Category Archives: Private lesson

Joining some more dots – in cross-system!

Different teachers have given me different things. David, for example, was absolutely fantastic at giving me variations on things I already knew. At helping me connect the dots – something which has made my dance both more varied and more fluid.

With Filippo, I’m working almost exclusively on technique. But five hours of dancing on Sunday made me realise there is something rather fundamental missing from my vocabulary, so tonight I asked Filippo to provide a solution. It worked out better than I could have imagined …

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A tango crash after the high, and a wonderful new teacher

I kept saying, throughout my extended tango high, that there had to be a crash around the corner. It was a surprisingly long time coming, but when it did, it was an impressive one.

Let’s start with the good news …

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Three years in, learning to stand, walk and turn

Being a tango teacher must take a special kind of patience. Learning to dance takes so long that the only way it will ever happen is via shortcuts. Things that are good enough to work, to get people to the stage where they can dance.

Along the way, they have to turn a temporary blind eye to really fundamental technique issues that will need to be addressed further down the road. Things like learning to stand, walk and turn …

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Rhythmical dance is bringing me back to basics in a whole new way

I wrote last time about the excitement I feel, at finally feeling like I might start to enjoy rhythmical tandas as much as lyrical ones. But there’s also the other side to this, which is why I choose the above image for this post.

There are times in my tango journey where it feels circular: Oh, this again! But it’s of course really a spiral. We learn something on one level, then we return to it later and explore it on another level. And we continually get deeper into each element – like revealing the fruit beneath the peel. (Hey, this metaphor is worth what you paid for it!)

Turning my attention now to rhythmical dancing is like revisiting everything from scratch …

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An unplanned, and very exciting, focus on rhythmical dance

I’ve long favoured lyrical tango over rhythmical – legato over staccato. While most songs of course contain elements of each, there’s a huge difference between say Fresedo’s Buscandote and D’Arienzo’s El choclo. The former has me leaping out of my seat, the latter shrinking back into it.

Partly that reflects my musical tastes. My non-tango music is dominated by singer-songwriters, so it’s natural that my tango tastes would lean heavily toward songs where the singer is the focus. But there’s a second factor …

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The back cross, and the power of not thinking

Long enough ago that I can’t find my blog post about it, I did a group class with Winston and Silvia on the back cross. Since then, my hit-rate on leading it has been somewhere around 50%, so decided it would be good to work on this during tonight’s private with Filippo.

Janet said she has no real preferences in what we do – her focus is purely on posture and technique, and she can do that whatever the topic …

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A somewhat ambitious private that I think paid off

Regular readers will know that I am a bear of little brain when it comes to steps. That’s one of the reasons I don’t really pay much attention to sequences – it takes me an age to get the hang of them, and there’s zero chance I’d be able to do them in a milonga, even if there was room and it worked with the music.

My ‘lego block’ approach to learning – where I try to understand the individual components, and play with those – works far better for me. But tonight I did want to have a go at a short sequence …

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Clockwise giros, and the long list of technique issues my attempts revealed!

Long-time readers will know that it took me a lot of time and a lot of privates to reach the point where I felt happy with my giros. They remain basic – you won’t find me doing any lapices or sacadas during them – but I’m happy with them for now.

Clockwise giros are another matter. Turning toward the closed side of the embrace feels a lot tricker, and my track-record with them is patchy …

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Tango lives in the details

I once saw an interview with Carlos Gavito, toward the end of his life, where the interviewer asked him what he was working on at that time. ‘My walk,’ he said.

I guess at a high enough level in any discipline, people still work daily on the fundamental techniques, but I can’t think of many other activities where we consider ourselves beginners for two years and are still having lightbulb moments about the most basic of things …

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Resuming privates, and seeking out complexity!

It’s been quite some time since my last blog post. Lessons obviously had to stop during the stricter lockdown, and it feels great to be able to resume them. Even with regular practice, long gaps in teaching do make me nervous!

But it seems I didn’t have too much to fear. I do have work to do to restore my tango posture, but my fluency seems to be mostly intact …

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