Friday, 2 October 2009

Adrian and Amanda Costa - fluid embrace

In case you're still wondering whether to take one of the many classes that Adrian and Amanda Costa are giving while they're here, I've taken a few and this is what I know about them.

  • They're very nice and intelligent teachers.
  • They give a high priority to basics, to social dancing, and really practical things like advice on how to avoid bumps. I blogged about two of their classes in March.
  • Their classes are given in English. Their English is not bad and has been getting steadily better - knowledge of French or Spanish may still be useful to get the most out of a class, I sometimes found myself back-translating to work out what was meant by a word that wasn't the one Adrian had been looking for, but it's probably not necessary any more.
  • The advice they give about dancing to the music is clear and definite and a useful place to start - of course there are other ways, but at least you will have had one possible good one explained to you in a way you can work with.
  • They talk to the women quite a lot more, and more helpfully, than average, and Amanda acts like an equal in the class, not like an assistant.
  • They're absolutely beautiful to watch and they always improvise every performance and never look artificial, boring or pretentious. Their performances are worth the time and money.
They dance a particular style which includes a fluid embrace that opens and closes depending on what is happening. For example, you can see in this demonstration video that until 00:35 they are dancing in an open embrace, but by 00:45 it has smoothly and imperceptibly closed and their torsos are in contact. They remain like this for quite a while, except you can briefly see light between them at 01:04, until it opens again for some quick turns at 01:45. And you can see it close at 02:16. (Americans often call this "salon" style - be aware that it's not the same as what is called "salon" style in France or Germany. Here in London the word has no widely-used meaning at all, so if someone uses it you will have to try to find out what they mean).

This is not necessarily my personal favourite style, though it is one of the ones I enjoy, but being able to do this fluid embrace is an extremely useful skill for dancing here in London, especially for women. Men might not need to learn it unless it appeals to them (though if you habitually dance open-embrace it will help you do that better and give you a lot more choices), but as a woman I've found it indispensable. The woman has to be very active about it and know what she is doing, there are a few tricks to it that you should get Amanda to show you if you have the chance, but it allows you to have a successful dance with a lot of different partners in a lot of different styles, and that in itself is something that helps you get a lot of practice and increase your physical skill level rapidly. I've also discovered that this skill is transferable to jive and salsa, so it's very good value for money.


ghost said...

As a leader I definitely again about the value of fluid embrace. Makes a great difference. Not only does it feel smoother, but in London where the space around you is in constant flux it's a very useful skill.

JeanZ said...

Classes, classes, classes. I left them after 3 months (three years ago) anf never returned.

People watch when i enter the dancefloor.

Tango is awaiting you at the milonga, classes will lead you away.


(and i am leader, a follower needs even less classes, you can't learn to follow in classes)

ghost said...

I'm curious - is it that you had learnt to lead after three months, or that you've learnt how to lead since then by dancing in milongas figuring it out as you go, rather than attending classes?

Anonymous said...

If couples danced this way on crowded floors, they would encounter traffic problems. Adrian and Amanda are dancing for exhibition and not for the milonga. It's important to see the distinction. They dance the melody with long pauses, add kicks and voleos, things which aren't done in the downtown milongas of BsAs.

msHedgehog said...

Almost all videos are exhibitions, since it is generally rude to video people dancing socially. Therefore, almost any video illustration will be of an exhibition. On the whole, I think my readers can probably tell that this is an exhibition, and will realise that that makes a certain amount of difference to the way most people dance.

It is true that Adrian and Amanda do not do this to the same degree when dancing socially, as everyone will have seen by watching them for the last couple of weeks. However, we are in London, where most floors are two-thirds empty by what are reputed to be the standards in Argentina, and a very large minority of dancing is in mainly open embrace because that is what people know and prefer for various reasons. Those people can radically improve their dancing by listening to this kind of instruction, so I stand by the point of my post.

It's worth noting that the main topic of virtually all A&A's classes, however, has been respect for the line of dance and the space of the couple in front. I do not think they agree that this necessarily entails an exclusively close embrace, but he does have a lot of advice to give on it.