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Posts from the ‘Musings’ Category


Improving one’s musicality

Here are some thoughts from early last year – finally seeing the light of day!! 😉

During a workshop, someone in all seriousness asked, “We can do all these exercises while you are here. How does one improve one’s musicality when you are not around?”

The teacher’s suggestion was (paraphrasing) “Spend more time listening to music, and watching videos on Youtube for examples of people dancing to different types of music. But watch less of the figures.”

I think this is very sound advice. The desire/need to improve musicality is a serious problem for many smallish communities outside of Buenos Aires. I mean, it is one thing to lament the lack of “musicality” – however you may choose to define it – of the gringos, European, Asian or otherwise, it’s another to offer concrete advice on how to head in the right direction.

Personally, I have found the oft-quoted routine advice of “listening to more music” to be lacking. After all, many of us lack the language or cultural context to connect well with music written and played more than half a century ago, no? In order to elicit an emotional response, you’d need to have some feelings towards a particular piece of music and, well, some prejudices about the style of dancing!?

On the other hand, watching ordinary people (middle-aged couples, not teachers or even well-known milongueros) dance in the milongas during my trip to Buenos Aires was really inspirational. Seeing the joy on people’s faces, the engagement and commitment to each other on the dance floor, and also the passion to the music they were dancing, it was not difficult to “feel” different parts of the music after a while. Naturally, being already familiar with most of tracks helped too. However, while seeing happy faces often meant good connections, it did not always imply good technique and, for me, it didn’t matter…


Milonguero (style) or no?

Nice video of Ricardo Viqueira & Maria Darritchon. Perhaps because of his continual use of circular energy, some of his movements (not just certain characteristic “Julio moves”) reminded me quite a bit of Julio Balmaceda. For me this video also highlights the ridiculousness of milonguero labels some people somehow insist on using. Viquerira is regarded as a milonguero and yet, for me at least, he is clearly not dancing in the typically-recognised milonguero style. A paradox? Well, there really shouldn’t be one.



Can’t explain why but this thought just popped into my head.

Objectively, there is really no shame to be associated with beginners – from the perspective of an organiser or teacher. If because of marketing or other technical reasons, someone needs to focus his/her efforts on beginners, a valuable contribution can still be made for contribution to the commuinty. Guilt or shame only comes into the picture when one is in fact the cause that beginners are leaving en mass for other interests! 🙂


Community leadership

Been reading a book on leadership lately. One of the key tenets of quality leadership, as advocated by the author, is credibility. In his words, credibility is the process of “earning the right to lead through character”. Reflecting on events over the past few years, this really struck a chord with me. In order to be a leader in the community (of anything, besides tango), one needs to operate with integrity and compassion. While “competence” (or skill) is another necessary quality of effective leaders, the starting point for those whom you ask to follow is to earn their trust.

Come to think of it, on a microscopic level, this is not unlike the interplay between partners in that 3-minute dance!?