Category Archives: Reference

Posters seen at Claire School of Dance

Before class checklist for ballet students

Before class checklist for ballet students

In the Susana Miller workshop on Argentine tango in the milonguero style over the July 20-21, 2013 weekend we simplified our movement patterns to the utmost for the sake of perfecting our partner connection. Then we had wonderful opportunities at house milongas to try these tight, small space movements about our partner in conditions simulating the crowding at Buenos Aires milongas.

The small, constrained, intense connect of the milonguero style made for an interesting contrast with the posters festooning the walls of the pleasant dance studio that serves the Claire School of Dance in Houston. These posters, speaking to ballet dancers, also spoke to me of creativity, and as a rich source of ideas for interpreting music.

“Schottische” and Argentine tango … really?! Yeah, some of it requires a stretch, but it’s a mean sort of imagination that doesn’t find some form of inspiration for interpretation with the incredible diversity and richness of tango music informing these concepts.

As my musicality education continues, and my familiarity with orchestras and songs increases, I’d like to revisit this and supply some examples. In the meanwhile, I’ll use it as a source of inspiration for playfulness over patterns.

The Concept of Movement 

            Walk          Slide
            Run           Skip
            Jump          Crawl
            Hop           Roll
            Leap          Etcetera

            Step-hop      Schottische
            Waltz run     Jop
            Prance        Slither
            Two-step      Creep
            Grapevine     Etcetera

        Bend            Punch         Rise
        Twist           Dodge         Sink
        Stretch         Kick          Burst
        Swing           Poke          Wiggle
        Push            Lift          Curve
        Pull            Flick         Curl
        Fall            Float         Lunge
        Melt            Glide         Stash
        Sway            Press         Dab
        Turn            Wring         Etcetera
        Spin            Shake

The Concept Of Time
        Fast / Slow
        Pulse / Pattern / Breath

The Concept Of Space
        Self space / General space
        Big / Small
        Far reach / Near reach
        High / Low
        (Transitioning upward, downward)
        Foward / Backward
        Right / Left, Up / Down
        Curved / Straight / Zigzag
        Single focus / Multi focus
        (Intense / Soft / Unfocused)

The Concept Of Force
        Sharp (sudden)
        Smooth (sustained)
        Strong / Light
        Free / Bound

The Concept of Form
    Recurring theme
        Theme in variation / Canon / Round
        A = one phrase, B = another phrase, A' = a variant of A
        In the form of a story
        Moderate beginning / Slow center / Fast end
    Broken form
        Unrelated ideas

The Concept of Body
        Head (Forehead, eyes,     Spine
        ears, mouth, lips,        Pelvis
        tongue, cheeks)           Hips
        Neck                      Legs
        Shoulders                 Knees
        Arms                      Ankles
        Elbows                    Feet
        Wrists                    Toes
        Hands                     Heels
        Fingers                   Etcetera
        (Thorax, ribs, belly)
        Curved / Straight
        Angular / Twisted
        Symmetrical / Asymmetrical
        (Sharp / Dull)
        Body parts to body parts
        Body parts to objects
        Individuals to groups
        Individuals and groups to objects
        Near / Far / Meeting / Parting
        Alone / Connected
        Mirroring / Shadowing
        Unison / Contrast, Over / Under
        Above / Below, On / Off
        Around / Through, In / Out
        Beside / Between
        Gathering / Scattering
        On balance / Off balance
        Soft / Firm / Rigid)
        Staccato / Legato)

(I've suggested additions in parentheses.)
Three Things a Dancer Brings to Class

Three things a dancer brings to class:
+ Attention
+ Patience
+ Courage


Pasos felices,

Sandy’s practice playlist

At the end of a lesson with Daniel el latigo Ponce I asked Sandy — tanguera, friend, and sometimes mentor on tango and español — about music to practice to. As soon as I got back to Austin I found this nice list (see below) waiting in my email. Thank you, Sandy!

My main teacher, Daniela, and others have advised: in your practice, work with a single song for a while. Try different interpretations with your dancing. Work to perfect the things you like. You will come to know the song and own in it your repertoire. (Not by any means to say that you are creating a set choreography for it, everything may change depending on compañera, milonga compañeros, your mood that particular night, and so on.)

Two places that have helped me in musical knowledge and material:

Mandrágora Tango
ToTango Restorations

The list

Milongas (faster):
Flor De Montserrat
Ella Es Asi
Milonga Brava
Milonga del Recuerdo

Milongas (slower):
Silueta Portena
Milonga Sentimental
Milonga Criolla
Milonga del 900
De Pura Cepa

Tangos (slower):
Anything by Pugliese – Chique, Nochero Soy, La Bordona, Pata Ancha, Si Sos Brujo, etc.
Indio Manso
A La Gran Muneca
Fueron Tres Anos
Fumando Espero
Tigre Viejo

Tangos (faster):
Loca de Amor (Juan D’Arienzo version – not to be confused with a waltz – see link for the version)
Vida Mia (Fresedo)
Racing Club
Alas Rotas
Sin Sabor
El Flete

Good valses to become familiar with:
Viejo Porton
Palomita Blanca
Ronda Del Querer
Desde El Alma
Sonar Y Nada Mas