Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Synchronized Pista

When I was watching this video I suddenly noticed how synchronized all the couples are dancing! They are advancing to different directions on the lines; two nearest ones to the right and the two more far find their way to the left and the individual movements are different.

But the impulses are created simultaneously!

When I extended the window over the whole screen and had my eyes unfocused I could follow the pattern in this jumble of movements.

I think this kind of observations will help me to grow towards the deeply shared dance with the whole group of people!

When you have your screen wide open and your eyes unfocused - can you find my experience then?


This video is filmed in Kehl Encuentro, Germany this September.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

You can control the SPEED in youtube

One of the most valuable option in youtube of today is the speed control: You can decide if it goes slower than normal or speed the video up.

Here you have the control button:

If this option is not available at your youtube window you maybe are missing the add-on called HTML5 . All things remain the same on your youtube window but you just get the control button!

Place your cursor on the youtube window and RIGHT click. This click brings up a list of options and you take the HTML line.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Finnish type of tango night

The Finnish tango is organized in a totally different manner than the Argentine tango.

In Finland the tango is present everywhere as a mental idea. Even if all of us don't dance tango, or if we don't have the voice to sing, we still know the central tango repertoar and the famous singers. 

Finnish tango is not a   d a n c e  but it is a song tradition. Therefore the greatest singers are appreciated and the composers are known by names.

In this short video the night starts with a dinner at a friends summer cottage, the car ride with talk and laughters to the dance barn. Dancing and listening Arja Saijonmaa, who is an appreciated singer of tangos and Mikis Theodorakis music when he was working against the military in Greece as well as Darya & Månskensorkester.

On our way home we had the Super Moon guiding our way!

Gues what - I could not link but click here for the VIDEO

It is worth to note that this is NOT happening in Finland but in Sweden where the Finnish tango has got a cult status. I have seen in Stockholm people waiting in the snow and icy wind to get in to the bar with Darya & Månskensorkester performing.     . . . . fascinating for a Finn!

Arja Saijonmaa is a Finnish singer and a political performer with Mikis Theodorakis.

Darya & Månskensorkester is a kind of cult band in Sweden formed by members of Finnish emigrant families.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

About movement and magic

When mechanics turn to magic
When I for some years ago was in Osaka I visited the Sony Showroom where my friend was working at that time. She presented for me Rolly the small, dancing loudspeaker and I fell in love! I just WANTED to have it. I started to recalculate, fiercely, my ascetic budget to get that little moving and blinking thing! It took several days until I was out of the enchantment. Take a look!

This device can play music and it has six tiny motors giving the possibility to open and rotate the lids on the sides, move forward and backward as well as to spin. Of course we do have the lights too!

How come that these totally mechanical features could create and put that spell on me?

There was music. There was movements. The enchantment was created by the way those two were interlaced! I think the team which created the software for the movements has learned quite a lot about dance too, how mechanical movements turn into dance, turn into magic. Think if we had possibility to get the information how they trained Rolly to react and could apply it to our own reactions to music. I am sure that the way of connecting movement and music which visually attracted me would give a better dance experience to my partner as well as to me!

When the walk lost the magic
In tango we need to interlace our walk, our steps with the music. Most of the time we watch people who can do it properly but every now and then it is interesting to check an example when it isn't ok. On the video below the walk is just a walk not a caminata.

You can jump directly to the walking parts, starting about 4.33 and 8.02

I have no musical education and I had earlier hard to find out this kind of differences but it is nice to return to old videos to see if my understanding has developed to right direction. Yes, hard work pays even here!

Intensive focusing, adapting facilitate magic
Tango music is static going on without paying attention to the dancers. Even when there is a live orchestra the music just plays without flexibility for the individual dancers. In this video Yoyo Ma plays a known piece but he is totally concentrated to follow the fantastic dancer, Lil Buck. His ability to focus on the dancer and change his playing accordingly is facilitating the process and creating a more fascinating performance. If I could have the same kind of focusing on music during a tanda I think my dance would be so much better!

