Argentine Tango Blog 2007

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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2007 December 31

Happy New Year!
I wish you the best Tango feeling of all: feeling of a great dance !

2007 December 24

I have started dancing Tango 7 years ago at about Christmas time. Since then Tango have changed my life and my spirit tremendously. I'd like to thank all the wonderful people surrounding me, helping me, and creating atmospheres for the tango life. My greatest thanks are to all the wonderful dancers who danced with me and shared with me emotions, grief, sorrow, joy, style and technique. Tango I dance I have learned from you. That is you, my wonderful dance partners whom I respect and love most strongly ! I remember everyone who was so kind to dance with me. Thank you !

Here are the Masters whom I consider my teachers:

Brigitta Winkler,
Gloria & Eduardo Arquimbau,
Carlos Gavito,
Martha Anton,
Juan Bruno,
Hector Petrovich

Special thanks to the Hero of Tango: Daniel Trenner - a truly amazing man. A person who made for tango revival more than anyone else! I owe all my learning success to him.

And Natasha Ng - my teacher of close embrace. An Argentinean who said to me: "Tango should be danced like this.."

There are many more tango aficionados, teachers - my teachers and teachers of my teachers, performers I am thankful. I wanted to list them all but I didn't since the list would be too long. You can count pretty much all San Francisco Tango teachers here. Thank you!

2007 December 19

Cultural Life.

Cultural Life is not the same as Culture. It is much more narrow.

Cultural Life is participation is Arts on the level of socialization. If you hide in a remote village and write a great book it is life of a Cultural Monk. Cultural Life starts when you go with the book public. When people read, critics transform it, cultural circles start to discuss it.

What is most interesting, is that one does not have to be an Artist to participate in Cultural Life. Any involvement into human interactions related to Art makes your life Cultural.

In this life there is great sense of ... well, life! Here you can enjoy freedom, being part of society, not a nut or bolt of it, and feel a progress of your own Cultural You, and the whole Humanity.

Where is it? In a movie theatre? In front of a TV? No. This is not life. You are not involved in human interactions.

So, wake up! Go to museums, bookstores, dance parties, lectures, fairs, and circles of interest.

... more about it to follow...


2007 December 19

I was looking for the understanding of the difference between Dance and Mime.

It is elusive, since such fundamental notions as rhythms and dynamic visual images are everywhere. Everything has its rhythms, including painting, politics, fights, and pantomime, and everything has its visual presentation and appeal. If you look at Martha Graham's dance, it is more like a pantomime than dance.

The difference is fundamental either. Dance is a play with rhythms. It is a primary goal. Feeling rhythms in the body is the ultimate pleasure of dance. Visual image is secondary, a result of that symphony of rhythms. These rhythmic plays are not related to anything in the area of consciousness. Dance is abstract by definition.

While the goal of the pantomime is to create visual image and affect spectators. Rhythms serve here.

They can transform into each other. Forget about the others and enjoy rhythm play of face muscles or hands movements - and you've got dancing. Everything can be dancing as soon as the rhythm play and enjoyment of that is happening. Here is an example of how a juggler made a dance out of boring circus art.

* * *
Oh, those rhythms of Tango ! How greatly they interlaced !

2007 December 7

Sorry, in russian, but I just can not miss it:

- Я собираю марки!
- А я - монеты.
- А я - фантики.
- А я - мусор.
- В смысле?
- В смысле - предъявите документы!


2007 December 5

They used to have ample opportunities for meditation in the past: in the fields, in the forest, in mountains, at the sea and seashore, in deserts, at temples and churches, at concerts, libraries, walking, drinking tea, riding a horse, praying.

Where modern people meditate? Taking a shower. In a car, at an airplane. That is about it. Restrooms and lunch-breaks do not count.

What is the greatest obstacle to modern meditator? TV and modern music.

Is tango a meditation? No. It is more. It is dancing.

2007 December 4

Quantity is transformed into quality. But quality quantity is transformed into quality faster.
Learn Tango at our Tango lessons ! Do not miss a day !


2007 November 29

Ruben and Teressa are dancing Candombe Milonga at our Tango Club in Palo Alto


Here is a real "street" Candombe.



2007 November 29

Imagine mountains. When you are in the valley - you are more stable. On the ridge - much less. It requires mastery to keep up there. But what a view !

2007 November 26

New milonga at SouthBay opening, November 18, 1007. The second milonga on November 25 was equally successful. Welcome!



2007 November 22

No relation to tango: even animals drink... Happy burthday, ouhm.... Happy Thanksgiving !

2007 November 22

I think Argentinean Traditional Tango Activists often forget that most people dancing tango do not care much or at all about authenticity and following strict Argentinean traditions as soon as dancing is good.

They just follow, lead, use the elements, methods, patterns, rhythms, look, and feeling discovered in Tango.

But the similar argument applies to supporters of so called "Tango Nuevo": Why do you ignore those follow, lead, usage of the elements, methods, patterns, rhythms, look, and feeling of Traditional Tango?

2007 November 19

Interview with Tete: video; ( this video is not one from the tapes, it probably was recorded later ). I do consider Tete my teacher, even if we never met.


2007 November 18

I am delivering our Tango school e-mails to students every week.

I constantly have problems with Yahoo accounts ( and only ) - it does not deliver e-mails on time or not at all.
I only have 40 yahoo e-mails and we've got into this problem.

Do not use Yahoo e-mail, it is not reliable !


2007 November 17

"It's often difficult to understand what you're trying to say...."

I am not trying to say. I write, and it comes out itself. Out of common sense, logic, feelings, intuition, God knows what from.
As in all writing - it lives beyond the writer by its own life.
I can only look at it and try to ask the same questions what you have asked.

2007 November 16

What is a Master.

The more you watch the dance of a Master, the more you discover of Elements, Methods, Structure, Feel, Shape, and even History. It is a whole world in a Master's dance. It has depth, it is multidimensional, multilevel, cross-connected in time, space, and sense, developing, contrasting, balanced, and integral. And soulful. If you watch a dance of not masters - you have feeling that you've seen it all. Oh, yet another one. Want-to-look-like-Masters adorn like crazy, boleo wide. And this is it. That is not what counts.

