Does it take two?

•Wednesday, 10 October 2018 • Leave a Comment

A major plus of teaching a little tango technique at dance weekenders is the opportunity it gives us to introduce and encourage newcomers to this beautiful dance. Thank you for working with us Derbyshire Dancer!

Derbyshire Dancer

I’m currently at another weekender and have a short break between workshops so using it to catch up a bit, don’t frettle petal I’ll be writing about this one too.

Today I want to tell you about my secret lover (not so secret after this!). My secret lover is untameable, dark and sultry. My secret lover is captivating and addictive. My secret lover will steal your heart and trample it in seconds, I promise you that you’ll never be the same again. My secret lover is Tango.

Really wish I could see the looks on a few faces as they read that; gotcha!!

Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from Russell and Julie.

They are this quietly spoken couple, until you mention tango. Then there’s a fire that burns that is undeniable. And folks be warned it’s catching. I’ve done three lessons of tango and it’s grabbed…

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The Sheffield Tango Festival

•Wednesday, 5 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

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Exciting news! Sheffield is to host a fabulous tango festival next year — 3-5 May 2019. We’ve booked some great teachers and DJs, including Gonzalo Capitani & Carolina Gonzalez, Maria Filali & Eloy Souto, Lucas Gastiarena & Melanie Jarman, Barbel Rucker, Felipe Slimobich, Paul Strudwick and John Tan.

There’s some further information here. Booking will open later this month.

Tango Musicality: The Malady Lingers On?

•Friday, 24 August 2018 • Leave a Comment

An interesting comment on one of the tango forums recently: someone posted that their partner had complained during a milonga that they weren’t following the rhythm, to which she replied that she was dancing the melody, not the rhythm.

Ignoring the rights or wrongs of having such a discussion while dancing, I feel moved to post my own take on these statements. I’ve seen and heard similar comments before and I have to restrain myself from replying in fairly strong terms. So far I have been able to remove myself from the discussion, take myself to a quiet corner (should a darkened room be unavailable) and think beautiful thoughts, preferably while an understanding partner applies a cold flannel to my fevered brow and whispers soothing words in my ears.

I’ve said elsewhere in this blog (check out the posts tagged ‘musicality’, if you will) that when we first learn to dance we dance to the beat, then we learn to dance to the rhythm, and eventually, if we persevere, we are able to dance to the music. BUT, these aren’t three separate things! As an orchestra brings all three aspects together to make the music, so must a dancer bring them all together to make the dance.

We cannot dance to the rhythm without also recognising and dancing to the beat, and we cannot dance to the music, or the melody, without also recognising and dancing to the beat and the rhythm. The three are inextricably intertwined and interdependent.

I’ve heard people say that in a certain piece of music they are dancing to the violin, to the bandoneon, to the singer, or whatever. That’s fine. But what the violinist, the bandoneon player, the singer, or any other member of the orchestra is doing is directly related to and rooted in the beat and the rhythm. And so should our dancing be. If it’s not, we’re not truly listening to and following the music.

Yes, a good singer, or ‘lead’ instrumentalist, will play with the beat and the rhythm: pushing or dragging it slightly, playing with pauses, off-beats, half-beats and quarter-beats, etc. All these things help to give music its dynamic and emotional range. And we can, and should, use them in our dancing too.

In the distant and somewhat dim past I played jazz — clarinet first and later alto and tenor sax. I still enjoy and listen to jazz and blues, and to me the musical improvisation of a good dancer is like the improvisation of a jazz soloist: creative while always rooted in the beat, the rhythm and the melody.

I should state before closing that this level of real musicality is something I aspire to in my dancing. I don’t always get it right! It’s something I also always aspired to as a musician. I didn’t always get it right then either. But oh the feeling when you do!

Thank you for reading. Sorry if it comes across as a bit of a rant, but it’s something I feel strongly about. Do feel free to comment and express your own feelings on the subject.

