I went to an interesting class on dancing milonga yesterday. It was a general class so the levels were very varied which must have made it quite a challenge to the teaching instructors. Fortunately, they got over this by teaching us a step and then adding various adornos. By adding more complicated decorations, they created 4 levels and told us to each work up to our own level. I managed to reach level 2 competently and could manage bits of level 3. It was good fun and my aim is now to practice until I can do levels 3 and 4 (no easy task!). The rest of the class was on doubletime in milonga and how to successfully convey that to your partner through an ‘upbreath’. I still struggle with this, so it was good to recap over it again.
One thing that the instructor said stuck with me though. He said that while it was very important to stick to the beat, it was not essential to move on EVERY beat. He said that too many people treated milongas as races, where they were trying to fill every beat and they left the dance floor sweaty and panting. They then demonstrated dancing on every other beat and showed us how it could still look good and fit with the character of milonga dances. I wish some leaders would remember this. As I’m quite a small follower, I quite often get a lot of leaders who like to swing me around madly during milongas, jumping from step to step madly and I tend to leave the floor feeling exhausted and a bit haunted.
Unfortunately, they can’t all be to blame as one leader I was with (who informed me that he was quite ‘experienced’ in tango – aren’t they always?) told me that I was bobbing about like a racoon! Not the most flattering description of my tango, I must say! He then told me to try it again, so this time I tried to treat the milonga more as a walking exercise and really place my foot on the ground (I do have a habit of dancing on my toes). It felt quite flat to me but at the end of the dance he said he felt it was a vast improvement which puts me in a bit of a dilemma. Part of the fun of the milonga is that I can ‘sway’ with the music but perhaps I’ve been doing it too much? The problem is I’m not sure quite how much to trust this leader. He may be very good but its hard to know for sure when I’ve never met him before and I’ve had a lot of rubbish (as well as brilliant) advice given to me in milongas. I’m thinking of asking for a second opinion from another leader at my next milonga and seeing what they say.
Sometimes, I wish I could film myself dancing. As someone who is used to learning dancing with mirrors, I find it very strange to not ever see myself and adjust my body when I’m dancing. With tango, I just have to go with how it feels which is hard for me as I am definitely a visual person. Presumably, I need to practice in a school with mirrors?