21 nov 2007 - Cellspace

We had a dearth of volunteers at set up and it was just Homer, Cristina and me. Cristina said it was like the good old days back in the beginning of Cellspace, when it was just her and Homer doing everything. We reflected on how it was different then - different floor, different decor, different bathroom. How ratty and disgusting those old couches were. Interesting to notice how it has changed, which I don't usually reflect on since I am here so often and the process seemed pretty gradual (aside from a few weeks of closure when they were doing some serious remodeling). David and Mariana taught the intermediate/advanced class while Sergei and Stephanie taught the beginners. I was sitting at the door so only saw what the beginners were doing but it seemed like a fairly complex idea for the level, cross system walk on the closed side of the embrace. But I guess the teaching must have been pretty clear because they appeared to pick it up. I had never seen S & S teach before but thought they looked good together whenever I saw them social dancing, and on the occasion that I dance with Stephanie it's always a pleasure, she's absolutely rock solid and has a fun expressive style. I couldn't see the int./adv. lesson too well but think it might have had something to do with overrotated ochos and sacadas. When D & M did the demo at the end it was mixed with a lot of really interesting variations so I'm not sure what the focus was.

Much of my time was sitting at door duty with Cristina, and in conversation she gave me a lot of little gems from a follower point of view and also concerning the process of changing perspectives as one becomes more experienced in tango. Also regarding shoes, in particular women's shoes and the nuances that make for a good or bad shoe for dancing (C prefaced this part of the conversation by stating she was a "shoe slut" or something along those lines; the number of pairs she told me she owns is, by my count, fairly outrageous - we're talking Imelda Marcos territory ;P). I think the shape and build of a shoe is probably more of an issue for women's shoes than for men's, although naturally we guys have to take care of our feet and our posture and balance as well. Of the few pairs I own I have only three brands - Flabella, Darcos, and Tango Brujo. I find that the Flabellas are very sturdy but a little narrow at the tip for my foot shape, and their earlier shoes seem to have an issue where they dig uncomfortably into the heel (they apparently have resolved this in the newer models, say post 2004/2005). The Darcos pair has a comfortable width and have also proved surprisingly sturdy given the model I own is the kind with the crossed leather weave. The Tango Brujo pair are practice sneakers and I've been dancing almost exclusively with them since I got them in June since they are so comfortable but also are simple to put on or take off because they are slip-ons with velcro fasteners. On certain floors the sole is a little grabby because of the material, not sure what it is. Maybe suede.

Managed to get a couple dances in, both lovely but lacking in imagination on my part. Think I was really tired. As I was leaving I encountered M, who almost convinced me to stay since it was her birthday and wanted to dance. It was a tough call, but I had stuff to take care of at home and was already later than I had intended to be, plus if I left it would give her a good parking space in front. And, to restate, I was tired and felt my dance wasn't focused or inspired at the moment. I promised her a dance the next time we meet.

So I guess given the holiday I'm staying in tonight. Just as well, I think my body needs the rest. Some people seem to dance 24/7 and I wonder if they aren't actually doing harm to their progress. Just as with any athletic activity I'm sure dance carries the risk of overtraining, which pretty much every athlete will say is worse than under training. But also there necessarily has to be a time apart from the actual physical practice of the dance where the mind uses the break to assimilate the concepts and in effect rewire the networks accordingly. A passage in maestro Charles Rosen's book "Piano Notes" (I've been reading a lot of piano related books lately) reads:

A proof of how purely physical the process of learning music can be is the fact that if one practices a passage steadily for a quarter of an hour, an immediate improvement does not always appear. The next day, however, it has suddenly and magically improved as if the labor was validated only by a night's sleep. It is simply that technique works at its best when the involuntary part of the mind takes over more completely. Then consciousness, no longer burdened with the difficulty of hitting the right notes, can assess all the other aspects of performance.

Just a thought for some of the gung ho tangueros and tangueras who never seem to sleep. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving all (or, as Bobby Hill from King of the Hill called it, "Thankstaking Day"). And again, Happy B-day M! Un gran beso para vos!

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