Sunday, November 18, 2018

Cats

The last of our original four cats died at the end of September.  It was a very difficult and sad time, but he had a long and happy life.  Two of our cats were strays we found on the street; the two others we adopted from the local shelter.  We had them before we started Tango, so they accompanied us on our Tango journey and witnessed all the ups and downs of our Tango adventure - and were really mad at us whenever we disappeared for two weeks to travel to Buenos Aires!

It was devastating to come home after a milonga late at night and have no kitties waiting for us at the door.  Sometimes we would forget that we had no more cats and we would open the door thinking he was still waiting patiently in his usual spot for us.

Man Yung didn't want to adopt any more cats.  He complained it was too much work to clean and care for cats, and he was getting older and too tired to deal with another cat. And we can't travel guilt-free if we have pets at home.

Actually I think he was most afraid of having to go through the grief of losing another cat.

I knew we had to adopt another cat.  There are so many cats in shelters waiting for their forever homes.  Having a cat is beneficial to mental and physical health and we would be doing a good deed.

And a home doesn't feel like a home unless we have a cat.

After much debate, we went to the shelter and adopted a feisty tiny two year old Tortie.  She had been found abandoned with her litter of kittens.  We don't know what happened to the kittens (the shelter wouldn't tell us) but when we got back to our condo, Mrs. B jumped out of the carrier and made herself home right away like it was destiny.

It's been only four weeks but it feels like we have had Mrs. B forever already!

Man Yung with Mrs. B, wearing his brand new 
Alice Starmore Kinsale fishermen's sweater that I knitted for him.  
It is a huge bonus that Mrs. B lets him carry her around like she was a baby :-)

Mrs. B doesn't Tango she doesn't know what the fuss is all about.  No partner is good enough for her! Joking aside, she can only be the sole cat in a house because she is very territorial and she attacks other cats.  She is great with people though.  A complete cuddle bug who purrs up a storm.

Mrs. B may not want to Tango (with other cats), but loving and caring for her and all of our original kitties IMHO made us better dancers.  And better people (hopefully).  There's nothing more wonderful than to infuse our dancing with all the (kitty cat) love in our hearts.

Just look at that sweet face!






Sunday, August 26, 2018

Death of the Embrace

A couple of years ago a very respected veteran Toronto Milonguera told me that a Milonguero Encuentro could not be organized in Toronto.

I was surprised she would say that.  There seemed plenty of "Milonguero Style" Toronto dancers in Toronto.  It's not like everyone is flocking to Nuevo Tango.  Why wouldn't an Encuentro work?

She was right, of course.  There are maybe TEN really good Milonguero Style dancers in Toronto now.... and most of them don't even come out to dance anymore.

Another Toronto Milonguera told me recently that she goes through phases of not wanting to come out to dance.  It was just too disheartening, arriving at some of the more popular milongas in town, anticipating a having a good time dancing - but leaving disappointed because:

1.  The FIVE really good Milonguero Style leaders have all decided to stay home (and not get kicked in the shins at the crowded and crazy popular milonga);

2.  Being asked to dance and having to dance with Flingy leaders who just want to do ten million giros, enganches and ganchos - all in the same tanda.  And not leading them very well either.

3.  Not being asked to danced by any of Competition Tango Laddies, because they like to stick with the Competition Tango Ladies who have all gone to the same classes as them and have been trained by the same Competition Tango instructors and therefore have a chance to understand WTF they are leading.

4.  Being asked to dance by any of the Competition Tango Laddies, and then not knowing WTF they are leading because hey, she never learned the same "Choreography".

5.  Not being asked to dance, or refusing to dance, because it's a raging seething sea of Flinging and Tango Competition Choreography out there.

#1-5 above means no fun AND it also means the Embrace is dead.  Or dying.  Or people think the Embrace is something that it is isn't what it really should be.

Even Flingers and Tango Competition Choreographers can write f'g beautiful, literate, convincing, bring tears to your eyes essays about the Embrace.  They truly may believe they are good/excellent/Tango Gods of Embrace because they have lots of dance partners/placed well in a Tango Competition/Teach and Perform Tango.

But come on, are they even Embracing?

Flingers only need the "embrace" like a Judoka wants you to put your hands on any part of his or her body in a fight.  Someone's gotta be touching you in order for you to execute a (Judo) move on them.


