Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Adrian and Amanda Costa talking to Claire Loewe

I'd like to see more of this kind of thing. Old milongueros talking are fascinating, but they're not available to teach us, so it's nice to hear teachers who are available to us from time to time, and are young and likely to remain available, talking about what matters to them and what they think they are trying to transmit. Here, Claire Loewe asks Adrian Costa to summarise what tango is to him. He does good job of that, and then Amanda adds her own nuance.

I would have liked to hear the rest of what Amanda says at 02:35 that starts "not a fight, but, we convince ..." (What I think she's saying sounds like a good plan, but it fades out to their performance before I can be sure).

Thanks Tango South London for doing it and posting it.


LimerickTango said...

22 hours and counting till they land in Ireland, woohoo!

Simone said...

Did the interviewer say that till now there has not been a single teacher in London who has taught musicality so clearly?

How could anyone be so mean and spiteful to all other great tango teachers & masters that we have had the pleasure of welcoming to London?

ghost said...


Apart from Joaquin, which teachers have taught lessons purely on the music without descending into moves? The attempts I've seen have usually been followed pretty much by mutiny from the attendees (or a lack of attendees in the first place). Hence the quote I saw somewhere from Adrian "This is the class I always wanted to teach"

But it is a genuine question. I keep an eye out for musicality workshops and they seem to be pretty rare in London, Jill Barret spings to mind, Rojo y Negro have hosted a couple this year, Andreas' recent workshop, possibly Tangology but I haven't been there yet; so I would be interested in knowing who else does them well?

Actually it's a promising sign of changes in London that I can name a few. A couple of years ago I think I would have struggled to name any. By contrast naming workshops teaching moves ending in "ada" has always been easy.

My impression was that Claire was simply saying that musicality and floorcraft are on the whole pretty bad in London and that it was notable how drastic a change their teaching had made to her students.

msHedgehog said...

@ghost, indeed - the "interviewer" is Claire Loewe, who teaches at tangosouthlondon. I have danced repeatedly with several of her regular students. All of them have been streets ahead of the London average in their walk, embrace, and musicality, regardless of their experience. So, if anyone is entitled to make that very fair and rather mild comment on a matter of public interest, it's her. (I base that opinion only on her results - I've never taken a class with her, or spoken to her as far as I remember. I notice Amanda seems to have formed a similar opinion).

@Limerick - they won't understand a word anyone's saying, you know ;)

LimerickTango said...

It's not that the educated Limerick accent is hard to follow... it's the order of the words we insist on using that will be the most confusing.
Thankfully Brigitte, of, is coming along on this trip to help.

Social Dancer said...

Fortunately the majority of visiting & local teachers don't charge their students by talking nonsensically about musicality for one hour!

Claire's condescending remarks - now available on youtube for all to see - just went to show how much she hates being ignored and working on the fringes of London's main tango scene.

It would be very interesting to know if there a single venue that Adrian & Amanda turned down to work at and getting paid for in their 3-4 weeks stay with us in London?

It is worthy to note that despite what some self-promoting tango-fascists are saying, it is not "fearing other dancers on the dance floor" that we should concentrate on but "The Fluidity of Movement" and allowing for others' space - even for those with more quirky taste on the dance floor than our own: That is the real musicality, otherwise dancing in an empty hall is not that difficult!

"Mussolini's force can make Pope doubt himself being a catholic!" ;)

London tango scene is vibrant and happy with all tastes and abilities and personally I am very glad that not everyone fears or knows of the New Tango Police.

ghost said...

@Social dancer

"it is not "fearing other dancers on the dance floor" that we should concentrate on but "The Fluidity of Movement" and allowing for others' space - even for those with more quirky taste on the dance floor than our own: That is the real musicality,"

Yes, this is what I want from a dancefloor.

I recently attended a wedding - the dance floor in the evening had dancers from a wide variety of styles. Yet instead of becoming a free-for-all battle, it was so safe that children were dancing around and in-between us. The thing is though, everyone was playing nice and respecting each others space.

However contrast this with Upstairs at Negrachas when it gets crowded. I dread to think what would happen to small children on that dancefloor :( Heck even the adults come away bruised!

I doubt you will ever have as much pleasure dancing on a floor with inconsiderate dancers as you will with considerate ones. By all means be "quirky" when there's space to do so, but too many dancers do so at the expense of the considerate ones around them :(

So I would say there has to be some definition of "everyone plays nice" in order for your statement to work. Given that someone else has already done the work of figuring out lanes etc, what's wrong with using it?

It's all worth noting that in the wedding I mentioned the dancers all had a high degree of musicality an dso there was a natural flow to the floor, rather than random chaos. Again I refer you to Negrachas when it often appears everyone is dancing to an entirely different piece of music which disrupts the flow of the dancefloor making it harder to do what you suggest.

Game Cat said...

Social Dancer:

Firstly, musicalty and floor craft are two separate issues. I'm not clear how you equate the two in your fourth paragraph - unless I'm missing something.

