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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

D'Arienzo's neglected singer

You probably have heard of Héctor Mauré, Alberto Echagüe and Armando Laborde - all wonderful singers at various periods of Juan D'Arienzo's orchestra.  I love them all, as each one brings a different colour to recordings.  (Oh, to have experienced them singing live!!)

But, have you heard the expressive voice of Juan Carlos Lamas?  He didn't sing for long with D'Arienzo, before forging a career in the movies, according to the biography in Todotango. (His good looks may have helped a little.)

Listen to this very danceable tanda with a few of my Lamas favourites. Though, I would have included the superb Viejo tintero.

I do wish more DJs would play his songs!

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Why chatting and dancing tango don't mix

Well, for a start, having a conversation while dancing seems to miss the point of tango.  Unfortunately, it can be rather anti-social, too.

So, let's re-imagine and replay this scene:
You're at a milonga, and the DJ starts playing a tanda of romantic Di Sarli.  You're in luck when your favourite Di Sarli partner looks in your direction.

As you dance, you begin to feel that the 'tango angels' are watching over you.  You are completely in the moment.  The connection with your partner and the music is deep, and at the same time heavenly.  This is the blissful and elusive experience sought after by dancers.  And when it happens, it gives you goose-bumps.

But suddenly, you are brought back to Earth.  A neighbouring couple's continued conversation while dancing has broken your trance.  You can't help but overhear the discussion about a recent movie, which they could easily have conducted elsewhere.  Are they unaware of the wonderful opportunity which they are missing?

You also happen to notice that their navigation on the busy floor has been affected.  Preoccupied with sharing views of the movie, the man is unable to pay enough attention to leading his partner, and experiences some near-misses with surrounding couples.  In fact, you have to take evasive action to protect your partner.

What to do?  Do you say anything at all?  Do you put your index finger to your lips, discreetly suggesting that they be quiet?  Or do you do nothing, but shake your head and grumble to yourself about their lack of awareness?

On another note, imagine that you find yourself dancing with someone who also wants to chat.  What do you do?  For a few options, take a look at Talk and tango? I just can't do it.

Thanks to Los Angeles Tango Academy for the pictures

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The amazing Roberto Segarra

He'd be seen sweeping ladies, young and old, off their feet at Buenos Aires milonga venues, such as Obelisco Tango.  We'd shake our heads and wonder how he did it.  Last May we saw him, as always in great form at the ripe old age of 97!!  Born in 1920, he had danced to the great Golden Age orchestras playing live.  Imagine that!

However, his time had to come. We heard of his passing this month through Janis Kenyon's blog.

Here is the sprightly Roberto dancing, along with a brief interview (with English sub-titles) about his life in tango.

We'll miss your gleeful smile and joyful dance, Roberto.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Without the pause, there is no tango

In this interview, Gabriel Misse talks about the importance of the milonga - where, he says, real traditional tango is danced.

Among his thoughts he also states: You have no pause, you have no tango. This got us  reflecting on how much we value the pause, as crucial to connection and musicality.  However, it's not easy.
Here's some food for thought:

What dancers might be experiencing at a pause
  • What's he doing now? (anxiety, apprehension, tension in the body, readiness to leap into an anticipated movement)
  • People might be watching me now that I've stopped (self-conciousness)
  • I don't think I have enough control to lead the pause effectively, and then hold it (fear of failure)
  • Ahh, I can put both feet down now, and have a rest (balance problems)
  • I'm not sure I can get the timing right moving out of the pause (lack of confidence in skills)
  • What figure is he going to do next? (brain in overdrive)
  • This feels beautiful. I'll savour the intimacy of this shared moment.
Certainly, the pause can be challenging until it's mastered.  But it's definitely worth the effort!

... and finally, a quote from Carlos Gavito:

I believe that tango isn't the dancing step but rather it's what's between one step and the next, where there's nothing, where the silences are, where the memory and remembered things are.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Sore tango feet?

Just back from the very successful Tango in the Spring event in Canberra, Australia - a lovely opportunity to immerse oneself in Golden Age tango.

But, all those hours of milongas can take their toll.  Sore feet was not an unusual topic of conversation.  Some might say that it's a good problem to have - implying that they should be happy, because they did lots of dancing.  Does one inevitably follow the other?

Well, I'll let you into a secret.  You can have your (milonga) cake and eat it, too!

Here are some tips:
  • Keep your body in shape
    If you can easily maintain a good posture in the embrace, keeping your axis aligned over the weight-bearing knee, then you are more likely to be using your foot efficiently. (You'll find it harder to pivot, if your weight is on the outside of your foot.)   Poor distribution of weight can also lead to injuries.
    You might try exercises for the feet and ankles, too.

  • Select well-fitting and well-cushioned shoes
    Our feet weren't designed to walk in high heels. So, we will be asking for more trouble wearing shoes which are also too tight, too loose, un-cushioned, etc.  (Note. Good padding for the balls of the feet becomes even more important, as we get older.) 
    The shoes may be pretty. They may be a bargain. But, trust me, you'll regret it unless they are really comfortable from the start!  Just ask yourself how many pairs of rejected tango shoes you have stashed away, or given away.  If you're like me, it will be too many to admit to!

  • Keep heels and balls of both feet in contact with the floor
    Why dance just on the balls of your feet (unless pivoting, of course)?  Use your heels and your metatarsals. 
    While extending into a back-step, keep the metatarsals (not only the toes) in contact with the floor.  Lifting and placing your foot, will mean that each step effectively impacts the floor. Ouch!
    These techniques also ground us and help with our balance.

  • Choose partners carefully
    You don't have to dance with anyone and everyone.  If you know that someone's dance style causes you discomfort, then you don't have to accept the invitation.  Use the cabeceo to avoid this, or politely refuse.

  • Take a break
    Perhaps you've just danced a lovely tanda, and feel like basking in the lingering pleasure. Maybe the person you hoped to dance with to this next tanda is already dancing. Or, the music being played doesn't inspire you to dance.
    No problem.  Sit and watch the dancers, enjoy the music, or have a chat. Your feet will appreciate the break.

  • Ice
    Keep a small plastic bottle of water in the freezer at home. If you do get sore feet, cover the frozen bottle with several layers of newspaper or a cloth, and roll your bare foot over it on the floor for 5 minutes or so.  The cold reduces inflammation.  The improvement is amazing and lasts!
Of course, for ongoing problems, you should get professional advice.

I hope this helps.  You may have additional tips to share.  Would love to hear from you.

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