Last night, I danced a tanda with Oscar Mandagaran, and every time somethingdidn't work, I thought, "Aha, that's going to be in my lesson tomorrow, isn't it?" The nice part is that I no longer get nervous dancing with him; it's another thing to have thirty people watching your feet because you are dancing with the star: that part makes me freak out in a way that someone who has performed dance for twenty plus years should not. "Relax, Ely!" he kept saying every time we passed the corner that was packed with people staring, "You're rigid like a board!". THIS is why I used to dance with my eyes closed, Oscar!
I just finished a private lesson with Oscar and Georgina. I worked with them in June when they were here, and got "homework": work on stepping laterally, pivoting, and stepping forward/backward. That looks like an easy thing to do, but when you are changing how you've been pivoting for fourteen years of tango, it feels frustrating to have to practice to change; why can't I just DO it?
I think about June: Georgina told me to focus on the future of my tango, not look back at past mistakes. Deep breath; starting over is good, starting over is good, starting over is good . . .
I practiced almost every day this past month (OK, usually I am not such a good student, but I knew they'd be back in five weeks, so I had to work). "A little bit better" was the comment. I appreciate the honesty: I know they would tell me if it weren't better, and when they say, "YES! Perfect!" I know they mean that. The new information is working most of the time. "Now, let's work on the subtlety of the move," says Oscar. Ay! A whole new level of what wasn't working well.
However, I know that things are going well when we move on and work on new things. Traspie, a concept I thought I had 100% in my body, turns out to be something I need to improve in my dance. I couldn't feel the subtle differences between big and small moves. In my defense, everyone I dance with tends to use only one style: big OR small. On the other hand, I should be able to do this better ;-)
Oscar dances with me, saying, "See, Georgie? That's what I was talking about last night." Georgina places herself where I can see her and she can see me in the mirror, and guides me through about twenty minutes of doing all sorts of sizes of traspies, with and without pivots, in every direction possible. Then, Oscar dances with me to see if it feels right for the leader. More traspies with pivots. Aha! I am finally getting how to pivot more easily during the traspie; I was doing it too late in the movement. More exercises with Georgina, more dancing with Oscar.
An hour later, I feel that I understand exactly what I need to be doing in traspie, in pivots, and for little adornos around my feet ("Ack! Ely! Don't go so close to your toes! You'll hurt yourself!"). My body doesn't feel exhausted from stretching my torso as long as possible. My hips don't feel too fatigued from the traspie work, although I now know which muscles SHOULD feel tired if I do this right, a hundred times. I could have done another hour, but there are three more students right after me, so I have to wait for another day.
I feel fabulous, even if this is going to take another fourteen years to be amazing.