Review: Tango Boot Camp, April 2009 (Brighton)

17th May 2009

Workshop Date: Sat 25 - Sun 26th April 2009

Location: Ralli Hall, Hove Actually.

Teachers: Stefano and Alexandra of Tango in Action (organised by Warren of Decadance)

Introduction

This session was a 2-day set of workshops.

By way of introduction I have been dancing only modern jive for about 6 years. I did do a few jango classes several years ago but have not done any Argentine Tango at all.

At New Year I made resolution to have a go at AT this year.

Registration was simple and efficiently done, name badge, DVD and Tango Bootcamp T shirt collected.

Time for a cup of coffee and meet some of the other beginners in the downstairs hall.

Some long distance travellers for this event, Inverness, Derby, Manchester and Northern Ireland, I am very impressed that the event has drawn people from so far.

There are about 40 people in the class and there are 4 females extra as some men had cancelled late sadly.

Alex and Stefano are introduced to us by Warren and we are off and running.

The workshops

Stefano and Alex give a sultry demonstration of their dancing, looks beautiful.

We are then taken through walking, some steps and sequences called the box or square and the basic 8. Or as Stefano keeps calling it the "basic 7".

We are only ever shown 7 steps of the basic 8 starting with a side step left and we are teased all day in an amusing way about the missing step.

Eventually on Sunday afternoon the 8th step of the basic 8 is explained.

The missing step is the step back, we are advised to be wary that the step back is potentially dangerous, as you cannot see behind you.

Ochos and Brollies

We are shown Ochos, using the most wonderful prop.....an umbrella.

Stefano emphasizes how the pivot is led using the umbrella. He and Alex stood facing each other at arms length each holding onto the umbrella which is horizontal at chest height between them. Taking the physical contact out of the demonstration really did bring home that the lead of the pivot is from the rotation of the upper torso and not the arms.

During the bootcamp I kept notes and during the ocho notes I wrote a bullet point:

  • "LEADERS SIGNAL FIRST, THEN MOVE".

This was in context to the pivot in the ocho, you need to pivot the lady first and signal which way you intend to move her before you actually move her. A point to remember for all moves.

Sandwiches and bullets

We then were taught the sandwich from a start of a backward ocho.

Next bullet point I made

  • "ONLY 4 STEPS IN TANGO, LEFT,RIGHT,BACK AND FORWARD".

I took heart from this, knowing that Tango leaders shouldn't be too worried as you can only do one of 4 steps next!

Sacadas and more bullets

We were then taught a sacada, being started from a forward ocho. Enjoyed this move I "got it" quite quickly.

Next bullet point links to sacadas.

  • "NEVER MOVE LEG INTO SPACE MOVE WHOLE BODY".

This really helped me with the sacada. My first few attempts were literally a leg kicked out between the followers legs from a distance.

Once I stepped my full weight forward into the space vacated by the woman it felt as smooth as silk.

Media giro

We were then shown a media giro.

This was taught using the umbrella again to show how the move is so not lead by the arms of the leader but by the upper torso rotation left and right.

We also walked through the steps of the giro. Forward...side...backward...side...forward...side...backward etc., with the proviso you keep equi-distant from your partner.

We were taught a linkage move a "bounce", basically a rock step.

Ganchos

We were taught 2 ganchos, one from a forward ocho one from a backward ocho.

Bullet point

  • "ALWAYS IN CONTEXT OF THE MUSIC"

The gancho is a kick and is dramatic and should be within a dramatic stage in the music.

Enjoyed learning these and felt I "got it" relatively quickly, not sure I can do them well but got the concept of the move.

Giro and sacadas

Then the last move taught was a giro with sacada. I never got this, I didn't see many others get it. It looked easy when Stefano executed it but I was unable to do it.

It was the last move taught on Sunday afternoon and probably wasn't got because we were getting fatigued or maybe it was just too technical for us beginners.

Summing up

I went to bootcamp as a beginner to get the building bricks of tango, I came away with about 8 bricks and a couple of bits of cement.

It was a fabulous learning experience. Alex and Stefano were both insightful and amusing.

They managed to diminish the worries of students and returned their worries/questions back in such an understated way that they left you feeling good and understood.

I would highly recommend the beginners bootcamp.

Finally there was a wonderful tea dance and milonga on Sunday afternoon which just rounded off a perfect weekend learning tango.

- Paul Glynn, 17th May 2009

More details: www.tangobootcamp.co.uk/

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