Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tangosutra for her eyes only!

Is your tangosutra for "her eyes only" or for the crowds?

In earlier posts I have mentioned teachers who perhaps were not spectacular on the dance floor but great teachers.  The teaching couple in Austin who had by far the biggest single impact on my dancing are Stephen and Marty.  They and a few of their students would find each other at the snack table during performances at festivals or at a milonga.  It was a great time for us to hydrate and nibble on some strawberries or chase the last of the grapes around the plate while the rest of the tangueros/tangueras put on their sweaters and adoringly watched the awesome tango performers.

Stephen and Marty were not alone in this aversion of performance tango at a crowded-floor festival or milonga.  I also experienced the same thing in Washington, DC at the Tangosutra Festival back in October when I first arrived in "D'C-ity of Thieves." At Tangosutra the instructors* didn't steal a moment of dance time from us.  They purposely decided NOT to perform at the festival for philosophical reasons.  They explained to us that they were there to teach and model appropriate behavior for social tango and not show off or do the very thing that should not be done on the social dance floor.

An Embarrassing Moment
At the Thursday opening milonga in DC, I went over to a man whom I never had seen before, and I was praising him for his floorcraft.  I felt so comfortable next to him, I told him.  I heard his accent and realized he was from Buenos Aires.  We continued in Spanish, and I finally realized that he might be an INSTRUCTOR.  Oh my God, who would have ever guessed that someone next to me who is practicing the best of floorcraft would be a tango instructor!?  It was a tango-miracle. :-)

This unknown (to me) caballero, Maximilano Gluzman, ended up being a great instructor, a great tango philosopher and a consummate gentleman.  Later that night and into the festival I noticed others with excellent floorcraft that night -- Sabá and Krebs -- who were also instructors.  Much of the training we had at that festival was about musicality and floorcraft.  One interesting class that Maxi had was on what the community of dancers could do to protect themselves with "rogue dancers," endangering others on the social dance floor.

I do not mean to say these instructors at Tangosutra were not great dancers.  But tango is all about dancing just for your partner; so don't ask me, ask their partners what it was like to dance with them.  They dance in public, sure, but "for her eyes only."


*The Honorable Faculty at Tangosutra Festival last October:


PS:  I wish not to disparage tango performers who have a range of talent and can dance the full spectrum of tango.  Tango Fantasía has it place.  Visual tango draws new dancers to the tango community, and I love to watch videos of truly great performers.  Great performers like Murat Erdemsel and Daniela Arcuri balance themselves off by being great teachers of a spectrum of tango not just performance tango.  My next post will address the fuller-spectrum teacher, and I will suggest Albert Schweitzer as one of the best examples of a multi-talented teacher.  Tentative title:  Tango Jocks vs Tango Teachers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting post. I've found myself more interested in social dance rather than competitive dance, so I enjoyed the points you made. I've spoken to someone who dances salsa and he agreed that he was less interested in performing--despite his teachers' invitation to do so--than in social dance just for fun. Unfortunately, it seems that a number of dance forms, including salsa, belly dance, and apparently tango, value performance over dance as a means of social interaction. FWIW, I just finished watching the 2005 documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom" about teaching inner city NYC kids how to dance and your points were also raised in that film. I look forward to your next post.