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This gorgeous video popped up on my Facebook News Feed this morning and it got me thinking.

You’re probably wondering what does a video of three little girls dancing to Aretha Franklin have to do with tango? Well, then you should know that we tango dancers can find a relationship to tango in just about anything!

The camera constantly zooms in on Johanna in the middle. Johanna’s mum or dad filming? Or a random audience member who just can’t take their eyes off Johanna. Somehow that seems just as probable.

The two adorable little girls to the left and right of Johanna sweetly show the moves they learnt in dance class but Johanna really gives it some sass, unleashing her inner-Aretha!

Dancers are continually walking a very delicate tight rope between working on their technique and letting the dance flow. I personally take great pleasure in exploring and developing technique, and don’t see it as a chore. But if I’m constantly thinking of technique when I dance there will always be something missing - I will always be holding something back and I will be cutting off the creative life force of my dance.

Whether we dance tap, ballet, flamenco or tango, we want our dance to be more than the sum total of its parts. We need to own our movements.

When I watch others dance, I love to see precision, but equally technical excellence without expression is meaningless. That is what sets dance apart from other physical activities. Give me a little bit of imperfection - “mugre” (dirt) as the Argentines say - but transmit what you feel when you dance.

Technique is for the class, for the drills, for the practice time. But when you go out to dance in the milonga, technique shouldn’t be anything more than a background track in your mind. In the foreground, it is time to dance, and by that I mean really *dance*.

Where did Johanna get her attitude from? You get the feeling it wasn’t her dance class! You could say it is easier for a child, yet to develop inhibitions, to let herself go. Or that some people are born with a natural ability. Both of these things may be true, but my personal belief is that if you love tango (and I assume you do if you are reading this blog) then you already feel it, and you simply need to allow that natural feeling to flow when you dance.

So next time you go out and dance take a leaf out of Johanna's book and release your inner tanguero!

It’s hard to believe that eight years can pass so quickly! But last week we celebrated Tango Movement’s 8th Anniversary in London.

On 1st June 2007, David and I arrived in London from Buenos Aires and set up Tango Movement. What followed exceeded all our expectations and we’ve had a wonderful eight years. We’re very grateful for all the fantastic people we’ve met - both students and friends - without whom the journey would have been very different.

Last week we celebrated in every class with chocolate cake and post-class drinks. The festivities culminated on Saturday night with our Student Show at the UK Tango Championship. It was great to see so many of you turn out to support our students who put in so much hard work into their routine. They were brilliant and we are very proud of them. And what a great Festival! We hope you enjoyed dancing the night away as much as we did!

Watch the video of our amazing students in action here:

Now we just have to wait for 26th July when we will have our Big Anniversary Party on the Thames to celebrate.

Here are some more photos of last week's festivities:

Celebrating in our Wednesday Improvers Class

Post-Class Drinks

Celebrating in our Friday Beginners Class

Celebrating on our Saturday Course

You’ve been dreaming of those sultry, moody tangos all week and they are what you left the house for tonight. Wrapped in a snug embrace you have lost yourself in the dulcet notes of the soulful violins and the brooding bandoneon.

Now seated on the sidelines of the dance floor, your eyes begin to scour the room for your next dance partner.

Suddenly the DJ puts on a milonga track and the mood immediately lifts. As dancers move onto the dance floor, hitherto absent smiles appear on faces, and ladies give their hips just a little hint of a wiggle.

A carefree, uplifting mood pervades the tango salon but you shift uncomfortably in your seat. You fix your eyes on the floor and begin to fiddle with your shoe strap in the hope that someone doesn’t ask you to dance. Especially - you silently pray - the one you’ve wanted to dance with all night …

Milonga. The music is happy, the steps playful… so why do you find it so hard to let your hair down!

Maybe its because you’ve had very little experience of milonga and you’re not quite sure how to approach it. Or maybe it is because you *have* had experience of milonga … and that’s precisely why you want to avoid it! Because as most people who have been dancing tango for a while will know with milonga:

“When it is good it is very very good, but when it is bad it is horrid.”

