Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's All About the Dance

Vacation is over, back to the regular routine again, well almost.

Welcome back floor exercises, repeat and again, and again. Welcome back, higher saludos, repeat and again, and again. Welcome back, caminadas and boleos, done in rhythm, done without hurry.

Rediscovering the little adornos I learned before, but forgot along the way. Especially one favorite that requires a little spin on the upswing after sweeping the floor. Still trying to get back that snappy spin with a twist.

Practice, practice, practice.

But beyond applying every lesson that has been taught, and letting these lessons flow into the limbs and the muscles, it really is all about letting tango flow through you, from heart and soul to torso and leg. It just flows if you let it, and you get to dance, dance, dance like you were born to tango.

And it doesn't matter whom you dance with, as long as you let the tango lead you, let the music take you, let your leader take you through the journey of a song or a tanda. If you let it, the tango in your soul will lead you, no matter who the leader is.

What makes it even more enthralling is that after I stopped thinking and just let the tango in me breathe, I danced with more ease, and I followed with more trust. As a Manhattan Transfer song goes, Nothing you can do about it, relax, enjoy the ride.

What a ride, this tango I have fallen for. What a giddy, exhilarating journey, and I have only just begun.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Frozen Shoulder: No Frozen Delight

Another sleepless night, not as bad as the Holy Week incident, but still a night of deprived sleep. The cause: shoulder pain, selective ache at certain angles, less mobility once more.

Having learned from my previous ER visit, I refrained from having a massage and instead waited to see the doctor this afternoon. The sports clinic at the Moro Lorenzo gym was packed, apparently the good doctor I was referred to was a rock star of sorts.

The minutes ticked away, as I tried not to move, lest I trigger another bout of pain. There was no specific angle or path of pain, it would come and go. Sometimes when the left arm is left hanging. Sometimes when you attempt to raise the lower arm. Sometimes when a sudden jerky movement is done. It just came and went, the pain, the growing immobility.

Turns out to be frozen shoulder, early stage. The good doctor said it comes with age and hormonal imbalance. Great. So, it just happens, and now I have to do therapy. A frozen shoulder this hot hot hot summer. Is there an irony there that I am missing?

Frozen shoulder. But not a cause to weep without let up, as I can dance, I can tango. Of course, that was the first question I asked. To which the answer was in the affirmative. I asked again before I stepped out of the clinic, and again the answer was positive.

I have yet to understand this pain, and its source. I will find out when therapy starts later in the week, just how long it will take, and what level of therapy I will need.

But having clarified that the tango will go on, I will live with the frozen shoulder, and be patient with the therapy. Since it has not frozen my delightful tango, then the rest of what it means to my body is manageable and acceptable.

Slowing down this week, as real life intrudes in many forms. Home study as in practicing ochos and caminadas on my own will have to do for now.

The tango goes on, even if it means having to dance at home, nursing a frozen shoulder. The passion of tango will surely thaw that one too.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The heART of the Ocho

The ocho or figure-eight pivot step has been my continuing concern, to put it mildly, since I started learning the Argentine Tango.

Over time, my lessons have shown me that there is the all-essential pivot, which distinguishes the ocho, from the ocho-like movements that dot the tango floor, my own version included. But teacher after teacher had tried to impress the importance of the pivot, only to finally make sense, as the maestro said it would, one fine tango lesson day.

And yet as my pivot improved, albeit still entirely dependent on the balance challenge that I have, it has not been as effortless or easy on me or on the eye as I believe it should be. There are rare days when I get it, like yesterday afternoon at Savannah.

It is step that requires lightness and balance, even as one stays within the spirit of the sultry dance. I have been coached about using my torso not my shoulders, bending my knees, having softer knees, not locking my knees, and just finding my balance to get it right.

I think I am getting there. When I do the ocho right, the pivot is flawless, easy, and as the leader said yesterday afternoon, there was no unnecessary jerk in my movement nor a discernible change in my weight as would happen when I force the ocho using my hands and arms.

I will test that art of the ocho again tonight at Bureau. And with the help of this very insightful and clear video instructional I found just a few moments ago, I think the heart of the ocho is well within reach.

Drawing the figure eight is the heart of the ocho, and it is with this new bit of information that I will tackle the pivots tonight. How to pivot right and draw a sexy eight, that is the question.

