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It’s been a funny old week in London town.

Tuesday and Wednesday brought a tube strike, bringing swathes of London to a halt. And Thursday brought Storm Doris, bringing down trees and causing yet more travel disruption.

But rain, shine, storm or strike, tangueros need their weekly class! A student last year walked from the City to the West End during a tube strike to make one of our classes!

We knew a mere tube strike and storm would not keep you away! We were there ready to receive you and it was great to have a crowd of you in class with us this week.

It reminded me of a conversation we had with our longest standing students just the other week. He was one of our very first students when we started Tango Movement back in 2007.

We get a lot of amazing feedback about our classes but when we asked him what made him come back year after year, his feedback was to the point:

”You’re always there. I know if I turn up at 8 pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday or whenever, you’ll be there, starting on time as usual.”

It sounds like a small thing, but we appreciate that Londoners lives are highly pressured. And if you make the effort to turn up to a class, we will make an equal effort to be there, with the same energy, the same professionalism and the same care that you’ve grown to expect for us.

Bring on the storms and strikes, we’ll tango on!

I'm very excited to teach my very first Ladies Technique Small Group Workshop this afternoon in Studio Movement.

The purpose of the Workshop is to work on technique with a limited number of participants, maximising the personal attention I am able to give to each student and enabling me to tailor the material to best suit the level of those attending.

We have a lovely group today and I'm really looking forward to some excellent work!

Today's Workshop sold out within 24 hours of me advertising it so I sense there is some demand! I will definitely be running similar Workshops throughout the year for different levels: Beginners/Improvers, Intermediate/Advanced etc.

via GIPHY

Please always feel free to let me know if there are any topics you have a burning desire to cover with me. You never know, you may just see them come up in the next Workshop publicity! ;-)

Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for the next Small Group Workshop and be sure to grab your place quick!

Happy Students 19-02-2017

It's always great to re-connect with students who we haven't seen for a long time.

On Saturday, an old student returned to class after what we together worked out had been a 7 year break!

And it warmed our hearts to receive this message from her after class:

"Just want to say you guys are still giving the best lessons in London. Not many teachers care to correct our mistakes nowadays, not to mention it's always such a pleasure to watch you guys dancing. When I had my first lesson with you guys at the Plaza you weren't even married. How time flies. I'll definitely try to come for more lessons when I can."

And another email from another student (who we also have known for many years) after the very same workshop:

"I want to tell you that the class was great. Have learned a lot, it was hard but well explained, and ALL the men I danced with were working hard, helping me and were very nice to be with. This does not always happen in tango, but I think it is because you lead by example."

Thanks so much for giving us this feedback. It inspires and motivates to keep up what we're doing and improve on it year after year.

Here's to more happy customers, happy classes and happy tangos!

We're very happy to present the official video of the Tango Movement Student Show.

The show took place at our Winter Ball on Saturday 21st January 2017.

Congratulations to all our students who participated. It is no easy thing to learn a choreography, perform it in perfect unison with the other couples, AND get up and dance in front of 300 people!

But they did it with skill, technique and that one thing that is so difficult to teach: class!

When we select students for the show, we always try to find those who have started tango with us as Beginners or who have studied with us for a considerable amount of time.

This time round, we were a little short of time to prepare as a lot of our group were away over Christmas and New Year. And it is amazing to think that they pulled this off in just ten classes (some couples even less!)

We're already looking forward to seeing what we can achieve next year!

Some things are just made for each other. And tango and Valentine's are one of them!

Today, we braved the cold of London in February to bring a little romance into the lives of City workers.

Forget smouldering stares and pouts, this was heart-felt, romantic tango. Just look how we even managed to put a smile on the face of a hardened City worker!

Tonight in Soho, we'll have a special Valentine themed Intermediate class for you, learning movements with an especially romantic feel.

And this is one Valentine's event that you most certainly DON'T need a partner for!

Time: 8 - 9:30 pm (+ Mini-Practica)

Venue: Marshall Street Leisure Centre, 15 Marshall Street, Soho W1F 7EL (5 minutes walk from Oxford Circus)

Level: Intermediate

Price: £16

No need to pre-book. Just drop-in and dance!

