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Posts Tagged ‘Tango’

Thank you.

I am grateful to two fellow bloggers who have nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award – and it’s not just about the recognition and exposure for The Chronicles, although that’s a huge part of it. It’s about more than that. It’s about helping me define exactly what my blog is. In other words, I no longer have an identity crisis; I have a category, and that category has a name: Versatile Blogger.

Several months ago, as I wrote and rewrote the description for my Facebook fan page, the best I could come up with was a kitchen sink kind of blog. I was a little slow on the uptake because the word versatile more than covers what I do, and in a much more elegant way.

One of my nominators, Jacqui Murray − WordDreams − and I met nearly a year ago when WordPress featured one of her posts on “Freshly Pressed.” We entered into a cyber-conversation that continues to this day. Jacqui is now my go-to person for all things writing / publishing. If she doesn’t know it, she knows someone who does.

My other nominator is Divya Srikanth, (aka Dee Shrek) − of Literally Challenged – who is from Chennai, India and writes with a very wicked wit.  I suspect that if she ever wanted to swap writing for stand up she’d pack the house.

My thanks to these two very talented bloggers for nominating me. I’m honored. Their blogs are well worth checking out.

There’s more to this award than this cool graphic. I’m also supposed to share seven things about myself and pass along this award to 15 blogs I’ve discovered. So here goes:

Seven Secrets 

  1. I’ve always wanted to own a steel mill.
  2. I cry when I hear the “American National Anthem” and France’s “La Marseillaise.” I think it’s because I actually pay attention to the words when I hear them. People at sporting events must think I’m crazy.
  3. If I didn’t sell color, and couldn’t own a steel mill, I’d be a private investigator.
  4. My favorite food is donuts, the sickly sweet kind filled with frosting inside and out.
  5. I’ve memorized all of the lines in Casablanca.
  6. I want to take a freighter cruise around the world.
  7. I hate shopping.

Twelve Terrific Blogs 

Okay I’m a wee bit short of 15 but I promise you’ll love the one’s I’ve listed here.  In addition to Jacqui and Divya’s blogs I also follow these fabulous blogs.

Arlene’s New Beginnings – Observations on Life, People and the Universe.  Arlene is a gifted writer, artist and photographer with a great sense of personal style.

Savvy Savings Bytes – If you want to really love NYC on a shoestring then this is a must read.

Gal About the Globe – This blog is the perfect travel companion.  It covers lots of ground from global happenings, fashion, and profiles of successful up-and-coming Gals about the Globe. And you don’t even need a passport! Pay it a visit.

Three Great Tango blogs – Since I’ve been too busy writing to dance lately but my spirit dances to the beat of these blogs.

Passionate about prose? Then visit Nissi’s blog Plantain Periodicals. 

Get Inspired at Clicking50.  Sonia’s blog is a visual feast. See the world through her eyes it will give you a fresh perspective.

If you want to nourish the poet in your soul, read Carolyn Donnell’s blog Deeper Colors. 

Under the writer’s category and a second time winner is Nicole Basaraba’s Uni-Verse-City. You’ll love this forum for words on writing.

Meet Gracie, the magnifi-cat of the Tiniest Tiger.  She’s a celebri-cat and is passionate about saving her cousins in Africa through the Conservation Cub Club. You gotta love her!

Okay fellow bloggers now it’s your turn to pass it on.

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My trip to Tokyo was ill-timed for attending a milonga but not for taking a tango class.  This time, instead of a private lesson, I took a group class at the Tropicana bar/club located in the Roppongi Hills area in the Minato district of Tokyo.  It’s a high-rise, über-urban community that allows residents and visitors alike to shop, work, live and play all in one compact area. It is also where East meets West. According to my Japanese friends, the district is populated with the highest concentration of “foreigners” in Tokyo.