             Yoyo Ma Lil Buck

Friday, May 23, 2014

Intuitively experience others' musicality

According to my unscientific opinion the strong feelings are entering my physical body somewhere in the stomach. Even if you do not agree, enjoy my reasoning and follow my path! 

When a strong feeling is roaming around within me, after it was initiated by a scary movie, or exiting sports event, I do the same thing: I fold my arms about me, around my stomach and start to sway forward and backward because of the increasing uneasiness in the body.

For some reason which I cannot understand this mechanism has included the musical timing to these strong feelings. I have started to   f e e l,  when the dancers are relating to the music in a specific way and below you get some examples which have been important for me.

During the spring 2012 I stopped to watch performances and started to watch class summaries instead. My absolute favorits were one leader and a couple. It was NOT for the learning purposes, but because of the enjoyment; I enjoyed these pieces of dance more than anything else available on Youtube.  At that time I did not really understand the reason for this obsession of mine, but today it seems to be a clear step on my path leading to a more intuitive understanding of others musicality, to a level where my eyes are carrying the information directly to my guts where they hit my body as a physical blow.

I think the main message was that when the dancers know the music very well, and now I do mean REALLY well, your dancing will be relaxed to the last fiber, which is very seldom seen on performances. When you know your steps very well too and you are totally relaxed to an unusual extent then those steps will hit my stomach with a full blow. Here you have some of my favorites from spring 2012!

Joachim and Michelle are fantastic dancers with an extraordinary beautiful flow between the steps!

The leader who also had impact on my musicality guts is the owner of TangoTools channel, Jordi. There is four of these milonga patterns but this was the only one I managed to link for you. The other addresses you find at the end of this posting.

These dancers were mesmerizing me then and they still do! 
Can you get a picture about what has happened with me?

When I am talking about the level of relaxing I do not talk about good knowledge about steps and songs, but I am talking about training far beyond that level. It could be that you work with your steps and the song until you are nearly going to throw up but if you still contine the steps and music are shaping up themselves in a totally new way for you. That is one way. . . 

I suppose many people are enjoying all the way when they are deepening their knowledge, lucky them!

Links to Jordis milonga steps

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Musicality via Feelings and Emotions

How to train your musicality via Feelings and Emotions  

There is some kind of mechanism within us, a mechanism which helps us to connect to music, which guides our movements so the music and dancers are proceeding connected, in harmony. Many times the dancers who base their dance on this mechanism experience that the music is moving them, they dance intuitively.

The most usual subjects on musicality courses are the structure of a song and/or how to count the beats or some other structures in music. This works well for the students with musical background but can be very ineffective for students with other background. It may even slow down the development and have a negative impact on their confidence. The situation for this group is similar to the one when they want to get a driving license and the community forces them to learn all the information in Japanese or in another unknown language. 

I had really hard time there!

Therefore I needed to find my own way to develop this intuitive musicality so I started to train myself by using my emotions and feeling of timing as tools.

The song's emotional impact
To explore the song's emotional impact on me I usually was sitting on the floor so I could freely move my upper body, arms and hands if I felt for a bodily expression to the song. This position gave me a possibility to large variation of movements as well as grade of intensity and size for gestures. I let the music invade me, let it activate my heart and little by little the emotional impact got stronger within me. On the dance floor my movements are maybe the same as earlier but the emotional expression is in place in a more powerful manner.

musical timing
For musical timing I walked when I was listening to songs. When I am out of the music, there is a dull feeling, a feeling of that something is missing. The opposite situation became more clear too: When I am on the music there is a kind of positive feeling. Soon I noticed that I was chasing that feeling, trying to get it more exact, trying to get a stronger feeling and I tried to keep that feeling continuously alive. I developed a violent passion for walking to music and an hour was just a starter. I nearly ruined my knees during the most intensive period!

