Tag Archives: Roberto Canelo

The teacher is not always right two

I get comments these days that are more like posts than comments. I am not complaining all comments are welcomed, good and bad, but I like to reply to them all. So for the second time I must do a post in reply to a comment.

I received a comment from Jantango in Buenos Aires Teacher is not always right and feel again that this deserves more than a quick answer.

I remember the first time I was at a milonga in Buenos Aires it was at Confiteria Ideal in the afternoon. We had been taken there by our guide for the trip, who educated us about the codigos where to dance and how to cope with what was a totally alien environment to us.

We fell out some time later, which was a shame, as I think she gave us invaluable information for times to come, and although we are no longer in contact I would gladly recommend her to anyone visiting for the first time.

She had the sense to bring us early, when the place was less crowded. This allowed us to get a feel for the room and to get up and dance in the time when people were still coming in.

So how does this relate to the comment? Well no teacher I had been too had ever been to Argentina, none of them knew the codigos, none could tell me how to cope.

As more people came to the milonga, we found it more and more difficult to move, and for some reason, I had yet to learn, and we were always in the middle of the floor.

We had couple of days of this before our first dance lesson. We had been signed up with a guy called Roberto Canelo. He was not milonguero in the true sense of the word, more a stage dancer. In his early days he had been embarrassed at his local club, Club Almagro by being asked to leave the floor and watch how the true milongueros did it. He soon learned how to navigate the floor and move to the music not just doing steps, so now he passes his knowledge on at his tango school. Nothing of this was known to me, of course, I was just passed to an Argentine who taught tango, and of course to me the fact that he was argentine was all that mattered to me at the time.

With him we learned to dance milonga, how to cope with a crowd how to navigate the floor, and importantly to me, why I always ended up in the middle. He told me that old milongueros will dance to the outside of the room, taking any space left to the right, forcing any principiantes into the middle. So now I must learn that as well as protecting my partner I must defend my right hand side, I do not let anyone into this space, it is mine alone. With this knowledge I can gloat at the show dancers, principiantes and yanquis who populate the middle of the floor. He learned all this by going to the milongas, he already was a great dancer, but could not cope with the milonga floor, not until he had experienced it himself and had the coaching of other milongueros.

So when I learn that a great show dancer with years of experience could not cope at a milonga, you should not be surprised that I greet with horror the thought that people who have less than two years tango experience want to teach. You should also not be surprised that I will not go to any teacher who has never visited a Buenos Aires milonga.

Too many spend their time learning steps. In the UK we learn boleos, ganchos , baridas, but rarely do we learn about the music. What we need to do is listen to the music, as it changes cadence, we need to be aware and change with it.

Often in beginner’s classes, we are so intent on learning that our movement’s bare little relationship to the music, this is Ok for beginners, but as we get more proficient we should be dancing to the music not just doing moves in spite of it. Go to almost any milonga in Europe and you will see them; they do all the moves, awesome routines, fancy footwork, but no musicality.

In the northern hemisphere we need to learn that dancing is not about moves, this is not Strictly, it is social dancing. Tango is the music as much as it is the dance, if you do not feel the music then you are not dancing tango. The music needs to be in your mind and in your soul. If you spend all your time learning more and more moves, you miss the point, your time would be better spent listening to the music, and trying to get to know the artists.

And don’t even think about getting me back on the subject of DJs playing non tango music.

Again all comments are welcome, good or bad. If you disagree tell me why, wealth of experience comes from exchanges of ideas not monologue.

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Another good Class

I am finding the strain of long shifts harder all the time. I have worked shifts for more than thirty years, and far from getting use to it, I just feel like hell at the end of a block.

So it was yesterday, my zest for life all gone, snapping at Viv, and just not wanting to do anything. I cannot even work out my shifts anymore, I said I would miss this Monday, but I was wrong. All the same when it came to head off to Chester, I did not feel up to it, but I went anyway.

Numbers were well balanced for the beginners, and for once Viv had to stand out. We progressed further on the ocho cortardo, or as it was called when I first learned it , ocho milonguero. Within seconds of staring the class all my cares were forgotten, a room full of beautiful women all wanting to dance with me I was in heaven.

Sharon wanted to get people into the milonga state of mind, and so she reduced the room size and enforced lane discipline. She gave a good speech at the beginning about not trying to lead some thing new in the milonga and never teaching on the dance floor. I don’t know if I embarrassed her, but I broke into applause, this is my pet hate.

While the room was reduced, it gave me a chance to take one lady aside who was having difficulty. I thought we were doing quite well but occasionally she would cross behind, Leandra pointed out that she was leaning back (thanks Leandra) then it all became clear, because she was so small and she wanted to see if I approved she was looking up. (I am not exactly Mr Big myself but she was tiny). Once that was out of the way things went very well.

In the improvers class we did more on the cortardo, now it was more like the way I was first taught by Roberto Canelo all those years ago. I was having fun ringing the changes, but soon the class was over. By the way if anyone wants Roberto’s contact details in Buenos Aires, I will happily provide them.

We danced on until ten thirty, by which time I had enjoyed myself no end and forgotten completely about work.

I beg forgivness, I almost forgot: Many congratulations to Anna on the birth of Leo. My best wishes go out to John and Anna, see you in five years after you get your next good nights sleep.

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