We will also have chocolates to celebrate Valentines. Chocolate and tango ... now surely that's another match made in heaven?

Tango Poetry 12-02-2017

Did you know the lyrics of some tangos are as emotionally charged as the music itself?

Often speaking of helpless love, lost youth and times past, tango lyrics are heavy with nostalgia, melancholy and even poetry.

Following a Beginners class last week, an Argentine student asked me to translate a tango for a classmate. She happened to share a name with the title of the song: Marion. One of my all time favourite tangos in fact.

As I focused on giving the best on-the-spot translation I could, I was struck by the loveliness of the lyrics. And when I looked up I wasn’t very surprised to see that her eyes had welled up with tears. “Let’s stop now” I suggested, “before we all start crying!”

So I felt inspired to share the lyrics with you, to give you just a little taste of the mood of the tangos you are listening to. The beauty of the poetry is inevitably lost in translation but the sentiment holds true.

Evoking the memory

My heart starts to dream again

And the dream was you, Marion

Love of my youth

That is not forgotten

The shadows of yesterday

With the sadness of a song

Will always say to me: Marion

Marion

I know that at your side I was happy

When I gave you my heart

In old Paris

I remember

The grief of goodbye

And the sky

Marion

Distant love that I left

I want you to know, my heart

That I never forgot you.

We're delighted to present our montage video of our Winter Ball in January, celebrating Tango Movement's 10 Year Anniversary in London

In an evening full of magical moments, it's amazing to have a film that captures them so well.

Enjoy!

Featuring:

- Pas de Deux by Marianela Nuñez (Royal Ballet Principal) & Alejandro Parente (Theatre Colon Principal, Buenos Aires)

- Performance by Alejandra Mantiñan & David Benitez

- Performance by Kim & David Benitez

- Live music by Tango Siempre Septet

- Show by Tango Movement Students

There were a few moments at the Winter Ball when time appeared to slow down and this - for me - was one of them.

This is the seventh year we’ve put on our Annual Tango Ball - the only “milonga” David and I organise in the year - and this glorious venue never fails to move me.

When you dance you want to feel. And how easy is it to feel when you dance in that magical hall, with beautiful lighting, breathtaking music and the partner of your dreams guiding you!

Not to mention the warmth from the audience - the very best audience you can have - your tango students, friends and family.

I wish I had had a crystal ball ten years ago when David and I arrived in London and set up Tango Movement. I don’t think I would have believe what I saw. But it was certainly what we would have hoped for!

And finally, that most special of surprises that David arranged for me at the end. Moments to be cherished always.

Thank you again to everyone who came! It was an incredible Ten Year Anniversary Celebration for Tango Movement.

Our Tango Movement Winter Ball took place on 21st January 2017.

All proceeds go to help causes supported by APARU (The Association of Argentine Professionals in the UK), this year providing medical health care to visually impaired people in poverty-stricken areas of Argentina.

Over the years, we have raised £20,000 for charity through our milonga and through the support of our students and the wider tango community in London.

Here is a story that many of you will know only too well:

For several months, Student X has been pulling out all the stops to improve his tango.

He’s been dancing just about everywhere: classes, milongas, practicas, his kitchen… (not to mention the lift, the bus stop and the supermarket).

His non-dancing friends complain that they hardly see him anymore.

He’s invested time, money but most of all a great deal of emotional energy in getting better.

For a while, he felt like he was holding on to blind faith but suddenly he senses that something is working.

There has been a noticeable shift. He no longer feels like he is dancing through thick fog. His brain is sending messages to his body and his body is at last responding.

And what’s more, he’s starting to receive compliments. His teacher has praised him on his progress. His regular dance partners have noticed the difference. His hard work is actually paying off and you know how that feels? Amazing!

Then he watches the video.

CRASH!

“THAT’S what I look like?”

The disappointment is overwhelming. A crisis of confidence ensues.

“That’s not how it FELT at all!”

Of course, this is not how everyone reacts when they see themselves on video. Some people are actually pleasantly surprised and relieved to see how far they have come.

And in my experience this does not necessarily mean they have progressed further or dance better than Student X.

