3. What recommendation would you make to someone who wants to try the tango?
I would advise letting go of one's fear of the difficulty of dancing the Tango, and to join a Tango dance school like Libertango, to learn from the bottom level. Rachael is warm and supportive, a delight to have as a Tango teacher.
Learning Argentine Tango was always in my mind. You watched it on the TV, looked it up on Youtube. And in your mind you fantasize about the moves of the couple. You see yourself as the third person. But in your mind it stays a fantasy.
Then one afternoon your wife asks you if you want to learn to do the Argentine Tango. You read the invitation with skepticism, because they talk about connection and feeling your partner. I agreed to it. When sharing with friends you doubt whether your rhythm problem will surface. But in my soul is that small tingling feeling that make dreams feels like a reality for a moment. And the weekend arrived.
We were 6 couples. Thank God that I have a wife as a partner. The first sessions was the basics. What are the basic steps? Moving forward? To the side? I thought that too. The basics was more. It was feeling your partners’ rhythm. At that moment I didn’t know that this “soul rhythm” would be the starting place of every move. Throughout the weekend we learned a lot of steps – forward, backward, sideways, box steps turn and more. Steps where your partner can show her elegance and desire. If this is what I got out of the weekend, it was a waste of money and time. But I didn’t waste my money or time.
Argentine Tango is like having a candle lit dinner. You invite your partner to the floor. And if she accepts, it’s the start of that magical evening candle lit dinner. You feel her presence. You invite her to take the first step. She feels like trusting you and follows you. Not a quick follow – a slow thoughtful move to the side. Your heart smiles because it was more than you dream of. Your step closer to smell her perfume, step slightly past her. Her smell fills every sense in your body. You close your eyes to hear the music fills the air. The moment intensifies. You hear her breath. Then you move to the side back so that you can make this wonderful box-step over. Then it feels that time stood still in your dinner.
You invite her to show a bit of herself. She twirls around you like the stars around the sun. You don’t have to open your eyes to see the star in front of you. You feel her moving. She fills the gaps that you show her. Afterwards you realise that she has change the direction of your dance. During the dance your gut mimics the half-beat of the music. It flows to your feet. And you feel alive. And at the end of the dance, when the music stops, when the night is over, the wine is empty, your know your dream evening around the table has just finish. In your soul you know you have connected with another soul.
Then afterwards you plan the next candle lit dinner, the next Argentine Tango around the floor.
This is what the two ladies have shown me. Connection with my partner when I can’t see. Money? Priceless every second.
Thanks a million.
Tango dag 2.
Ek slaap met musiek en danspassies in my wese. So nuwe ervaring vul mens met energie, maar o aarde, beginners luck is iets van die verlede. Die passies word al hoe ingewikkelder en ek en Corrie verstaan mekaar nie lekker nie.
Hy lei en ek moet volg, my eie keuse en ek dink die geveg in my binneste raak hewiger. Sy rug protesteer en my brein wil,die heeltyd dink, dis moeiliker om te , surrender' as wat mens dink. Hoe minder ek van my self hou, hoe slegter beweeg ek. Die frustrasie neem oorhand en ek moet 'n paar trane stort om die drukkoker te ontlaai, Corrie wil sommer ophou en ry en dis alles behalwe wat ek wil hê, hierdie is my geveg, nie sy skuld nie. My kunstenaars en wiskunde breine veg verbete.
Ons leer nog nuwe beweging en die vloer word te klein vir al die bewegende, proberende lywe. Ons fokus net op onsself en is verbaas toe die groep in 'n sirkel gaan sit en vertel hoe hulle voel. Ek en die meisie met die pienk hare ervaar dieselfde frustrasie. Dis nie ons leiers se skuld, dis ons eie battle. Mense voel van balans af. My kreatiewe brein wil al die volgende bewegings uitwerk maar ek lei nie. Ai!!!!!
Na 'n lekker lang russie, kom oms almal agter dat ons nogals moeg is, maar ons hou aan en dans nog op ons eie 'n bietjie langer. Ons wil.
Vandag is ons laaste dag en dit was 'n wonderlike naweek. Kan nie wag om weer op die dansvloer te kom nie. Hierdie is net die begin om jouself en mense om jou beter te verstaan. Dis om die kleurwiel te leer maar ons moet nog oefen om die kleure te meng.
Wat 'n wonderlike manier om mense beter te leer ken. Ons sal dit van vandag af net stadiger vat, een treetjie op 'n slag, en oefen op die maat van musiek.
Juan en Lumia is gebore!
Tango dag 3.
Ons laaste dans dag na maande se uitsien breek aan. Ek word vroeg wakker en gaan sit onder die akkerboom en word heeltemal rustig. Wat 'n voorreg om op 'n plaas te bly.
Ons is gereed en ry weereens vol opgewondenheid na die eerste sessie van die dag. Ons deel ons ervarings, kuier om die koffie en tee koppies en die groepie begin gel. Dis heerlik. Almal het hulle battles en vreugdes en die selfvertroue word bietjie beter.