Unfortunately, often Masters do not care about being recognized as Masters.

Happy are warriors: it is easy for them to find who is the best: one slash of a Master, and not-Masters lay down dead. It is not like that in dancing..

It is difficult to recognize a Master. If you are not a Master yourself.


2007 November 12

Axis. What is it in Dancing? Here is the where you can find good understanding of what is the axis.


2007 November 10

Here is my old message dated January of 2006 to tango community, it is interesting to re-read it now:

"Once we had a little tango party in a park. A group of very old people watched us and then started dancing in their circuit too. I have noticed they had some dance training. I came close: "Would you like to try Tango?" and grabbed a lady. She had no idea about tango but I felt experience in her legs. I lead her into molinete. I always lead every step in molinete. I lead molinete pivots too. She was perfect as if she danced for 2 years! Resistance, easy foot work, very sensitive - it was a new thing for her so she tried to understand what I was doing. She was all attention. Soon the idea finally came to her "Oh, that is grapevine!". She started taking her steps around me. All the magic was gone.

There is one woman in San Francisco. Sometimes I have an honor to dance with her. She is fastest molinete dancer I have ever danced with! Vroooom-Vrooom - we spin with the speed when the world totally disappears in a crazy typhoon. Yes, she gives excess of her energy to me! I accumulate it and return it back to her accelerating her into the next step. And what is interesting, flying around the room as if we want to take off to the moon, we never ever bumped into anything. (...-...) No matter what speed she is going, she is in total control of her moves! She is very sensitive: she can stop or change direction not on a step, but on any fraction of a step! It is amazing how we can suddenly stop rotating with 100 revolutions per second and freeze in a strictly vertical position %). How many steps were in those molinetes? I do not know."

That was written in 2006, almost 2 years ago. I have danced with that woman recently. She has lost all her abilities to make fast molinetes.

2007 November 3

I am thinking about Andres and Meredith. So far I have taken 6 their classes at this visit, including the one at our place at JCC Tango Club. Somehow each their class makes a tremendous impact on me opening a new chapter in my tango book. The material they present gives birth to a seemingly infinite chain of new ideas. We still 3 more of them - tomorrow.

2007 November 3

Miriam & Hugo
"A Tango Trilogy" in San Francisco, 2008: "Ted Viviani, Executive Producer of Extreme Tango announced  today one of the most extraordinary tango projects ever, "A Tango Trilogy".  This star-studded, 3-program series is designed to bring the international tango spotlight back to San Francisco...". To read more click on the link above.

2007 November 1

Photo: Paul Vladimirsky - dancing in a pool.

2007 December 1

To write a book on Tango Technique,
One has to be familiar with physics, mathematics, and "theory of automatic control systems".
One has to be a great dancer and proven teacher, reached the top quality in all tango styles of open and close embrace:
Salon, Orillero, Canyengue, Apilado, Nuevo.
Know broader dancing theory, not just tango.
And I am sure the one has to posses good writing skills.

2007 October 27

At this site they say:

"Argentine Tango is more than a dance, it is an obsession. Inspired by the passion of the music, two bodies embrace, expressing the desire to move as one.    Dancing tango is the private exchange of trust and surrender between the man (leader) and the woman (follower). It is the interpretation of the music and the moment, expressed together through the poetry of dance."

In July 2007 they held the "1st USA Tango championship" in NYC. Frankly, I haven't heard a word about it.. So, here are, I guess, the judges and teachers dancing. I do not see how the mentioned words about Tango correspond to this dancing. Yes, I see the dance, but where is "obsession"? "Private exchange of surrender"? "Poetry expressed together"? Just a bunch of plain tired dancers.

I guess even in Tango reality deviates from its descriptions. ( Not always )

Actually I am going to print those words out and hang it on a wall. They tell so well what is tango.

2007 October 26

Here is something not related to tango, I'll move it some time later to an appropriate place.

Can computers think? Or not?

It does not matter what is an answer you like most. Those who think "Yes" will make a computer to think sooner or later.

2007 October 26

"Different styles of dance use the body differently. The more you do, the more flexibility and adaptability you'll have" - Kenichi Ebina ( check video ), Dance Spirit Magazine.

"Of course young students want to turn out eight pirouettes and do fouettes all over the place - but then we make them understand how difficult it is just to stand on one foot, they don't really understand that it takes so many years to get to that point" - Victoria Flores Cooke, Dance Spirit magazine.

"Technical knowledge is not enough. One must transcend techniques so that the art becomes an artless art, growing out of the unconscious." - Daisetsu Suzuki

2007 October 17

Andres Amarilla and Meredith Klein are coming to Bay Area. They are going to conduct workshops in San Francisco, Palo Alto JCC Argentine Tango Club, and Espiritu Libre Tango at Elks Lodge. Here is the complete list of Andres and Meredith Tango activities in SF BA. The teachers are available for private lessons, including ones in Palo Alto on Nov 3.

I have a great honor to invite Andreas and Meredith for our regular workshop. Being at the root of Tango Nuevo, Andres and Meredith possess and convey knowledge of Traditional Tango. Their musicality, inventiveness, and technique are compared to the best Argentine Tango dancers of the world.

The topic of the workshop at JCC Argentine Tango Club is one of my favorites: Traditional Early 1900s Tango Steps. All Levels.
Many other workshops are tailored to Tango Nuevo dancers. We are proud to keep in the frame of Classical Tango. We with Teressa are welcoming you ! [ Photos: Andres & Meredith]

Watch their video: for instance, Invierño Porteno (Piazzolla) Gdansk, Poland, 4-14-07 at this page ( find a thumbnail ). An example of musicality and inventiveness. Neo Tango style.

Coincidentally, the very last article ( first in the list ) on the previous page of my blog is about Andres and Meredith last visit to SF. Read it.

2007 October 17

What is Milonga Traspie? Is it a special style of milonga? No. Traspie, in accordance with this site is "Using two beats to make a triple step" ( scroll down their page a little ). Traspie in its numerous forms which can include syncopation and more steps then 3 per 2 beats is a characteristic of all styles of tango. Less used in Salon, but abundant in Orillero, Canyengue, and Apilado - Milonguero. In the past, Nuevo Tango dancers did not use traspie. Now it appears in Neo Tango.