During my first ten years of tango the ideas above were the only knowledge, the only musical training I had. I was totally unaware of beats, I heard them but I was not aware of them. It was a hell when a teacher asked us to step on ONE . I did not know but my musicality was appreciated by followers and they often comment on it positively.

The first bit of intellectual understanding and hearing the beats came after I studied 
Joaquin Amenábars book about tango music. After two weeks of training, provided by his book I heard, for first time in my life, the beats clearly! I did not need to learn music terms, but through the exercises my body and ear were learning to work together in a new way.
This will never be the strong side in my dance but now, if needed, I can press my hearing to get the beats.

So my main point here is that you can be a totally intuitive dancer and still be doing ok, you can fix your training yourself and still offer some beautiful dances.

If you are interested about Joaquin Amenábars book  Tango Let's dance to the music! you find more information via the link below. This book provided me the basic training but my friend who has high level educations (music teacher, composer) found the syncopation section especially worth to study.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My need to fit steps and sounds

In the office we had a long corridor to the luncheon restaurant. During our daily walk I noticed how uncomfortable I became when my colleagues did not synchronize their steps with each others. I was small talking, continuously monitoring the steps and doing double steps to improve the synchronization

To me this is a clear experience of a trait so important for us dancers when we are synchronizing our movements to music and to our partner’s movements. The lack of synchronization creates a negative feeling, feeling of distress and in that way driving us to a more accurate dance. On contrary when the fit is good enough there is the corresponding positive feeling!

During the first years I observed this need and feeling only on my own movements but one day I got a similar reaction while watching an old milonguero performing on video. There were sequences which activated a similar feeling as I had earlier had for my own steps and I realized that this old milonguero was synchronizing his steps to music in a similar way as I tried to do.

Most teachers allow us to film the class summaries, which I edit to a private video for learning purposes. In one video the milonguero couple danced relaxed and gave me a deep timing-feeling in my body during the different sequences with one exception. Later on I noticed that he started to sing during that one and suddenly I understood that we shared the out of timing feeling. By singing he wanted to emphasize the music to aid the synchronizing process. This was the only part of the video he was singing and this was the only part I did not get the timing-feeling in my body.

I think the best synchronization is achieved when you know the music by heart and you know your steps by heart. If you add a favorite partner you have released a lot of your mental resources for a relaxed dance and the chances to beautiful relationship with the music and steps are there for sure!

I am also sure that this need to synchronize our movements with others and with sounds is in every individual and by training this need and feeling are growing more clear and stronger helping us to improve our dance.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Feeling of musical timing

The process of becoming a fluent speaker in your native language is quite similar to the process I have had to get the steps to flow to tango music; by communicating with the people around me. After reaching a certain level in your language you start to feel if the words are not in right order or if the verbs form is not correct, you don't know why, you just feel that it is not correct. In a similar way I also developed a feeling indicating that I am not stepping to music in a correct way, that I am not walking in music. Or the opposite!

There are many native speakers of a language who cannot answer the question: how many verbs you used in your speech? They have heard the words, the verbs, but they cannot tell the answer without training. For similar reason I cannot answer for the question if I am dancing the rhythm, or melody or something else.

When you are clearly aware of that feeling you can start to use it as an instrument for improving your musical precision.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Women, Cooperate!

[This is my final essey on the BerkeleyX : Principles of Written English]

On an ordinary night for Argentine tango the number of followers is clearly exceeding the number of leaders. To cope with this fact, women tend to look for solutions only at a personal level, competing with each other with result that the dances are unevenly distributed. If the followers were instead cooperating to manage the tango events the dances would be distributed in a more equitable manner.

Argentine tango tradition offers a large set of rules and praxises to organize a dance evening and to facilitate the process of finding a partner for the next dance set (Las Chinitas, 2009). The most important praxis in this context is cabeceo, an invitation, where followers and leaders are negotiating about the next tanda, dance set, by eye contacts and head nods. This gives both parties an equal possibility to accept or decline an invitation. Today the more competitive followers do not use cabeceo, but approach the leaders, and by chatting for some moments get an invitation or ask for the next set of dances. One of the rules urges the participants to clear the dance area between the tandas (Las Chinitas, 2009). This is not respected on the less traditional dance evenings, where many women are actively asking for the next dance without leaving the dance floor. Consequently, the followers already on the floor get a new tanda more easily and the dances are accumulated to these active individuals. The effect of these two techniques are strengthened by following online advices and preparations at home.

