Saturday, 21 June 2008

Los Dispari 2 - Essence of Milonga Walk

The title of this class was "Milonga: essence of milonga walk and simple figures of Milonga Lisa (single time)," and it was billed as an all-levels class. Here are my notes.

For my impression of Jorge and Maria, which didn't change, see Los Dispari 1 - Villa Urquiza Style. Tip: at the end of each class they scamper outside for a smoke, so if you smoke and speak anything like reasonable Spanish, you have a great opportunity to chat.

They get a lot of respect. People listen and remember and take it seriously. That means they can spend the entire class on something really, really simple and how to do it properly, and everybody present will try really hard. Nobody expects them to teach some exciting move. You can get that anywhere. What people are there for is whatever Jorge Dispari wants to say about how to lead. It makes for very valuable classes that make a huge difference to people.

The class was delivered entirely in Spanish with Stefano and Alexandra acting as interpreters and assistants. This works OK, and see previous post, but you'll follow better if you understand what Jorge is saying. It isn't at all difficult, but some people who couldn't follow it got confused as to what they were being told was right, and what wrong.

We began with a test milonga to assess everyone's level. It was instantly apparent that the clue level was low. Even the best were generally dancing faster tango.

The class then started with some general advice about floorcraft, with emphatic, repeated warnings against stepping backwards, unless in the forward line of dance. The other general point was that movement in milonga tends to be sidelong. Next, they showed us a very simple walking step, and the aim was to get us doing it properly by the end.

The step itself was so simple I might even be able to write it down clearly. I am fairly sure this is exactly what we did, and we did pretty much nothing else.

Start with leader's back facing the centre and follower's back to the outside of the room. Imagine a clock face centred on the leader, with 6 towards the centre of the room, and the direction of dance at 9. The leader is facing directly towards twelve and the follower six. (Notice that means we're NOT in a V-embrace - we are front-on - see previous class).
Be in CLOSE EMBRACE. No shirking.
Leader steps with right foot forward, outside the follower and towards elevenish, so somewhat in the direction of the line of dance, but more forward, and the follower back with left.
Leader and follower collect feet, change weight, and pivot (but not too much, certainly not more than 40°).
Leader steps back with right (now stepping towards sevenish), follower forward with left (outside to the leader's left).
Both collect, change weight, and pivot, so both are ready to start again. Repeat this right around the room. The result is a zigzag progression in the direction of dance. It's just a step, always with the same foot, a transference of weight, and a pivot with the feet together.

Once this is working well, introduce double-times in the leader's forward step only.
Once that is working well, introduce double-times in the leader's backward step only.
Don't mix them all up until you're ready! Concentrate on your embrace and your posture and your lead. The result was a marked improvement.

In this video they do something very similar, but with a sidestep interposed, from about 01:27 to about 01:35.

Points that came up included the following:

Don't open up the embrace. It makes this difficult and ugly. You should be moving together. They demonstrated how awkward it is if you pivot past each other, so that you slide across each other and break your connection.

The leader's arms [frame] must both move with his chest. Don't turn your chest and leave your arms behind. They're important. You should be holding the woman properly with your right arm and using it to communicate, especially in the pivots. [See previous class].

If you are doing too much sideways and not enough forward and back, it is difficult to get the follower to step outside you. If you can't make it happen, you're probably pivoting too much. And it looks "very ugly," contorting you and destroying the elegance.

Someone asked the question: we are crashing our feet together a lot, what are we doing wrong? Jorge said that it means something is wrong with the lead. If you lead, her feet go, and then your feet go, it is not possible to touch feet, because her feet are not there. [This is hard to see from demonstrations, and it did not get fully translated, so I am not quite sure that's really what he said. I may have based my understanding on my own personal analysis of why this works, which is: this sounds like three things one after another, and it is, but the reason they can all happen in that order within one beat of a milonga is the body lead. The body lead in close embrace is fundamentally different from a jive or salsa lead - the transmission time is not two beats, like in salsa, but near-zero when it works.]

There was a piece for followers, on presence in the embrace. Your left hand is important. Your right hand is important. Your arms must not be floppy, but the rest of your body must be relaxed. Your arms must be very 'alive' and present.

I just concentrated on that. Getting the right things in the right places consistently, when dancing with a lot of different men, none of whom I have reason to trust, takes a determined mental effort and a lot of concentration. I'm not naturally fearless; I'm a fairly small, fairly defenceless creature, instinctively good at keeping clear of trouble - and inclined to curl up and go prickly if I can't.

This was an excellent class, but probably the wrong one for me. I was interested in the content, but I already dance milonga frequently, and well, with leaders who can do it. The all-levels billing of this class attracted mostly leaders who dance milonga very poorly or not at all. It might have been the right class for me this time last year, when I would have ended up with a lot more bruises but a greater sense of personal progress.

I'll also be taking a class on Sunday, billed as Intermediate/Advanced, and I'll let you know how I get on.


tg said...

Many thanks for putting all that up for those of us who couldn't be there. Very helpful, and it confirms my view that they're a great couple to learn from. & you might end up learning Spanish too! I look forward to thinking over it in detail. Lots to learn.

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

The lead has to be strong yet not forceful. A lot of leaders don't have the attitude to dance milonga well.

Glad that you had the opportunity to
study with the maestros. Look forward to reading about your other classes with them.

Anonymous said...

I like to thank you for taking your time and post all these notes. We learned to dance mostly looking clips on the net. BY coincidence we have been inspired much by the urquizastyle dancers.(one can maybe not see it)But it was very helpfull reading your post from the workshops , many small tips , and a better understanding at all , what it is that makes this style.
thanks ilf kari denmark