Friday, 14 May 2010

The American Invasion

The May Day bank holiday (2 weeks ago already!) created a bit of an exodus for us London tangueros as two prominent American couples were visiting our shores. In Cambridge, we had Homer and Cristina Ladas who taught briefly in London before hot footing it over to Cambridge for the tango festival (including the all nighter milonga which went on until 5am); and down south, we had Ney Melo and Jennifer Bratt in Brighton doing a long weekend of workshops.

What a choice for us Londoners? Where to go and what to do with whom?!

Those dedicated few attempted both, rushing from one location to another; doing a class here and then attending a milonga somewhere else. I was pleased to be able to do classes with both sets although I did it in more manageable chunks, attending Homer and Cristina’s class in London and then going to Brighton at the weekend.

It’s quite fun to have American teachers over here. They tend to teach in a different style from Argentinian or European teachers, which is what we predominantly have in London, often using games and humour as a selling point. I don’t mean this in a disparaging way just that for many American teachers, part of their teaching style is their lively personalities which they use to relax people and make tango fun.

Some people I know don’t like that. They feel it should be about the teaching and the end result. They want tango to have mystique and a certain aloofness. They feel that personality can get in the way too much. ‘It’s tango,’ they say, ‘not stand up’.

All I can say is that for me, I found both couples approachable and lively but I also got a sense of their respect for tango and how it should be danced. I also think that its hard to make judgements over single taster classes/days. Learning tango is an evolving process and what works for you one day might not work for you in six months. Your feelings about tango are likely to change throughout your tango life and so who knows what advice/opinions will reverberate back to you in the future.

Here to inspire you (and remind me) is a video of each. By far, Ney and Jennifer are the more traditional pair and I love their style of dancing and general old world elegance:

Homer and Cristina are great fun and I always enjoy their classes although their style is certainly more alternative and Nuevo than I dance generally. I couldn't find anything suitable from their Cambridge jaunt so here is a video from January of this year when they were dancing at the Houston Tango Festival.

1 comment:

  1. It's true that we haven't seen many Americans. I'm not sure that we've seen many Europeans either - who do you have in mind? I suppose Adrian and Amanda are the most noticeable example, because they've visited a few times, but they're just one couple. Then there's Eric Juerissen, who's a regular visitor, and there's Andreas who's an irregular visitor. Anyone else? You could have counted Oliver Kolker and Silvina Vals perhaps as either American or European or both.