1 dic 2007

Not much tango the last few days. Thursday night practice with A, she was having some issues with injury and I was tired and unfocused. Nevertheless, we managed to find some good insight into specific issues we were having together which made for a productive evening, which was surprising given our conditions. Just goes to show that gems can be found in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Also got some clarification from Homer over certain ideas that I still--and probably always will--have struggles with. Basically issues with leading giros. Homer's concept of continuous and consistent resistance makes sense, and given that his dance tends to have a lot of circularity to it his opinion carries a lot of weight. Although even he will stress that it's what works for him and I can evaluate its worth and compatibility with my own approach.

I'm in the headspace right now where the kind of study that many of us devote to refining our approach to tango seems a little dubious and, in my lesser moments, even strikes me as silly in a way. Well, maybe I can't speak for anybody else, but certainly in my own case. I go through this phase from time to time so it's nothing new. But when I think about how a lot of my favorite dancers came to develop their approach, they didn't do it by going to workshops or studying in classes. They did it by dancing a lot and adoring the music so much that their bodies became a conduit, uniquely filtered and flavored by everything they have experienced in life. I think sometimes that nowadays the dance is getting to be a bit too uniform and the reason for this is the manner in which it is being taught, and more importantly, the manner in which it is conceptualized by those who are trying to learn. Many times I have been in the presence of a student asking a teacher how to perform a specific movement, ie. how to do a volcada. It makes me think that for so many people it's just a matter of "connecting the elements". And for me, from an observer's perspective it often comes across as very mechanical in action, even from some who perform the movements well. Even when it comes to tiny embellishments, which I think should be unique from person to person, I see something pre-defined, and often thrown in haphazardly without accenting anything particular in the music. Perhaps it's that people want to make the dance richer, but I don't think that richness and complexity are necessarily interdependent. And personally, I never get on the dance floor with the intention of challenging my partner but rather to make for a comfortable experience. This makes my idiom simple, some might say to the point of being simplistic, which is another issue I face and constantly examine. I'm sure that for some followers out there a dance with me just wouldn't get them excited. (On nerve.com they have a poll every week called "Marry, Fuck, or Kill" in which three candidates are named and pollsters vote on which one would fall under which category; I'm pretty sure in terms of approaches to social dance I wouldn't be voted under the "Fuck" category, instead falling under one of the other two.) The way I try to reconcile this is by being as attuned to the music as I can and expressing, in easy movements (or non-movements), as many different facets as possible in terms of rhythm, phrasing, mood, energy, specific instrumentation, etc. Which is yet another reason why I tend to be so picky about which tanda I consent to dance to. Because if I dance to a tanda which I don't feel inspired by in the moment, the dance will be very by-the-numbers, and I don't enjoy subjecting myself or anyone else to that if I can avoid it.

I won't say that I have no interest in studying some of the complex mechanics of advanced elements, but I hope that in the end I can express the moment in terms that don't break down simply into "volcada, cunita, sacada..." In fact, I sometimes get wary of named movements because that seems to imply something already defined, and I think there should always be at least an attempt to approach each dance fresh and without preconception. In a way I'm sure this isn't completely possible considering the communication aspect between leader and follower and floor dynamics. But unless we allow ourselves to explore, to express the most unexpected ideas, to dance with uncertainty and blind faith, we are essentially engaging merely in recreation and not creation. And that, to me, seems like an exercise in nostalgia. Nothing against that, but I just hope that tango is still something alive, vital, relevant, and contemporary. (I had a discussion with someone the other day who was of the opinion that tango actually died a long time ago and that nostalgia, though valuable, was really the main relevance that it has. While I can see his point and have a high degree of respect for his perspective, I have to say I'm of a different opinion).

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