Incidentally, I think that what I’ve said here should apply to all dancing, not tango alone.

Hideaway Blues… and Tango!

•Friday, 16 March 2018 • Leave a Comment

This weekend sees the second Hideaway Blues and Smooth Weekender in Doncaster. The venue is The Earl of Doncaster, which is a stunning four-star hotel with an impressive and unique Art Deco style. It’s worth a visit just to see and dance in the spectacular ballroom!

And the good news for tango people is that our own Lucas and Melanie will be presenting a very special 90-minute workshop on Saturday 17 March from 2:00 to 3:30. You can buy a day ticket if you want to do the Blues and WCS workshops too (£30) or you can just do the tango workshop for £10. Come and support Argentine Tango in South Yorkshire!

There are two rooms for dancing. Julie and I are DJ-ing in Room Two: On Friday there’s Traditional Tango from 11:00 to 12:30 followed by Neo and Alt Tango from 12:30 until 2:00 am. On Saturday it’s Traditional Tango again from 11:00 to 12:30 followed by a Neo and Alt Tango set from Dave Sibbitt. Then on Sunday it’s your last chance for an eclectic tango mix from 9:30 until 11:00. And don’t forget there’s Blues until 2:00 am every night from the legendary CurlyWurly Dave.

If you just wish to attend the evening sessions (dancing from 8:00 until 2:00) that’ll cost you £10. Best frocks recommended! More details at https://www.facebook.com/events/168118830412325/

Happy New Year!

•Sunday, 31 December 2017 • 1 Comment

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Helen La Vikinga in Sheffield

•Wednesday, 8 November 2017 • Leave a Comment

UPDATED 13 NOVEMBER see below…

We’re pleased to announce that Helen “La Vikinga” Halldórsdóttir will be teaching in Sheffield for Tango in the Peaks on Thursdays 16 and 23 November. The venue is as usual: St Andrews Hall, Upper Hanover St, Sheffield, S3 7RQ. Basics class is at 7:00, Improvers/Intermediate at 8:00.

Helen will be holding a Women’s Technique Workshop on Saturday 18 November at St Andrews Hall from 2:00-3:30pm Cost £15. She is also available that day for Private Lessons for anyone who is interested. Please contact Angie Lawrence on Facebook, or angie.lawrence@icloud.com.

Helen was born in Iceland, but has been living abroad for more than 26 years, the last 11 in Argentina.

She has been teaching and taking part in tango shows with Martin Maldonado, Maurizio Ghella, Javier Guiraldi, Jorge Pahl, Walter Perez, Leonardo Sardella, Gunner Svendsen, Adrián Coria and Fernando Corrado at Tango Festivals and events in Europe, USA, Mexico and Argentina.

Helen works with Argentinean tango as a dance, as an expression, but most of all as a communication and a connection with the other, taking both the leader’s and the follower’s roles.

She teaches traditional tango to “queer” tango and everything in between. The most important is to be able to communicate with your partner and to enjoy the TANGO!

From early  on in her tango life Helen danced both lead and follow and became well known at the traditional milongas in Buenos Aires for dancing the “mens” role ☺.

Helen organised well-known milongas in Buenos Aires: La Vikinga (one of the first alternative milongas in Baires), Bien Pulenta (the first gay-friendly and smoke-free milonga in Baires) and Mano a Mano (open-minded traditional milonga).

Helen also participated in the short film: Tango que me hiciste mal, y sin embargo…

In 2014 Helen, together with Tango Adventure, organised the first TANGO Solstice Retreat in Iceland.

Beside dancing, teaching and organizing tango, Helen designs and fabricates the shoe brand La Vikinga, including both traditional shoes and sneakers.

We’re looking forward to meeting her on 16 and 23 November!

