I saw Oscar's name on the list for June workshops in Portland, and felt very excited. Then, he was off the list: cancelled??!!! I had not even contacted Polly McBride (his organizer) to see why he was not coming, and he emailed me: "Ely: can you host me?" YES! YES! YES!
I haven't had a chance to study with Oscar since 2000 and 2001 in Buenos Aires, and yet much of what I teach (and dance) has been impacted by those months of studying with him. He is one of the best tango teachers I have ever had, and those of you who know me, know how picky I am about good teachers, having studied dance pedagogy as part of my M.A. in Dance AND taught dance for 20+ years now.
I met Oscar through a lucky chance. My boyfriend at the time took lessons with Oscar and raved about him. I thought, "Big deal, everyone raves about THEIR teacher," but allowed him to drag me to a class. After the first class, there was no need to drag me.
The class was held in a student's living room, with about ten Argentine teachers/performers-in-training participating. Oscar did not make much from the class, as he offered it at a rate the Argentine students could afford, but that didn't stop him from giving 150% at all times. He is the only teacher I've had who can be warm and praising WHILE pushing you to fix your mistakes and excel at the same time. He never let up, but he never scolded.
"If you can't dance tango on the dance floor, you have no right to be on stage," he told his class--and made sure that his students practiced their floorcraft. The class met socially (including Oscar) to dance together atthe milonga. He was the maestro, but he was a peer at the milonga, chatting, dancing and interacting with the group. He led by example.
My private lessons changed my entire approach to tango. He gave me drills and exercises to make my embrace strong and energized. He gave me drills to make my feet work into the floor and use the energy of my axis and breath in a new way. He told me, "50% of your energy is in each leg, each foot, even if 100% of the weight is on one foot." I had always thought I needed a free foot held a bit off the floor to be ready to move, but he showed me how much more I could do if both feet were right under me, energized and balanced. He talked about energy in a way that made sense and that I have adapted for my own teaching needs.
Most of all, in my lessons with him, he danced as if each dance were supremely important, costumed, on stage--he became a different person than sunny, approachable Oscar. He became Oscar the milonguero, passionate, tigerlike, intent. How could I NOT dance like a diva when given that voltage of energy sent into my body through the embrace? This wasn't just some dance class for a student's American girlfriend, at a "girlfriend" discount: this was a dance that mattered.
I can't wait to study with him again in a few weeks. If you are going to be in Portland or Eugene in June, make sure you get to his classes. Your tango will grow, expand, change . . . a new tango adventure is starting! Check out my page with lesson details (I hope to get it up today).