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Friday, 22 March 2013

How to choose a dance partner

Ever found yourself dancing with someone and regretting it?  Were you unsure of what went wrong?  Do you still have no idea of how to prevent a recurrence?

I'm a firm advocate of the cabeceo.  However, this elegant form of invitation won't help you choose a dance partner.  It's actually the last step of the process.

First of all, you have to hone your powers of discrimination.  Know what you want, and shop around!

Once, in a Buenos Aires milonga, a tango friend asked how I identified the men I wanted to dance with?  In other words, those men whose cabeceo I would return. What was it that I looked for? I hadn't analysed my criteria before, but it got me thinking.

When I arrive at a milonga, I sit and watch the dancers for a while.  I make sure I don't look like I want to dance, until I've identified some possibilities.

Some key considerations for choosing whose cabeceo I would accept:
  • Does he dance to the music? Does his response to the music make sense to me?
  • How is his embrace?  Does it look comfortable?
  • Does he appear to dance for and with his partner?  (rather than trying to impress onlookers)
  • How are his navigation skills?  Is he respectful of the other dancers? (rather than viewing the dance-floor as his exclusive playground)
  • Has he made some effort to present himself appropriately for the occasion? Or does his dress and grooming suggest no respect for potential dance partners and the event?
Other factors may well come into play, but let's call these my minimum standards.

When dancing in a familiar milonga, filled with familiar faces, these strategies may be unnecessary -  I already have a good idea of potential dance partners.  However, if you have regretted your choices in the past, you may find my tips handy.

I would be very interested to hear how other ladies identify potential dance partners.

Gentlemen!  What about you?  How do you choose?


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Manos brujas

Happy Birthday, Rodolfo Biagi!

Nicknamed Manos brujas (spellbinding hands), some would say that Biagi's playful, staccato and upbeat style was critical to Juan D'Arienzo achieving such success, and bringing tango to a huge number of dancers.

In 1935, at the tender age of 19, Biagi was recruited as the pianist for D'Arienzo's orchestra. And what an energising impact he had! The story goes that one night D'Arienzo was running late for a gig, so the orchestra started playing without him, with Biagi setting the pace.  The public went wild and the rest is history.

It's interesting to compare Biagi's style in Paciencia (1937) with Fulvio Salamanca's in No mientas recorded only two years after Biagi had left to form his own orchestra. Both are D'Arienzo tangazos with excellent pianists, but Biagi stands out for me.  It's as though his fingers are smouldering on those piano keys.  Yet his restraint keeps us wanting more.

Here are Dany and Lucy, organisers of El Maipu (one of my favourite Buenos Aires milongas) dancing to Biagi's Quiero verte una vez mas after the crowd has gone home.

But best of all, are Biagi's playful valses. Who could possibly resist Dichas que vivi?


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