Traspie is not so easy to do, but it is an essential part of Milonga as well as all styles of Tango. All tango music calls for traspie in numerous places. Make a traspie at any moment - and you will amazingly find out that there is a corresponding pattern in the piece's rhythm structure.

Here is the video example presented at the site.  Here is another, much more complex dance I like: Dani 'El Flaco' Garcia et Silvina Valz dance Milonga with traspie. By the way, Silvina Valz was in San Francisco less than a year ago. Did you notice?

Right now Jorge Nel is teaching traspie in San Francisco. He is a very good professional dancer of Traditional Styles. Here is the complete schedule of Jorge Nel tango lessons in San Francisco.

2007 October 16

".. A lot of people have great legs and can battement past their heads, but dance comes from inside. If your love for dance sparkles in your eyes, that tells the audience something.." -- Holly Humphreyes, Dance Spirit magazine.

In tango I hold a dancer in my embrace. Imagine what a huge difference it is to hold and to move with the Dancer, than just observe "the sparkles in her eyes". How poor are those who are bound to sit in a chair and watch, who have not found guts to stand up and go on the floor, and embrace and feel it with their skeen and bones what "comes from inside". Dance Tango!

2007 October 14

"In this artform, the music is as vital as the dance. A [] dancer is not alone in performance - he or she reacts to a singer throughout the piece. The performance weaves musician and dancer together so that neither can exist on its own. They interact through eye-contact, call-and-response movements and expressions, and even rhythmic interplay. [Dance] is distinctive in that the movements, right down to the smallest facial expressions, directly correlate with the emotion being conveyed by the singer. As opposed to being directed by a choreographer, the dancer responds to the singer by percussively punctuating the rhythms or moving fluidly with the melody and emotions of the song." -- Dance Spirit magazine.

It is said about Flamenco. Flamenco resources.

2007 October 13

"Take everything you're given in dance very seriously, because it's such a small world. Never compare yourself to other dancers. That negative energy stops you from becoming unique in the future. Dance is not a sport but an artfrom - which means there's no losing" -- Jenny Rocha for the Dance Spirit magazine.

2007 October 6

An abstract of --> Masculinity in Tango

2007 October 3

The Art of a teacher is to uncover and develop the greatest potential of a student.

2007 October 1

A message from Luciana Valle to all San Francisco tangueros ( received from Gary and Nirmala )

Dear all,
             I want to thank you all for making my visit to SF such a success, it was great. I had an amazing time and I want to thank you all for registering for the Workshops so quickly. I also want to
 apologize to all the people who couldn’t get in, maybe next year we’ll have even more classes so everybody can get in. For the ones of you who couldn’t get a private neither I am sorry again, hopefully next time I’ll stay longer to accommodate all of you on the schedule.
If by any chance you happen to come to BA, you can take the Intensivo Seminars that I teach three times a year (more info at <> ) or you can come to my Tango school El Motivo Tango ( <> ). It would be nice to meet you again back here!
Hope to see you all next year or before here or there,
Luciana Valle
54 11 4771 7483

Here is a video of this powerful dancer with Alex Krebs

2007 September 29

aMuse is coming to Golden Gate quality ! Partially it is due to the skill of Vijay the guest DJ. Another part is dedicated to a lot of good dancers attending. Ronda was actually moving !

* * *
Please, do not stand 30 sec at the beginning of a song on the dance floor talking. This is not right. Want to talk? Go away from the floor.. Want to dance? Come back.

2007 September 29

If rhythm helps stroke and brain injury patients, and heart ones, I can just imagine how healing and forwarding it is for usual people.

2007 September 23

What distinguishes dancing from posing? Rhythm expressed in the body.

2007 September 23

I am guilty myself for overusing the word "Frame" recently. There is no Frame in Tango. There is an Embrace!

2007 September 23

Sometimes people arguing what they are born for, what is their purpose on Earth.

I think the answer is very simple: to help parents.

To help parents, relatives, friends, and the whole tribe.


2007 September 23

Do I think when I dance? Of course not. I just dance and watch ourselves in amusement.

2007 September 23

Marcel Marceau the mime died, one of the greatest actors of all times:

Marcel in Japan, 1960;

Marcel Marceau, in memory of;

I have seen Marceau in San Francisco about 10 years ago. A 2 hours solo mime concert in a large theatre.

When a number started, it was accompanied with a calm music. Marcel who was alone on stage was starting playing. The whole audience was dead silent or bursted into laugh. At the end of the number, everyone realized that music was long as gone! The artist performed in total silence. In front of a 1000 people watching him desperately.

Marceau gave 3 concerts at that time, all different.

Marcel Marceau was born in 1923 in France. His farther was killed in Oświęcim (Auschwitz)

2007 September 22

There is only one way for the good lead: --> Strong lead

2007 September 20

I do not feel myself well today - for the first time I realized that middle age is probably over. So I took an easy activity for today: here is a new little article "Very Brief History of Tango".

2007 September 18

About Tango Adornments.

Here is something I have found in the depth of Internet:
"It's funny, for a while I struggled with when to play adornments in Tango. One day I realized that adornments in the music are just like adornments in the dance, which isn't surprising. The knowledge of when to do them (and how to do them) comes naturally when you have mastered the fundamentals of Tango dancing or playing. When I began to dance Tango, adornments really frustrated me. They felt awkward and I didn't feel like I could do them right. Finally, I just decided not to do them and to concentrate instead on posture, timing, and walking, and on exercises to practice getting ready for adornments. And you know what? One day they arrived by themselves and felt totally natural...."

2007 September 17

"My teacher is Albert Einstein" - said one.
Yes, but does Einstein consider you to be his student?

2007 September 14

When I was a hiker

I have learned never trust locals for directions.
They are not able to give it.
Probably they know the things too well to mention important details to me,
or they never were interested in what I was interested,
or they plainly did not know, but "my uncle says..",
or even more plainly were trying to fool me around.

I have found that
a simple map, and
commons sense instincts, and
ability to use Sun and Stars for orientation
serve much better.