Ons leer nuwe passies en begin voel of ons dans, maar dis soos om 'n toonleer te speel, ons kan nog nie liedjies maak nie, maar ek weet mos, dit vat tyd en oefening.
Ons is geïnspireerd. Ek verstaan weer dat ons twee pilare is, en soms loop een voor en soms die ander een. Elkeen het sterk punte. Die tweetjies van Citrusdal se opmerking dat hulle baie geduld met mekaar het, maak 'n diep indruk op my. Dit help nie om aggressief te raak nie, erken dat jy gefrustreerd raak met jouself, dis menslik, jou maat doen sy of haar bes.
Ons luister die mooiste musiek, sien die instrukteurs dans en gaan só geïnspireerd huistoe. Dankie Rachel en Lizelle. Julle kan maar baie meer kom kuier, ons wil dans!.
Ons belowe om te oefen, die musiek is klaar gesoek en vanaand begin ons, min dinge het ons al so geïnspireer, beweging om die maat van die beeldskoonste musiek.
Shall we Dance Juan?
By Annalien van der Colff
Rhebokskraal Olive Estate
In Preparation for Emiliano's visit in April, for which the styles of Tango Salon and Tango Milonguero will be a theme, I asked Emiliano some questions to enlighten us a little about tango social dancing as it is in Buenos Aires.
What is tango salon?
Is a tango style developed in the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires during the golden age (‘30s-‘40s), in particular in Villa Urquiza. Is characterized by its elegance, pauses and smoothness. These characteristics come from the environment where the style developed: big dance floors so more space to move.
What is tango milonguero?
Is a tango style developed in Buenos Aires downtown during the golden age (‘30s-‘40s). Is characterized by its creativity and its fast and sharp movements connected with the rhythm. These characteristics come from the environment where the style developed: small crowded dance floors so less space to move.
Are these two the only forms of Argentine tango?
No, you have even canyengue, stage tango and Tango Nuevo (developed in the ‘90s and almost disappeared in Buenos Aires)
Is a style changing or unchanging?
The city of Buenos Aires has a very dynamic spirit and tango reflects that, so the styles are always changing and developing but keeping a recognizable soul.
What style do people in Buenos Aires dance?
Mostly Salon and Milonguero. Young people like to do fusion which means to mix styles in the same song.
Should I learn different styles? Will I get confused?
In my opinion is good to learn salon and Milongero because these are the traditional styles. They give you more elements to enjoy the dancing and to interpret the music. No you don’t risk to get confused but you risk to become a better dancer.
So at the milonga can I dance tango salon or milonguero? How do I decide which style to dance at a given time?
Yes, of course you can dance any style you want apart for stage tango which is not suitable for a social context. You decide according to your capacity, the music and the partner that is sharing with you that moment.
I am excited to announce workshops with Emiliano Fernandez at the end of April 2017. Emiliano has been to Cape Town several times since his arrival in South Africa in 2013 and has made a substantial contribution towards our growing tango scene.
The overall theme of the workshops this time will be the two predominant distinctive tango styles that are danced socially in Buenos Aires, namely, Tango Salon and Tango Milonguero.
We will be looking at the qualities that define these styles, how they developed and most importantly, how you can use concepts inherent in these to connect with your partner in a way that only tango can offer. The workshops will give tangueros an important contextual understanding of tango as it is rooted as a social dance in the Rio de la Plata.
Thursday: 27th April: 7:30 – 9:00 Milonga for Fun
Friday 28th April: 6:30 - 8:00 pm Walking the Valz (intermediate), followed by guided practica
Saturday: 2pm- 3:30 pm Extreme Milonguero
Saturday 7:30 – 8:30 Premilonga lesson Salon Basics
Sunday: 1- 2:30 pm Giros milonguero style (advanced)
Sunday 3:00 – 4: 30 pm Giros Salon Style (advanced)
Sunday 6:00- 8:00 pm Guided Practica
Venues for the workshops and practica will be confirmed.
Cost R150 per workshop.
Early Bird Special: Pay for 4 workshops by 20 April for R520
Dima Berk will be in Cape Town for the next two weeks giving group and private tango lessons. Dima has taught with his wife Noora in Washington DC for over ten years. To find out more about Dima and his passion for tango I asked him some questions....
What inspires you about Argentine tango?
Argentine tango attraction started with appreciation of tango music. Music creates the mood and elevates your spirit. My continuous exploration of the dance technique keeps surprising me with unlimited possibilities of improvisation and variety of musical expression.
In your experience what do you see as the key strategies for improvement?
One of the best strategies for improvement is continuous study and practice. Finding a local teacher that inspires you to explore deeper into the tango technique. Attending festivals and marathons in different countries, you encounter a great variety of styles and meet all the cool tango people. Spending time in Argentina, couple of weeks every one or two years.
What is your view on the role of the follower?
Follower role is surprisingly very complicated. As a follower you're having a subtle conversation with the leader while interpreting the music. The relationship between leader and the follower is an ongoing exchange of ideas in the language of tango movements and feeling of the music. Great followers embrace variations of leader style while maintaining the independence of their own expression.
Who are your favorite teachers?