You can try telling this to those who have a negative reaction and it may make them feel a tiny bit better, but it’s very hard to alter what (they think) they’ve seen with their own eyes.

So what’s the answer? Avoid watching video footage altogether?

This was certainly my response. Knowing how upset a video could make me, the natural reaction was quite simply avoidance. Over the past 15 years, there are probably about 3 videos that haven’t made me want to hide under my duvet.

In some ways, simple avoidance is a reasonable strategy.

How you view yourself on video is not necessarily a fair representation of how you actually dance. I compare it with looking at yourself through a distorted fairground mirror. Some people are hyper-critical of themselves and you could take the view that if this is the case, it is not fair on yourself to go through the upset of watching a video. Dancing requires some confidence and self-belief and if you have just a little bit of that, it’s not a bad thing to try to preserve it.

But watching a video - especially one that you have an adverse reaction to - is also a golden opportunity.

Tongue in cheek, I call it the electric shock treatment!

Let’s got back to Student X’s story.

His teacher has been telling him for several weeks - no, let’s say months - to lower his shoulders. It’s not that he doesn’t care. That’s one thing we’ve learnt about Student X: he cares enormously! It’s just his body doesn’t seem to respond. In every class, he nods vigorously:

“I know! My shoulders. Again! Damn!”

But the shoulders just don’t stay down.

Then Student X sees the video. Electric shock moment. It is a miracle cure!

Just the other night I complimented a student - a real student - on how much progress she made. Her response? Yes, you’ve guessed it!

“I saw a video of myself. It was awful. I realised how much I need to change!”

I told her it was a great thing that she didn’t watch the video and think “oh, how nice.” as it encouraged her to change.

And actually it was a sign of HOW WELL SHE DANCES, that she could identify those areas that needed improvement and act on them.

No one is born being able to dance - everyone has to start somewhere. And if you can yourself identify the areas for change through video footage then that will undoubtedly streamline your progress.

So the next time you view yourself in a video, remind yourself that it is a necessary part of the learning path to recognise your flaws and that the video is an excellent way to do so.

And before I sign off, one last tip for you:

In self-books, in order to silence our self-critical inner voice, they often advise us to imagine our best friend is talking to us and to replace that critical voice with a kinder one.

Next time you watch a video of yourself, imagine you were watching someone else. How would you feel about it then? You might find areas you want to correct but you’re sure to view it with a kinder and fairer eye.

Wishing you all a very happy viewing Tango Friends! Where’s the popcorn?

On beach holidays as a child I would stand at the edge of the sea and watch as the tide washed out around my feet. I loved the feeling of moving backwards when I was actually standing still.

Not such a great feeling though as an adult when you’ve reached a certain level in a skill and are not sure how to move forward.

Because by standing still, you feel like you are moving backwards. This is why it is so important to keep learning, reviewing and refreshing.

As we all know, tango is a discipline that we can investigate for the rest of your lives if we choose to do so. For me one of the great joys of tango - apart from the feeling of the dance itself - is the sense that the journey never ends.

Unfortunately, too many advanced dancers feel that there is nothing out there for them. And sadly for some, a little spark dies with this recognition.

David and I are passionate about making sure our Advanced students always have opportunities to grow.

We have worked hard over the years to maintain a “true” Advanced class. We work only with those who we feel are ready for the class. We understand that “Advanced” can mean more complex sequences and movements, but it can also mean investigating the subtleties of the movements, the breath, the embrace.

We also encourage our Advanced students to come to our Saturday Workshops with a practice partner. They can stay together during the partner rotations if they feel they would benefit more from this.

And if you’re not yet an Advanced dancer but are keen to come to our Advanced class to see what it’s like, our advice to you is: take your time! It sounds funny but you’ll make much faster progress if you take it slow! Tango success is based on a thorough understanding of the basics and sometimes it can take several years to realise that the basics are far from simple!

Our success as a school is partly down to making sure our classes “do what they say on the tin”. If you come to our Intermediate class, you expect Intermediate material and dancers of a similar level to you. And we work hard to make sure you get it!

Check out our LEVEL GUIDE and remember we’re always here to guide you on the very best class for you at your stage in your journey. Here’s to the road ahead!

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