Walking along its crowded streets I wonder if I’m in Minato or Midtown Manhattan.  English is definitely the lingua franca here but it’s peppered with accents as colorful as the neon signs that bathe the streets in an eerie kind of sci-fi glow.  Roppongi Hills pulses to a world beat all its own so it’s the perfect place for bars and clubs.

It’s also the world beat of tango that brings me here. Tango, like Roppongi, is a small world. Connecting is easy when you have something like dance or foreignness in common.  Often times it’s six degrees of separation — sometimes, as in the tango world, it’s even less. In my case it was three degrees.

I made the first connection through Arlene Toth’s London Tango blog” http://londontango.wordpress.com/ and an introduction to Alberto Paz in New Orleans.   Alberto, http://www.planet-tango.com/, put me in touch with Yaeko, one of his former students here in Tokyo.  And Yaeko was kind enough to organize a group lesson for me in Tokyo.

We never did make that lesson – we both got lost in transportation, each of us waiting for the other at different exits of the metro one night.  I was so disappointed because I had really wanted the experience of a Japanese group lesson – just like in the movie Shall We Dance.  Dejected, I returned to my hotel.

What turned out to be bad timing for a dance lesson turned out to be good timing for friendship.  Undeterred by the mix-up, Yaeko called and invited me to dinner instead. We may have been too late to dance but we weren’t too late to eat.  That night we talked tango for three hours.  When I asked Yaeko why she danced tango, she gave me an answer that only milongeuros and milongeuras would fully understand.  “I didn’t choose tango,” she said.  “Tango chose me.”

Afraid that her passion would become all-consuming, she took some time off to study the violin.  I can understand that. Some times I question my own sanity when I find myself dancing salsa four or five nights a week.  Once or twice my friends who don’t dance have mentioned the word “intervention” in connection to my passion.

And so I too stop for a while and fill my evenings with more practical pursuits like yoga, or Pilates or cooking lessons. That is until I realize they are a poor substitute for the one thing that truly makes me happy – dance.

Over dinner Yaeko suggested an opportunity for another lesson with Luis Castro and Claudia Mendoza, who are guest instructors at the Club Tropicana.  The next night, we made sure to pick an easy meeting point and we connected with time to spare.  I joined Yaeko and her friends in a small group lesson, which turned out to be more like a master class.

Milonga was the dance we practiced that night, and the intricacy of the footwork discouraged me. I realized I had a long way to go.  I also realized that to reach this level I would have to put in some time and get serious instead of playing at it one lesson at a time.    Up till then I was learning tango with some waltz thrown in. Milonga was fast, fun and frustrating, and I would have been totally discouraged if it hadn’t been for Luis, Claudia and my fellow students encouraging me. Even the more advanced students had to work at some of the steps. We were in it together.  By the end of the evening I had managed to pick up a step or two and I felt more comfortable.

Afterward we celebrated our progress at a nearby restaurant. As an outsider I was amazed at how at ease I felt among this group of strangers. It was only for a couple of hours, but it felt like we’d been meeting there for years.

I suspect that this is due in part to how the tango world functions.  Dance is like owning a passport that grants you access to an amazing country.  And participating in tango is like visiting family. I had really thought that I missed my chance when I missed the first lesson but in truth, I couldn’t have planned things better.  The lesson at the Tropicana was a last minute suggestion. And so I’ve added a fifth lesson to my dance is life list.

Lesson #5: Dance is like life. Some things you just can’t plan…sometimes you just have to improvise. https://cafegirlchronicles.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/dance-is-life/

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www.castroymendoza.com

http://jantango.wordpress.com/about/

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Oktay Ortakcioglu

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Thanks to all of you tangueros and tangueras who were kind enough to provide contacts to instructors and milongas in Tokyo.  If any of my other fellow dancers have suggestions on milongas or salsa clubs – I’ll happily take them as I don’t leave until Thursday.

In the meantime, I am going to treat myself to an all-Tokyo film fest this weekend, which will include:

Lost in Translation – As I will soon be Lost in Tokyo.

