Category Archives: Private lesson

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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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 …

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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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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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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 …

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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 …

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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

The milonga fun continues!

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The above is a simplified representation of the impression I’d always had of the steps involved in milonga. But by the end of yesterday’s lesson with Maeve, things were rather clearer.

The two-hour lesson covered three things. First, refining my walk, aiming to get more dissociation into it. Second, introducing the cross-system walk. Third, some simple milonga steps …

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Going with the flow

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Last lesson with Mariano, we just briefly tried the medio giro at the end. Not enough to get a feel for it, but just a taster. So I was rather expecting to pick up this evening where we left off, but no, Mariano and Steph decided we could dive straight into the full giro.

Amazingly, they were right …

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One perfect moment … and many imperfect ones

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In my final lesson on Sunday, a 30-minute one with Mariano, I had one perfect moment.

Steph wasn’t happy with my lead. ‘More chest!’ So I stopped. Mentally ran through my checklist for the walk. Feet grounded. Knees soft. Upright posture. Shoulders relaxed. Head up. Push back against the floor. Lead with the chest. Arms doing nothing other than maintaining the embrace. Then I began walking.

Everything came together. ‘Yes!’ said Steph, emphatically. ‘Now you look like a milonguero,’ declared Mariano. Just for that moment, I felt like one too …

Continue reading One perfect moment … and many imperfect ones