Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Scorn Star is Born

Here's a good reason for teachers to become better at teaching floorcraft:  The world of technology will eventually hit the milonga.  The tango police are watching every gancho, every bump, every heel you dig into another person at the milonga.

In the new world order, Teachers who do not teach floorcraft and tango etiquette may be financially liable for irresponsible teaching!  Some tango dance studios produce excellent social dancers.  Other studios focus on flashy steps.  We don't need any more tango stars, especially X-rated "Scorn Stars."  Despite many years of lessons, Scorn Stars cause injury to others and torture their partners, whom the "stars" use as WMD's (weapons of milonga destruction).

A case in point:  Argentine Stars Studio: It is really no fault of the good intentions of the owners of  Argentine Stars Studio (ASS), who built their studio to be a world-wide chain.  How would Rosa Fuentes and Manuel del Gallo ever know that they would create so many menacing dancers, or the many infamous Scorn Stars of Tango?  Technology in the new century will cause many tango teachers to be financially ruined.  As history tells it, Rosa and Manuel were the first to experience this.

2015:  The first overhead surveillance cameras at milongas start.  Bloopers of bad dancers are featured on  ASS students are often featured.  And Scorn Stardom is a household word.  Business plummets at ASS, but its students just blame others for getting in their way.

Once it was hammering in lots of cool steps?
Now, you are getting the Hammer of Justice.
2018:  The once popular bloopers now has hungry lawyers tracking accidents and contacting the victims.  Some students are in court too much and cannot come to classes.  The many ASS students are complaining on  Some lawyers find new business even from former ASS students, creating class action litigation.  It is in 2018 when the first after-milonga late-night TV ads start appearing:  "Have you taken classes from this person?  If you have and your floorcraft has caused you shame and lost income, then you can sue for damages and the return at least some of the $37K that you spent on learning how to be a Tango Scorn Star."

2019 is the momentous year that the first year of the reading of the Tango Miranda Rights Advisory.  Jennifer Stigmata, a DJ, had her left and right foot nailed by the same woman.  Ms Stigmata couldn't dance for six months.  The poor woman was only the weapon, wielded by another Scorn Star.  A bloody mess.  Ms Stigmata, once healed, had her lawyer write out the Tango Miranda Rights Advisory, preparing for the day that a Scorn Star might injure her again.  No mercy:  Being the DJ that night, Jennifer stopped the music with her remote and continued reading very loudly:

  • You have the right to dance simply. 
  • Any move you make can and will be used against you in a court of law. 
  • You have the right to a responsible tango teacher. 
  • If you cannot afford a responsible tango teacher, one will be provided for you at the free practica at the library on Saturday afternoons.”*  

After the first tango Miranda rights reading, sensible Tangueros restrained the offending Scorn Star, and he was sent off to Tango Jail for a year. (Tango Jail: Piazzola tunes played without any cortina for one year, night and day.)  The news spreads. The Tango Miranda Rights cards are now passed out at the door by volunteers. Citizen arrests skyrocket across the world, causing CNN to interview tangueros in the streets.  "Are Milongas a Microcosm of a New World Order?" the Washington Post asks in the International News section.

2020: Scorn Star gets out of Tango Jail. By now each dancer wears a GPS device. From the many fines that ASS students have received, they now can be tracked as "dangerous objects approaching" and cause buzzing when the dangerous tangueros/tangueras get near a more careful dancer.  Milongas sell pins at the door "Don't be an ASS, Tanguero!"  Proceeds go to bunion reduction research.

2023:  Milongas have police who are speed-radar for risky tangueros, and giving out speeding fines and points.  ASS students mostly have lost their tango licenses, and are on the Most Unwanted Posters at the post office.

We don't have to wait for cutting-edge technology in the year 2023.  We have it now.  The future is already here.  We have tango etiquette, coming to a milonga near you.  You can bring your children:  No violence and no Scorn Stars.

*Thanks to a L.C. Inthesky, a tanguera in Washington, D.C. who came up with the Tango Miranda Rights after reading a draft of this post.  Print out a copy and give one to a friend.  The New World Order surely will come out of orderly milongas.

Gancho King photo credit:  Please go to this link to a creative t-shirt designer who is a dancer.

Monday, September 10, 2012

That was IMPRESS-Sieve!

Have you ever watched Impress-Sieve dancers?

