Changing direction

changing direction.jpg

Tango Space sends out a weekly email letting us know the theme for that week’s lessons. Usually these reveal the actual figure we’ll be learning, but this week’s email invited us on more of a magical mystery tour! The beginner’s description revealed only that it was on changing direction, while the improver’s class merely added that it would involve a cross … 

The beginner’s class turned out to be using rebounds, which was perfect for me, as practicing those is the homework Mariano assigned me in preparation for more work on ocho cortados next time. Serendipity doing its thing.

I’m used to using rather springy rebounds to add a bit of variety in my dance, but with both the ocho cortado and the turning technique we were using this evening, less is definitely more. I’m having to dial back the movement significantly. More practice is needed, but it was working and was fun.

The improver’s class

I again stayed on for the practica and improver’s class. The improver’s class used three back ochos into a pivot. Back ocho to the left, then to the right, and then on the final one to the left the leader pivots 180-degrees into a cross (both leader and follower ending in a cross).

I’m a bear of little tango brain when it comes to steps, and I wasn’t quite getting the hang of the particular sequence Federico was using. On the plus side, I was able to do something that worked, in as much as it began with the ochos and resulted in a 180-degree turn. It all went rather to pot after that, in that I had my frequent ‘failing to cease leading ochos’ issue, and thus not exiting the movement about half the time, but hey, one thing at a time …

One of my followers also said she couldn’t feel enough dissociation, which is another thing that happens when I’m focused on steps: my technique suffers. As soon as I brought my attention back to dissociating, she immediately felt a huge difference. (I do love it when followers in classes offer proactive feedback – it’s so helpful. I think some may worry about causing offence, but if you’re ever in a class or practica with me, please know that I very much welcome feedback.)

Federico and Natalia (standing in for Julia this evening) kindly demonstrated one last time after the class so I could video it and then go away and practice my part on my own. Not that the exact steps necessarily matter in real life, but each sequence has things to teach me, so there’s definitely value in being able to do it as taught at this early stage of my learning.

The ongoing torrent of tango

Having tested the idea, my current plan is to combine beginner and improver classes as follows:

  • Monday beginner’s class
  • Monday improver’s class
  • Tuesday improver’s class (which is before the beginner’s one)
  • Tuesday beginner’s class
  • A bit of time in the Tuesday milonga

If I’m feeling comfortable with the material, I can skip the second beginner’s class and spend more time in the milonga. If I’m instead struggling, I can add in the beginner’s class on Thursday. That way I’ll have between three and five group classes each week, plus some milonga time.

The improver’s classes do assume a level of familiarity with figures I don’t yet have, but the technique side is always helpful. My main concern is that I don’t want to short-change followers in the class by not being able to lead the full movement, as was the case in ‘variations of a forward ocho‘ class. 

But although I didn’t have tonight’s steps, I didn’t feel I was too great a liability to the followers as the overall shape of the movement was right, so they were still able to practice their part even if my feet were doing their own thing. Indeed, when I described my confusion, a couple of them said they didn’t know I wasn’t getting the steps as it felt fine to them.

Tomorrow’s plan, then, is to study the video and practice my steps on my own before I start work in the morning, then I’ll hopefully be prepared for that evening’s improver’s class. Of course, tomorrow’s class may use a variation on the theme that renders my practice moot … But I’m optimistic that being able to do one version will make it more feasible to try another.

As you may have gathered, I was more on form tonight than I was yesterday. I still wasn’t totally feeling it, but I did enjoy some nice dancing in the practica, and the classes themselves also felt like fun. I’m choosing to believe that I’ll be fully back in the flow by tomorrow.

Image: Shutterstock

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