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April 7, 2009

BA: week 1 quick review

I must admit, I arrived in Buenos Aires with very few specifics as far as scheduling of my stay here is concerned. However, it’s funny how time seems to fly even though nothing much seems to be happening!? I suppose this is partly because of the need of traveling everywhere by public transport like subway or buses – unless one was prepared to take taxis all the time although at certain times during the day the traffic can be horrendous too.

So after one week what have I managed to do?


With our friend’s help, we quickly made to our way to Escuela Argentina de Tango (EAT) and familiarised ourselves with the possible regular classes during our stay. By the way, EAT is a fairly reputable Tango school here with a variety of teachers offering their services. Our strategy is simply to sample the group classes at EAT during the first week in order to find out what styles/teachers we’d like to explore more in the remaining two weeks. Initially I was considering to try out DNI and Tango Brujo, which are two Tango Nuevo schools, but that is probably too ambitious given the little time we have.

At EAT, we attended two Milonga con traspie classes with Gabriella Elias and a cross-system caminata class with Jorge Dispari and his wife, with her signature platform shoes… Since one of my goals for this trip is to gain some confidence in my milonga, I was keen to attend many classes on milonga and so far the classes at EAT have been great for working on rhythm as well as adding some playful patterns that are useful on the milonga floor.

The class with Dispari was both fun and challenging: challenging because of needing to try things out of the ordinary, and fun because of the chance to play with some basic patterns to music. For me the take-away point was not specifically to do with the particular short sequence taught but more to do with the notion of playing with the beat and the energy of the movements. I think, very often, in the course of taking classes with visiting teachers, we tend to lose sight of the fun aspect when we dance Tango. It’s important even while learning to never forget this.

Before we started with classes at EAT, we actually went to a group class by Cacho Dante – the very first class in Buenos Aires! It consisted of many exercises – the class was almost conducted in the form of a guided practica – repeated in the line of dance and progressively in complexity. Memorable moment when commenting on the use of a difficult Pugliese piece for one of his exercises: “sometimes you just don’t get simple music to dance in”, said with a shrug. 🙂

The last part of classes for this week consisted of a 3-day seminar with Julio Balmeceda and Corina de la Rosa on rhythmic figures. This was my first experience with them, although I have enjoyed their dancing since as early as 2001 when I first saw a clip from CITA 2001. They are wonderful and attentive teachers. The seminar consisted exploring various patterns to a range of rhythms ranging from Tango, vals and milonga.


On the milonga front, it was a little weak for the first week. We went to Lujos twice (El Beso on Thursday and Maipu 444 on Sunday), Practica X when Chicho was conducting a group class, and La Viruta, when Ariadna Naveira performed. While the Nuevo milongas may be shunned by the traditionalists and I am unlikely to return unless for a special occasion or with a bunch friends, I do see them as different aspects of tango in a cosmopolitan city like Buenos Aires. Seen individually, they are not representative of the tango here but in my opinion they form pieces of a giant puzzle which tells a more compete story of tango than the prim and proper milongas.

Other little tidbits include the obligatory shoe shopping expedition, where I managed to find a very comfortable pair of dance sneakers at Fabio shoes. I am still considering adding to that first pair which I have been wearing for classes and milongas, as well as other choices from Neo Tango…

That’s it for now. Plan to attend more milongas next week!

ps. This was supposed to have been posted before the Cachirulo milonga (Maipu) on Saturday.

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