2007 September 9

There are quite a lot of tango activities I have participated recently: Denver Tango Fest, Luciana's workshops... Whew ! Looking, looking for something...Too much! Tango is THIS.

2007 September 9

"The Triune God is Giver, Gift, and Thanksgiving. This movement from the father through the son in the spirit back to its source is what St. Gregory of Nyssa called, 'the round dance of the blessed trinity.' This is how God prays, by dancing. It is one great celebration of belonging by giving and thanksgiving. We can begin to join that dance right now in our heart through gratefulness. What else could be called life in fullness?"
-- Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk in New York, "Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness.", Page 189"

2007 September 7

Finally. Great writers come to Tango. Here is Robert Fulghum articles about Tango. Thank you, Tom ! ( By the way, Melinda is a magical dancer ! )

2007 September 4

- How would you describe / define your tango moment, if you had it?

A tango moment is a moment of ecstasy. It is similar to the moment of ecstasy in the process of creation, meditation, religion, and even love. Beginners experience it rarely. When they do – they finally understand what a dance is. Advanced dancers – almost always. Ability to experience the Tango Moment is the ultimate goal of learning tango. The technical level and complexity of the figures do not matter very much.

2007 September 3

That is me, Igor Polk in Denver (click on my name). I am dancing with a wonderful tango dancer. Our face expressions are typical for a good Apilado dance - we are in deep meditative trance. ( Yes, yes, I am not born for magazine covers - but my partner does! ). I just wish you to see ( and feel ) what our bodies and legs are doing !

* * *
Here is a very little photo reportage about the Denver event feelings:


2007 August 22

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion." - Martha Graham

2007 August 17

Look at this magical photo of tango dancers.

2007 August 4

Neo Tango is a modern fantasy on the topic of tango.

2007 July 26

Yo Yo Ma when asked: "What is it about the notes you play - that makes you such a fantastic musician?" answered that it was not how he played the notes - but rather the quality of the spaces between the notes that made the difference. Hm.. That is very tango.. I have to re-listen to his tangos again.

2007 July 23

Here is the dancing site ( not tango ) of a highly knowledgeable person: Skippy Blair. This link will bring you to the article which immediately progresses you a level higher ( or more ).

Here are 2 quotations:

"I view the dancer’s body as an instrument that needs to be kept in tune. When we dance to recorded music - all of the music comes out of a little black box. The Dancer who understands both the music and the dance, becomes the VISUAL part of the music."

"The “Artistic Skill” with which a Dancer learns to move to Music can actually change the way an audience HEARS that Music. When this happens, the dancer has “arrived” and has become the “lead instrument” in the band!"

Skippy Blair is very fond of counting. Being a tango dancer, I do not know what it is. I feel the counting ( like one-two-three...) is a very bad habit in tango. Listening to the rhythms, beats, and the main beat in music is good enough. You can even listen to the sound  of your steps - make them rhythmical. But counting... This is not an arithmetic class. Project the rhythm you feel directly into your body moves.

What defines the rhythms of tango? Besides the main beat, these are the beginnings and endings of notes. Any notes. And there are up to three rhythmical lines in tango pieces. Tango rhythms are forming little groups - figures so to speak, and they directly project into the familiar dance figures and elements: tango music was written for tango dancers.

2007 July 19

--> Tango As Art, a short article.

2007 July 19

I am thinking about buying some tangos from here (Oriente Musik, Germany). But they are not available ( temporary, I hope ). Also I am looking how to get original V.A. - A Portrait Of Tango - 1997 - CD1 and 2 ! Internet version. Please, tell me if you see them somewhere.

2007 July 09

Nora's tango week was a great event with a lot of the best dancers of the world. I was happy to attend Thursday milonga. I danced non stop with amazing partners and performances of Masters like Corina de La Rosa, Julio Balmaceda, Nito and Elba were breathtaking. Who can be compared to them!? No one.

It was an honor do be and to dance in the same room like them. Thank you, Nora!

2007 July 6

from a letter: "I do like to dance tango to good music other than tango.

Unfortunately, this music is not the music played mostly at alternative milongas.

You said "alternative music" is simplistic. The problem is that so called "alternative music" for tango does not have style. It is an eclectic mix. It is a byproduct of pop-music, it is "soap" music. Much of it functions well creating a good mood, but as the whole it lucks many things. It is visible that many authors are trying to lift their music higher in musical qualities, but since it still stays a part of pop-music these efforts are bound to fail.

Music at alternative milongas is assembled to satisfy dancing styles of Neo Tango dancers. Like Homer. It supposed to be slooooww. Since this style of dancing is very young and just developing, there is no matching musical tradition, musical trend. So they just pick up pieces here and there which are more suitable for their dancing.

The best "Non-Tango Tango" ( that is how I prefer to call it) are swing, foxtrot, salsa, rumba, samba, indian music, anything which is the part of established musical and dancing tradition. Modern? House, Hip-Hop, yes. I have found that Disco style music is great for non-tango too. Especially for those who like ( and are able to dance) rhythmic driving style of tango - orillero. I have danced to Cajun music - they watched in amusement asking what we are doing - they liked it.

It is difficult to preserve dancing skills from generation to generation. Music is much easier to preserve. That is why all this music: swing, samba, and so on is easy to dance the right dance to: it is preserving style once you start dancing to the music. If you are good, sooner or later you will dance the right dance to it. Because dance is in our body, not in the minds of teachers. There is no such thing for alternative tango. Alternative Tango ( Neo Tango - the name I call it, and now you understand why ) does not have matching music style yet. And that is the real problem for them.

There is a problem with all that beyond musical qualities. Once ( in Denver ) a DJ started to play a set of great old foxtrots. What could be better for a milonga ! I invited one young lady. She said "Not to this music !". I said "Why - it is so perfectly danceable, driving?". "I hate it!!!" she said.

Igor Polk
PS. Can you tell me why did she said so? I am interested to know, I am an immigrant: this is beyond my understanding yet. "


2007 June 25

Little ad of mine:

Following the success of 6 previous classes, we continue to open you exciting frontiers of close embrace dancing with Lean. Yes, with lean ! First timers are welcome - experience yourself what it is like - to fly. Wednesday, June 27, 8-10pm, $10.

