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.

Ballet fitness, musicality, and a truly shared dance

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Ballet fitness class

You’ve got the tango bug pretty bad when a friend talks you into doing a ballet fitness class.

Bridgitta’s argument was that ballet training offers a lot of benefits for dancing tango. It was hard to argue against this given that I’d already booked a ballet taster class next month for exactly that reason.

I’d expected the class to be all women. As it turned out, a third of the class was male. But that third was me …

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Three things

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I tonight did both the beginner’s and improver’s classes again – though the order is reversed on Tuesdays. All four classes taught a different version of a 180-degree turn:

  • Monday beginners: Three rebounds while pivoting
  • Monday improvers: Three back ochos into a pivot, ending with both leader and follower in a cross
  • Tuesday improvers: A cross into a medio-giro
  • Tuesday beginners: A rebound into a medio-giro …

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Changing direction

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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 … 

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What goes up …

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That was a long tango high! But what goes up …

Today’s lesson with Mariano wasn’t a full-on tango crash. It wasn’t like I couldn’t do anything any more. But I just wasn’t feeling it. My movement felt clumsy. I was getting mixed up with a simple sequence of steps (a new-to-me form of ocho cortado). My pace was off. And I was really inconsistent …

Continue reading What goes up …

Dancing the corrections

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Saturday saw me at Tango Garden for some guided practice with Bridgitta in the practica – plus a floorcraft exercise in the milonga.

Bridgitta started the latter by discussing some scenarios – like someone walking backwards into our space – and different ways to handle them. Then we just walked arm-in-arm so we could focus purely on floorcraft, with Bridgitta having the same view of the ronda as me.

I felt somewhat self-conscious about this strange arm-in-arm thing we were doing in a busy milonga, but it was obvious from quite a few knowing and approving smiles that this was a recognised and appreciated technique …

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Awarding myself achievement points for three things

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Tonight was the second Tango Space class of the week, again on the medio-giro. In hindsight, I should have gone to the improver’s class rather than the beginner’s one, as that would have further developed my skills; it just didn’t occur to me in time.

But the beginner’s class was still great to get lots of practice, and in a rather crowded room that included adjusting the size and angle to suit the available space, so that was really useful …

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A more successful variation

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Regular readers may remember that the Monday Tango Space classes have a beginner’s class, a 30-minute practica and then an improver’s class. The topic is the same for both beginners and improvers – the latter doing a ‘variation’ on the theme.

You may also recall me deciding last week to stay on for the improver’s class, with what might best be described as mixed results

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Giros, Pugliese and Practice

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After last night’s drunk tango, I had the kind of hangover commensurate with the amount of wine consumed. Which made for a somewhat more challenging two-hour lesson this afternoon than would otherwise have been the case.

In principle, we were just working on technique, and I’d asked Maeve to work with me on two things: improving my dissociation in ochos, and aiming for some fluidity in giros. However, in my hungover state, the lesson included some remedial material too …

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Achievement unlocked: drunk tango

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I’ve never drunk alcohol at a milonga, partly because wine-breath doesn’t seem a great idea in a tango embrace, and partly because I have a finite quantity of coordination available even when stone cold sober.

But we had dinner with a couple of good friends last night, one of whom was a follower who hadn’t danced for a long time. So after way more wine than is reasonable between four people, she and I danced …

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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 …

Continue reading Variations …