The 4 week tango

Me at La Ideal There comes a time in a Buenos Aires tango adventure to set down a progress marker. After 4 weeks of private lessons with my teacher Ariel, we made a video of the two of us dancing a tango together.

It’s hard for me to remember how I danced when I left England. In BA I am taking 3 private lessons a week plus several group classes. Ariel took me right back to the basics: walking, walking with decorations, pivots, pivots with decorations, ochos, ochos with decorations, giros, giros with decorations, barridas, boleos, cadenas, my ganchos. At the end of my first 4 weeks we had covered a lot of ground. We also learned the basics of milonga. From this time, four phrases stick in my mind:

  1. ‘Extend, slide, arrive’ which refers to any step I take. This is often replaced by ‘Not with the body’ which he whispers in my ear as we dance, whenever I forget. My understanding is that as long as I have only extended my leg first he can change his mind about the step, if I have gone with my body then his options are closed down.
  2. ‘Chest, hips and legs’ which refers to any pivot. This means that the legs are a consequence of the body’s actions and can therefore pivot in a decoration and boleos are a natural extension of this idea.
  3. ‘Give me more resistance’ and if I do not I am in danger of falling backwards and pulling Ariel with me. Ariel dances with a very strong energy.
  4. ‘The embrace’ which reminds me when I forget to open the embrace when given the slightest indication that he wants, or I am going to need space. We always begin our tangos in the closed (very closed!) embrace which is completely normal in the Milongas here. But frequently within the tango we move between closed and open embrace to dance anything that needs space to feel comfortable.

These concepts felt alien to me when I arrived here. Of course I am certain that they had been taught but my body had not understood them. I was permanently tense in the upper half of my back and in my shoulders and as a result my legs did not flow in their movement. Slowly I am absorbing what I am taught, I am relaxing and enjoying my dancing like never before.

Of course I was a little tense in the video tango. I knew I was being filmed after all. Maybe there are mistakes. Certainly in time there will be additional decorations, more style… But during these first 4 weeks I learned to dance a slow, controlled tango, mostly employing with confidence the four ‘rules’ above.

So, because I am brave and I promised honesty, I will let you see the videos I make, this one today, one in 4 weeks time, one in eight weeks time and so on… Then you will be able to decide for yourselves whether it is worth pursuing a tango dream or not. I guess for me, what ever you think, whatever the outcome for me, it has been worth it already for the journey itself, for the great adventure.

Watch a video of me and Ariel dancing a tango after 4 weeks

The video is on Picasa and for some reason has no cover picture but just click on the black ‘photo’ to see the video!


6 Responses

  1. Sally – you look amazing!!!!! Your following looks so smooth! I loved watching that video – can’t wait for the next installment.



  2. Very nice, very smooth and controlled. Oiled cornering and nice neat little circles. The barridas and other ornamental things don’t stand out as separate from the rest which is nice to see. No “cutting the flow” as Eduardo puts it, and you do look more relaxed now.

    I wish you could somehow telepathically transmit this information to hundreds of followers in the UK, as the ease and smoothness is something many do not pick up for a long time.

    Well done to Ariel and your good self. I’ll show you mine if I get half a chance…

  3. Hey girl!!
    Just checked out the latest on your blog and, as usual, am impressed and dazzled by your writing!! It´s extra fun because I really know what you´re talking about!! This is La Vida, eh?? It´s la vida loca at least!
    Bloooody helllllllll!!!!!!!!!
    ciao bella,

  4. Well Sal,
    Have been trying to coax Ken to read your news with no luck but when I played the video of you dancing with Ariel he was awestruck – thought you were really good & stylish – his words not mine. We have to say that it would be good if Ariel wore some sleek trousers when teaching you as his moves are hampered by his pyjama bottoms/Turkish pants though I did wonder if the baggy crotch was so that you flicked your foot at the right angle -let me know.

  5. Beautiful!

    And the big smile right at the end says it all, really, doesn’t it?

  6. Oh MY! That was beautiful, Sally! If there were mistakes, only you would know. I sure didn’t see anything.

    Any chance you can post this onto YouTube so I may copy the video? I loved Ariel’s moves. He’s soo smooth. I’m definitely copying that leader back secada move in close embrace.

    Your friend Mo’s comment is funny. *warm grin* I “like” those pants…they’re actually Tango Nuevo pants—I need to get me one of those. Gotta love those bell bottoms.

    Oh, one more thing. You are BEAUTIFUL, Sally. That smile at the end: priceless!

    p.s. – I LOVE THOSE 4 anecdotes. If you have any more advice like those, please email them to me. Meanwhile, I’m copying those and taking them to heart. I will MEMORIZE it and employ it with my dance. “Thank you, Sally.”

    Hugs and smiles, “Sly” 🙂

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