Ah Tangofest...it was a good festival...Here's what I learned...in a nutshell.

I tend to prefer the really good American teachers for group classes. The really good American teachers tend to teach "concept" classes. I tend to get a lot more out of this type of class set up. The absolutely best of them teach concept and then a combination to show how the concept works in real time.

Korey Ireland is awesome.

I tend to avoid Argentine teachers now for group classes as almost every single Argentine teacher I have ever had, whether I thought them good or bad, teaches by pattern.

I like Argentine teachers for private lessons. The really good ones know how to get right to what's going wrong posturally and technically...even when you are wearing baggy clothes :-) And the couple we took lessons from (Gustavo and Maria) were quite good about beign hands on and fixed a few very importnat things on me and made me aware of something I'd been trying to do for quite some time. I'm still not perfect at it, but hey...at least I know what to go for now!

As usual, I found that even what people would consider "Intermediate" level dancers there are better than most of the dancers in my own town, especially concerning musicality, posture and embrace. (No one gave me a back ache there...as opposed to my first milonga back home, where I promptly ended up with a back ache after.)

Overall, I really liked the "style" of Tangofest. They had "milonga follies", a much more lighthearted approach to a milonga (early in the evening), where instead of cortina's they had skits of problems that are often encountered in the crowded milongas there and how to avoid them, plus encouraged people to dance with people they didn't know at all via cabaceo- sort of an Argentine version of a mixer. They also had a tango history movie made by the Argentine couple that we had gone there to study from for the week, which was informative and respectful of the past people who had strong influences in Tango without all the over-sentimental clap-trap and rose colored glasses. My only problem was my Spanish was so bad, I had to move up to the front on the floor to see the translations. All these extra-curricular activities gave the festival a more "complete" feel as opposed to just class, class, dance...class, class, dance.

One thing that was REALLY nice was the orchestra on the night of the Grande Ball. Totally changed my mind about dancing to live music. Well, if you knew what we had to put up with for live music here, you'd understand why!

It was a full orchestra composed of mainly dancers who were also serious musicians. The FOUR bandoneonists were Alex Krebs, Korey Ireland, Ben Bogart (ok- he's a master bandoneonist who dances a bit), and one other I can't remember. A local teacher played piano, and at least one of the string section was a tango teacher from California. It was LOVELY. They played DANCEABLE music with a good beat that didn't wander or drop in and out continually. No Piazolla, very little Pugliese and Pugliese-ish music. They understood that was not appropriate for the crowd level and played a lot of recognizable tunes...after all Korey did the arrangements.

Here's a link to the evaluation survey results from Clay.


tango heresy

I dance mostly close embrace. I like it. That's what I do...give me a flat on style or a chest to chest "v" and I'm very happy...Open and "almost closed", I'll do them if I have to, but it's not my preference and I'll admit to being mostly adequate now through lack of use.

I am also quite happy that I can apparently hold a 200 lb person in place while standing on one leg....but that's irrelevant here...

I posted this on a forum and it has given me heretical tango thoughts...

"I danced with someone the other day (I was leading) and was attempting close embrace. I got through about 3 phrases of the music and had to switch to open just to be able to match her weight placement.

I know (from experience, because my main job is following) that this can make the follower feel bad, and this is the hardest thing for me to deal with regarding close embrace, because it can lead to a little flattening of the ego but if people can't learn how to match their partner, what else can you do? It was either move to a more comfortable position, or stumble all over her."

One of the main problem in my area for dancing tango is lack of floorcraft abilities and awareness about small space dancing. It's why my partner and I went to learn close embrace and all the elements that are common to it.

But I still dance small space type elements, even when I am not in close embrace and employ the same floorcraft techniques. So I am beginning to mentally separate the 2, with the possibility that people who don't like close embrace (too bad for them) should still be able to learn small space dancing, even if they keep a "close open" or open position.

Hmmm......not strictly milonguero, but I'm a bit of a rebel. I like a little modernity.

what a week!

It's been an interesting week for me tango-wise.

My other half is away and I spent all week teaching classes by myself. I think this has been a good thing because it really helps me learn how to consolidate and solidify my viewpoints without relying on anyone else.

We worked on walking up north...because they need it. They are trying, but I think I've thought it through enough now to make progress. With some groups it just seems to be constant trial and error til you find something that works. It took me forever to find a good explaination of embrace and posture. None of the usual ones we use seemed to be working. Gotta love 'em- they're a tough crowd!

On the other hand, I did a private lesson with a couple who just naturally fell right in to close embrace. I kept trying to take them out of it because it's normally a big fail and stumbling block for beginners, but they actually were doing well in it and kept sliding to it when I would try to talk about open so I worked on that instead and dropped my usually beginner spiel. At the start of the lesson walking and weight changes weren't happening and all they had was a pattern another teacher downtown had shown them (basic 8). After I had them drop that and just work on walking, weight changes and side steps plus connection, they went "wow, that was different".

Yes- having to actually connect and lead and follow is quite different from a pattern. I feel really bad that they spent money on 8 private lessons with this person before they came to us, but I guess you have to let it go at some point. I've certainly been there...money under the bridge....*sigh*

Who hair sprayed my cats???!!!

Ok- there's not REALLY hair spray on my cats...but this is the weirdest thing.

We had LOADS of rain (yee-haw!) and I guess this has triggered a belated blooming of all plants and the accompanying pollen attack, which knocked me flat last week.

A few days ago, I noticed that the long haired brother and sister (Velvet and Elvis) had weird feeling fur..very dry and brittle. I figured it was just that I had forgotten to comb them or something so I did but every time they came in from outside, their fur was dry and brittle, like they had hair spray on it.