The lady in the video is Gabriela Schaffer, a known tango dancer and instructor. Her explanation of drawing the ocho makes the learning much much easier. Catch her on this Argentine Tango series of basics at eHow.

The tango floor beckons and soon the ocho will be done with mucho gusto.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

That Old Familiar Feeling

Back in the rhythm of my tango life again. Lessons, Tango Nights, home-based exercises, stretching.

Back to the aches and pains of tired feet, stretched muscles and a taller posture.

Back to that old familiar feeling of this tango addict.

Getting back to the feel of the music, the intensity, the getting lost in the dance. Again, learning to do that, on my own.

Once the poignant strains of a slow traditional tango begins, the enchantment takes hold and the dance takes over.

In the firm yet light arms of the leader, the signals are felt inside, the energy, the emotion, the passion moving back and forth.

And in that singularly intimate circle, the tango heart beats, two as one. Within that embrace, there is but one thought from two souls: to let the music play in every step, in every taunt, in every sacada and boleo.

Getting back into the lyricism of the dance, knowing that it is inside me, no matter who leads the way.

That old familiar feeling. The tango in the soul is burning bright.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tango Break: Proud Mama

Sharing a post that made my day. This is all about my daughter, she makes this mama real proud.

my daughter, the photographer http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?art

If I told you it all blossomed from one drunken night at the house of a photographer taking pictures of her vain friend, you might not believe it. But that’s exactly how Daylight Saturday, an indie portrait ...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last Night At Danceland

I was high last night at danceland... and I kept on dancing until the night was nigh.

It was a celebration of many things: another year to be thankful for, 10+ pounds lighter, 3 dress sizes smaller, new friends, new steps, old friends, old loves, another year to look forward to.

So last night, I danced with not one, not two, not three but six adorable dancers, tango masters, tango teachers, tango lovers all. Of course, I shared them with the rest of the selected old friends and cousins who came to shimmy and shake that floor.

The DJ was mighty fine, and in fighting form. Take a bow, Charles. You just get better and better, without missing a beat spinning that swing, reggae, chacha or tango tune.

The food was superb, as everyone said in between munching on the calamari, the fried chicken, the sisig, the steak, with gusto. The Bureau kitchen outdid itself last night.

And the dance vibe was intoxicating. Doctor's orders were momentarily disregarded, as the madreselva pink leather stilettos tripped the light fantastic from 730-1230. Not to worry, I was selective about the dances... tango, swing, reggae, a little chacha and a little salsa.

We closed out the night with DJ Charles' 80s mix that started with September by Earth, Wind and Fire which Wilson and I just had to dance to, even if my feet were almost numb from the aches and pains. The boys [Glen, Wilson, Willie, Willy, Jun, Dennis] decided to make it my "18 Roses" dance-a-thon, and flawlessly took me through the turns and spins of the swing, one by one, in two dizzying rounds.

What a way to end the night... I was so high last night at Danceland. And I kept on dancing until I could fly.

Another birthday, another dance night, until next year.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When Simple Is A Stretch

After a 1 week lay-off, the tango nights resume.

The back is without tangible pain, and the doctor has acquiesced to my way of thinking, albeit with a stern reminder that I should lay off on the stilettos for now.

So the 3-inch NeoTango "flats" get dance time for now, and the sky-high stilettos stay on the shoe closet top shelf.

Once you get used to the Darcos and Comme Il Faut stilettos, any shoe you wear after feels like heavenly "flats". The support is more solid, and the height is more manageable after centering one's weight on 4-inch reed-thin heels. Ah the foibles of the new-fangled tango addict.

One of the conditions for the medical approval was for me to do stretching and back-strengthening exercises. Unfortunately (for this late-bloomer of a dancer), I have been (and still am) a bookworm for most of my life and the only stretching I did was to reach out for any of the treasures that fill up my bookshelf of a home.

Simple stretching, as basic as reaching for my toes. You laugh now, but once I get to stretch all the way down, you will laugh with me in triumph.

Simple crunches, with nothing more required for now than for me to lift the neck and upper shoulders. I tried that this morning and it felt good to feel the muscles in my torso get worked up. All the better for mastering the art of the ochos.

Simple exercises all in all. Two basic must-dos if I am to make sure I never have another lumbar spasm incident.

But for this non-athletic aspiring dancer, simple is literally just a stretch. And I will dance happily ever after.