Please hold me tight... so I can throw the s*** out of you.*

Tango Competition Choregraphers look like they have perfect embraces - of course, they score points for them in Competitions!  The better the "look", the higher the score.  Some of these types of dancers will "rearrange" their partners embrace (basically by pushing them out of it) so it would look better and they will have some space to do some nifty Tango Competition Standard movements and adornos.

No, no, no!

I am in the minority I guess in the Brave New Tango World of flinging and competition but that's not the Embrace for me.

I won't Embrace someone just so I have a grip on them and can make them "do stuff".

I am not Embracing someone in a certain way so that I would "Look Good" and "Score Points".

Embracing someone and thinking "Moves!" or "Looking Good!" is a failure to Embrace.

To Embrace, you have to be completely present in it, not elsewhere with your thoughts.

You have to give your whole Embrace to your partner, and in return they have to give their whole Embrace to you.

All those Tango pauses you are supposed to do with the music?  They aren't to show off your Tango posture or to show off your ability to pause strategically to win points and admiration.  They are moments to feel the Embrace more deeply and intensely.

And to connect with your partner completely.

Dancing Tango without the Embrace is like stuffing your mouth with shovels of food, but Tasting absolutely nothing.



*By Mhultstrom - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27764362















Monday, August 6, 2018

Sorry - No Points for that

A couple of Toronto's more notorious high kickers and reckless Tasmanian devil whirligig flingers just participated in the Canada Tango Championship last week.  I shuddered and eye rolled until my eyes disappeared into the back of my head when I received word that they were competing.

There was big collective sigh of relief all around when neither of them placed in the top three.  Thank God!

Do we really need these freakin' dangerous dancers to believe that they are entitled, via "good results" in the competition, to kick and knock the bejesus out of everyone around them?  Hell no!  Now don't laugh, but I truly believe that since their heads are so inflated with their own imaginary greatness already, placing in the top three will make their heads so big they will start hitting people with their faces when they dance.

However, the fact they didn't "win" this time only gives me temporary comfort.  I'm sure they are going to try try try again.   And one of these days they are going to make it into the top three, or maybe even WIN, because you can actually win these things (especially in Canada with it's small pool of dancers) by being persistent and signing up year after year after year.  Once the "best" tango couple wins, there's going to be a vacuum and the "next" best will win the next time.  And so on, and so on. One of these days, your local obnoxious kicker/flinger is going to make it and unfortunately, not because they've miraculously become better, or more caring dancers.

As you know we are NOT fans of the "Tango Competition".  It has set a rather superficial and skewed standard of what is considered "good" in Tango in order to make what is not quantifiable quantifiable for ease of judging and now, as we have rightly predicted back in 2008(!), the Tango Borg has taken over the Tango Universe. 

Coming to a Tango Community near you!  Or maybe they are there already :-(

These days, thanks to "Tango Competition", a lot of dancers believe that the only indicator of "good Tango" is how much one can conform to Tango Borg standard, a great deal of which is about looking attractive while dancing and not breaking rules.  Unfortunately, few or NO points are going to be given for any of the following:

1.  Creative, original, idiosyncratic steps.

2.  An embrace that makes you melt.

3.  Musicality that makes you smile.

4.  Ability to adapt to any partner - regardless of size, height, experience - and make them feel wonderful and not inadequate or awkward when they dance with you.

5.  Ability to dance on very crowded dance floors without hurting yourself, your partner or other people.  That means being agile, considerate AND also means being able to edit the stuff you do and still make your dancing lovely and fun, and being able to restrain yourself from showing off the whole goddamn space-hogging figure you were taught/invented.

6.  Being completely bad-ass skillful with the cabeceo.

7.  Being a top notch Chamuyo bull-shitting flirty charmer with your partners.  And making them laugh!

8.  Willingness to dance with ladies who have been sitting all night and haven't been invited to dance because they are not young/attractive/skinny/or don't conform to Tango Borg standard of beauty and skill.

9.  Being "yourself" and no-body else in Tango.  Unless you were born Tango Borg, in which "yourself" means same same same as everyone else who is competing and you will probably WIN.

10.  Just being a great person and a joy to meet and talk to at the milongas.  We have some wonderful people like this in Toronto Tango.  They make everyone feel welcome and at ease and everyone loves seeing them at the milongas.  They may even organize Tango events for charity.  Beautiful souls.

The important things that makes Tango truly Tango for us unfortunately does not score points in Tango Competitions and it really seems like to us that this whole competition thing is rapidly making Tango go to Ballroom competition Hell in a hand basket.

Yes, we have been talking about this topic FOREVER (more blog whining can be found here) but do people ever listen?






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