My name is Igor Polk. Tango lives in quite a surreal world. In our age it is amplified with internet opportunities to bring people into virtual communities. There are the quotations from friend's e-mails.

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2008 December 20

Brick Robbins
Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 2:29 PM
To: tango-l@mit.edu
Subject: [Tango-L] intellectual skills vs motor skils

Tango is something you do with your body and your heart. It is a motor skill.

Writing, talking, thinking, are all things you do with your head. They are intellectual skills.

It is possible to dance very very well, and have no intellectual concept of what you are doing. This is why I think so many very talented dancers make very bad teachers: They simply don't know (with their heads) what they are doing. They often teach what they heard in classes they've taken, not what they actually do. Most often they are good in spite of the training they have received, not because of it, but of course they love their teachers, and regurgitate their teacher's words as "the truth."

It is also possible to have a very good intellectual understanding of the physics, physiology, music structure, history & culture behind dancing tango and not be a very good dancer.

For some of us who are not extremely talented, I think it is helpful to have a good intellectual understanding to help us while we are developing our motor skills. For some, obsessing over this knowledge actually impairs learning (paralysis by analysis.) The very talented can just watch something, and go do it.

A very good book that describes these issues in teaching motor skills, especially for dance, is "Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery" by Eric Franklin http://tinyurl.com/4v7ovu


2008 September 26

I've seen or heard people argue that explaining psychological
phenomena is either useless or destroys the phenomena being discussed. For
instance, they urge you not to discuss love. Or enjoyment of a sunset. Or the
almost (or actually) transcendent experience of a dance.

What they don't understand is that "left-brain" analytical and "right-brain"
intuitive thinking are not enemies, any more than our left arms and hands are
enemies of our right arms and hands. They work together - or should. A person
with a strong left arm/brain AND a strong right arm/brain is MUCH more effective
than if they must fumble along using one side or the other.

The best scientists and engineers are not only technically expert but also very
creative. This often shows up in their hobbies, such as painting or playing or
even composing music - and dancing.

And the best artists are invariably experts in the technical side of their art.
Painters, for instance, typically have exhaustively studied such subjects as
perspective and shadows and how several colors in a scene will
synergistically effect the experience of the viewer. They will spend hours
trying out a new set of paintbrushes and paints, learning their idiosyncracies.
They may endlessly paint the same scene over and over again with tiny
variations, and spend much thought on why some variations succeed or fail.

So it is with dance. There are stages or phases to becoming good, and to having
those transcendent experiences. One is learning the very basics, such as how to
place one's foot when stepping: heel, toe, and midsole, which leads when, how
much force to use, how to move the body from station to station of a position.
Which is both a physical and an intellectual process. These activities you do in
classes and practicas.

Then you revisit those basics, but this time in the midst of a dance, when the
virtue of all that practice and analysis pays off - by letting your body and
your subconscious handle the details, letting you forget the basics, while your
consciousness floats upon and above those earthly concerns. And you simply DO.

-- Larry de Los Angeles



2008 July 6

"..Natural selection favours the terminology that is sufficiently nonsensical to become disseminated simply by discussion amongst those attempting to make sense of it! ;) " -- Chris


2007 Sept 21

In my experience, most invitations to dance are extended silently, whether it be cabeceo, approaching my table with a smile and a nod when I notice him coming, an outstretched hand or whatever. I will accept
-if I know the man from tango and like him
-if I know him as a reasonably good dancer
-if he is attractive
-if he looks like a talented beginner

I will not accept
-if I know the man and dislike him
-if I have danced with him before or watched him with other women and know -that he is a bad dancer
-that his hold is uncomfortable
-that he has no sense of rhythm and they are playing a milonga or some other really enchating music
-that he is on the prowl rather than there to dance and everyone has been turning him down
-or if he is dressed/groomed in a way showing disrespect to the tango

In all these cases, it does not really make any difference WHAT the man says to me.

Girls, watch the guys dance before you accept an invitation. Who wants to buy a cat in the sack and then end up with an unpleasant, unnecessary experience, and have to patiently hang in there for at least 3 minutes unless you want to make a spectacle of yourself? When a man walks up to my table, I have usually seen him already. And Nina, I agree that women may love with their ears, but in a milonga it is the eyes and the body- unless they fall in love with the music. Facit: an invitation to dance (and it's acceptance) is not an act of cerebral cleverness and glib or romantic seduction. It is usually the result of a chain of preceding events. .


