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Saturday, 26 April 2008

Sharing the real estate ... aka floorcraft

Energy levels were high at the recent Comme il faut with 50 people in attendance. It was a great night! But it also led to several experienced dancers tentatively, and ever so politely, suggesting that a reminder about floorcraft might be timely.

Tango is, after all, primarily a social dance. In general, the flashy, cool moves which dazzled us all in our early days of learning tango, tend to be more suited to performance and are inappropriate at a busy milonga. You know the sort I mean: where a section of the dance-floor, disproportionate to the dimensions of the couple, is effectively unavailable to others for fear of lethal stilettos, or simply because they "need" the space. Dancing in control, in la ronda (ie. in one lane, following the line of dance) with awareness of those couples around, rather than zig-zagging, will mean that everyone can enjoy the dance. It's one thing being transported into the tango zone, but as someone's mother somewhere, sometime said, "It's not all about you! You have to learn to share."

Depending on the size of la pista (dance-floor) there may be two, even three, parallel lanes. "What about changing lanes, when there's a gap in the traffic?" I hear you ask. Well, the convention is that you don't ... at least not during a piece of music. The couple in that lane, or at least the leader, will know how much space he has to play with and you're courting disaster, in the form of a collision, if you cut them off. If there's plenty of room and you wish to change lanes, all you have to do is wait for the window of opportunity between tracks.
"Patience!", I hear mother say.

With all those parallel lanes, there's going to be a section in the middle which can also be used. In my experience, that tends to be used by dancers requiring more space. Navigation is less predictable, but the same principle applies, ie. ensure that your dancing doesn't interfere with others' enjoyment. How that works depends on the amount of space available.

Granted, these conventions are strong in BsAs where sheer numbers at milongas absolutely require them, and we're only in little ol' Adelaide. But as our tango community grows, we need them more and more. These codes have been refined over the decades and are still going strong ... because they work.

Interested in knowing more? Take a look at the piece by Tom Stermitz in ToTango from North America.

Happy dancing,

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Some tango quotations

I thought I'd share some quotes which ring true for me. Some from tango celebs, others not. Let me know if you have other favourites you'd like to share. Pat.

"A good dancer you recognise by the way he walks, not by acrobatic figures" Pablo Verón

"Don't dance 100 different steps in one way, dance 1 step in 100 different ways" Jean-Michel

"It took several years to get past being fascinated with the steps, which were my first draw to the dance. The dancers who were doing less footwork were uninteresting to me and I just didn't see them. Then, years of advice from the milongueros to feel the dance, not just learn steps, began to take effect. I started to notice the dancers for how they stood, embraced and felt the music. It isn't like I didn't know these things before, I just didn't see them ... even though they were right in front of me."
Daniel Trenner

"Tango ... a sad thought which is danced"
Enrique Santos Discépolo

"El tango te espera" (Tango waits for you)
Anibal Troilo

"When you dance tango, you must give everything. If you can't do that, don't dance."
Ricardo Vidort

Entrega ... or what could be likened to "The Tango Zone"

Many say dancing tango - as danced in the salon, not on the stage - is about the man, the woman and the music. But that doesn't quite get to the heart of it for me, and it certainly won't help the uninitiated "get it".

For quite a while I have thinking about this notion of la entrega in tango. More and more, I believe that is what dancing tango is all about. It's something like surrendering to the emotion of the music together; and the stronger you both feel about the music, the more powerful that fleeting experience may be. Rick McGarrey in Tango and Chaos writes about a shared informed passion. But better see for yourself what he has to say about that.

The rest of his website is also a must for any tangoholic.

Happy reading,

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