Re musicality: I'm curious - did you attend any of A&A's musicality workshops in London? If so, what did you find "nonsensical" them?

While I can't say whether teachers should give more/ fewer musicality classes in London, I can say that the majority of people in the most popular milongas in London either do not or only pay cursory attention to the music. Personally, I'm okay with that as un-musical dancers don't bother others on the floor. If it's not important to them, just don't pay for musicality classes.

Re floor craft: Dancers with bad floor craft (willingly or not) bother me, in the same way that drunk drivers do. You can be as "quirky" a driver as you like, so long as you do not endanger others or impinge upon their happiness. Like musicality, I think there is not enough good floor craft in London.

Also, I don't think quirkiness or limited ability is an excuse for not exercising good floor craft. If you're not a good enough driver, you're kept off the road. The same should be true in a milonga. I'm not anti-beginner - in fact, dancers with good floor craft will make beginners feel less fearful of getting on the floor.

Social Dancer said...

@Game Cat,
RE: Musicality & Floorcraft were being discussed here in context of the video and Clair's remarks on Salon Tango and musicality lessons. (Please note the first 2 mins of that clip)


Re: Negracha! In my personal opinion It is a very popular venue. It has shown its success to be the result of consistently inviting some very good high class teachers from UK, Europe and Argentina. In addition to those teachers, we see some of the most sought after internationally famous orchestras performing there costing us no more than a few extra pounds than what we must pay to enter most "empty hall" milongas in and around London.

Should Negracha stop being the best value for money club in London and fight its own popularity to satisfy its competition?!

I believe therefore that "Negracha" is not the problem, neither is number of beginners nor any number of the enthusiastic and sometimes over excited new dancers.

Most often the bumps, crashes and kicks etc are caused by teachers who are "Sequence Dancers" and their students.

"sequence dancer/teachers" may look good in an empty hall but on a crowded busy dance floor they have not got a clue how to interpret the music and adapt to changing dynamics occurring around them. The "Sequence Teachers/Dancers" have the attitude that says : "I have started a Steps Sequence therefore I must finish!". This determination can not exist if it is not accompanied with disregard for the space, people and their varying abilities around the "Sequence Dancers".

Next time if you are bumped or kicked at Negracha's dance floor, please take the trouble and note who that teacher is or by whom they had been taught and even more to the point find out if you can where they usually dance at.

As you can see I share your dislike for bad floor craft but I think we need to note "WHO" causes it both frequently, and with total disregard for others.

Of course there are always some morons in any social gathering and this comment was not referring to them since morons can be found anywhere and everywhere - being what they are - doing the idiotic acts of self indulgence regardless be it on a train where they occupy more than one chair to sit on or driving idiotically in our streets or talking very loudly in public, etc - so a milonga is just another outlet for their moronic behaviour;)

ghost said...

@Social Dancer
Yes sequence dancers who dance the sequence to the exclusion of what goes on around them are a menace. And clearly their teachers have a large part to play in that, though in fairness so does Youtube nowadays.

But then surely A&A teaching in as many veunes as possible to show that there is an alternative is a good thing?

I'm confused. We agree floorcraft is important. And I think we agree that musicality is important. Is your point simply that
a) You feel A&A didn't teach musicality and floorcraft well
b) There are those who have taught it better?

To a) I think Gamecat's quesion bears repeating - did you actually attend any?
To b) My understanding is that the experiment carried out in 33PP during there viist is continuing and apparently working. Has anyone else acheived this in London?

But personally I'm quite happy for other teachers to be teaching it better. I'm content to take Claire's remark as a compliment for them rather than an insult to others. I want more floorcraft and musciality!

Game Cat said...

Social Dancer:

I agree that "sequence dancer/ teacher" types cause floor craft issues in milongas. However I would add that they are not the main cause of the problem in many places in London. Most men just don't exercise good floor craft. Period. Either they 1) lack the capability, 2) the willingness to use it, or 3) are ignorant that it should be any better.

Personally I think it is 2 and 3 which are the biggest reasons. At a number of popular milongas in London, I notice most men are experienced and can lead and change direction decently. They just don't do so with enough consideration for others. Some are even quite musical, but that doesn't make them any less a nuisance to others.

BTW - I listened carefully to the first 2 minutes of the clip as you suggested. I still don't get why you say that Claire's remarks are condescending, nor how musicality and floor craft are linked (beyond the fact that they were mentioned close to each other and obviously important to the people discussing them).

danny said...

The interview must be interesting given the number and nature of comments. Unfortunately, despite trying both with loudspeaker and high quality headphones, I can't hear any more than the occasional word over the music. There must be others in my position. I would be grateful for a transcript.

msHedgehog said...

@Danny, good idea, I find it pretty hard to hear myself but I've given it my best shot in the next post.

sabatoingles said...

Social Dancer:
"Next time if you are bumped or kicked at Negracha's dance floor, please take the trouble and note who that teacher is or by whom they had been taught and even more to the point find out if you can where they usually dance at."

How interesting. On he one hand you rail against 'self-promoting tango fascists' and now you advocate taking names and addresses.