-- Astrid ( She is saying that the words a man asking for a dance say - do not matter at all ).

2007 Sept 4

".. In my opinion, the perception of different styles does not derive from the usage or non-usage of certain elements, but from the focus of the dance:
- If the focus of a dance lies on the embrace, you'll perceive it a social Tango.
- If the focus is on the "organic" movement without an "acting" approach, you'll perceive it most likely as Tango Nuevo.
- If the focus lies on the "artistic" movement AND you act out a story or a feeling, your dance will be perceived as Show-Tango..."

-- Melina Sedo

Igor: I like what Melina said even though my own definitions of Social, Nuevo, and Show tango would be different.

2007 August 24

"... Eduardo Arquimbau (among others) teaches that in the old days, the tango was danced without any regard for the Line Of Dance (LOD) and both partners danced the grapevine steps while dancing sideways. Later they danced sideways along the LOD with the man in the inside of the circle. It was only later that the tango changed and it's danced with the man walking forward and the woman backwards along the LOD. If you ever get a chance to take classes with Eduardo and Gloria, you'll get a much better (and more fun) explanation of what I'm trying to convey."

-- Manuel

2007 July 25

Nina Pesochinsky:( Excerpts )

"A much deeper level of transformation [in learning Tango] actually allows the true masculine and feminine power to emerge. Once a person begins to overcome their insecurities, it begins to show not only in tango, but in the rest of their life. In a way, struggling and loving tango helps people to become who they truly are and who they were meant to be."

The masculine and feminine power in tango do not compete with each other. They do not take away from each other. Instead, the feminine can only be powerful if the masculine is powerful and the masculine cannot be powerful if the feminine is not powerful.

In the ancient world, the feminine was presented as the true power of the Universe.

So in tango, the woman is not powerful if the man is not, and the man's power is trapped, if the woman he dances with is weak in her power. That is why the follower's technique classes are very useful. Women learn to connect with their bodies in the movement of tango and bring forward their powerful feminine essence.

When men feel, and I mean FEEL (because I know that you, gentlemen, like to talk about thinking, but live, navigate and negotiate by feeling that you do not talk about because it is a natural way of being for you) that the woman is not competing with them for THEIR power, they emerge powerful and free.

So, this was my point about the embrace. When a man feels his power and embraces a woman in tango (or in life) from that power, it is pure, non-negotiable and fearless. It can never be sleazy or insecure because sleazy means a block of a man's power and fear.

For that, ladies, you have a huge power. If you accept an invitation to dance from your feminine power, gorgeous and secure, which every one of you has (it might be hidden, but it is there), the man, any man, even a rank beginner, has no choice but to show up in his best masculine power. And men will be very grateful to you.


2007 May 28

"..Tango is classical music you can dance to.."
-- Bob Barnes, http://www.mandragoratango.com

Bob wrote a wonderful article "Some live tango music tips from a musician's perspective." You can read it here. And here he continues.

2007 April 12

On 4/11/07, Deby Novitz wrote:

> > I realize when people come here to visit the object is to dance as much
> as you can with the best dancers that will dance with you. You want to
> dance every tanda at every milonga. With this mentality you easily
> reject people who do not meet your standard so you can find someone who
> does. Gotta dance, gotta dance. Here we have another idea - we go for
> quality not quantity.

Guilty! I confess it to everyone here and now.

1. Saw the movies.
2. Bought tickets for the shows.
3. Um... bought MORE tickets for the shows.
4. Signed up for the classes.
5. Um... bought DVDs of the movies I saw already.
6. Was sickened by the poverty of my existing wardrobe.
7. Maxed my credit cards on new clothes, none of which I can wear at work.
8. Signed up for privates.
9. Showed up for school-sponsored milongas... GOTTA DANCE.

Deby, it isn't only in Buenos Aires that we GOTTA DANCE. I showed up to my first milongas here with major, I mean MAJOR expections. I was overcome with dreams and debt. Only one thing mattered now (and I borrow this phrase from another private correspondent), getting my money's worth.

Patience? You must be kidding me. I had no patience for patience. GOTTA DANCE.

