching
mankind, it was the convergence of necessity and
serendipity plus the magic touch of individual genius
which gave birth to those styles.

The "Canyengue" in times of tight dresses, tight skirts
and other complicated fashion "diktats" forced a style
of small steps, bent knees and side close body contact.

Eventually, fashion relented, allowing with the
"Liso" style a more "easy", more "open" and "walking"
style. One must always keep contact with the floor
("Liso" means "ironed", "straight", often "closing"
and with little fantasy). It was an acceptable and
"serious" style.

The "orilleros" (inhabitants of the "orillas", the
edges) had other ideas. Not only space was not a
problem in the big warehouses ("almacenes") where they
danced, but neither were the fixed "rules" of
downtown. The feet started to move away from the floor
in all kind of new tricks and steps, at times in a
rain of pyrotechnics. Some of those improvised
movements, eventually refined, will compose the basis
for many of the circus-like stuff of today's
"Escenario" or "Show" style.

However, none of the above, was allowed or tolerated
in the "family clubs" (small all-purpose venues kept
by the barrios' associations, each with a respectable
dance floor) and where a combination of tango-loving
and rigid social and moral codes imposed a "distance"
between dancers - usually closely watched by family
members - in retrospective, a blessing in disguise,
for that "distance", that "space" is going to allow,
when practiced by the individual genius of the moment,
a whole new array of possibilities. One can safely say
that the Tango moves and rules that we admire in
today's Masters were all taken from the "Salon" style
of those "barrios": Devoto, Avellaneda, Matadero,

There was, though, one very particular "barrio" among
so many, which concerns our story today for the "salon
style" it developed was something incredibly unique.
This barrio is situated north of Buenos Aires
(actually northwest), very far from El Puerto, San
Telmo or La Boca. It extends itself on both sides of
General Urquiza. During the last fifty years, the
finest tango dancers and milongueros that Buenos Aires
has ever produced, were trained in this area.

Historic family clubs like "Sunderland" or "Sin Rumbo"
had their addresses there and benefited from the
genius of "Milonguita", the legendary dancer who never
went up on a stage ("It is not worthy of a real
milonguero") but left his legacy to names like Gerardo
Portalea, EL Turco Jose, "Finito" Ramon Rivera,
"Lampazo" Jose Vazquez, Miguel Balmaceda and of course
"Virulazo", the one and only, who came to New York
with Tango Argentino. Many of them are now gone but
the "Milonguita'style", today known as "Villa Urquiza"
remains with its firm, straight, elegant way of
delivering the foot in long steps, caressing "el piso"
simply and continuously but explosing suddenly, if
need be, in a display of complex figures that the
"open" space between dancers allows. Never losing
embrace, never losing contact.

>From now on, when you hear the expression "los viejos
milongueros" you know now what they are talking about!

Not long ago, the very respectable Buenos Aires
newspaper "El Clarin" published an interview with
somebody named Ricardo Ponce. Not many "milongueros"
know Mr. Ponce by his real name nor by his day job (as
a bureaucrat at the Ministry of Finance). But just say
his "night" nickname ("El Chino Perico") and I can
guarantee you that you will get some reaction, respect
and admiration.

For El Chino Perico - a legend in his own - is one of
the last masters milongueros. This living bridge
connects today through the Villa Urquiza style
("Milonguita" was his idol and teacher) a whole new
generation of contemporary names perhaps more
"familiar" nowdays. Names like Miguel Angel and
Osvaldo Zotto, Ricardo Herera or Sebastian Misse.

Oh!. We forgot. "Apilado"?. That is the "close, close"
embrace, small steps, conveniently developed in the
crowded "Cafes del Centro" (the downtown cafes and
restaurants with usually an upper floor to dance)
which, thanks to an unfortunate misconception
attributed to Susana Miller has come to be known as
"Milonguero" style. But as Maria Cieri says "you
should not call that style "milonguero" because the
real milongueros avoided until very recently those
places - like Almagro - filled with rich Daddy's sons
looking for easy pick ups. Call it "apilado", call it
"confiteria", call it whatever, but, please, do not
call it "milonguero"!

Viva Villa Urquiza!

End of article...