Dancing in Apilado is a key to understanding what is Tango and to dancing well in all other styles.

2007 June 18

"...All whose nature is to dance.
Who danceth not, knows not what is being done.
I would flee; and I would stay.
I would be adorned; and I would adorn.
I would be at-oned; and I would at-one.
I have no dwelling; and I have dwellings.
I have no place; and I have places.
I have no temple; and I have temples.
I am a lamp to thee who seest Me.
I am a mirror to thee who understandest Me.
I am a door to thee who knockest at Me.
I am a way to thee a wayfarer.
Now answer to My dancing!
See thyself in Me who speak;
    And seeing what I do,
    Keep silence on My Mysteries.
Understand by dancing, what I do;
Thou hast Me for a couch; rest thou upon Me.
Who I am thou shalt know when I depart.
    What now I am seen to be, that I am not.
    [But what I am] thou shalt see when thou comest.
I would be kept in time with holy souls.
In Me know thou the Word of Wisdom.
But as for Me, if thou wouldst know what I was:
    In a word I am the Word who did play [or dance] all things, and was not shamed at all.
    'Twas I who leaped [and danced].
But do thou understand all, and, understanding, say:
Glory to Thee, [God]!
-- Jesus Christ, THE HYMN OF JESUS (

This quotation is made in relation to Looking in the Mirror article. I brought this quotation, because it gives new light to the ideas about the connection and dancing, what it is. Now we can go line by line and analyze the meaning of the ancient text in terms of the dance...[ To be continued ]

2007 June 7

What is an Argentine Tango community? These are people who are interested in dancing. Dancing together with each other. That is the major fun, and that is why any competitions and even performances are not that popular - the greatest skill a dancer can have is to give pleasure in dancing to his partner. To any partner ! How can it be measured? How it can be shown? This is deep, internal feeling, true and free from any outside influences. There is only one person to impress - the current partner. And it is achieved by totally different tools than success on the stage.

2007 May 31

From "Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers", by Fiona Kirk published by Dance Teacher:

".. He favored complicated choreography, with steps often set counter to the beat of the music in unpredictable patterns. "What was so extraordinary about Astaire was his musicality, his agility," Rudolf Nureyev once said. "He was music in motion. He invented his own rhythm; he imposed his own musicality, as if he wrote another instrument into the orchestration"."

2007 May 29

Bob Barnes shares his secrets ---> how to play tango music for dancers. Bob is a tango musician, arranger, and composer. There he says something which I love to hear: "Tango is classical music you can dance to".

2007 May 23

Imploring in desperation.

I beg you, dear musicians, do not try to play music of 40s which really requires outstanding abilities of musicians, arrangers, and directors. Do not try to be Piazzollas.

Be able to play simpler music of early 1920s and 1910s !! Get the right rhythm and feel on simpler examples !!! No fancy stuff, just tango ! Bam-Bam-Bam. Keep the rhythm and variations! Learn what creates this tension ( swing ), why razor-edged notes are so important, and more complex things like how performers exchange rhythmical lines. And it has to be danceable: it has to have "figures" inside. Once you are able to do it, and we say yes, it sounds almost like Arolas. Then you may move.

In tango we learn: simple things done well are much better than loads of elements done wrong. It relates to you too.

You are at advantage !!! It is definitely not other musicians you can learn from, but only old scratchy records on CDs. Available. 

2007 May 16

Mash: "..there are times when I believe that if you rehearse anything enough in a choreographed sense that you potentially have an "auto-pilot" to fall back on."

There is a sign of a good actor. He knows how to switch the auto-pilot off. Acting is not repeating something memorized. It may looks like that at first when you start get acquainted with theatre, but it is not even acting yet.

Acting, I mean a real one, which we call great acting, is establishing a link, a connection, the same one which you do experience in tango, between actors on stage and between an actor and the audience. Script is just a code. Acting then becomes a game, a meditation, an improvisation. The same goes for dancing. You do not watch WHAT the actors play, but HOW. You are get involved into the acting.

Great actor may play every time differently, even though words might stay the same.

Do not get carried away with mediocre performances you may often see, especially on TV and in movies. But I do not want deepen into discussion about modern trends in art and entertainment.  

I came from the background where acting was considered not a profession to get some bread and butter, but as service to the arts. Some people might see it differently, but I express here my view, not theirs.

2007 May 10

It is out ! My article is in the TangoNoticias magazine. It is called "THE LEADING LADIES OF TANGO PRODUCTION", but my title was "Tango Night with Leading Ladies". Brigitta Winkler on the cover ! Here is my old article about it: Tango Show in Herbst Theatre.

2007 May 10

Just awake. Still tired of my yesterday's super-workshop "12 Ways to Pivot in Tango", Ha-ha, I was told I surpassed myself in complexity of the material :). Well, what can I do - that is the world we live in. Will see if we are going to dance better now knowing that !

2007 May 9

Yoga, Tango, and Karate.

When one knows all the sophisticated Yoga poses, does not mean he knows Yoga?
When one knows all the Karate kicks, does it mean he knows how to fight?
When one knows all the figures of Tango, does it mean he knows how to dance?
Not necessarily.
Knowing Karate means knowing how to win in a fight.
Knowing Yoga   means knowing how to experience nirvana.
Knowing Tango  means knowing how to get pleasure in dancing.

2007 May 9

"You can dance tango too fast, but you can never dance it too slow" was said.
What does it mean "too fast" or "too slow" ? In relation to what?
To music ? To someone's abilities? To other dancers in the Line Of the Dance?
Thinking about the Line Of the Dance it is as equally possible to dance too slow as too fast.
One more relation. Relation to nature of tango.
We can dance tango progressing in line, making a rotational figures, and "on a tile".
Nature of Tango includes all of them.
Let us combine them.

( A little bit more about LOD ( Line Of Dance ) here. Men, welcome to read it.

2007 May 7

"Too many notes" a king said to Mozart.
"What note do you suggest to remove?" answered the Master...
"Too many steps", said a tango teacher. And easily cut them all.

