Thursday, September 2, 2010
Two Months to Tango
Although I have never seriously committed myself to taking dance lessons of any description I, along with my mother and sisters, have always loved to dance and having two months in one space seemed like a perfect opportunity to change the program and learn something new . . . would it be long enough was the question???
First was to find the right teacher and classes to suit, I knew I wanted Latin dance but was not really sure which genus I preferred or which might best satisfy my desire. An hour on the internet left me with a few possibilities and some pokers in the fire to see which one might ignite and Argentine Tango was the one that came up trumps.
Elaina dey Electrah, an international teacher originating from Buenos Aires was scheduled to run an introductory beginners w/shop in Argentine Tango. I had a sense that Elaina has lived the majority of her life following her passion and took great pleasure in sharing her gifts. Basically it felt right and as a result I signed up and showed up at the RSL on the Esplanade the following Friday evening for my first lesson in Argentine Tango of which I really knew nothing about.
Into the unknown I felt like I was learning Spanish all over again only this time with my body instead of my mind. Those first few classes were very frustrating to say the least, balancing on the balls of bare feet while doing my best to maintain my own centre and following instead of leading was certainly against the grain of my more familiar way of being. I do not think I could have picked a more challenging way of changing my own blueprint if I had tried. Little had I realised half of the journey I was embarking upon by exposing myself to the learning of Argentine Tango!
What I gradually realised was that this particular dance was one of discovering what it was really like to have a full and healthy relationship with a partner. There was no pushing or pulling, no unconscious giving or taking of energy, each had to completely maintain their own centre and balance, be completely within their own power while maintaining a sense of absolute connection and oneness through a heart centre. Sounds simple however to remain absolutely alert to the subtle communications after two hours of sometimes quite repetitive practice with different partners did present some challenges!
Thankfully I managed to find a suitable pair of shoes with enough of a heel to dance in and Elaina was sensitive enough to know just when we needed to have some fun. As a result she would introduce a new adornment or step at exactly the right time, be it a molinete (windmill to the left or right), a boleo con cruzada en espiral (bolero with spiral cross) or a parada, barrida y passada con gancho (stop, sweep, pass over and hook). If my dancing wasn’t improving then at least my Spanish was benefiting from the revision!
Elaina reserved the back room at Vibe Bar on Lake Street where we gathered every Monday and Wednesday evening for lessons and practica. With time and practice we were all definitely improving and I particularly grew to appreciate Monday nights when I had the opportunity to dance with Gianni an Italian Tangero who lives, loves and breathes tango. His passion and dedication was contagious and he was the best at teaching me to listen and follow, telling me off on no uncertain terms whenever I made a mistake or didn’t follow his lead!
One of the highlights of my classes was joining a Sunday workshop on Elaina’s birthday. She had been invited to hold our class on the dance floor in the back garden of Charleston House, a friend’s hostel in Carins. It felt as though we had stepped out of Australia and into South America, the dance was Latin the most spoken languages were Italian and Spanish and our fare for the evening was traditional seafood paella cooked by Elaina’s long time friend from Spain and washed down with a fine glass of Spanish Red.
My lessons are all but over now however I do hope to get to one or two more Wednesday evening pratica’s before I leave Cairns. And with a little luck and good management Elaina assures me that I should be able to continue dancing in most of the main centres around Australia and throughout South America for the duration of my Earthwalk Project. I may not yet be quite up to the standard of Mr & Mrs Smith however I am certainly enjoying the journey!