At first that meant simply plying the perimeters of the rooms with feral intensity. Later, it amounted to an indiscriminate "lock and load" on every male warmer than a cadaver.

What was the payoff? Did I get what I wanted? NO! And let me tell you, I was pretty disappointed and resentful. How can anyone not want to dance with me when I'm so pretty and my checkbook is bleeding so much red ink?


Eventually I discerned that each new batch of students was reenacting this same cycle. Maybe unless you grow up in Argentina, you're just going to go through it, sort of like molting. Maybe it's just part of the process.

Rude awakening, but I'm a little calmer about it now, especially since I've just about paid off my credit cards at this point.


2007 April 4

Well, it just goes to show you what can be gained if you're ready to receive. If you're willing to listen. The last couple of nights that I went out dancing, I was much more focused on being available and looking. I read a great post from Nina a while back that admonished us not to go after guys. I listened to that advice. It helped my self-esteem a lot. Even if I seemed to be sitting more, at least I wasn't projecting neediness and desperation. Although I was still a little frustrated, I felt better about myself. However, I dealt with my boredom by socializing. Recent posts to the list made me reevaluate that. Again, I was ready to receive. I listened. Well, the past few nights, I have gone out dancing and my interaction with other women resembled what Deby just described in her post. I may have exchanged some pleasantries with women next to me, but I didn't look at them, I looked at my prospects! So, I didn't stare my prospects down like a stalker. I just connected with each one and held my gaze a little longer than I might if I encountered them on the street. I have to say, it made something inside me feel a little warmer. It felt pretty forward! The upshot, though, is that I danced far more over the last few nights than I have over the prior two weeks. I don't mean that each man just rushed right over to me when I looked, but some of them did, and some of the others found me later. Also, I wasn't just looking at everybody. I kept coming back, gently, to the ones I know and like (and another one I didn't know, but think I might like). Maybe I just didn't know how to flirt before. I think this is my new motto: The eyes have it. Fan

2007 March 27

What I called /direct teaching/ occurs by dancing. It happens that I learn from the dancer in a sublime way, just by doing or by being led to do. It doesn't feel like I'm being taught a lesson as the dancing goes on without any explanation whatsoever, but the dancer kind of conveys the knowledge to me and I get the confidence that I know it and I could do it again. And maybe it is something beyond beauty and age?

-- Anna Zelenina

2007 March 8

I can't tell you how many teachers come to me and ask me to sponsor workshops, or invite them to teach here. Yet they don't think to dance with me or my students. How can I tell if they dance well? Male teachers who don't know how to follow, teachers who won't dance with their students even in a private class, or teachers who run to find their partner to demonstrate everything - they are definitely out there, and they still have students.

The problem is that so many people sponsor workshops with teachers whom they have only seen dance and thought it was "cool'. Then more people sponsor them because they taught somewhere else. Please! This would be my short list of things to do before you endorse a teacher:

Dance with them.
Dance with their students.
Take a private lesson with them.
Take a group lesson with them, and watch the results!
Talk to the people who take the group lesson and see if they learned

Any others?

-- Lois Donnay 

2007 March 8

Meredith wrote:

> You can go to any milonga in Buenos Aires and focus on the less
> experienced or simply less talented dancers in the room and come away
> making generalizations about the decline of tango. Or you can focus
> on the talented dancers who are committed to taking their dance as far
> as it can go, and leave the milonga uplifted and inspired.

I think that underlines the difference between a guy going to the milonga to dance, and a girl going for reasons of professional development.

You've said you look for the amazing dancers and watch them. To glean technique. To keep "your finger on the pulse of ongoing developments in tango" and to "be part of the community of professional dancers".

All of which you do from your chair.

An average guy looking to dance has very different concerns. He necessarily focusses on the guys at the lower end of the range since it's they that determine how comfortable or rough the dancing is. Whether the dancers at the top of the range are amazing or not makes little difference to the enjoyment of everyone else.

Your experience is one of show tango.

His is one of social dance.