2007 May 7

What an evening I had yesterday on May 6, 1st Sunday of the month at Palo Alto Elks Lodge ! Nice large floor, friendly people, good dancers, great classical tango music by DJ Bernhard Kohlhaas, tasty food as usual.

One lady-beginner asked my when Canyengue music was played: "I do not like this music, it sounds strange to me..". I answered "You have to know how to dance with this music, it is special music, it is perfectly tailored to a dancing style called Canyengue".

2007 May 4

Here is the message I have received today:

..On April 30th, Roman Rosso, the director/arranger of the San Francisco Tango Orchestra past away. Those of you who had the opportunity to meet him and feel his music during our summer performances in 2005 & 2006 know that he was very passionate, inspirational & kindhearted man. As a founder of the first ever San Francisco tango orchestra, he made a remarkable contribution to the Bay Area Argentine tango community. He will truly be missed..

Here is the photo record of a San Francisco Tango Orchestra performing at El Valenciano.

2007 April 30

Dancing and Tango in particular gives us an opportunity to experience Wild Animal Instincts, feel themselves animals again. Great thing providing the level of strictness of the social code we have.

2007 April 29

The article "Tango Treasures" is coming... We men, have 3 treasures in Tango...

2007 April 28

Can you believe it? I went to the Beat "All night milonga" tonight and you know whom I saw there? Mariana Dragone ! Beautiful young Argentinean star of Tango was dancing in the middle of Berkeley ! I watched her with the greatest delight - what a tango adventure ! Mariana is as a great dancer on the social floor as on stage.

2007 April 25

Jorge Torres and TeressaThe lesson with Jorge Torres was very good ! His refined movements, ideas, exercises, and wonderful personality help a lot to understand the beauty of the dance. He touches in the short time of the lesson ( which he is very generous with ) the whole loads of tango knowledge.  I will write more about it very soon.. Here are more photos and links to Jorge's videos.

2007 April 18

I believe practicing ochos and boleos against the wall is a very bad and misleading practice. I know --> 10 ways to make an ocho pivot. And no one but a bad one is self-taught against the wall. Also practicing against the wall can easy lead to obtaining a habit of breaking the embrace. Breaking the embrace is one of the gravest mistakes a dancer should never make. And a man is not a wall ! It is a leaving breathing being!

2007 April 18

Collection in Tango, what is it? Do we collect our feet? Do we collect our knees? Do we collect our energy? Our thoughts? Our bodies? I guess all that applies.

2007 April 4

A friend of mine from another city just told me that we live within the ongoing tango festival here in San Francisco.

2007 April 4

Here is a little article what I think Cabaceo is and why it is important to make tango friends.

2007 March 31

What is corte? It is a "cut". What am I cutting? I am cutting my intention to step.

2007 March 28

Just watched the documentary "Tango Our Dance" ( Bogota Film Festival Best Documentary, by the way! ). It looks like many tango people have not seen this amazing movie. How many questions would be easily resolved then! Shot almost 20 years ago in 1988, it covers most aspects of tango and some amazing performance both by amateur ( we would say "social") and professional ballet dancers. A must. Buy it from the producers: Facets. ( You may find it cheaper at Amazon or other places. Or not.)

On the cover of the DVD they say: "Martha Graham called [tango] "the most beautiful dance of this century"".

PS. Oh, they've shown a little bit of Maria Nieves there!

2007 March 27

Many people mistake knowledge of music notation with knowledge of music.

Yesterday at a birthday party I have noticed a lady, never being a professional musician sat at the piano and started to play. She played without any papers. When someone asked her to play a song, she thought for a moment, then started to play it immediately with both hands, perfectly harmonizing, making rhythm and melody without any mistake. Music just bounced from her little fingers. That is what I call a Musician! It was a friendly party. Everyone drunk, ate, sung, danced, chat. The way it supposed to be. And nobody even noticed that there was something special going on there..

2007 March 26

Janis told us about Interview with MARÍA NIEVES. Maria wrote there:

"I’m against the schools. Absolutely! It’s a con. Nobody’s the owner of the truth in tango. I always tell them when I give a lesson: there’s no better teacher than to go to the milonga! Wear out shoes, get kicked and have your feet stepped on, and do the same yourself. It’s true, girl! Me, for example, I like dancing with a plié, but other like the legs stiff. I say “waist”, and you go somewhere else and they say: “no, move the whole body”. So, there isn’t a truth to teach the youngsters."

"My mission in life is sublime, because I realized that I have a “something” with the public, a very special empathy. When I go out on stage to dance I feel the public under my skin and vice-versa. Because many people say to me: “Thank you for the energy you give us.” There’s “something”… "

2007 March 25

Today at studio Gracia the evening was great! An evening of mostly smooth salon music. Musicians, Marcelo and Seth played fantastically well ! Glenn DJ-ed and complemented them perfectly. A way to go. There were so many great ladies, thank you!

Or may be I dance better ?..

2007 March 22

"We're excited to share that we're having Tango Dancing on 1st & 3rd Sundays at CAFECOCOMO!! Starting APRIL 1st. <..> See you April 1st. Fernando & Mimi." - that is serious, serious, serious.

2007 March 21

If you missed Forever Tango, they are in Monterrey on May 22. And in Cupertino too!: "Flint Center for the Performing Arts, Cupertino Sunday, May 27 Luis Bravo's "Forever Tango" Tickets $44, $34, $24"

2007 March 21

"..What could be greater proof of ignorance than to deviate in opinions with wise scholars?" ;) Socrates. I tried to translate it from Russian translated from Ancient Greek by Sheinman-Tonshtain. ( English Harvard translation: Link ).

2007 March 20

I know one old lady who said: "I can drive a car, only I can not see pedestrians".

2007 March 11

Here is the interview with a dancing couple, one of the most prominent Neo Tango dancers and promoters in America: Homer and Cristina Ladas.

2007 March 10

Nora's Tango Week is coming to San Francisco. Look what a collection of dancers we have this time!

2007 March 7

The question: "What is Orillero Tango?". <--- Here are my thoughts about it.

2007 March 1

Turned over my calendar page, and here it is: Renoir. Paris. Spring. Park. "Ball at the Moulin de la Galette", 1876. People sitting, drinking, dancing under the trees. Look at the embraces !

