8 nov. 2007

I suppose I should come up with some more original titles for my posts, but I just don't seem to have the time. I know, I'm lazy.

I'm still new to this blogging thing but the ones I read seem to chronicle the day to day events of people who are discovering things about tango and sharing their experiences online. I don't know if anything I'll have to say about my daily routine would be of interest to anybody, nor necessarily shed any light on any subject, and also I just feel weird about broadcasting my interactions with people who may or may not be all that enthusiastic about anybody writing about them. So then I'm left with the question of what to write about, or even if it's worth it to keep a blog at all.

One thing that makes some of the tango blogs I read interesting is that they are coming from the perspective of people who are relatively new to tango, and when they are excited about a revelation their excitement carries over to their writing. Because I have already been involved for a bit longer I don't know if I can convey that same kind of feeling, the "a-ha!" kind of thing. Not that I've learned everything there is to know, far far from it. But it seems that nowadays whenever I get a new insight it's about a tiny thing, or perhaps something which I now understand in the long run will amount to just a miniscule step forward. And it's usually something technical and I don't know how much I can dress that up. Actually, a lot of the work that I do with the dance would probably bore people. Walks up and down, posture exercises, balance exercises, pivot exercises, etc. For hours. I can understand if people wouldn't want to approach their development of the dance in that manner. There is something very far removed from actually dancing in it, especially in terms of partner dancing. I look at it as doing scales or finger exercises in practicing an instrument. I realize that one of the great joys of performing the dance and one of the things most beautiful to watch is the sense of spontaneity, the appearance that something is being created very naturally in the moment. But despite all the emotion and humanity in dance, any dance, it still is fundamentally a physical, athletic activity, and the better shape you are in the better you will be able to express your art. Although I guess not everybody really needs to work on it that way. For example, probably my favorite pianist is Sviatoslav Richter, and he strongly disagreed with the use of scales for practice, opting instead to just play music over and over until it was where he wanted it to be. Glenn Gould was the same way, only he purported to practice very infrequently. So I suppose sheer talent can carry you a long way. But I think a lot of people severely overestimate their abilities. You can see this in any "intermediate" or "advanced" group class you go to, anywhere in the world. Some people don't seem to understand that tango progress doesn't happen on a stopwatch. I know plenty of people who have been dancing for years and remain terrible dancers. In fact, they seem to get worse because they add more to their vocabulary and with each element they accumulate more and more bad habits. But because they have been in tango for x amount of time they feel that gives them some sort of authority. Personally, I try to be diplomatic about it. Of course, I have my opinions on what I like or don't, and what I think is good or not, but in the end I hate to put a solid definition on what tango is. I remember one time at Confiteria Ideal I saw an older man with a face like a pug dancing incredibly harshly. He would swing his partner to one side, then the other, kind of like he was trying to kill a fly with a baseball bat. But when I looked at the woman's face over his shoulder, she had her eyes closed and a big grin on her face. And she never excused herself for the whole tanda. So who am I to say that's not tango?


La Nuit Blanche said...

about your last few sentences: me too. i find it fascinating that until we actually have someone in our arms and actually dance with them, we never really know what he/she is like in the embrace.

i watch people, and i form an idea of what they might be like to dance with, but often, i am surprised when i am actually dancing with them.

p.s. i think your blog is very interesting, by the way. i love it. please keep writing! ;)

Malevito said...

Regarding the embrace thing, I think it's probably more profound from a follower's perspective, although I certainly get it as a leader. On the occasion that I do work on my follow it's kind of amazing when I'm dancing with an experienced lead. Oftentimes, I am aware of being led but it would be hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is that I'm feeling that is compelling me in a certain way. With less experienced leads the mark is a lot less subtle and occasionally disruptive to my flow.

As a leader the embrace tends to be a little more consistent for me since I'm the one who pretty much dictates what kind of embrace we are going to settle in (and naturally, in the course of dancing I'm the one responsible for the elasticity when it needs to open or close). But I still try to be as diplomatic as I can without betraying my approach to the dance.

Anyway, thanks for reading :)