-- Chris

2007 January 27

Here, I believe, we are getting into some very important cultural differences. In the U.S., I do not see very many people drinking coffee or wine with their friends in the summertime on some plaza cafe at 2AM and actually spending 3-4 hours just sitting there chatting. In Argentina, for example, when a woman has a problem, she takes coffee with her 10 friends, one at a time, and then she feels much better and might even have a solution to the problem. In the U.S., such a woman would need to make a lunch appointment with most of those friends at least 2-3 weeks in advance (I speak from personal experience) :-)

Again, this brings me back to the question of values. Americans value "doing", while Argentines value "being". This is ironic, considering that English language is mostly about prepositions, while Spanish is all about verbs. Perhaps people focus in the language on that which is NOT happening.

Wasting a huge amount of time in a stylish and classy way is an art in itself. Argentines do at the milongas exactly what they do elsewhere - they hang out, spend time with friends, and listen to some music. Just being with people has great value. The whole ritual of taking mate in the afternoons takes hours. At a milonga, the only difference is that people also might dance.

Americans do not hang out with friends in the same way. The norm is that there would be a scheduled dinner, lunch or a party, with a set time limit. People do not casually share their time with one another. Time is spent "doing" instead of "being".

So in a milonga, one has to plan to waste a lot of time in a really "classy" way (and you have to pronounce "claassy" like the gangsters did in the old movies), while in a tango class one has to do, do, do something! This is a huge difference in values. In order to chose milongas over classes, people need to begin to value wasting, and I mean really wasting (by the standards of their cultures), lots and lots of time.

Warm regards to all, Nina

At 11:46 PM 1/26/2007, Tango Tango wrote:
Most people in the US treat tango as a sport, so they are most comfortable approaching it in a sweatpants-wearing, water bottle-toting, dance sneakers-wearing setting such as a class or a practica.

>This is the fundamental reason why tango in the US is, -and will remain, so far removed from Argentine Tango. Most people do not seek to attend an event where they can sit down and socialize with friends, drink a glass of wine, enjoy some beautiful music and perhaps a dance or two (as you would in a milonga), they seek a place where they can practice their steps and combinations. This is why classes and practicas are generally more attractive to people here.

-- Neil

2006 December 2

... My point is that teachers and organizers need to be very careful in regards to the value system that they are presenting to the beginner dancers. True, people will choose what they need and want. However, what is what they need and want is never offered to them as an option? If a dancer is happy with his/her learning and thinks that he/she has achieved a lot in 2-3 years of dancing and learning, and then goes to BsAs and finds out that he/she cannot dance, what will happen then? One of two things - he/she will come back and continue without ever wanting to go back to BsAs and discover and advocate for the "new" tango, or accept the defeat and start again, much transformed. This depends on the individual.

"Quality" is very difficult to define. It is highly subjective. However, I propose this - what if we stop looking at each dancer as its own entity and look at an experience that people share, which is the relationship between dancers. That is we stop looking out for "me" in the dance - did "I" dance enough dances, did "I" have good dances, etc., and look at what happens between dancers at the moment of a dance experience.

For those people who have dance partners, this would mean to stop focusing one the "I" and focus on the "we". It is the emotional space between the dancers that would be central to this value system.

In a communal sense, the relationship between the people in the community will become a focus of "quality". ...

-- Nina Pesochinsky


2006 November 7

> "Someone told me that it's important to relax while dancing, what does > it mean?
"Relaxing in tango is not an ordinary state of relaxation. It is achieving a very delicate balance between intense concentration and letting go. Only in that special state of mind is it possible for a woman to sense a man's every move and follow instantly, in harmony and without thinking. Not unlike making love, but more constant. Your body should not need to have tension but it needs a strong tone and"density" of movement to produce that exciting "controlled power" sort of slow motion look of tango, like held back speed. So, you have to use "tension" sometimes but as an artistic means to an end. All of these things take time to develop. And I think, only once you are actually able and have the body to dance it, do you actually really understand how it works."

-- Astrid

2006 November 7

Igor wrote:

">Good mix of everything is the solution: group classes, practicing, workshops, privates, video, participation in shows, writing about, even one's own teaching. But most imporant: dancing !!! Without it nothing will help. You have to find a dance within !"

"I absolutely agree - 100%. I would also add watching other people dance, especially visitors from other tango communities. Also, for most people, a visit to Buenos Aires is a life-changing experience. It was only when I saw tango danced in the milongas of BsAs that I realized how tango is supposed to be danced. For me, it's still the determining factor on what is 'good tango'."