Some websites as Argentine Tango (Whipple, n.d.) or follower forums and discussions are filled with instructions about chatting, clothing and strategic seating for a successful dance evening. Within tango the most popular color is black, but if you choose a red dress you will be more visible on that evening (Anonymous, 2013). You will also strengthen your position by seating wisely. If you choose a table, which people are passing by or gathering around you can easily catch an eye or start a chat. as a preparation for an invitation to next dance (Anonymous, 2013). These strategies are helping a follower to get a more favorable position and more dances than a strategically less skillful dancer would get.

The gender unbalance within tango has not always had the same pattern, but instead in the early days men, leaders, were actually outnumbering the followers (Denniston, 2007). To study the strategies these men used to manage the shortage of available dances, offers a way to find new methods to address the opposite gender unbalance of today.

The immigrant flow to Argentina, starting towards the end of the 1900 century, had an unusual structure in the sense of consisting mainly of single men. As Denniston (2007) describes, "[…] overwhelmingly single young men who were looking for work, many who thought they would get rich and then go home" (Denniston, 2007, p. 12). She continues by saying that still in 1940s and early 1950s this unbalance was noticeable, "[…] in the formal dance halls, known as milongas, there were always far more men than women" (Denniston, 2007, p. 15). Men, who wanted to learn tango, were training four to five nights per week during several years developing their skill in both following and leading. The very first entry to a milonga was decided by the elder men on the training site. Even when the first attempt was successful, these men returned to the continuous training with other men (Denniston, 2007). In this community the skill was defined as the main vehicle to milongas and the skill level of a newcomer was monitored by the elder males who suggested the day and the place for introducing a new leader to the followers. This praxis regulated the flow of newcomers to the milongas, allowing only those who trained persistently and who were approved by an experienced dancer to enter the dance floor.

This kind of social control of newcomers would not be accepted in modern tango communities, but some of the old praxises are valid even today and by discussing and cooperating a modern set of guidelines for a milonga can be developed and agreed about. In the early days the outnumbering group, men, did find a structure to manage the situation. Today it is the followers' turn to take the lead.


Denniston, C. (2007). The Meaning of TANGO, The Story of the Argentinian Dance, 12, 15.

Las Chinitas, (2009). Welcome to Milonga Las Chinitas Retrieved from

Whipple, C. (n.d.). Follower's Guide to Festivals/Milongas, Retrieved from

Whipple, C. (n.d.). Follower's Guide to Festivals/Milongas, Retrieved from

Monday, February 17, 2014

Carlitos vs Pablo and Noelia

I have been watching a lot of Carlitos videos lately trying to understand his lead and his musicality! One day I clicked back to a video where Noelia is dancing with Pablo and I was astonished how my youtube experience had changed.

Pablo Rrodriques and Noelia

I have always appreciated Pablo and Noelia as masters of slower tangos. The loss of those calm performances was my main reason to be unhappy when they separated. The rest of it was boring; I thought so at that time.

When I came back to those old songs, I was changed and appreciated now how cleverly he chooses steps and movements. I understood also more about the musical elements he is using for his steps He makes stops, he slows down this milonga to let his feet follow the violin or some other variations in music. Their whole bodies are involved in dancing.

When watching this do it several times and at least once …without sound…! It is easier to concentrate to the movements, the interpretation of music. Anyhow for me it is very risky because I am easily absorbed to a fantastic performance if the music is on! My analysis is fading to plain enjoyment!

Carlitos Espinoza and Noelia

This partnering was a happy surprise and their rhythmical discoveries have a joyful precision. They nearly never stop but let the feet run even faster for a change following the piano or other istruments. The upper bodies are still  together and the dancing is focused on feet including some up/downward movemets for the linked torsos.

