4529  Can we please just dance?

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Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 20:46:13 -0300
From: Deby Novitz <dnovitz@lavidacondeby.com>
Subject: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
To: tango-l@mit.edu

Arrghhh all this arguing about syncopation, doubletime, triple time,
makes me crazy. Vals is the most difficult of the rhythms to dance
simply because it changes rhythms and is not consistent. Once you learn
to understand the music (which does not mean learning dictionary
meanings of words used to describe beats or rhythms) your body should
naturally move to the music with the change of the cadencia.

A good teacher works with their students to first understand the music
and then to move with it. You can know all the steps in the world, all
the names for beats, rhythms, syncopation, but it will not help you if
you do not understand how to listen to the music. Sadly this is rarely
ever taught. Personally for me, poor posture and a weak axis can be
forgiven if the dancer understands the music and can transmit it. You
can have all the steps in the world and know how to expertly execute
them, but if you don't do it with the music....que pena!





Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 11:51:42 +0900
From: "astrid" <astrid@ruby.plala.or.jp>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
To: "Deby Novitz" <dnovitz@lavidacondeby.com>, <tango-l@mit.edu>

Vals is the most difficult of the rhythms to dance

> simply because it changes rhythms and is not consistent.

You think so? Vals is basically 1-2-3, isn't it? It is different from tango,
yes, and needs getting used to. But for some former ballroom dancers it is
often the only one of the tango dances they can manage rhythmwise, in the
beginning.

> A good teacher works with their students to first understand the music
> and then to move with it.

Very good point ! Dance is a physical expression of the music. I have never
understood why some teachers, esp. stage dancers I suppose, teach by first
explaining the step without the music, then have people practise the step
without music, and finally turn on the music. When I ask, they say:"It is
easier to do the step without the music first, because with music you might
get it all wrong and not be able to follow the music." But then, what is the
point of the movement? They give students the idea that the steps are more
important than the music and the rhythm. And we all know where that can lead
to...

You can know all the steps in the world, all

> the names for beats, rhythms, syncopation, but it will not help you if
> you do not understand how to listen to the music.

Exactly !

Sadly this is rarely

> ever taught.

Yes. Have you seen all those Trenner videos of really famous teachers, who
stand in front of the camera explaining, and then walk with their partner
around the room, doing more and more complicated moves, and then, in one
extreme case, only the last few minutes of the video of a group lesson the
music is turned on, and the moves are finally starting to make sense?

Personally for me, poor posture and a weak axis can be

> forgiven if the dancer understands the music and can transmit it.

Yes! This is the kind of (often shy) beginner I will ask and encourage to
dance again and again in the practicas because I know he has potential.

You

> can have all the steps in the world and know how to expertly execute
> them, but if you don't do it with the music....que pena!

That's what I am saying. Thank you, Deby

Astrid







Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 20:28:10 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Trini y Sean \(PATangoS\)" <patangos@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?



--- Deby Novitz <dnovitz@lavidacondeby.com> wrote:

Can we please just dance?

Hi Deby,

Sean here. I wish we could, but we don't have enough
bandwith to achieve that on the internet. So we're pretty
much stuck with reading and writing about dancing. In case
there is any confusion out there in the virtual world,
let's be clear that Tango-L is not about dancing tango.
It's about people who like to talk about their tango hobby.
I've been reading the 'L off and on for years, and I can
say for certain that reading this is never like dancing
tango.

If you are hanging out here as a substitute for dancing,
you are bound to become very frustrated, no?

Sean

P.S. Sometimes I think that a lot of people at this party
can't, in fact, just dance.

PATangoS - Pittsburgh Argentine Tango Society
Our Mission: To make Argentine Tango Pittsburgh's most popular social dance.
http://www.pitt.edu/~mcph/PATangoWeb.htm







Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 22:04:55 -0700
From: "Jonathan Thornton" <obscurebardo@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
To: astrid <astrid@ruby.plala.or.jp>
Cc: tango-l@mit.edu, Deby Novitz <dnovitz@lavidacondeby.com>
<f9247e8a0607252204o34d630e1s2246a9eb97d490f9@mail.gmail.com>

Astrid,

I could be wrong but I took Deby to be speaking about the way tango Vals has
timing feels.