-- Keith


2006 September 22

"Since we are splitting hairs on words, I'm going to state my own definitions of what attracted me to Tango in the first place were:

1. Authenticity -- tango is not a "made-up" dance, springing from the mind of one dance "authority". Many years ago, after passing my ballroom samba Gold Medal test, I naively thought I have "mastered" the samba. Imagine how flabbergasted I was when I saw an authentic Brazilian samba dancers for the first time. Tango has an authenticity that allows anyone from anywhere to learn the same dance as in Buenos Aires.

2. Honesty -- tango needs much less "role-playing" and "pretending to be someone-else". All dances have a cultural context which needs to be embraced, but many will consume the dancers e.g. role of ghetto gangsta for hip hop dancers, role of hepcat for the lindy dancers, role of gypsy for flamenco dancer. You can be more yourself in tango.

3. Freedom -- from early on you learn to adapt tango to yourself and not the other way round. How you embrace, walk, turn are all influenced by how it feel inside more than how it look outside. As long as we stay within certain tango paradigms (not losing the embrace, not doing solo shines, etc) the dancer has the freedom to create steps.

4. Emotion -- tango is the only dance I know that projects a healthy range of moods within an evening of dancing. Most other dances are set to one fixed temperature -- cha cha (cheeky), paso doble (proud), salsa (carnival). I can do a few songs of each, but I cannot sustain an entire evening of such extremes.

5. Nostalgia -- tango is a mirror to an earlier, more romantic era. In the "good old days" gender roles were clearly defined, people went out to ballroom to socialise instead of watching the television, and musicians connected at close distance to their audiences. Tango lets us break out of our political correctness and return temporarily to a more macho and sensual age when men and women know how to treat each other with respect.

6. Purity -- accomplished dancers pushing the envelope in "new tango" have achieved a theory of pure tango -- they reduced the thousands of steps into logical combinations of a few weight-shifting movement that are results of energy transfer from lead to follow (and back again). Reduced to a mechanical energy system, tango can be danced to any music (or no music). This is an intellectual purity that I have only known in ballet and mathematics, and it appeals to the right-brain in me."

-- Kace
tango singapore.com [Link]


2006 September 22

I think this story is so important that I'd like to publish the message in its completeness:

Kace, When you throw out a generalization it's a good idea to duck because generalizations can be like boomerangs. I am compelled to address your boomerang... "how many of us go beyond our own simple enjoyment of the dance into demonstrating, choreographing, speaking or writing on the subject for the laymen?" I am a professional television/film writer with a long list of credits. At each and every opportunity if appropriate to the story, I include a scene with tango. Even though all my scripts make it into production, none of these scenes has yet to be shot. If there is interest in including a dance scene, the producers want it to be a salsa dance. I recently wrote a romantic comedy into which crept tango characters and, therefore, a lot of the action ends up taking place at a dance studio and a milonga. The producer from New York called to tell me how much he loved the script, how it made him both laugh and cry at the same moment... and then the deal breaker... would I change all the tango scenes into salsa scenes. So there are those of us who constantly go beyond our own enjoyment of the dance. Additionally, and this is the real irony... My husband and I are co-owners of a dance studio devoted to Argentine Tango. It also happens to be one of the studios that Dancing with the Stars uses for their rehearsals. I am in touch with their production people on a regular basis and yet when the time came for them to include a tango exhibition, it never occurred to them to even ask us to point them in the right direction. So, Kace, whattya gonna do? This studio is owned by four of us who all have regular careers and jobs. We took out second mortgages on our homes to open the studio and we spend all our free time doing everything we can to tell the world about the joy of Tango.
-- JFPaloma

2006 August 29

Alberto Gesualdi wrote in part:
<<If you compared this organization with the organization of Daniel Rofman
World Tango Festival (with Aurora Lubiz and Jorge Firpo as hosts in the last
edition), differences arise inmediately. Of course, for the world tango
festival you have to book in advance , pay the fees, etc.etc.. but once you
pay, the organization takes care of you. This world festival still lacks
and organization abroad .The embassies made some help with promotion and
assistance, but do not put money in the event.>>>

The tango championship held during eleven days are an event organized by
the city of Buenos Aires with many corporate sponsors. Participation in the
competition is free to all. Entrance to the concerts, classes, and
competitions are free as well. More than 100,000 people attended over the
11 days. [Igor: yes, this is the true The World Tango Festival !!!]

