Review: Tango In Action
9th January 2009
Class Date: 7th January 2009
Location: Oasis Sports Centre, Covent Garden (Map)
As part of my New Years resolutions, I'm determined to find a regular class to attend in 2009. So I went to the Tango In Action class, taught by Stefano and Alexandra, in central London.
Oasis Sports Centre is just on the outskirts of Covent Garden - so right in the centre of London. It is possible to drive there, and even to park quite close, but it's probably not for the faint-hearted.
It's close to both Covent Garden and Holborn tube stations, though.
The sports centre is quite posh, with squash courts and a swimming pool. There were a group of very energetic people jumping around in the hall before our class, they doing what I believe is called an "exercise class" or something similar.
The hall is a standard gym hall - good floor, mirrors on two walls. It's a bit echo-y, which is a shame because it makes it difficult for the teachers to communicate as clearly as I'd like, and Stefano is a good communicator - so I want to hear what he says.
There's a little "gallery" for the hall also, which is a bit off-putting as I'm not used to the occasional spectator, but you soon get used to it.
There were about 10 couples there. It seemed to be quite a close-knit group, I think there were only a few new starters. So I'd guess that S&A are good at retaining the loyalty of their pupils.
We had a couple of men over - shock horror - but S&A got people to switch round relatively frequently. This could have been more organised, maybe, but there were several couples who clearly weren't switching, so that made it a bit more disorganised.
It was billed as "Intermediates 2" level - I think that's reasonable, most of the people there were at what I'd call an intermediate level.
We had a couple of tracks played, and got to dance as a warm-up; there was no technique practice, but then it's not a technique class.
Stefano then started off by asking "What is an advanced dancer" - gathering some answers from the people there. Interesting to hear that even some "intermediates" felt that an advanced dancer was someone who did complex choreography...
- Man steps to the left, woman steps to the right - man ends on the outside track (so like step 2 of the basic 8)
- Man steps forward on right, woman steps back on left (like step 3 of the basic 8)
- Man pivots 90 degrees clockwise and sidesteps onto left, woman mirrors (sidesteps onto right).
Note 1: the man's step (as for step 1) should be larger than the woman's.
- Man pivots another 90 degrees (no more), and steps back onto right foot, whilst leading the woman to step forward onto her left foot, moving to the man's right - this may feel a bit weird, as it's a change of direction.
Note 2: the man can pivot less than 90 degrees - or not at all.
Note 3: the man should leave his left foot out (not collect).
- Man rotates his body clockwise, leading the follower into a giro (starting with her another forward step onto her left, then pivot and sidestep, and so on).
- As the giro goes on, the man draws his left foot around behind his right foot, into a cross position, then transfers weight back onto the left foot, and draws a lapiz pattern with the right foot, ending up with the right foot forwards (but not transferring weight forwards).
Note 4: This is a variation of one of the leader exercises I did in Amir's Tango course last year, so I was quite familiar with the concept. But getting it to work properly - not so easy...
- The man should time this decoration work, so that the man's right foot is placed just behind the woman's right foot - touching it, even - as she finishes the "step forwards onto right foot" part of the giro.
- Man turns the lady into a clockwise forwards ocho, which she can decorate by raising her left leg (which she has to do, to step over the man's outstretched right foot).
- Finish with a three-step walk (pivoting anti-clockwise).
We spent the majority of this class working on this sequence - probably about 40 minutes. Stefano and Alex watched us each do it, giving advice and feedback as we did.
Finally, we spent a few minutes, some time splitting up into male / female groups, and we then worked on the technique for men for this sequence.
There was an "Advanced" class starting at 8:30 (OK, Latin time - more like 9pm), but I'd absorbed more than enough for one day.
The cost per class is £10, or £17 for two classes. It's a bit pricey, but this is probably about normal for Central London classes - Bianca of Rojo Y Negro charges the same.
To be honest, the location and venue probably make this a non-starter for me as a regular class - I want somewhere that's a bit easier to reach by car, and with better acoustics.
However, I can thoroughly recommend Stefano and Alex as teachers, and their chemistry works very well to promote a friendly atmosphere.
- David Bailey, 9th January 2009