Most ballroom waltzing is just 1-2-3 but the tempo of most tango Vals means
much of the time I am only stepping on the 1, but I will hear in the music
sometimes 12_1, or 1_31, sometimes even 123, or 1_312_, and etc. It's these
changing hesitations, surges, and accelerations that make Vals such a
pleasure to me.

Deby may have had something else in mind. I suppose the 1-2-3 beat is
clearer for some people, I also have known dancers who for some reason said
they had particular problems with the Vals.

I personally feel that hearing and feeling the music is the most important
thing. I recall dancing once with a beginner that was so wonderful. She
didn't know ochos or the cross, we just walked but she felt the music and
responded and communicated to me with such richness of nuance that I wish we
had never stopped dancing.

Jonathan Thornton

On 7/25/06, astrid <astrid@ruby.plala.or.jp> wrote:

>
> Vals is the most difficult of the rhythms to dance
> > simply because it changes rhythms and is not consistent.
>
> You think so? Vals is basically 1-2-3, isn't it? It is different from
> tango,
> yes, and needs getting used to. But for some former ballroom dancers it is
> often the only one of the tango dances they can manage rhythmwise, in the
> beginning.
>
> > A good teacher works with their students to first understand the music
> > and then to move with it.
>
> Very good point ! Dance is a physical expression of the music. I have
> never
> understood why some teachers, esp. stage dancers I suppose, teach by first
> explaining the step without the music, then have people practise the step
> without music, and finally turn on the music. When I ask, they say:"It is
> easier to do the step without the music first, because with music you
> might
> get it all wrong and not be able to follow the music." But then, what is
> the
> point of the movement? They give students the idea that the steps are more
> important than the music and the rhythm. And we all know where that can
> lead
> to...
>
> You can know all the steps in the world, all
> > the names for beats, rhythms, syncopation, but it will not help you if
> > you do not understand how to listen to the music.
>
> Exactly !
>
> Sadly this is rarely
> > ever taught.
>
> Yes. Have you seen all those Trenner videos of really famous teachers, who
> stand in front of the camera explaining, and then walk with their partner
> around the room, doing more and more complicated moves, and then, in one
> extreme case, only the last few minutes of the video of a group lesson the
> music is turned on, and the moves are finally starting to make sense?
>
> Personally for me, poor posture and a weak axis can be
> > forgiven if the dancer understands the music and can transmit it.
>
> Yes! This is the kind of (often shy) beginner I will ask and encourage to
> dance again and again in the practicas because I know he has potential.
>
> You
> > can have all the steps in the world and know how to expertly execute
> > them, but if you don't do it with the music....que pena!
>
> That's what I am saying. Thank you, Deby
>
> Astrid
>
>
>



--
"The tango can be debated, and we have debates over it,
but it still encloses, as does all that which is truthful, a secret."
Jorge Luis Borges





Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 09:28:45 +0200
From: Andy Ungureanu <andy.ungureanu@t-online.de>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
Cc: tango-l@mit.edu

Deby Novitz schrieb:

> Arrghhh all this arguing about syncopation, doubletime, triple time,
> makes me crazy. Vals is the most difficult of the rhythms to dance
> simply because it changes rhythms and is not consistent. Once you learn
> to understand the music (which does not mean learning dictionary
> meanings of words used to describe beats or rhythms) your body should
> naturally move to the music with the change of the cadencia.
>

If you understand the music you can explain it. If you want to explain
it, you need words. Even when you demonstrate something with the help of
an instrument you need words to name it. Musicians have no problem with
names, the dancers have problems because they don't know the names and
don't care to learn them correctly.
What you mean is like learning to swim without instructor. There are
gifted people who can feel the music, others learn to feel it after
years, some will never learn it. But almost everybody learn it quicker
if they get a good explanation.
By the way, could you explain what argentines mean by "cadencia"? I
suspect they mean the phrase, or simply rhythm like in "Silueta portena"
'marcas compases de cadencias melodiosas de una milonga juguetona y
callejera.' while "cadence" has a well defined meaning in music theory
which does not fit to the way it is used here.

Andy









Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 12:37:16 -0400
From: "TangoDC.com" <spatz@tangoDC.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
To: tango-L@mit.edu

Good points, Andy. I'm behind you all the way.