The World Tango Festival organized by Daniel Rofman since 2001 is a private
enterprise. He is a businessman with a bank account in the USA who saw an
opportunity with tango. He hired Lubiz and Firpo as artistic directors
since he knows nothing about tango. He sets up the hotel, registration
fees, travel packages, and hires the teachers and orchestras. The
week-long event drew 800 people last year from 35 countries for classes and
milongas. This is a private enterprise that supports itself by charging
registration of $498us up to $622us per person. Rofman doesn't need
sponsorship. www.worldtangofestival.com.ar

-- Janis Kenyon [Link]

2006 August 25

Oh, how I wish I had only to travel 100 miles for tango... Here, I'd have to go some 400 miles for a practica. On a wednesday evening. In a town smaller than my own. No tango here for miles and miles and miles. And so we cry. -- Bridget Michlig (from Montana?) [Link]

2006 August 23

[To someone who criticized certain teachers for teaching "Stuff" instead of real sense of dancing, musicality, sensitivity, ability to dance socially and improvisation]

"I feel it is very unfair of you to be so angry at teachers for this - teachers are the ones who have to deal with students who come to them with these problems.

You think you're very frustrated - think about my level of frustration when students come to me to advance their tango, but they report with no frame, no embrace, and without the ability to walk in close embrace. Yet they know front ochos, molinetes, giros, secadas - all executed badly. When I tell them they have to start over with the walk, and they storm out and tell people what a bad teacher I am, do you think that makes me happy? So that student doesn't stay, and goes back to learning from videos, or from some partners, or just stops classes completely and uses what he or she has. Is the teacher responsible? Do you know what it's like to have a student beg to learn some fancy move and try to hold them back for their own good? Then hear that they feel you're not teaching them anything because you want them to spend more on classes?

I get angry at teachers who teach students things without technique, too, but I do try to temper it with a little understanding. I sympathize with the teacher who just gives students what they want - it's so much easier!" -- Lois Donnay, Minneapolis [Link]

2006 August 15

What a day today! A topic? Live tango music and musicians. Essentially ? Tango future.

Here is another quote from Keith:

"... Perhaps there should be more musicality workshops taught by dancers to help musicians figure out how to play tango music of today when they are hired to play for dancers. " -- Keith [Link - as usual, an exceptional article]

2006 August 15

"I may be too weird, but I think a 50ish, plump, fully dressed non-blonde who can express herself in the dance is much sexier than a skinny young scantily clad bit of blonde fluff who can't move her own self." -- Sean [Link]

2006 August 15

"Alas, these days in Tango, much as in other aspects of popular culture, the ignorant and the uneducated "connoisseurs" carry the day. Without having the slightest idea of what good music and dance is, nor making the effort to learn, they endorse the "novelty" and the "sincere effort" of bad musicians, their applause nudging the hesitant and impressionable in joining them, these false prophets! There's one simple way to fight back - do not dance to music you don't like..." -- Lucia [Link]

2006 August 15

"...once you have acquired not the steps, but rather the BODY of a tango dancer, with strong achilles tendons, balanced ankles on your high heels, strength around the middle of your body, a proper axis down the length of your body, and are able to hold your weight at a constant well balanced angle above the balls of your feet in connection with the man,that you don't need to know more than 2/3 or so of the moves the man leads you into. Your body will just follow the rest and figure them out on it's own. ... A woman takes it one step at a time, and once you know how to do that, and have a man who leads clearly and properly, the rest is easy..." -- Astrid [Link]

2006 August 14

"...I know as much as anyone that knowing tango steps is not to know dancing..." -- Keith [Check out the post, it is interesting and revealing ! [Link][Keith's website - one of the best about tango.]

2006 August 3

Caroline Polack writes to Lois Donnay:

> What do you mean by "dance successfully in Buenos Aires"?
> What is your definition of success?

Well I'm not Lois, but I define it rather simply: To be able to go to milongas and have portenas return my steady gaze and meet me on the dance floor instead of turning their heads away.

Is this a trick question? :)

When non-dancers here in the US ask me about Argentne Tango, they often say, "Oh, I've seen ballroom dancing on TV, do you compete?" I explain the above, and tell them that other than that, we don't need no stinkin' prizes.