They pull off amazing moves that you probably will never do.  If you try to copy them, other dancers most likely will wish that you wouldn't have tried (at least on the social dance floor).  That is what we can call very "Impress-Sieve."

I wish I had more tango wisdom as a young musician.  I worked too hard at being Impress-Sieve -- straining out the soul and body of art, leaving only the mind to be in awe of accomplishment.

You see, I wanted to play to impress others, but I did not know what art is all about until I learned from tango:  The Way of Tango, at least for me, is to be present within your own body and with the person with whom you are dancing.  Impressing others is a distraction from true art.  

One way to think about art is to consider the early Greek categories of Mind, Body and Soul -- three circles that entwined themselves.
  • Impressing others is an expression of art that expresses technical genius -- this boggles our Mind.
  • Deeply moving others is the area we call Soul.  If art moves one to sigh in awe, or if tears come to your eyes in spite of not wanting them, art has moved your Soul.
  • Moving others so much that they wish to move or to dance out their feelings of joy or deep love is what we could call the area of art touching the Body.
A friend of mine told me that her daughter sang in church and she heard someone let out a sigh during the song.  Another person wept.  That same weekend she had seen musicians playing at an outdoor festival and some audience members just had to dance.  These are examples of art without a "Sieve."  They all can be technically wonderful, but that is not nearly as important as the balance of Mind, Body and Soul.

Just today, my sister-in-law sent me a video of my old self -- a drummer playing a solo that was truly impressive.  Well, I would have been impressed, but I wasn't.  The term, "Impress-Sieve," came to mind.  I guess that I have grown in wisdom from dancing tango.  The drum solo was truly Impress-Sieve.  I looked up the definition of a sieve:  "A sifter that separates wanted elements from unwanted material using a woven screen such as a mesh or net."  While being Impress-Sieve, he strained out the soul and body of his art.

I asked her, "Did anyone feel closer to their center (soul), or is anyone dancing because they are so moved by his drum solo?"

Musicians, or any artist who creates to impress, forgets what art really is -- something to move the soul, the body, and lastly, the mind. 

Gene Krupa
Any of those who know about the history of the big band period will know the great drummers and band leaders, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.  These two men were known as the best drummers of their time.  Buddy Rich was an incredible technician, but Krupa made the people go wild with solos that made them want to get up and dance.  He often played far more simply than Rich did.  Please watch and listen to this Krupa video clip:  Notice that he uses silence and is not constrained to the drum stool in this video -- the man dances around!

I once emulated a Krupa solo* as my younger son, then age three, was with me in the music room, and he was dancing around.  He finally pleaded with me to stop because he wanted to stop dancing.  What a tribute to the power of art!  He had to dance.  His mind had lost its own volition to the power of art.  

I have said all of this for one main message to dancers-as-artists:  Dance from the soul and be totally present in your body.  This will not be Impress-Sieve at all.  Although I have watched many technically perfect dancers, only a few speak to my soul and body.  Most teachers have an eye for what appeals to the mind.  Only you can be in your own body and dance from the soul.

*Krupa solo: 

Photo Credit:
Sieve drawing

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dancing with a Porcupine

I am a porcupine, some have said.
At the milonga, I go where I want.
The bear tangueros leave me alone.
The prowling tigers choose their prey.
The hyenas circle, laughing at imperfect moves.
I walk them by, taking her by the hand.
We needn't give them a thought.
I am the porcupine!

I am not vulnerable to their glaring eyes.
The bear would not dance with her lower level;
The tiger would not prey on one so old.
The hyena waits for the day her technique betters.
But the Porcupine takes her by the arm, entering before her
Into the dangers of the dry swirling stream.

In the current of the room, we dance a vulnerable dance.
I am impervious to my wild friends' growls,
So I can be fully present, vulnerable to her.
I have no spines on my chest.
She melts more than close to me:
Through me, into me, a part of me.  Apilado.
Her face touches mine; I smell her essence.
I am fully open -- vulnerable with her.
She knows how the music moves me,
Revealing who I really am.
My soul has no spines.
I cannot hurt others but feel their hurts instead.

Sometimes I see a bear, tiger and even a hyena
Become a porcupine too.

Deep down they all wish to be ...
Vulnerable but impervious too.

Photo Credit link.

I asked my favorite milonguera if she would allow me to share a picture of her.  Ella es tan adorable.  ¿No?