My name is Igor Polk. I am dancing Argentine Tango in San Francisco. This is my personal tango site where I express exclusively my IMHO opinions for my own pleasure and pleasure of my friends. And I do not promise to be objective. If you are ready for it, proceed..
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Trio Garufa from San Francisco with violinist Erin Furbee from Portland performed today at Rhythm&Motion party. I have to say that yes, this group matured a lot. They play now very delicate, subtle, elaborate music reminding of Troilo and Piazzolla of 40. It calls for very inventive dance which I enjoy immensely. They are going to record a new CD which I am looking forward to. Only it would be nice if they introduced a little of more simple pieces in style of, for example, Canaro or Fresedo to ease the feelings sometimes.
So now we have 2 good tango bands in San Francisco: Tango N9, and Trio Garufa. Good!
Following the style, Homer and Andrea performed a dance in smooth Neo Tango full of beautiful creative elements.
Just a story without particular relation to anything.
Yesterday I went to a radio-shop looking for, say, a boombox. Two very young salesmen started to present me a super-duper device amplifying iPod.
I was born in a common family of the most low class origin. My parents could not educate me about music at all. They did not know it. All they were able to listen to - simplistic melodies from TV.
May be not surprisingly I came to love of the classical music through popular between youngsters hard rock. Sometimes rock musicians make something which reflects simple classical music. And fans said "OOOOOOUUUUUUHHHHHH, is it so Cooooooooooool!!!!!" So, I have not stopped, and started to listen to real classical music, contrary to my school friends who never overcame the barrier.
I immensely enjoy classical music now. I put it on when I work. This is the only music I am now able to listen when I work.
And I never put tango on.
Because I can not stand it!
Because I can not work while it is playing!
Because I jump into dance.
Tango music ( classical, before 1952 ) is magical. The more I listen to it the more I can feel..I do not understand how it was possible to create such music, which is so dense, so reach, the more I listen to it the more I deepen into it..
It was some sort of God's blessing upon Argentina to make so much of such incredible music, which we can actually dance too. It brings us up, with every minute, with every dance.
On precision. There are 2 types of precision. Mechanical and adaptive. One steps mechanically, perfectly precisely following a memorized pattern. Another, adapts himself to a partner, the partner to himself, and to circumstances in execute the best possible move to the best possible point. Like a missile on a target. What precision do you like?
Tango walk is very special. It is very complex. I know 2 types of tango walk which I call for myself "Salon" and "Street". They are variations of the same thing. Tango walk is the most advanced element in tango which alone is sufficient enough for a great dance.
Tango walk is so important, that I like to say - if I know tango walk - I dance tango. If not - no matter what I do, I am not dancing tango - it is something else.
Improvisations on tango walk are innumerous. Tiny and large. I have this crazy idea that all tango elements are improvisations on tango walk - tango has a linear structure. Of course, there two more dancing structures: circular, and in-one-place - on the square. Hmm.... - Three dancing structures of tango.
2005 November 6
И танги наши быстры...
2005 November 2
Am I an advanced dancer? I would describe myself as a solid beginner.
Today, I have seen and danced with Kendra Kambestad from Sacramento. What a perfect Salon technique she has! I have seen her dancing with more advanced dancers and with sort of beginners. I have a long way to satisfy her level. She dances equally beautifully with everyone. Neo Tango tricks - no problem. And how classy it looks!
-- How do you define "neo tango"? Specifically, what is --> The Difference between Nuevo and Neo?
I believe this is a very important question nowadays. There you will find 7 differences I see:
I came from Portland TangoFest 2005. Mixed feelings:
* * *
... So what is that mysterious"lead" which everyone talks but no one is able to explain well? Almost everybody agree that the "lead" and the "step" are different things, but how to distinguish between them? Should I start talking about it here? Will I be understood?
Ok, here it is, on the level of words --> Tango Conversations :)
Researching on the term --> "Tango Liso", I have found that it was a tango with the simple steps, and that it was a precursor for Tango Salon as we know it now. Also I have found that it was "skillfully detailed footwork instead of elaborate figures".