-- Huck Kennedy [Link]

2006 July 27

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating." -Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)
-- Brought up by Lois Donnay [Link] . Thank you!

2006 July 13

"I like dancing to alternative music, but I sometimes get irritated with DJs who choose to play music just because it's different. We hear nice "world" music, and beat-heavy disco/rap/electronic stuff. Give me some music with some meat in it, some feeling, something to interpret into a dance." -- Michael Figart II [Link]

2006 July 13

"As far as colgadas, volcadas, etc. go, I know that Maestro Gavito danced his own particular volcada - very stylish, very special - and it got a LOT of attention in the world of tango. It became his signature movement. [Just watch his videos and you will recoginze it, thank you Nina! -- Igor]

And Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa danced colgadas many years ago in their own performances, long before they and other teachers were teaching it in the classes." -- Nina [Link]

2006 July 9

"I'd rather dance the most simple of tangos with the man who has the best sense of musicality than dance the most complex of steps with a man who doesn't have the spirit of tango." -- Caroline Polack [Link]

2006 July 6

" Sometimes, a man may ask me:"Do you remember what we are supposed to do?" I almost never remember anything, as Ezequiel [Frarfaro] trained me systematically to have my mind go blank, regarding steps and being led. He ideally prefered if women did not watch, or at least, did not move while he showed a new step in his group lessons. "

"Gavito was a great one for showing how to stop the man. He told me during a privada:"The man may not expect this, but if you stop him like this, he will..." and he drew an invisible zipper across his mouth, looking into my eyes with a very "significant" look.. As though the man would be so thrilled with having the woman pressing against and rising against his chest like a dancing cobra at step #3 (Gavito took the woman's role to show me what he meant and made me feel it with my body) that he would swallow all his macho complaints and let himself be seduced by her into stopping to see what other sexy tricks she had in mind (you go on by doing sexual games on the floor, expressing your subdued passion and desire with your feet, for lack of movable hands...) . Unfortunately, I never really got much of a chance to practise the move he showed me. Maybe I should have learned more about it, but Gavito's fees for privadas were astronomic, and I could take only 60 minutes. Also, Gavito was short, much smaller in real life than he looked on stage. It was the time before he announced publicly that he was going to die soon.." -- Astrid [Link]

2006 July 5

Astrid writes about luck of men's drive to learn: [Link]. Visiting workshops I often ask myself: "This is such a good and useful workshop. Why our men are not here? Men, where are you!!!". It is followed by Martin Nussbaum advice for men: [Link]. Written well !

And here Astrid describes her learning experience: [Link]  ;)

2006 July 5

"..So many times I'll get a new student who can do great Gaunchos, or Colgadas, what can't walk a decent walk, or know where his partners weight is. .. Walking and musicality go hand in hand should be the first things a person learns. And nothing else should be taught till they understand this.." -- Timmy from Cleveland [Link]

2006 July 3

"Yes, women can also be transparent to the leader, but the leaders attention has a lot more external information and noise.

Really good dancers have extraordinary skills at proprioception and kinesthetics.

More than that, their senses and awareness extends into the other person's body, as if both nervous systems were joined together. They feel energy and how it flows in another person's body." -- Tom Stermitz [Link]

2006 June 16

"I would NEVER teach anyone an incorrect movement under any circumstances. I would rather take them to a position where their error does not work so they can feel the problem and then have a starting point to unlearn. " -- Bill in Seattle [Link]

2006 June 16

"There are three principal methods for teaching Argentine tango: step patterns, small elements and structural systems", "good teaching facilitates self-discovery and self-learning " -- Stephen P. Brown [Link] . Stephen also mentioned: good depth of composition and form, improvisation, navigation and rhythm, style, complex set of possibilities

2006 June 7

Janis writes: "It's common knowledge that the competitions aren't about how well you dance -- they're about how well connected you are. That is, to the judges and members of the association. www.tangodata.gov.ar "

And people wonder why when ballroom types, after having finally discovered real tango, try to assimilate us like the Borg and introduce syllabi and competition to AT, so many of us respond, "Yeah, over our dead bodies you will." -- Huck [Link]

