6 jun 2008

Practice today was kind of a mess. I'm in a transitional phase and everything is all jumbled up. It's like a Rubik's cube that I've scrambled and have to figure out how to put all the colors back into place, but I keep adding squares to it. I think I must be driving A a little nuts. Not only am I trying to incorporate some new ideas into my dance but I'm also finding it difficult to focus lately, which makes my movement and my connections inconsistent to say the least. Even fundamental elements feel very uncertain. I'm not worried about it since I'm so familiar with this part of the process, but it is one of those things where you kind of just step back and go "Huh."

A is in a transitional phase as well, and while I think it is a parallel progression with mine in practice it seems to come across as disharmonious. That is to say, pairing my growing pains with hers adds up to a collection of difficulties that seem more than the sum of their parts. But I think this, too, is normal. Even a couple who are very familiar with each other can't be expected to have exactly the same wrinkles to iron out. And in the process of reinvention the roughness of each will create cacophony together.

I have just started reading a book called Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and there are some pretty fascinating insights about the way people connect with one another which I think reveals a lot about why tango is such a powerfully spellbinding dance. I won't delve too deeply into it here, but I just wanted to mention an idea that he presents about rapport. If I understand correctly, there are specific kinds of neurons in the brain called "mirror neurons" which are of primary importance regarding our degree of empathy. These neurons fire in a manner that makes us actually feel something that is observed, ie. seeing a smile makes us happy, and even goes so far as to make us physically mimic the behavior and the physical expression in turn reinforces the feeling, ie. smiling makes us happy. Rapport, then, is determined by how effectively the mirror neurons of the people involved are attuned to one another. This can physically manifest itself in such ways as mirrored body positions, synchronized breathing, and matching speech rhythms. Now when people have a good rapport it is an energy that cycles like waves on a beach. The better the rapport, the more in sync the energy is between the parties, and like waves, the energies amplify when they converge in sync. Conversely, when the energy is not in sync the waves cancel one another out, and the rapport becomes strained.

Not to say that A's and my energies are cancelling each other out, but I will say that when I do something imprecisely in one way, and she simultaneously does something imprecise in another way, it throws that particular moment pretty far off. There were a lot of times when we were going "Whoa!" and struggling to hang on to one another. Kinda fun, actually. I think sometimes it's a good thing to allow yourself to lose control, otherwise it gets too comfortable to play it safe all the time and that's just going to keep you away from all the potentially risky but rewarding things you could be exploring. But, of course, being connected and in control is what tango is all about, and so we veer away from harmony only to try to come back again, hopefully richer for the journey.


Cellspace went well. I hadn't been there in a few months and there were a lot of faces new to me. This, I think, is one of the great things about this milonga. For so many people it is their gateway into tango. By welcoming folks in through an open, inviting community, mixing it with music which may not be so foreign, and often danced in a way that is overtly exciting, I think it is a place which has done so much to transition people in to this culture, which in its pure form can be somewhat too subtle for those without experience.

My music selections were well received, with one notable exception. I began an alternative set with a Japanese pop song and damn near cleared the floor. About three quarters of the people who were dancing the previous tanda walked off during the cortina and maybe about half of those people returned to dance this song. I was kind of surprised since I had played another very similar song by the same group at a previous evening and the crowd loved it then. I originally had planned to follow with another "alternative" song but decided to switch it literally at the last minute with something more familiar and tango-based, which promptly brought the dancers back on the floor. That was a moment I feel kind of proud about. I think it's an indication that I'm getting more experienced as a dj at reading the energy of the room and being able to get things back on course when things go awry.

One thing that I was really happy to get to play was a vals tanda by O.T.V. I don't usually play their valses because I'm not sure the few that I have go all that well together. They just seem to have different characters, different sound qualities, and for the most part different singers. But I figured at Cellspace they wouldn't be so picky, and I threw together three great songs that I can't recall hearing at a milonga--Intima (with Lafuente), Sin Rumbo Fijo (with Vargas), and for me the cherry on top, Temo (with Corrales). Just *love* that last one, probably my favorite vals right now. To me it sounds like what Fresedo (although yeah, I know, his valses are...well, not great for dancing), Donato, and Tchaikovsky might come up with if they got together to compose something. It's energetic and lively, but also has this lovely bittersweet quality and some really colorful orchestration. One of those songs that you either dance it with exactly the right person or not at all. Then again, for me, that's every song...

1 comment:

Lewis said...

hi, if you're interested in Daniel Goleman you might find interesting his dialogue series "Wired to Connect" which deals particularly with mirror neurons as he discusses the applications of Social Intelligence with a number of leading thinkers from a variety of fields.