...For the good improvisational dance, the mind must be set up to fight memory:
2005 September 26 ( rough, I will have to edit it )
Watched my favorite dancer Z. He danced with RD. I sit and observed their smiles, the same like on Leonardo's Mona Lisa. And I smiled too. That is the great dance! I wonder why nobody stopped dancing and have not enjoyed that majestic performance. But that is even better. Magical events around us love to go unnoticed...
--> 11 Argentine Tango Styles.
Tango world is divided into 3 groups: --> Neo, Milonguero, and Salon Tango sub-communities.
2005 Spetember 11. Late night.
Every time I go to a party some unforgettable dances happen. Today I had 3.
- Ja. Very soft and flexible body. Dance of crazy twisting, floating, and suspense, going deep down with long legs.
What an evening! I haven't seen my old friend T for long time, and today we met. Kind of missing our great synergy. So we were dancing what I would call "Orillero in Close Embrace with the touch of Canyengue": D'Arienzo, milongas. Crazy %). Power, energy, force, risk, rotation and balance on the edge of the knife. What a wonderful T! People looked at us - nobody is dancing like this. I wonder what would they think?
So, it is improvisational !? No rhythmical patterns !? Here is a short --> Definition What is Musicality.
If somebody says: "It is improvisational - any step is possible next". Then what step is better?
2005 September 8
I have received Susana Tango Pial video for sale. Read the article.
There are 2 tango spaces I live. One is when I alone think about the dance, learn it, analyze movement on the TV screen, try various things. Another is when I dance. I never think when I dance. I live totally on intuition and emotions. Gradually, what I practice is transferring into the living dance, but this is not straightforward. Practice ideas make their imprint in the intuitive memory and pop up in unexpected moments and transformed. I observe path of the transformation with astonishment.
On the other hand, during the dance, once my observing mind is set up on acceptance of unexpected, freed of constrains which is the most difficult thing to do, new things are born constantly from the interaction with a partner, music, and surrounding dancers. Often they are correct recognizable tango elements, but never practiced by me. They are born because they exist in the dance. They exist themselves, they are there. We do not learn them, we find them. For most, this is masked by teachers influence. Most think they are taught that, but I do not take classes. I find it in the dance. I observe it happening. It is like Pythagorean theorem - it exists with no relevance to the famous philosopher.
I find it in the dance because I am prepared to do so. I reached the certain level when my skills are accumulated to make it happen itself. Underlying background is ready. All threads are woven. It happens easy without effort and tedious practicing. And because of that it is done well. It goes itself without visible effort from my conscious side.
But it is not always what is born in my improvised dance are recognizable tango elements. These ideas might feed my analytical meditations, and thus can reincarnate later in the dance. I do not invent them. They are born, they are in the dance irrelevantly to me. I believe they were danced before. They are as much valid as those elements which are recognizable. What is recognizable? What we saw. But we did not see much. Most of tango's 1870-1952 history and spread around the globe is lost. But there is hope as soon as we dance we might find it again.
That is how I see "Tango Development". Not necessary it means invention of super new elements. It means coming back in time either. Tango development is assembling the comprehensive space of dance. We have 3 tools to help us - tango music, openness, and inventiveness.
We live an a non perfect world. Yesterday, I have seen an Argentinean teaching tango. You know, it is not enough to be a great dancer, and to be able to convey what is most important in the dance. The issue is efficiency. It is not enough to talk 90% of the workshop time. The best memory for the dancers - a memory of muscles and bones, not a memory of logical figures. In the best workshops I have attended, talks were limited to jokes. Other time we worked, we filled up our motor memory. The teacher ( a good one ) builds up the material from simple to complex. He shows more than he teaches, so that advanced dancers can get more. These workshops are good for all levels, and constitute a definite change in the skill level of participants so that years later they can say: "I have learned it at such and such workshop".
Also, it is a matter of respect. A respect from a teacher to students. They have to make their arrangements about children. They have to pay for the gas, drive to the city, find a garage, pay for the garage, waste time at the lesson stand standing, come back. It is their weekend. It is divided and they can not have much rest they deserved. And there are 20 of us. Ah, and each paid $30. Am I clear here?