Then in the car, I kept noticing little sparkly bits on the windshield, but it wasn't raining...so we stuck our fingers on it and it was sticky.

I put 2 and 2 together and figured SOMETHING out there (maybe elm) was making loads of pollen to make up for the very very dry summer and that this is what the cats were getting on them every time they went out...ewww.

day off

Why can't I get myself to work on things I am supposed to on my days off?

I MEANT to work on new earring designs (and rest my legs, which have been seriously bothering me lately)...but instead..read email, posted on forums, and played with the cats instead. :)

My show over the weekend was alright, but it hasn't been a good week for me. My other car is still broken, and no chance this week to go get it fixed.

I stand for 7 hours on concrete a couple of days a week and 4 hours on another, then teach tango in the evenings and my legs have really started bothering me since I started this new schedule. I am utterly worn out in the evenings and forget any thoughts of wanting to dance on the weekends right now...I'd rather sleep!

And my tango shoes I wanted REALLY REALLY bad may not be coming. They only had enough of the leather I wanted to make 2 pairs of shoes, so we are guessing on my size...sigh...a pair of neutral tango shoes in fish scale leather just doesn't seem to be on the agenda for me.

AND...the rain keeps bypassing us! GRRRR....

no tango

no tango for me this weekend, and I've been absolutely bushed every day this week...getting ready for a bead show and the hopes of selling some new designs...

like these fun earrings:

and beads

My hamstrings have been in bad shape, needing massage and probably partly due to being on concrete floors at work.

I sure hope my feet and legs are up to those new shoes I am (somewhat still) patiently waiting for...

over excited leads

I wasn't going to poast any tango today...but I will anyway since I am pondering a problem.

Over-excited leads.

I can totally understand getting in to the music. I know I do and I think it's a shame that there are people that seem to dance as if they are dead or walking like they are dead and feeling nothing, just doing the steps.

Then there's the other end of the spectrum. The over-excited lead (or follow). Though I am talking about over-excited leads here. The leads who get so in to what they are listening to that their whole body goes haywire and starts to send distracting signals, compromising the embrace, posture, and their lead....Arms usually become involved at this point and give the follow a bad ride. Luckily, my balance is not terrible and I have learned over the years how to compensate a little so I am not entirely pulled to pieces...but...


so defunct

I'm having a day off today...we'll as much of a day off as ever I get in my life...so I am pondering the state of my eBay.

I used to make my living making lampwork beads and selling a fair amount of them on eBay, and making enough to squeek by on.

Not so anymore. Let's just say I've had about a 100% decrease in lampwork sales. Man, I was so upset a year ago when I was making half what I used to and so had to go out and find another part time job, plus teach social tango part time, plus try to keep up with the beads. Now I'd just be grateful to make that much again.

So I've been doing this for the past year now, and making less and less on eBay, while my fees have increased.

I honestly can't figure out how I am losing $30-40 a month on fees when I rarely make over $100 a month anymore. That's something close to 40 and 50 percent cut, off wholesale price....and doesn't include Paypal fees. I'm lucky to pay myself anything from that account at the end of the month, and I'm exhausted, but I can't stop listing or people will forget about me completely.

So I sent out an email to the people on my mailing list to say I was seriously cutting down the online store, and moving handmade items over to my derelict Etsy account I haven't posted in for months because it's not a particularly "user friendly" place to "find" items. People who seem to do well there drive their business there from elsewhere. I guess it can't be any worse than eBay and I'll just have to give it a try again.

tango shoes

I am eagerly awaiting a pair of tango shoes. I have dutifully got most of my other shoes for sale (at http://www.bastetsbeads.com/tangoshoes.htm ) that aren't fitting me properly (that's most of them)...and am awaiting a nice LOW heel pair of shoes by Greta Flora through Diva Boutique...

I've tried peep and close toe shoes, and they just hurt my toes. So I'm going back to open toes. I hope I don't entirely regret it...a stepped on toe is just about the most unfun thing you can do in dancing...and it always happens to the one toe I really don't want it to happen to- my big toe.

But-nerves aside- the shoes are gorgeous and Greta Flora has quickly been gaining a good rep.

Here's a preview of a pair I'm considering in purple.

more tango

My last workshop got me thinking again...yet again. And the more I think about it, the more annoyed by it I become.

I have no problem with learning large or fancy movement. And in the second class I was in, we did learn something rather large.

What annoyed me about this (and still does) is that the teacher spent quite some time going on about social dancing, embraces used on the social floor and how we don't dance like they do in Argentina. Then she goes on to show a pattern that would NEVER be used on a crowded social floor in Buenos Aires. Have a look at some youtube videos of milongas in BsAs and you won't see any overlarge movement regarless of the crowd (at least at the traditional milongas). To me, that was just plain ole' wrong and a very poor decision.

Milonga at Nino Bien: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVV83rj9aOc
Milonga at Cachirulo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8myVFqoHi4 (end of the night- they are dancing a little wilder, but this would be "tame" dancing here in America)

I've been pondering it ever since and can only come up with one possibility that fits. Perhaps teachers teach this was in BsAs but somehow, from somewhere, the students are also learning how to make the judgement between what is correct for the social floor and what is not (or at least how to pare down their movement). And that truly is something that is a problem in America with the social dancers. Many of them don't think about what they learn and it's application or non-application to the social floor nor how to make judgments of what is ok to use and what isn't.

Where is this coming from? Is it the fault of the teachers for not specifically teaching the students how to judge the applicability of what they learn for social floor versus performance, or are we just, in general, really dumb?