Blade Runner (The Director’s cut) – I’m told Ridley Scott’s futuristic film noir evokes the sights and sounds of present day Tokyo and the Shinjuku area where I will be staying.

Shall We Dance?  The original Japanese version of this film really hits home for many of us.  If it says anything about human nature, it’s that it’s never too late to rediscover who you are – especially if you happen to find yourself in Tokyo.

Enjoy!

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I used to think my dance lessons were all about timing, steps, musicality, and technique.   Lately I have come to realize that that there’s more too it than that.  The more I dance, the more I learn about life.  According to my teachers – dance is life.

And nowhere was this more apparent than on my recent trip to New Orleans where I managed to squeeze in a two-hour tango lesson with the very elegant, “man in black” – Alberto Paz.   He was gracious and patient, and I immediately felt at ease with him despite the usual stage fright I feel whenever I dance with someone for the fist time.

“There is no test,” he said. “You’re here to learn.”

Lesson #1: “Dance is like life. You have to understand that it’s not about pass/fail; it’s about getting the most out of it.”

Alberto was surprisingly complimentary at what little technique I had managed to pick up in Buenos Aires.  (Ah, me of little faith.)  He liked working with beginners, he explained, because there were few bad habits to correct.

Doubting myself – as usual – I told him that it was his excellent lead and clear direction that enabled me to dance well

“Catherine,” he said. “It’s a compliment so take it and just say thank you,” he said.

Lesson #2: Dance is like life. You have to give yourself a little credit.”

I decided that the next time someone paid me a compliment, I would own it.

I would say: “It’s mine. I worked for it.  I deserve it.”

As the lesson progressed, the steps started to feel different – they started to feel “right.”  Alberto’s small tweaks were making a big difference to my comfort level.   But just to be certain, I asked, after a particular sequence of moves, “Is this right?”

He tossed the question back at me, “Does it feel right to you?”

“Yes,” I said.  “I can definitely feel a difference.”

“Then, it’s right,” he said, then added: “Never ask a man his opinion. He’ll never tell you the truth. If you ask him if something looks good, he will always say yes.”

As naive as it sounds, it came as such a revelation that I actually asked Alberto if I could write that piece of wisdom down before I forgot it.

He laughed, put his arm around my shoulders, and gave them an affectionate squeeze . “But you already knew that!” he said.

Lesson #3: “Dance is like life, It’s about how you feel and not how someone else makes you feel.

Probably the hardest lesson of all was just learning to slow down.  Tango, more so than any other dance, requires the dancer to be in the moment, wait, and savor each step. However, I sometimes I approach tango as something “to do” rather than something “to dance.”  I want to make sure I do all of the steps whether I enjoy them or not.

As Alberto so eloquently put it as I rushed through my steps of our last tango together, “Slow down, you always have time to make a step, but once it is made you can never take it back.”

Lesson #4: “Dance is like life. Make every step count!

http://www.planet-tango.com/

 

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Otra Vez!

hats off 008What’s a business trip without a little pleasure?  So the first thing that’s  going into the suitcase this morning are the killer black and red stillettos purchased from Comme il Faut when I was in BsAs last month.

(Yes, yes, I’m also bringing the lap top  – the IT guys have got me up and running for this trip.)

Tango, Tango Nuevo and now Tango New Orleans.  My thanks to Arlene at Londontango for putting me in touch with Alberto and Valorie.  Lessons have been scheduled, and I am going to do my best to hit a practica  with Maria Elena and Enrique.

Eso!

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Laissez le bon temps rouler!Coming soon posts from New Orleans to Tokyo and a few places in between.

PS if any one knows of any good places to dance  Salsa or Tango in either of these cities, I would love to hear from you!

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/kiskamedia

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It’s not tango music but the steps are there.  And this is probably my last post on the subject for a little while.  I’m hoping to find a milonga or two on my upcoming trips to The Big Easy and Tokyo. 

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