It seems hard to even imagine it now, but there was a time when I gave tanda-by-tanda descriptions of my milongas.
That made sense at the time, because in those early days I was dancing perhaps three, four or five at a milonga, and learning significant things from each. I dropped that approach in July of last year, and I think now it’s time for another change …
Rather than document every lesson and every practice session and (one day!) every milonga, I’ll post more intermittently. I’ll aim to pull together my learnings from the last week or so in normal times, and rather less frequently in these decidedly abnormal times. I’ll still write standalone posts for anything that seems to demand it.
Update: We’ll see how this works out in practice! As the primary role of the blogs is to act as a reminder of the things I’ve learned, I may end up continuing to blog each of the lessons, but perhaps more briefly.
This approach also gels with the stage I’m at in my learning, where it’s more about integrating things that learning new ‘stuff.’ I have enough ‘stuff’ for my simple dance, and have no present ambitions to significantly expand it in terms of figures.
I mean, there will be new things, of course. In tonight’s private with David, I learned a new thing I can do in the walk, a new way to play in a volcada, and a lovely voleo entry to the calesita.
Well, technically, I learned a sequence of walk directly into voleo directly into calesita directly into a volcada – but I don’t think I’m ever likely to use it as demonstrated! However, understanding how these things can be combined is incredibly valuable in my quest for a better appreciation of the possibilities for improvised dance.
That new thing in the walk, for example. I will quite often mark a phrase with a change of weight, or a side-step, but David showed me something else: to lead the beginning of a step but then stop when my weight is on both feet. Then, after pausing there for a beat, give my follower a lifting sensation before leading the rest of the step. He called that a ‘bridge.’
That’s my kind of ‘thing.’ Something really simple, but which gives another option for expressing something in the music.
Playing in the volcada was a happy accident. I felt like my follower was already crossed when I went to lead the cross, and David said she was probably anticipating. So he had me lead just the back-step of the volcada, then come directly forward. That should see the follower’s free leg swing forwards and then directly backwards – no cross. Then, after doing that once or twice, to lead the cross. And that is, of course, a great way to play in the volcada.
It does highlight another issue: some followers do anticipate things, and those at my own level might be taken by surprise by a figure they know being ‘interrupted.’ Another reason to long for the return of the days when we can dance with a dozen partners in a night! Ah well, they will come …
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