UPDATE: This is what our special guest teacher, Helen La Vikinga, is going to be teaching this week on Thursday 16 November:

7:00 to 8:00 pm – Workshop 1 Following for Leaders and Leading for Followers. This class, suitable for all levels, will teach us how to lead and how to follow, focusing on the tools and attitude required in changing roles.

8:00 to 9:00 pm – Workshop 2 Adornments and Decorations. This class, again suitable for all levels, will focus on simple additions to your dance to make your tango more fun and elegant at the same time.

SPECIAL OFFER! Anyone attending this Thursday’s classes can get a special discounted price on Helen’s Women’s Technique Workshop on Saturday. If you book your place on Thursday you can attend the Saturday workshop for only £10. (The discounted price will apply to those who have already booked, provided they attend the Thursday classes.)

Just to remind you, the Women’s Technique Workshop is on 18 November at St Andrew’s URC Hall, Upper Hanover St, Sheffield, S3 7RQ, from 2:00 to 3:30 pm.

 

La Recoleta Cemetery

•Wednesday, 7 June 2017 • Leave a Comment

Saturday 15 April: We caught the subte from Palermo, just around the corner from our apartment, on a beautiful sunny day. Strolled round the street market outside the cemetery, bought a couple of hand-made belts from their designer and had an early lunch before entering the cemetery through the splendid neo-classical, Doric-columned gates.

You can take a free tour, but we decided to make our own way, wandering for hours through this ‘city of the dead’ along streets lined with incredible sarcophagi and statues. The 14 acre site contains 4691 vaults, all above ground. Over ninety of them have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government.

There’s so much to see, walking along tree-lined main walkways and branching off into alleys filled with ornate mausoleums in a variety of architectural styles — Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Greek, Baroque, Neo-Gothic. Apparently most of the materials used between 1880 and 1930 in the construction of tombs were imported from Paris and Milan by the wealthy families of Buenos Aires, many of whom still maintain their own vaults. And you really do have to be wealthy to be buried here, with real estate being among the city’s most expensive. There’s a local saying that it’s cheaper to live extravagantly all your life than to be buried in La Recoleta.

Eva Peron is buried here, of course, in the rather plain tomb of the Familia Duarte, regularly decorated with flowers by visitors. Shortly after her death in 1952, President Juan Peron was overthrown by a military coup and the plans for a magnificent memorial were discarded. ‘Peronism’ was banned and Evita’s embalmed body removed from display and apparently ‘lost’. Then in 1971 the military dictators revealed that she was buried in a crypt in Milan under a false name.

Juan Peron was living in exile in Spain at the time and had Evita’s body exhumed and transported to his home where he and his third wife (Eva was his second) kept it on a platform in their dining room. It wasn’t until after Juan returned to Argentina, becoming President for the third time in 1973, and his death in 1974 that Evita’s body was returned to Argentina and buried in Recoleta. Apparently many of the wealthy families of Recoleta’s other ‘residents’ weren’t too pleased about this in view of Evita’s lack of aristocracy and what were perceived as left-wing sympathies.

One final note on this subject: Peron biographers Marysa Navarro and Nicholas Fraser write that the claim is often made that her tomb is so secure that it could withstand a nuclear attack. “It reflects a fear,” they write, “that the body will disappear from the tomb and that the woman, or rather the myth of the woman, will reappear.”

Many of the mausoleums are clearly well maintained. Some, rather eerily, have photographs on the outside wall of the occupants in (presumably) happier times. Others have fallen into disrepair, with cobwebs, cracked marble, broken glass and litter. Although that and the prowling feral cats seem only to add to the strange charm of this magical necropolis — a contrast between classical magnificence and faded glories that you find in other parts of the city too.

As you stroll around you see all the popular graveyard motifs: skulls and crossed bones, marble wreaths, draped urns, gargoyles, winged hourglasses, weeping women looking adoringly up at statues of their dead men, and of course, the ubiquitous stone angels. We took many photographs, but here I’ve collected some of The Angels of Recoleta.

 
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