Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Buenos Aires 2007 - Part VI

Dear Veronica,

We had a really interesting Monday in Bs As, filled with unforgettable moments.

In the morning, after breakfast, we went back to Alberto's house again for another lesson. He is really a very wonderful teacher, he could pinpoint exactly what is wrong with Man Yung's posture and walk. In one hour, we are really dancing vals, and not "tango, but faster!" to vals music (which is what EVERYBODY in Toronto does). It was just too bad that we didn't know Alberto before our trip, all the things he taught us will make a lot of difference in our Tango Salon and Vals and correct some of Man Yung's biggest weak points. Right now, according to Alberto, we have a problem with our dancing because I am dancing Tango Salon and Man Yung is dancing Canyengue! :) Hopefully Man Yung will remember the things he has learned from Alberto and I will finally get to see the posture, frame and walk that for me, are really the most important things for any leader to learn in the Tango.

As for me, just two lessons with Alberto has made me 1) be able to dance close embrace, when I couldn't before, 2) able to do giros in a speed according to the lead (whereas I was just really guessing the speed according to the music before) - with the correct posture - i.e. without my butt sticking out. I've been working on these for AGES but couldn't get them right. Only a few pointers from Alberto and all is fixed.

After the class we wanted to invite Alberto out for lunch but he couldn't go, he had to teach private class to some students from Switzerland. He also gave us more gifts of a DVD of his show and a CD, and offered to take us to the airport the next day (which we had to refused, I mean, that is too much!) We had an emotional farewell in the street. We traveled all the way to Buenos Aires and we didn't expect to meet someone just out of the blue who is not only an outstanding teacher and dancer who will change our tango lives forever, but a real friend too.

We went to El Arranque in the afternoon to meet up with M&M and Osvaldo & Coca. All the students in the festival who wanted to get a copy of the DVD of the festival could drop by and pick up the DVD there, so we got to say hi and bye to a lot of the people who were in the festival with us. We also met friends of M&M - Elena and Ruben Dario Lopez - they run a milonga and he is a DJ, and they were so friendly they asked us to dance.

However, I have to say the best thing was that I got to dance with Osvaldo (twice!) and Man Yung got some of it on video, just talking about it makes me excited, because really, dancing with him was so fantastic that there are just no words, he is one of the tango gods and he fully deserved to win the Mundial 2004. Osvaldo once said in an interview that when he steps onto the dance floor, it is like he is stepping on a floor covered with fragile rosy glass hearts,
and he has to dance in such a way so that the hearts won't break, and thatis exactly what I felt when I got to experience his dancing. Nothing is going to be the same when I get back in Toronto, even with the best dancers you sometimes either experience brutish rough and tumble music-less leading, or "let's see if she could do this!" pop quiz dances. Man Yung got to dance with Coca, but that was very difficult for him because she is so short she only came up to his knees (just kidding!) Actually Man Yung was a little freaked out because she was a maestra and he felt totally unworthy to dance with her. We also bumped into Oscar Casas and MaryAnn at El Arranque, as well as Mariana from Club Milonga.

After the milonga we all went out for dinner at a Tenedor Libre. I had to continually pinch myself to believe that I was there having dinner with two of the greatest dance couples in the world like we've known each other forever! Dinner was good but simple - the restaurant had chinese owners and it had a buffet and a parillada. We have had asado in several different restaurants, from the expensive, to the middle-range, to the inexpensive (at the Tenedor Libre, the bill came out to be slightly over 100 pesos for six people with beer and wine) but the asado is always good.

After dinner we had a walk around the block with M&M and O&C because Martha wanted to look for a Heladeria. Martha and Osvaldo and Coca walked in front, busy chatting about O & C's upcoming trip to Europe, while we walked slowly behind with Manolo. We passed by a guy carrying a large boombox playing reggae - before you know it, Osvaldo was caught up in the music and he was dancing to reggae in the street! He has this amazing ability to "be" the music whenever he hears it - it must be some kind of superpower.

During the walk we bumped into people passing out flyers for a touristy "Tango Show" at a nearby restaurant. I said "vamos" and Osvaldo thought that was very funny :) When the flyers person gave a flyer to Manolo, he asked them "Who's dancing at the show? Pablo, Pedro, Juan?" and the flyers person didn't even know. Manolo is so funny, he pointed to Man Yung and me and said to the flyers person, "do you know who these two are? They are really famous and expert tango dancers." ;)

It was just surreal, here we were, walking around Lavalle on our last night in Buenos Aires with four of the most famous and experienced tango dancers in the world (over 200 years of dancing between them!) Who knew that our journey in tango would take us here?

We never managed to find the heladeria because M&M decided to drive to find one, and Man Yung felt it was better to say goodbye to them in the parking lot, you know how he feels about Martha and Manolo and of course there were plenty of tears.

We have been amazingly lucky to find the teachers that we have found. One thing about learning from Alberto, M&M and O&C is that they know EXACTLY what you are doing wrong. And Man Yung said that when they show you something, maybe a step or a way to do a step, it's like being given "keys" to unlock a complete area of understanding about tango. Alberto takes 20 seconds to demonstrate to us how a corridita is done to vals compas - before you know it, we are finally dancing vals. At El Arranque, Osvaldo tells us to "look, look!" and shows us this apparently very very simple step - a side step, with a rock backwards, then a side step, with a rock backwards again. Most people in Toronto would have died of boredom and ran for the next Chicho workshop - but what was it? Man Yung said the way that Osvaldo did that particular step is the "key" to about half of all the steps that Osvaldo does!

The way that these masters teach and the way that they know what they are doing is certainly a lot different from the "I guess this should be what's wrong", or "talking at great lengths about what's wrong but never getting to the point", or "deliberately not telling you the point because then you have to return to take more private classes", or "tearing every little thing about the student apart so that he/she will completely lose confidence and you can milk him/her of more money" styles of teaching that you sometimes find in Toronto.

Our flight didn't leave until late evening on Tuesday (that's when all the flights to North America seem to leave from Buenos Aires) so we spent a whole day not having quite left Buenos Aires and yet with our minds looking forward to seeing the kitties again. After having such an amazing time, when would we return? Could we even imagine returning when all our dreams and more have come true on this trip?

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