An amazing milonga tanda is something you’ll not forget in a hurry. A sense of flying through every step, an effortless understanding of the other, somehow knowing in advance what your partner will lead. Unfortunately a bad milonga can also stay with you for quite some time too, and for all the wrong reasons!

Supposedly the carefree cousin of the tango family, milonga is a challenging dance, and so carefree is sometimes far from how we feel when we dance it!

With experience this, of course, changes and believe me, when it does, it is worth it! But does it have to take many years until this time comes? Or is there a way we can approach the learning process so that we can ease ourselves into milonga a little more gently?

Here are a few tips for those of you have found yourselves in the above predicament.

LEADERS

Leaders tend to find milonga more difficult than tango. There are of course exceptions. Those who just seem to have a knack for it or fall in love with milonga so much that it carries them through.

We had one student who said that he actually would prefer it if the DJ played milonga all night long and would be happy to dance milonga exclusively. And you could definitely see him come alive when dancing milonga.

My recommendation to those new or nearly new to milonga, is to get a good foundation in tango first. Once you’re familiar with the principles of the lead/follow of tango, milonga is quite a natural progression.

Secondly, try to keep it simple. It is not the steps you should be focusing on but the lead and the music. Milonga steps can be a lot less intricate than tango steps.

The challenge is that generally speaking milonga is faster than tango, giving you less thinking time. But don’t let your movements accelerate out of control. Don’t go faster than necessary, pace yourself and keep calm!

Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are some enticing combinations to learn in milonga but there may well be steps that you have already learnt in tango that work really well with the milonga rhythm. So you may not have to learn everything from scratch.

And finally (and amazingly this does happen and especially in milonga) don’t keep dancing if you feel that your follower has lost you! Don’t be afraid to pause so that you can re-establish the connection with your partner again.

FOLLOWERS

Followers also generally find milonga more challenging than tango. I’ve even heard it said that milonga is more difficult for the follower than for the leader. Not something you hear very much in tango!

Once again, a good foundation in tango is important as you need to be familiar with the principles of following the leader’s torso and not anticipating.

For me, the best way to follow milonga well is to relax. Unfortunately however, this is easier said than done. For a lot of people, just telling telling yourself to relax repeatedly can produce the opposite effect! Instead of trying too hard to relax, I find it really helpful to focus on something. Let yourself get drawn into the music, focus on your breathing, focus on your partner’s breathing.

And if you’re still find it hard to follow your partner snuggle up a bit closer to your partner. The closer the embrace, the easier it is to feel your partner’s lead.

And of course, for both leaders and followers, practice, practice, practice! Milonga isn’t a dance that is easy to bluff. Most of the music played at milongas* will be tango and the same is true of classes. You can spend a lifetime exploring tango. But if you want to enjoy this playful antidote to tango, you will need to dedicate some time studying milonga.

OUR TWO-WEEK MILONGA COURSE

We want you to LOVE dancing milonga! And to leap to your feet when you hear it played.

This Saturday and next, we’re running a Milonga Course, exploring the steps, technique and music, and very simple tricks to start playing and improvising.

We'll break everything down into bite-sized pieces so you can stop stressing and start doing what milonga was invented for ... having fun!

When: Saturday 6th & 13 June 2015

Time: 1 - 3 pm (plus 30 minutes FREE mini-practica)

Where: Marshall Street Leisure Centre, 15 Marshall Street, SOHO, W1F 7EL (5 minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube; round the corner from Carnaby Stree)

Level: Improvers & Intermediate Dancers

Price: £47 - 2 weeks; £25 - 1 week

No partner needed. No need to attend both weeks! Places offered on a first come first served basis!

Simply contact us to book your place.

*Milonga is the name of the place we go to dance tango (ie tango salon). It is also the name of the upbeat, playful rhythm that is part of the tango family. It is usually possible to work out from the context which one of these meanings is being spoken about.

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