The above is a simplified representation of the impression I’d always had of the steps involved in milonga. But by the end of yesterday’s lesson with Maeve, things were rather clearer.
The two-hour lesson covered three things. First, refining my walk, aiming to get more dissociation into it. Second, introducing the cross-system walk. Third, some simple milonga steps …
It’s amazing the levels to the walk. Every time I get one part of it down, introducing the next element feels almost like starting all over again. Having my chest pivot toward my moving foot while my hips and head remain facing forward is something I find comically difficult. We were doing it v-e-r-y slowly (itself a good exercise in balance), with Maeve variously using fingers on my hips and head to remind me not to move them. I really need to do lots of practice!
I really love the way Maeve builds things up one element at a time. She also has a simple and amusing way of reminding me when I’m failing to do something: she just remains rooted to the spot until I figure out what I’m forgetting!
The version of the cross-system walk Steph and I had made up on Saturday turned out to lack one tiny ingredient: a change of weight and, therefore, the ‘cross-system’ part of the description. That small detail aside, it was fine …
Maeve taught me the easy way to switch systems: a side-step and a change of weight. She showed me two versions: one where I changed weight without my follower doing so; the other where I led a change of weight without changing my own. By the end of that part of the lesson, I was happily switching systems using a mix of the two methods, though I’ll definitely need practice to reach the point where I don’t have to think about it. Once I can do that, then it immediately adds some variety to the walk.
Finally, the milonga! After making sure I had the milonga rhythm (I did), Maeve then gave me a proper understanding of the simple box-step pattern Steph showed me. After that, she had me mixing that with weight changes (which, if you turn at the same time, also feels like dance at that speed) and a walk at milonga pace.
We started with Milonga Sentimental, one of only two tango songs I can actually name on hearing it (the other being Poema). Maeve then upped the ante with Reliquias Porteñas! For anyone unfamiliar, this is a fast one, and a great way to see whether I could keep up. It was far from perfect, with my feet at times getting mixed up and having to do a few resets along the way, but I suspect that’s not unusual in milonga …
By the end of the lesson, I could mix-and-match the three elements and throw in a few rebounds and sidesteps. That, when I’ve practiced it, gives me the ability to dance to milonga! Only in the most basic of fashions, of course, but still – it was enough to feel fun!
If you’d asked me to predict what I might be able to do when, I’d have expected to be further down the pivot route by now – but would never have guessed I’d be having a go at milonga this early! Will call that a draw, I think.
After the lesson, we headed off to a friend’s flat-warming party. This was almost entirely populated by tango dancers, and, unsurprisingly, the conversational topics were about 10% Brexit and 90% tango. We’d expected to stay for a couple of hours, and finally crawled into bed at 2.30am. A highly enjoyable evening in great company.
Next lesson is another two-hour one with Maeve on Thursday, so maybe we’ll tackle something twirly – a medio giro or giro. It’s circular motions I most feel are missing at present. Once I can confidently include those in my dance, I’ll feel much better equipped in milonga-the-events.