The name of the teacher is ... no. His theory is very important. We need it. I believe someone will tell him, and he will learn how to teach. Most important thing: we have seen many, I mean MANY best tango people here. You'd better be prepared coming to San Francisco!
In the evening I came to a new milonga at 330 Ritch Street. Mayumi gave a lesson there assisted by Greg. Mayumi came from Tucson, interrupting her business trip, specifically for this lesson. As always, I carried so much from the lesson with her. We practiced, and practiced, she gave the right advice to each of us no matter what the level is. And I paid only 5 bucks for this excitement.
The dance place was wonderful! Perfect small tango floor, plenty of seats, bar, good sound system, romantic neighborhood, great collection of mixed style music by Greg. The crowd was the same as at El Valenciano and CellSpace. Greg played a lot of great old tango pieces, but you know, most of the people do not present themselves until the middle of the night. 50% of the dancers I was dancing with needed that Mayumi lesson (as well as HIS) as much as moms milk!!! But they did not appear for the lesson. Well, our world is not perfect, is it?
* * *
I want to say couple words here about Ruben Milonga again. His workshops are an example. I took all of them in SF and I will take all of them in future. He does not talk. ( He'd better not to :) ). He shows and we do. He always presents so much. It is possible to learn only from his movements. Any movement. That much he gives. He invents so many good, very practical exercises. He is an expert in all styles, all tango dances. He finds the right partner for anyone. When I go to his workshop, I am sure that my level will jump up. Thank you, Ruben!
I have amended --> "Argentine Tango and Tango Nuevo" with the explanation why I think these are two different dances. We already have milonga and vals. There is no problem with this whatsoever. But we can not mix them dancing at the same floor at the same time. Music is different, and the whole super-pattern of the dance is different. The same applies to Tango Nuevo. Music for Tango Nuevo is very specific, and if you dance it on the regular dance floor - other dancers usually complain. For Nuevo dancers it is no fun either, since others are in their way.
So, the main conclusion is - we have to learn two dances in order to dance it at the same milonga. Two, dear Tango Nuevos.
* * *
2005 August 22
* * * 2005 October 18 after the Portland TangoFest where Neo-s were very vividly present.
* * * 2006 January 14
2005 August 12
A message I have received from a friend visiting Buenos Aires for the first time:
"Just a quick hello to say I haven't run off with any tango dancers...yet...and that the weather here, food, music, architecture, etc.etc.etc. is absolutely stunning. Having a great time! Ive walked the entire city and hit the Museo de Bellas Artes today...tomorrow ot La Boca. Tonight, tango dancing with the girls. Ole! "
I allow myself a little speculation about the word "salon" and salon style. This is just a logical exercise. Fiction.
What is a salon. Salon is a large gorgeous hall with polished floors and cristal chandeliers located somewhere which 100 years ago can be easily called "a palace". Upper class people visited the salon. They played cards, drunk some cognac or campaign, talk politics, prices of grain in Europe, and marriages of their daughters. And they danced tango. Sure they did. But special tango. During the dance the look of dancers supposed to highlight their position of power. Close embrace would be unthinkable there. An it was. At least in a public. Tender shoes, long dress, diamonds, tails. They danced "salon style tango".
Less prominent people had their salons too. Smaller salons in smaller apartments. Merchants, bureaucrats, academics, landlords. They wanted to be as good as those above them. They danced salon too. But occasionally, a friend came to a family and said "You know what, ..
.. most people are dancing tango on streets. On stones, dirt, and worn floors. And in whore houses too. They wear boots. And they drink gallons of cheap wine. They dance close hugging each other - "canyengue". Or open doing crazy moves to impress their girls, friends, and rivals - "orillero".
..Boy, I have seen such thrilling moves! Let me show you how it works."
Society developed. Productivity went up. More people wanted to enter the upper class. At least now they could impersonate it. So cloth became better - suits and so on.. Dancing parties with large orchestras. Their dancing became more refine, but they did not forget the greatness of close embrace. "Apilado" was born, a marriage of salons and the street, patricians and plebs - a truly confiteria style.
I always smile when I see these words together: "salon" and "close embrace".