2007 February 27

I believe we, dancers feel the music much deeper than musicians.

We feel the music with the whole of our body. Every part reverberates and goes with rhythmical lines. Legs follow one rhythm, body - another one. One step - is the whole figure in tango. It means it has to be the whole musical figure every beat. A new one every beat! And it takes energy to move ! Our feeling is tailored to physical properties of our bodies and parts. Our brain waves are aligned to the music AND to our body parts, our heart beats in unison. We feel music with every cell.

And we do it tightly coupled together. We lead each other, and we play with each other - to music.

We know much better what music is good what is not: our body tells us that unmistakenly.

We know how to play along with music. We play music with our bodies. We do act sometimes as members of the orchestra. And we do know how to compensate for the bad music. But we do not want to. We want perfect creative unison with musicians. We want music which is driving us toward creative frontiers in our most complex dance.

* * *
Here is an article, Tom Stermitz wrote about what musical qualities make tango Tango.

* * *
Of course, we can not make neither melody nor harmony. When you listen to complex rhythms produced on sets of drums, like Brazilian Samba, and other genres, one does have an impression that this is music not else. The same with us. When we dance without music it is so intense..

* * *
Anfractuoso said:
"I claim that you can't actually dance without music. ... "

* * *

You said that it is impossible to dance without music. Yes, I totally agree. I say, when we dance without External music, which we are able to do in Argentine Tango, we play our own music with our dance. And music plays within us, in our minds. It is not just rhythm expressed and so forth, it is not a figure of speech, and it is not poetry !

A conductor is a musician, right? I bet you'd say "yes". Music plays within him, and he even able to conduct the whole orchestra with movements of his body ! We are not conductors, and we do not play symphonies. But tango music plays in the mind when we dance without external music. The whole little tango orchestra. I can hear melody, harmony, not to speak about the rhythm. Some even sing.

I can see the grin on your face: only musicians can do it ! Well, then we are, that is exactly what I am trying to convey, but knowing that "real" musicians ( only those who can not dance themselves ) would not believe me ( some say musicians have "special waves in their minds" ) I restrained myself in the previous posts to the rhythmical part only.

Now it is out, and I can proudly proclaim: We play music when we dance. Inside us. It is impossible to dance without music. Dance is the music.

2007 February 20

Alla Shatsova wrote to me after the Portland Valentango festival:


I haven't collected my thoughts yet. Returned late at night yesterday, everything is still foggy.

The first festival, the first day, as you can imagine:
no one knows you, you have no idea what it is all about, and how it works. The first milonga with over 600 people attending. Seems like at least 400 of them are women. Crowds of women everywhere. All dressed up and looking...looking. Oh my god... My friend and I left at 12:30am. Though I'm sure men and women have very different pictures and images and impressions of such events.

The next day, though,everything was much more relaxed, and fun. Lots of new contacts. People from all over....I danced with a lot of people, different levels, and all that. AMAZING: you never know what to expect when you dance with a stranger: sometimes he is yet a struggling beginner (which is fine), sometimes he is a breathtaking pro, and you can't believe the connection created instantly. Wow.
As a follower I change into a huge ear and listen, and wait,and listen, and listen. Now let's talk...Are you able to listen as well?

Different teachers, some are excellent, some are ok. Excellent performances. Love it, love it, love it.

And ladies' SHOES, those fantastic, exquisite high heeled Tango shoes...It's a poem, it's a dream. Have never seen it before: at milongas EVERY lady wears the most beautiful shoes : all colors and shapes, high heel is a "must". HOW NICE...They make us, ladies, elegant, graceful and tall. And, guys, don't you adore us wearing them?!

At the end we were happy, and overwhelmed, and very exhausted. We liked it a lot. Will we do it again? Absolutely.



2007 February 8

- "So, how much does it take to start dancing tango?"

Honestly? I think to start dancing a dance which can be called Tango it takes about:

  • 100 group lessons. Not hours, lessons! Two lessons in one evening count as one.
  • 20 days of workshops. A workshop lasts from 2 hours to 6 hours.
  • 10 private lessons minimum. Private lessons can not replace group lessons and workshops.
  • 80 evenings of practica and/or dancing. One evening is 3-4 hours dancing ( not sitting ). One hour of dancing per evening does not count at all. One evening includes you dancing with similar, less experienced, and more experienced partners.

This is my sort-of-intuitive estimation based on other good dancers experience. And that is my goal to shorten this time. As you can see it takes large effort to learn this complex but very rewarding dance. However with other objective difficulties there is one which is pretty subjective: quality of a teacher. These 100 group lessons include your search for the better teachers.  And these 20 workshops and 10 privates include failures, lessons which bring nothing but frustration. Hopefully there are just very few of them in your dancing experience, otherwise these numbers will increase.

That is only the beginning. Then it comes knowledge of different styles, finding personal style, achieving the more heights in sensitivity, moving abilities. Tango is not the goal. It is the road.

PS. This estimation does not include you spending your time on such complex figures like back sacada, volcada and colgadas. I do not know them myself. I am not able to include them in my estimation. I only know it take huge effort to learn volcada, and I believe this time is better spent on anything else for a beginner dancer.

PSS. Just today I have visited a lesson ( for some reason ). I have asked the students with whom I was practicing "How many classes have you taken so far?". Here is my little statistics:

1. "I've been to Buenos Aires 5 times".
2. "8 lessons".
3. "Since august I took 2 classes a week." It comes to 40 lessons.
4. "I have learned from one teacher for 2.5 years, and now I want to see what other teachers are doing".

First 2 danced about the same - they could not do anything ! The third one was a little better, but did not have any correct connection, position, resistance, grounding, alertness" - everything is absent. The fourth one was goo-ood ! Not perfect, but she had it ! Plus artistism, inventiveness. That is about 100 classes with the same good teacher.

PSSS. What can speed up the learning? Advice #1. Buy a couple of DVDs with "Dance Workout" for $10-20 apiece. No matter what. Night Club is nice, as well as Brazilian Samba. And practice every day. There could not be better advice than this one.