And to clarify where my own posts are coming from: I'm not _speculating_
here about, e.g., syncopating rests, or syncopating the dance Against
the music, or the partners against each other. I'm using language to
describe what my body does (and my partners' do) on the dance floor.
Discussion and research, for me, have the nature of backtracking, so I
can fit proper terms to the concrete events that go on night after
night. And with proper terms found, I often see new ways to develop.

I assume others do this as well, and aren't Just speculating. Not that
speculation has no value, of course. Theory and practice feed each
other. That's why artists talk shop about pigments and bristles. Or used
to, anyway...

As for "cadencia," that's a term with a long history in many
languages... Initially, I believe it described a kind of proto-rhyme
with a foregrounded rhythm, used at the end of prose paragraphs in Roman
rhetoric, and managed well by, e.g., Cicero... thus its current usage
(as "cadenza") to describe the resolution of musical passages, or things
drawing to a close generally. Etymologically, it has to do with
"falling." Since the Ending of things tend to intensify shape (e.g., the
rhymes at the ends of verse lines, highlighted especially at the ends of
stanzas or poems), "cadence" has come to have a broad meaning as well,
as in speech, referring to clearly shaped rhythm or other effect,
without the connotation of closure.

In tango, I'm aware of one less-than-usual usage of "cadencia"... The
standing-still weight-shifts that many dancers commence a song with, to
get connected, to mark rhythm, etc. I frequently teach my students to
use this at the beginning of a dance to sync up with each other, and
also to recover the connection when things go wrong. Also in case they
run out of room on the floor. But primarily to get connected and key in
to the rhythm. I translate the term, in this context, loosely as "rhythm
finder." It's also a nice way to let them explore rhythmic effects like
syncopation, cutting the beat, and whatever else they can think of.

I'm far from certain that this meaning of "cadencia" is a widely used
term, however. I may even be using it incorrectly. But it makes sense,
so I continue using it. I can't recall where I picked it up. Other views
would be very much welcomed.

Jake Spatz
Washington, DC

p.s. As for avoiding "upbeat" and "downbeat" (and "backbeat," for that
matter)... I personally don't rely on them, because my basic approach
involves so much syncopation, I can't keep track of up and down anymore.
I used to play bass that way too, like many an amateur drawn to funk, or
influenced by the rhythmically adventurous indie rock bands in DC, many
of whom screw around with odd meters as well as off rhythms. Especially
Hoover... (Amazon has samples of their excellent album "The Lurid
Traversal of Route 7," in case anyone has Extra free time, and is into
post-punk indie bands... try tapping your hand to it, regularly, and
you'll hear syncopation all over the place. Especially in "Electrolux,"
whose odd meter makes the entire musical phrase syncopate with your hand
the second time it's played. It's "ba-Yum" writ large.)


Andy Ungureanu wrote:

> Deby Novitz schrieb:
>
>> Arrghhh all this arguing about syncopation, doubletime, triple time,
>> makes me crazy. Vals is the most difficult of the rhythms to dance
>> simply because it changes rhythms and is not consistent. Once you learn
>> to understand the music (which does not mean learning dictionary
>> meanings of words used to describe beats or rhythms) your body should
>> naturally move to the music with the change of the cadencia.
>>
>>
> If you understand the music you can explain it. If you want to explain
> it, you need words. Even when you demonstrate something with the help of
> an instrument you need words to name it. Musicians have no problem with
> names, the dancers have problems because they don't know the names and
> don't care to learn them correctly.
> What you mean is like learning to swim without instructor. There are
> gifted people who can feel the music, others learn to feel it after
> years, some will never learn it. But almost everybody learn it quicker
> if they get a good explanation.
> By the way, could you explain what argentines mean by "cadencia"? I
> suspect they mean the phrase, or simply rhythm like in "Silueta portena"
> 'marcas compases de cadencias melodiosas de una milonga juguetona y
> callejera.' while "cadence" has a well defined meaning in music theory
> which does not fit to the way it is used here.
>
> Andy
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>





Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 20:46 +0100 (BST)
From: "Chris, UK" <tl2@chrisjj.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
Cc: tl2@chrisjj.com

Andy wrote:

> If you understand the music you can explain it. If you want to explain
> it, you need words.

There's a founding fallacy of the class teaching model, for sure.