My favorite teachers range from world known to local teachers from traditional to nuevo, however what unites them is the passionate approach to teaching and how much inspiration and energy they bring to classes. Here is the list in no particular order: Sharna Fabiano, Javier Rochwarger , Alex Krebs, Julio and Christina Balmaseda, Martin and Mauricio Maldonado, Gaston Torelli and Moira Castellano, Chicho and Juana, Homer and Christina Ladas....
What do you see as the challenges of transmitting Argentine Tango in a removed cultural context?
Argentine Tango as a culture has many roots and this helps me to find the connection with students in almost any cultural context. When I talk about the musicality and physical movement I can relate to the African and European and Jewish roots of the music to explain the use of different instruments or beat and melody structures. As an explanation of physical movement I often find students can relate to folk dance movements or martial arts or other sports. To make my classes accessible and fun I strive to find the type of physical or musical experience that students can naturally relate and visualize.
Saturday 18th March
1- 2:15 pm: On and off axis calesita as a Conversation Piece
2:45- 4 pm: Mastering the cross for advanced dancers
Sunday 19th March
1-2:15 pm: Playful Displacement Strategies for Leaders and Followers
2:45 - 4pm: Who is leading the turn in media lunas?
Lessons will be at the Observatory Community Centre and are R150 each. Please book with Rachael Glaser: firstname.lastname@example.org
Private lessons can be arranged at R690 per hour or R590 per hour for a package of 3 lessons.
My biggest challenge as a tango teacher is to convey to leaders the 'feeling' of dancing tango, from the perspective of a follower who has experienced the wonderful sensation of dancing with leaders who create the sublime sensation that tango offers.
Most leaders approach the dance from the perspective of learning steps. This is natural as it is the steps that we see when watching others. What we don't see is the 'feeling' of tango. What is unique about the tango is the effortless connection that enables us to be at one with another, the sense of 'absorption' of the other, the movement and balance that does not require the leader to move the follower but move with her.
The most significant obstacle to achieving this connection is the use of the arms and shoulders that most leaders resort to when the correct technique has not been mastered. So, how can we alter and improve our lead to enable the most pleasurable experience for the follower? I will start with the approach that I believe we should move towards and then talk more about eliminating the arms and shoulders a bit later.
1. The embrace in the tango is constructed from the floor upwards. The deep and rooted connected to the floor is what gives both the leader and the follower power in the dance. For the leader, a constant reconnection with the heels gives balance and strength that limits the need to use the arms to control the follower.
2. Your own axis, generated from the connection you create with the floor, ,passing upwards through your core and back, gives your follower clear information about your own axis. If your follower feels your axis you will empower her to follow your lead with minimal effort. On the other hand, a weak axis gives unclear information, often leading both partners to resort to the arms or leading the follower off her axis :(
3. The most important thing to know about leading is that in the tango the leader is also a 'follower'. The leader invites and accompanies the follower to the axis. This is different to the leader stepping to where he thinks the follower should go. The leader needs to work with the weight of the follower, accompanying her all the time, even to a place where he did not think he was leading. This accompaniment passes through the floor and into the torso. The whole axis travels in unison with that of the follower.
4. Relaxation of the legs is key to creating a tango embrace. At the ankle, knee and hip joints the leader must be able to move with flexibility and responsiveness, allowing the upper body to be free.
How to eliminate use of the arms and shoulders in leading?
1. For both leaders and followers it is essential that the shoulder joints are free. Any rigidity in the shoulder joint will block the lead and require the leader to use more effort with the arms. In leading movements the shoulder joint needs to be able to absorb the response of the follower, so as not to produce a pushing effect.
2. Likewise, the joints of the elbow, wrists and fingers need to be free and relaxed, to absorb movement and resistance of the weight of your follower.
3. Take note that when moving forward the left arm does not become activated. Rather seek power from the floor which passes into your torso. Take care not to overproject the upper body which will lead to stiffness in the legs.
4. Engage the dorsal (back) muscles on both sides by rolling your shoulder blades downwards to prevent shoulders from popping forward. This tone should be present in your dancing at all times, without strain or exertion.
5. Your right arm is critical!! Don't swaddle your follower like and overprotective Jewish mother or lift her up onto her toes. Allow her freedom to move to her axis and the ability to ground herself. Once again flexibility in the shoulder joint and an ability for the arm to adjust its position and expand the embrace is important. The follower needs to expand her back so if you pull her forwards, you inhibit her dancing :(.
The result, hopefully, will be a tango embrace in which your follower feels she can close her eyes and trust, a feeling of a genuine hug, an embrace... tango....
Get Hooked on Tango on the Atlantic Seaboard
This is an intensive course consisting of 9 hours of teaching in 6 lessons.
Thursdays 9,16,23,30 March ,6, 13 April
Time: 7:30- 9:00 pm
Venue: Hellenic Club, Bay Road, Mouillepoint, Cape Town. free parking.
Cost: R600 per person, includes one FREE tango social
Can't wait for this wonderful retreat at beautiful Temenos in McGregor 7-9 April 2017. Please see details here:
Rachael Glaser: tango junkie, teacher, diva, sourceress