Tango, especially in close embrace is good for your health because more of the hormone oxytocin is generated after a hug, a handshake, or even a friendly eye contact. It reduces the stress and lowers blood pressure how it was shown in many studies ( for example: BBC . It works for men too, I can assure you ).
We, tango dancers, should be "swimming" in oxytocin! We keep hagging for hours! And this is only one of the positive health effects of Argentine Tango. Please, write me if you know more about it.
Not that many tango students realize that we have a real world-class Argentinean Tango couple here - Yanina Messina and Gennaro Marino. Without doubt Yanina is the best female tango dancer in San Francisco. They are wonderful social dancers and professionals making volcanic performance. A beautiful couple.
When I have an opportunity I love to dance with Yanina. She never refuses and never busy to dance with anyone. I am glad that I have reached the level when I can appreciate how great Yanina as a dancer is. Dancing with her is like visiting heavens.
Gennaro looks very athletic and showy, but I took their lessons. He is a wonderful teacher teaching the right stuff for social salon dancing.
Yanina and Gennaro spend a lot of time in San Francisco. It is relatively easy to reach them. Click on the link to get their phone number and e-mail.
What is lead on a large scale
Lead is not an order.
It is creation of opportunities, building the virtual path in space, time, rhythm, and dynamic, inside which a woman moves, dances, feels music, rely on support, chat with the man, gets surprise and pleasure.
In a dance with a beginner follower, lead also includes knowing how to cut off her ways to execute the movement wrongly. With the good lead she has no other choice, but to dance good. That is why dancing with beginner followers is a necessary part of becoming a good leader.
A new group modestly called San Francisco Tango Orchestra had a premiere today at El Valenciano. Directed and led by a young ambitious talented Argentinean arranger and bandoneon virtuoso Roman Rosso, with the organizational help by Dom, Julian, Roy, the group produced most wonderful tango concert in San Francisco. El Valenciano was packed, nobody danced, everyone listened to magical music. The goal of Roman Rosso and his friends as they say is to stay in SF and to bring an Orquesta Típica sound of Buenos Aires to the Bay Area, to continue the movement of La Guardia Joven. The traditional tangos of 50s and modern tangos were performed. The orchestra will have more concerts at CellSpace, Monte Cristo, and may be at Verdi. Great! Good start! Looking forward for more!
2005 July 19
I am thinking about: "What step is the next", and "Connection -> Trust -> Openness"
* * *
Gavito died. When friends ask me what tape would I recommend to learn Milonga, I answer: - There is one milonga dance of Carlos Gavito and Marcela Duran at the end of the "Un Tal Gavito volume 2" video tape. They do not teach milonga, only one performance dance is recorded. Only one dance. This is the best lesson for milonga. Trust me... You can buy Carlos Gavito and Marcela Duran "Un Tal Gavito vol 2 video tape at the Trenner's catalog: http://www.thetangocatalogue.com/browse.asp?ids=2 Thank you, Carlos!
Miriam Larici and Hugo Patyn. Today at Nora's Tango Week I have seen Miriam & Hugo's dancing. Volcanic, glorious dance. Probably the best dances in open embrace I have ever seen. Imagine: A gaucho dancing tango - young, masculine, wanting to impress his lady and rivals. She is feminine, playful, and strong. Orillero style reincarnated? Inventiveness, precision, professionalism, respect for roots. Volcada? Yep. Just a short micro element in the waterfall of dance. To my greatest delight I have found that Miriam and Hugo are students of Gloria and Eduardo. Live Tango!
If you want you can publish comments about Nora's Tango Week 2005 here.
Progressing around the floor
I am thinking about --> Dancing on the edge, bushing wide and wild dancers, why to progress, and that that we are a collective of dancers.
Looking in the mirror
"What happens when a dancer wants to look good? He looks in a mirror. A mirror is something which tells you about yourself how good is it what you do. You watch yourself from an outsider's point of visual view..."
This is my article about tango technique, connection, and many other things. Please read it here:
Please, leave a comment, I value your opinion!
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My name is Igor Polk. I dance tango in San Francisco.
Argentina Tango, Argentin Tango, Argentinian Tango, Tango Argentino
Copyright©2003 Igor Polk
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