Review: iJig Tango

27th November 2009

Class / Milonga Date: 25th November 2009

Location: Onslow St. Audrey's School. Old Rectory Drive. Hatfield. Herts. AL10 8AB

"So, now we're going to show you how to dance in London" - Clive


iJig are an independent Modern Jive organisation, who've recently started running Tango classes, taught by Clive and Christine.

The description I received from the iJig newsletter was as follows:
Argentine Tango class - (7.45pm start), with Clive and Chris, followed by an informal practise, and then Milonga in the second hall; (traditional Argentine Music, with Tango Nuevo for a period from 10pm). This week's instruction (25th Nov), will concentrate on the Embrace (practise open and closed hold); the Walk (Tempo, pause, musicality, basic) and floor craft. Suitable for dancers who have never danced Argentine Tango and for those more experienced dancers who would like to practise the basics in the style from Villa Urquiza.

"Sounds good", I thought, so off I trotted to find out what it's like...

The Class

The class was well-attended - a couple of dozen or so - and in the main hall.

They'd set up two lanes using chairs - an interesting idea. By default, most of the class migrated to the outside lane, I stayed stubbornly inside...

Clive talked a lot about floorcraft, musicality, lane discipline and similar areas.

He talked about the instruments used in a typical orchestra, and how you can interpret the instruments in your own dancing. He discussed some conventions - for example, the bass sets the pace, when to pause during the music, and so on. The music played this week was focussed on Di Sarli

We spent a lot of time walking around in these lanes to the music.

Unfortunately there was nothing on dancing in close embrace. Walking in open embrace doesn't really get into the spirit of that type of dancing - and it's also more difficult. It'd have been nice to spend some time working on that area. On the plus side, I had to work quite hard to do walking in open hold, so that helped me.

The Practica

The practica was actually more like a second class, but in the smaller hall - Clive basically continued to talk about the music and floorcraft, and we worked on those areas.

It was funny to see how fast most leaders moved - despite multiple exhortations from Clive, people still raced along. On the plus side, they didn't overtake, so that part of the floorcraft lesson had clearly taken.

The practica floor was divided into two halves - one for dancing as directed by Clive, the other for individuals to practice in. Again, it was very structured, and Clive and Christine worked hard at it.

A reasonable number of people went to the practica - maybe half of those doing the class.

The Milonga

This was OK, but not many people stayed on for very long - after a half-hour, almost everyone had deserted to the Modern Jive room.

A few people arrived specifically for the Milonga, but again these people didn't stay too long - there was a lack of a "critical mass" of dancers circulating, I think.

By about 10pm, even I gave in to the allure of the MJ room, and spent the last hour trrying to remember how to dance that...

Summing up

The class certainly matched the description given - with the exception of the open / close embrace as mentioned - and I learnt a lot from it and the practica, and it gave me a good chance to work on a few areas.

Overall, it was a kind of hybrid between a structured practica and a technique class. This is not a bad thing - in fact, I found this massively helpful for me, and Clive is clearly knowledgable about musicality and ways dancing to the music. He's also clear that he's teaching traditional ("Villa Urquiza", apparently) style, and that only - and he was very clear about the customs and practice in BsAs.

But I'm not sure if the beginners on the course got quite so much out of it - the fact that most of them faded away during the milonga was maybe an indication that they didn't feel they had a lot to work on. A couple of steps - an ocho, say - might have kept them involved a bit more.

Also, there were some assumptions made during the class which I think it's optimistic to expect beginners to know - move names, discussions of "axis" and such. Again, I got a lot from it, but I think some of it may have gone over beginner heads.

Those caveats aside, overall, I enjoyed it. And it's good to see a real Tango class being taught alongside another dance environment.

- David Bailey, 27th November 2009

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