2007 February 7

- "How many dances to dance with he same partner? One tanda?"

It is ok to dance as many dances as dancers want. The code is, and it has its value, but is not observed strictly by good dancers. A dance requires a certain amount of time to develop, culminate, and fade away. That is how long a couple should be dancing.

2007 February 2

You asked me what am I thinking while dancing? About many things, most importantly about preserving your balance, uninterrupted communication, and your understanding of my moves at any microsecond. But it is sort of deep in the background. Clearly, I do not think about anything. I let the dance develop and I am absorbing as much feelings as I can.

2007 January 29

History of Tango is connected to history of prostitution on Argentina. What was tango? Falling or saving?
Here are my controversial thoughts about it as well as a glimpse on the terrible current world situation in this area.
--> Tango and Prostitution.

2007 January 14

Today there was an evening of tango in the Russian community of art lovers at San Francisco JCC. There was movie clips, stories, songs, poetry, tango performance, and even tango dances!

There was a competition to de-abbreviate the word TANGO. Here are the answers ( sorry, in Russian. Can not translate ):

So ТАНГО is:

  • Традиционный Аргентинский Национальный Государственный Оттяг
  • Телесное Аггрессивное Незабываемое Губительное Очарование
  • Танцевально Архаический Ностальгический Глубокий Омут
  • Так Активно Надо Оттанцовывать, Господа
  • ( Голдобины написали ) Тяжело Асвоить Нам Голдобиным Очень
  • Теоретически Аргументированное Наслаждение Городских Олухов
  • Танцует тело выражая
    Апофеоз души моей
    Неотвратимо приближая
    Грозы ночной
  • Тоскующие Аборигены Нуждаются Где Обниматься
  • Танец Аморальный Но Греховно Обворожительный


2007 January 13

From a letter of a friend:
"Jorge Torres. Hm. He is articulate and can explain the
feeling, the action of his body and the position of
the follower. He also speaks to the sensitivity in
the dance. Which I think many men need to hear. Not
the steps he says, its the how you do it.

He talked of being grounded. He found the key point
in every move to make it happen. Simply and tenderly.
He built upon each step and showed how to dance it to
the music. He accomplished this with humor and
respect for the students. He said anyone can be a
great dancer. He answered questions and had the
students show so he can give feedback.

He discussed how to lift the follower so she moves in
a certain way and then how to release her. He dances
with his whole body yet his upper body is calm. The
legs are free to move.

-- NN

2007 January 11

Today, Sonja arranged for Brigitta Winkler to conduct a seminar: "Exchange of lead and follow". I am very interested in this, and came. As usual it was a wonderfully arranged workshop.

Here are my own thoughts. Everyone has his own understanding what is beginner, intermediate, and advanced level. For me, advanced level it is not the ability of making a show, or knowing most complex figures. It is an ability of dancing when dance come by itself, totally free, born out of interaction of couple dancers. Those who experienced it will understand. There is no lead and follow in the simple sense. It is dissolved. Both lead and both follow, and not only each other, but the dance itself which is born and lives its own life for this 3 minutes. They both follow the dance, there is no mistake in what I wrote. I mean it. I have a little article about these ideas of what is advanced level of tango.

Brigitta's lesson was an introduction to this advanced level. The best possible one.

It is difficult to express in words. During the workshop, a couple started to describe what happens during their dance. Exchange of lead and follow gives birth to a phenomena during a dance which possible only when a couple practice the exchange. Other tango dancers never experience it. The couple talked for about 3 minutes in excitement, and still could not express in words what happened during one second ( one second ! ) of the dance. No words is enough to describe it.

From the point of view of science, I can precisely explain what happened, but the explanation will be full of very specific terms of high math and engineering. I'd better leave it for now.


2007 January 9

In a flyer I have received about Luis Bianchi & Daniela Pucci, visiting SF there was the following description:

"The Silky Embrace: Communicate Effortlessly while Freeing the Body"

Eh-eh, this requires some clarification, I think. What is the opposite of "Communicate Effortlessly" ? I guess there are two possibilities: "Communicate with effort" and "Can not communicate, bad communication, do not understand each other". There is nothing to talk about the second one. But what about the first one? Is communicating with effort wrong? Bad?


If under "effort" they mean the good definite contact with a little push, resistance in a body and contact, something which is called presence, that it is GOOD effort. Pleasant effort. Effort which allows fast dance and/or microsteps. It allows "vision" of the partner's body, and quick reaction to circumstances of the dance and its environment, powerful, energetic dance elements.

Why I want to point out your attention to this? I want to tell that there are 2 teachings of tango dance communication. The slogan of one could be "As less contact as possible, just touching the skin". The slogan of another one is "full contact".

Silky Embrace vs Full Contact

Of course, Full Contact does not mean that dancers are wrestlers. No. But it is different, and it makes the dance different. Awareness of the full contact methods, that is what I want. There are plenty of great dancers dancing "in full contact". I appeal mostly to younger generations who just are coming to Tango.

As you can guess, I am a proponent of full contact communication method. For me it it the primary method. That what I was taught, and that is what I feel myself is good. It is a difficult task to describe details of this method in words, I'll try to do it later. You might find something about it on this site already.

I do not know Silky Embrace well. That means I can not compare with enough diligence. I just know it exists somewhere and I did met it. I'll do my best to get to the Friday's lesson at Monte Cristo and listen what they are going to tell about it.

I welcome everyone to share your thoughts about these two methods of tango communication with me and readers of this blog here. E-mail me.

* * *
I did not make it to the lesson, but I've seen the couple in Verdi the day before. Great dancers!


2007 January 9

Brigitta Winkler have shown us a great mastery of tango lessons. We had about 50 people of various levels in two classes. There were a lot of very beginners, and she made it useful for everyone. In just 2 hours she introduced us to dancing, communication, quality of steps, body awareness, hip mechanics, close embrace, back ochos, boleos.. Whew! And everyone liked the demonstration dance ;)
We are waiting impatiently for the next opportunity to learn from a great Master!

2007 January 2

--> What is music. Why this is here? Just a philosophical exercise. Besides, it might be useful for dancers, since dancing is music played by body as I see it.


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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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