Tag Archives: ballroom

When Dance Styles Clash

I have often said that the most difficult people to teach tango are those who already dance. Jivers and Salsa dancers use their arms and Ballroom dancers adopt a posture that really does not fit with Tango.

You can, of course reflect that back and say that tango dancers have a posture that does not fit in with ballroom dancing. This was the case with me this week.

We attended a new venue where they were learning Ballroom as it should be done. Unusually though for a ballroom venue it was very sociable, in that it was the norm to change partners (normally Ballroom Dancers only dance with their partners). John and Julie had done a great job in teaching ballroom and some sequences. My problem though was that every lady I danced with clashed legs with me. It was, of course, my problem, not theirs. They had learned the correct posture for Ballroom Dancing, Me? I now dance everything like Tango.

Still I never got any complaints, just the odd “Oh”.

So I must thank Jan for putting on a superb dance, John and Julie for teaching them all and everyone there (old friends as well as new) for making it such a great night. If I can fit it in with my crazy working life I will definitely come back.

As for the old friends, many were surprised to see us (The Tango Couple) dancing ballroom and the “new” sequences they had learned. Those of you who look at my what’s on page will realize we do much more than just tango. Life here at the edge of the civilized world is hard for a dancer, stick to just one style and you will be very deprived. We have, of course, been doing other dancing long before we found tango and the only way we can dance every night is to keep on doing it. (At least until we get back to Buenos Aires).

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You can dance to anything (of Course)

Those who know me from the tango world probably do not realise that we are very active in other dance scenes as well, and it is amazing how the difficulties encountered in one scene cross over to others.

We have known that for years “sequence dancers” get bored with social dancing, and try to introduce all their new dances to social events. This causes all sorts of frustrations to those who choose, because of time constraints or just can’t be bothered, not to learn a new dance every week. There is an obsession with learning more, where does this idea come from, that the best dancers know more moves (or dances)?

(almost) Anyone coming into dancing now is inspired to do so by shows such as “Strictly”. What we do cannot be compared, but it is worth a look at what they do; They learn a minute and a half routine, they learn it well, They practice it until it is perfect, then they practice it some more. The judges do not look at how many dances they can do, but instead look at how well they do the dance they are performing at the time.

The same should be true of those of us who are not performance dancers. We dance for our own pleasure and the pleasure of our partners, but we try to do it the best we can. I see “sequence dancers” who know all the routines, but they will never be dancers. I see old dancers who simply never learned a sequence yet they dance with a grace and musicality that I could never aspire to. I know which camp I would prefer to fall into, although, in truth, I probably fall somewhere in the middle.

The other area of difficulty that seems to be the same is the music. We dance Jive and rock and roll, not the best in the world, but we get by. We dance Rumba, although these days our ballroom Rumba has taken a back seat to the sequences we know. So WHY, do they insist on playing Rock and Roll and announcing a Rumba? To me this is as bad as what they keep trying to do to Tango, and I always leave the floor.

Dance to what ever you want, enjoy the music, just keep moving . That after all is what it is all about, but every musical genre has it’s dance moves.  They were designed to match the music as it was written, this was done by people much better at this than you or I. So what makes us think we know better, and  can re-write musical history?

Sod this I am off to salsa, at least so far they have not tried to do that to a Paso Doble or Bosa Nova………..

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Dancing the music

The time from our Saturday milonga to the Chester class on Monday seems an age. Of course we have a social dance on Sunday in Connah’s Quay, but these dances have now become just a fill in to the main event.

There is the usual scramble before we depart, ensuring we have the right shoes (I need my heels in case I have to follow). Then we are off again. Outside the Groves we see Katrina on her mobile, I say “hurry up we must dance before the class”. As there is only quarter of an hour before the class starts, I want to have a chance to make things up as soon as possible, but she gesticulates and mumbles something while carrying on with her phone call. That was the last I saw of her that night, what happened and why she did not come in I do not know, I do hope I get another chance to dance on Thursday.

When the beginners’ class starts there is again a shortage of women, so my heels will again come in handy. Some of the men looked rather worried, this is a fairly new group and they would not believe that I was going to dance the woman’s part. As things turned however a couple of women arrived and I could then join as a man.

The problem as always with the early class is that people arrive after the class starts and soon more men arrived, so after a short period sat out I again rejoined as a follower. The guy who had looked so worried was after all soon dancing with me.

Things continued fluctuating throughout the beginner’s class but in the main after this I led.

Something that I always notice is the difficulty that ballroom dancers have with tango. The fact that they are acquainted with the mechanics of motion and are able to move with the music seems to help little. Ballroom dancers lead from the hip and this posture of leaning back is totally at odds with the forward posture adopted by tango dancers. While I acknowledge this is Sharon’s class, her concern is with the whole class and can not devote too much time to one person. Maybe next week I can spend some time with the ballroom ladies and get their posture sorted.

In the improvers class we again worked on the giro, my problem as always is steps, so I have to take care to do the move that Sharon has taught and not just make something up as I usually do, and run the risk of confusing every one.

We also spent some time moving to the music, this is something all the British have trouble with, unlike the Spanish and Argentines, who will move to any music without training and still look better than us. We can learn steps and we can do them to the beat, but this is not the same as interpreting the music through dance. Learning that you cannot do the same thing to Canaro as you would to DiSarli is not something many teachers here put emphasis on, I take my hat off to Sharon for trying, and daring to be different.

As usual at the end we had some practice time. I managed to dance with most of the women, but it was only Sharon with whom I managed to redeem my self for Saturday.

I hope to try again Thursday and catch up with those I have missed.

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Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

Back to the grind

The Christmas and new year festivities are over, and along with most of Britain, I am back to the daily grind.

Mondays Tango class saw a new influx of beginners, and judging by first impressions, we could have a whole new crowd joining this wonderful world.

Also among these new arrivals was Viv, she has agreed to attend Mondays, if I let her go to line dancing on a Tuesday, more of this later.

The basic class went well, nothing but walking so far, but it was a challenge just to stop everyone swaying, salsa style. Confidence is always an issue for the men, just believing that the woman will not be there when you step, but all this will come in time.

The intermediate class consisted of a lot of walking in cross. A nice move changing sides with a half ocho. I am afraid this confused some people, and they could not get out of the ocho once they started. This is not my class, so I must be careful, but never the less, I did get some satisfaction when a guy who was having particular problems, finally got it.

The numbers were more or less balanced, now that Viv had joined the class, so this left me free to watch and help where I could. Roberta only appeared when Sharon needed to demonstrate a step. So we have the strange sight of a man being led by a woman. (this would never happen in BsAs).

A nice thing that has happened now is that people are staying from the beginners to practice at the end, hopefully this will continue. If the group continues to grow, I may yet fulfill my dream of having a local Milonga. We plan to soon have a house party as a starter, watch this space.

Back now to Tuesday, no tango I am afraid, just ballroom and sequence, at Flexis in Acrefair. As Viv has gone to line dancing, and released me (for the night only) I can now dance with all the local ladies, unfortunately, this week they were rather thin on the ground, so I was limited to just two. Still it was a good night, shame on those of you who missed it.

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