To explain the music, you do not need words. That is what dance is for.

The only one who needs words to explain the music is the instructor who has
/chosen/ words over dance. Often because they are better at words than dance.

An advantage of words is that the instructor needs to do no more work to
transmit them to many students simultaneously. In the example hereabouts of
New York tango classes of 100 students, just think how much more work it
would be for the instructor to actually dance with them.

The disadvantage of words is that, in this one-size-fits-all model, they are
almost completely useless in communicating the essential feel of the music
and the dance.

In fact the whole idea of teaching a class the music and dance of tango by
show and tell makes about as much sense as teaching a class how to ride a
bike by show and tell. Such tango classes exist only because, compared to
would-be bike riders, would-be tango dancers are astonishingly gullible.

Chris





Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 20:26:54 -0600
From: "Chas Gale" <hotchango@msn.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
To: "Tango-L" <tango-L@MIT.EDU>

---Deby Novitz wrote---
"Personally for me, poor posture and a weak axis can be
forgiven if the dancer understands the music and can transmit it."

Again I am confused. Can someone tell me how music, or anything else can be
transmitted with poor posture and a weak axis?
Thank you in advance,
Chas






Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 23:33:37 -0700
From: "Jonathan Thornton" <obscurebardo@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Can we please just dance?
To: "Chas Gale" <hotchango@msn.com>
Cc: Tango-L <tango-l@mit.edu>
<f9247e8a0607272333m18f581elcd0b3297a0cb5048@mail.gmail.com>

Chas,

I am attempting an answer to your question because I can't yet tell you how
music can be transmitted with poor posture and a weak axis but I have
experienced it and know that it can. I find it an important question as I
struggle to understand the shared feeling part of dance. So what follows is
not an explanation but an attempt to begin to explore an extremely difficult
topic to verbalize.

I suspect the reason has to do with something that has been called touch
rather than the larger postural and motor muscles. Dancing involves the
coordination of quite a few areas of the brain. Certainly it involves the
auditory and sensory motor.

The distinction I'm trying to find is between large motor athletic ability
and the expressive touch and feeling. These appear to be separate functions
that are coordinated. The fine motor touch area seems to me to be the
response system that is where what we call chemistry is felt. I think like
smell this area is highly variable depending on the individual.

What I have experienced is that I've danced with partners who had very
excellent movement but I didn't get a finer sense of their expressing the
music. I'm not saying they didn't but my personal receptive area didn't seem
to coincide with their expression. Another way to put it is no chemistry.

I have also embraced beginning dancers who were unsure, moved with
hesitation but at the level of fine motor sensitive touch they responded in
a very expressive way to the music. Part of this has to do with breathing
and the very subtle shaping of motor response.

Manfred Clynes' study of touch that he calls Sentics,
http://www.microsoundmusic.com/clynes/ is one possible avenue to explore
this aspect. The phenomena is there but I haven't come across any
enlightening discussions of it. If anyone has books or articles to recommend
I'd be interested.

Yes posture and what Feldenkrais calls arcture is very important. I think
people very in how important expressive touch is for them. If you have known
someone like that perhaps this thought experience might demonstrate what I
am talking about and perhaps what Deby meant.

Imagine a very ill friend hospitalized and you come and sit at their bedside
and take their hand. With some people there is a reassuring warm pressure,
but someone who is very kinesthetically expressive those hands through very
tiny subtle movement can speak an eloquent nonverbal communication even
though that person is too weak to even stand.

My observation is that whichever brain part is responsible for this, and
like tonality, color etc. people very in their sensitivity to these things,
this is an important media of communication of feeling for some dancers. At
least this is the possibility that I'm attempting to explore at present.

I hope this suggests some possibilities to you.

Jonathan Thornton



On 7/27/06, Chas Gale <hotchango@msn.com> wrote:

>
> ---Deby Novitz wrote---
> "Personally for me, poor posture and a weak axis can be
> forgiven if the dancer understands the music and can transmit it."
>
> Again I am confused. Can someone tell me how music, or anything else can
> be
> transmitted with poor posture and a weak axis?
> Thank you in advance,
> Chas
>
>



--
"The tango can be debated, and we have debates over it,
but it still encloses, as does all that which is truthful, a secret."
Jorge Luis Borges



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