All posts by Ben Lovejoy

EU Editor of 9to5Mac. Sometime novelist. Likes words, tech, photographs, bicycles, drones, places that are London, places that aren't London.

Variations …

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This week’s Tango Space class theme is the forward ocho. Although I have spent a … certain amount of time working on ochos, it was going to provide me with one thing I’ve consistently wanted: practice at pivots. I diarised two classes this week: Monday and Thursday.

Getting some practice really was great. It was a luxury to be doing something where I didn’t have to think about the logistics but could just focus on technique. I was comfortable enough that I was able to play around with the both speed and size of the ochos, and to begin to get a sense of the flexibility available in expressing quite different things with the same core movements.

The class was very busy. Tango Space had run a taster session on Saturday, so there were a lot of new people from that, along with some people just a few lessons in. That really helped provide a sense of my own progress. I spend so much of my time comparing myself with experienced dancers that it’s easy to lose sight of how much I’ve learned over the past four months. Brand-new beginners provide an encouraging contrast.

There was a 30-minute practica after the lesson, and – as with Saturday’s workshop – I was again finding that it felt much more of a mix of concentration and enjoyment.

I was keen to get as much practice as possible, so decided to stay on for the Improver’s class that followed. This was billed as ‘variation of the forward ocho,’ so what harm could it do to give it a go?

Ha!

Actually, the first half of the class was great. It’s easier to dance with more experienced followers, so that was a treat, and the class also dances in close embrace, which I find easier. Playing with pace and degree of pivot was also easier with dancers at this level.

But then things went onto a whole new level! The ‘variation’ was a forward ocho with a sacada, a pivot with a second sacada and then into a medio-giro with a parada and finally a sandwich. Glossary: a pivot and step with the leader stepping in between the follower’s feet, then a 180-degree turn to do the same thing again, then another 180-degree turn with the follower stepping over the leader’s leg, and ending with the leader ‘sandwiching’ one of the follower’s feet between his own.

The gap between the beginner’s class and the improver’s class is quite … big! I shall henceforth view the word ‘variation’ with considerable caution.

Much to my amazement, I was consistently able to do the first part of the sequence. Everything went fine up to the second sacada, then my feet were somehow ending up in the wrong place and that was the end of that. Attempts were made by both Federico and Julia to diagnose the issue, but there wasn’t really enough time within the confines of a group class, and I was happy enough to have got as far as I did.

The sequence isn’t going to be one I’ll be attempting any time soon, but it was more experience at leader pivots (pivots performed by the leader, that is), and that’s something I do need.

I was glad I stayed, but shan’t be making a habit of it …

Photo: Shutterstock

The power of pausing, the three rhythms of tango – and fun!

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Tonight was the monthly Tango Space workshop, this one on the three rhythms of tango: tango, vals and milonga. For those new to tango, see this backlink.

I was already familiar with the theory, and a little of the practice. But it was great to get some concrete tips and to have an opportunity to try to put them into practice in a milonga environment; when the workshops are as busy as tonight, you effectively get a crowded milonga for the exercises …

Continue reading The power of pausing, the three rhythms of tango – and fun!

Learning in the street, and the cross

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Understanding the physics of the tango walk

Walking to tonight’s Tango Space lesson, it occurred to me that I could use ordinary walking as practice. Not a full-on tango walk through Waterloo (though I have been known to do that on an empty DLR platform, which I’m sure amused someone on the other end of a CCTV feed), but just practicing really pushing into the ground. And in doing so, I solved a mystery that had been bugging me for a while.

The first time I ever really got that part of the walk right, Steph could instantly feel it, and Mariano could immediately see it. Yet I couldn’t figure out how that could be. How could something that happened purely inside my own body be not only felt but seen … ?

Continue reading Learning in the street, and the cross

Enter the parada (with a glimpse of sacada in the distance)

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When I started this blog, I was mostly doing it as a diary for myself. I figured a few tango friends might enjoy reading it, hence making it a blog. It’s much the same reasoning as the Journeys section of my website: mostly I enjoy reliving the experiences, and interested friends effectively view it as a kind of extended Facebook post.

So I’ve been surprised to see from the logs that the blog gets over a thousand visits a month. I think readers fall into one of four categories …

Continue reading Enter the parada (with a glimpse of sacada in the distance)

One small pivot for man …

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… one giant leap for his tango!

Today I had a 90-minute lesson with Bridgitta, in which I worked on the medio giro, then into a full giro.

Everyone told me that once you have one pivot, others become far easier – and they were absolutely right. Everyone also told me that from a medio giro to a full giro is really straightforward, and that too turned out to be the case …

Continue reading One small pivot for man …

A tentative tick for the medio giro, and the missing ingredient

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Another lesson with Maeve, as usual starting with working on my walk, and then moving on this time to the medio giro.

I’d been introduced to three different versions of this between Mariano and two Tango Space lessons. One of the three was easier to remember than the other two, so we worked on that one. (Oddly, it wasn’t the simplest version.)

This reinforced my previous learning: it’s not about the exact steps; these can vary. Whenever I stop worrying about exactly what my feet are doing and focus on the overall shape of the movement, things work much more smoothly. Which is a paradox of tango I’ll return to shortly …

Continue reading A tentative tick for the medio giro, and the missing ingredient