2006 June 6

"For me, when I think of the best leaders I've danced with, I've noticed a commonality between all of them which is an apparent lack of ego or bravado. Instead of thinking about themselves, they just surrender to the music and to the pleasure of having a woman in their arms, no matter if she's experienced or not. They are the kind who would never let a woman feel incompetent or humiliated but instead as though it's been a sublime privilege to share this wonderful thing called tango with them. The worst leaders are the ones who don't pay attention to a woman's skill level and instead try to guide her into doing moves that are obviously beyond her knowledge of the choreography, thus shaming and humiliating her. They are the worst because they are only focusing on themselves instead of making it a wonderful experience for them both. In other words, they didn't surrender to the experience but to their own egos with complete disregards for the women's." -- Caroline Polack [Link]

2006 June 3

"You must be an artist to dance the Argentine tango. I believe that artistry is a basic element of human nature. It is often suppressed by unnatural forces, such as the drive for economic productivity (there are no artists in the oil industry). If an individual's drive for artistry is completely repressed, perhaps he may no longer be considered human. Interpreted this way, I accept Lucia's Faustian argument. I believe that the rising popularity of Argentine tango is due to its ability to release long suppressed artistic urges. Through the pursuit of tango, economic resources revert into human beings. Thus the feeling among many tangueros: that they were not truly alive until (except when) they danced tango." --- Sean [Link]

2006 June 5

What follows is what I think tango is about, other people may have equally acceptable different ideas. Once we accept the fact that there is a masculine attitude in leading and a feminine one in following we can discuss other subjects that are equally important such as the concept of "Surrender" in tango dancing. Remember men and women in tango are equal but they are different. This "surrender" is required from both partners in traditional tango dancing.

There could be confusion between "Submission" and "Surrender". We own and retain our respective power in surrender in contrast to giving up our power in submission. Yielding and letting go of control in surrender is a high level capacity in psychological development. Trauma in early life may disrupt self development and create profound forms of defensive control.

Such a woman or person, develop what is known as "demon lover complex" : has a tendency to transfer the hatred to her present lover who reacts by making her submissive and both developing a sado-masochistic relationship instead of one of surrender. Possession is followed by abuse and abandonment by the male onto whom the woman has submitted all her own power.

In A.Tango the woman won't be able to surrender to her partner, the dance and the music unless she can surrender to herself first. To facilitate this the leader (usually a man) must clearly direct her, support and protect her in the frame of his embrace.

If instead the man only controls the woman, she has two possible actions that are not desirable: she submits or she rebels ; she will never surrender.

As to the man executing steps that he has not automatically incorporated into his unconscious brings an agenda on his part which interferes with his ability to surrender to the connection. Free floating attention allows the woman to be a receptive organ. She needs to relinquish anticipation of the leaders moves. The leader should be "in the moment" allowing free associations to flow from the internal and unconscious life. Not inhibiting himself with controlled thinking.


It is not possible to allow the dance to proceed without relinquishing conscious control and surrendering to the inner life of that creative moment.

To be too conscious of the steps or the technique is to impede the process.

The conscious use of steps and technique should be reserved for the lessons and the practice.

Best wishes, --- Sergio [Link]





2006 July 15


> Certainly the mid-90s were very creative period for the "FaGuChi" crowd. They deserve credit for systematizing a lot of tango concepts, ...
> http://www.totango.net/salas2.html

Señor Salas must die with embarrassment every time he's reminded of that interview...

Such as his account of he and Gustavo worked for years on e.g. 'systematising' the forward, backward and side steps... by relabelling them "front", "back" and "open". To arrive at the 'conerstone concept' of there being just these three positions in tango.

Then going on to invent the name 'cross system'... for a walk that has no crossing and is not a system.

Quite how a whole generation of teachers mistook this nonsense for a System of Tango Nuevo will forever remain one of tango's great mysteries ;)

-- Chris [Link]


Probably the three most influential teaching methodologies today include the "8CB w/DBS" developed in the 60s or 70s by Todaro/Copes, the "Improvised Small Elements" of many milonguero teachers in the 90s, and the "Improvised Walk/Turn" developed by Gustavo Naveira and Fabian Salas also in the 90s.

Each method has value, and has been proven effective at getting people to learn tango. Yeah, you can point to shortcomings in each method.

-- Tom [Link]

My name is Igor Polk. I dance dances in San Francisco.

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