Eton Easter Weekender
16th April 2009
Date: 10-12th April, 2009
Location: Baldwin Court, Eton
This was a non-residential weekender event held by Thames Valley Tango in Baldwin Court, Eton over the Easter Weekend from the 10-12 April.
If booked early enough two full days of Workshops, Practicas and 2 Milongas cost £59 or £65, if you included the third Milonga. The teachers were Jenny Frances and Ricardo Orio.
Baldwin Court is a single storey hall, which belies its internal character. Once though the doors you are faced with a nice size hall, with a nice floor and a vaulted black and white ceiling with wooden beams giving the impression of an old style banqueting hall.
Charles and Sarah had obviously put in a great deal of effort to dress the hall by hanging pictures, lights and drapes and putting tablecloths and flowers on all the tables.
They stocked a separate kitchen with plenty of teas, coffee and biscuits. During the evening they put out small Easter eggs, crisps and bottled water on the tables.
A nice surprise was to find that a private car park had been arranged free of charge, close to the venue.
The Milongas were held each evening from 7:30 pm until 11:00pm (11:30pm on Saturday).
There were two 1 1/2 hour workshops each day on Saturday and Sunday starting at 11:00am and 3:00pm.
Music played in the hall all day from 10:00am, and was available to continue Practica at all other times. Private lessons and massages were available, and could be booked during non workshop times.
The Workshops on the Saturday were very much technique based. They concentrated on lead and follow, pushing off from the back foot, some work on Giros and walking backward techniques. Some time was spent in showing how to make some contrasts in the dance by the use of changes in the length of strides. Some time was then devoted to a clockwise turn within stride, which brought you out to face the line of dance, and continuing the stride.
The workshops on Sunday devoted some time to the embrace, and the purpose of the arms and their use in containment and connectivity. The balance point in the stride of the follower was then explored, where the leader could easily move the followers moving foot backwards or forwards, from a chest lead. Jenny and Ricardo devoted some time to this as they felt it was not until this balance point is understood that Volcadas can be properly executed. The class then progressed to a mini 'in axis' Volcada performed whilst in stride, and then to a larger 'in axis' Volcada that required some preparation.
At the end they spent some time on floor craft exercises in order to improve the floor craft skills required on the dance floor during a Milonga.
Another feature of the teaching was the amount of time devoted to technical points for followers, which was much appreciated.
The music each evening was provided by Charles, and was almost exclusively traditional Tango, Milonga and Vals in Tandas, with only the last Tanda of each evening being Nuevo or alternative tango music.
All three Milongas were well attended. However the Saturday night Milonga was special, with a good vibe. People including a number of teaching couples arrived from all over the South East, and helped to produce an electric atmosphere, which encouraged a great night of high quality dancing. Although the floor was very busy, it did not stop an enjoyable dancing experience. It seems the floor craft skills passed the Jenny and Ricardo test. We were informed the next day that this part of the workshop program had been relegated to the end of the workshop and with a shorter amount of time devoted to it.
I would estimate that there were 30 couples for the workshops, and this expanded for the Milongas by about another 40 people on Saturday and maybe 20 people on Friday and Sunday.
Even though the workshops were billed as intermediate standard, due to the Jenny and Ricardo factor very good, experienced dancers of many years standing still attended and fully participated in the workshops. For instance one attendee has been dancing for 8 years, and his dance partner for about the same amount of time.
A thoroughly enjoyable weekend with well planned, and well executed workshops and Milongas providing good music and a most enjoyable dancing experience. Being able to walk around Eton and Windsor by the river helped to give a special quality to the break times. I had no gripes and I don't think anybody else did either.
Roll on the next one.
- Tony Miller and Ruby Red, 16th April 2009
More information: thamesvalleytango.co.uk