Here you have the same song to watch and compare. Please play this too … without sound… to have your full concentration on the movements. You have a fantastic possibility to enjoy the differences between these two performances danced on the same song.


The two videos above show also the broad talent Noeila has. Pablo and Carlitos have their significantly very own ways of picking the musical phenomenons for their steps, their expressions are different, abrazos are different but she can adapt to all that and still keep her own artistic expression at high level.

As audience my opinions seems to be quite haphazard, or my understanding and opinions are strongly limited by my level of understanding, sensitivity. To have other additional experiences seems to change my preferences.

Anyhow I feel deeper joy now after working on these issues! That's great and I recommend it for you too! Work on your favorites to get closer, to get deeper!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Carlitos Steps

It is not always easy to see the leader’s part in a performance. Carlitos looks most often calm, eyes fixed on the pista and he moves just as much as needed, never spectacularly. His impact on the dance is nearly invisible but there is a type of steps which have been part of his dance for a long time. You know those repeated, interrupted backochos or alteration steps in line but most often steps as part of a giro.

We do not know who invented them, if there was a misunderstanding of a lead or a playfull experimenting which created them, we don't know the start. Anyhow they were visible already on performances with Mamie – this video is from 2008. They were created eagerly in milonga but in smaller numbers also in tango.

The milonga performance with Pamela shows the full range of these steps. They are now technically fully developed and they match perfectly the music.

The audience around the pista appreciated the dance and the viewers have been watching this video again and again. But still there was something missing when the performance did not come completely to alive.

Then we got Noelia! She has her own strong musicality and with Carlitos her wild rhythmical side was fully released. Her charisma could lit these steps in a new way.

It seems to take a long time to develop steps to a vibrant, vivid dance and some new combinations, connections are maybe needed on the way.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Carlitos hand

My favorite pose for leader right hand is the relaxed one with fingers easily together and the thump slightly separated. Many variations are available but I can not recall a single other leader but Carlitos Espinoza, who is spreading out the fingers to maximum in the way so characteristic for Noelia Hurtado.

I got curious and wanted to check, if these specific moments of outspread  fingers during some performances with Noelia could be found earlier with his other partners or if it is a more detailed adaptation of the abrazo; adapting and synchronizing the abrazo down to the very tip of the fingers!

I am talking about this, his right hand!

Youtube is a very unprecise tool to work with, but it offers still some better features compared to my memory! I did choose four of his partners to take a closer look of the abrazo and hand poses: Mamie Stancy, Sofia Saborido, Pamela Aracena and Noelia Hurtado. For each of them I did a search filtered for video. The second level filter was for maximum view count and for latest posting. For Pamela it was the same video and for Sofia the second video had so soft light that the hands could not be seen clearly.

You can check the hands and if you like watch the whole video you find the links in the end of this posting.

Mamie and Carlitos

Pamela and Carlitos

Sofia and Carlitos

Noelia and Carlitos

I remember some quite heated discussions about Noelias hand but never a word about Carlitos in same position. How come? My guess would have been that the rules for the leader options are more rigid but it seems not so.  Or do I just have limited information?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year's Eve in Sweden!

Tango Norte, Stockholm has organized a New Year festival more then 15 years, with workshops and many milonga nights in a row! I participated the milonga last night of year 2013 and here we can share it!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Support your feet, please!

Quite a  few of my favorite, experienced followers must cut down the number of tandas because of metatarsal pain. That is painful for her and really frustrating for both of us! The information about hese two methods to support the metatarso are not new but this is a new year push to start test/use devises for easier and happier dancing. I am NOT professional and you should talk with one to check if these methods are suitable for you and if they are enough to help you stay on the pista. It IS dangerous not to listen your body – we had here in our community (early days when there was not so much information) who lost her metatarso padding with painful consequences for many years.

Stay in place, keep the metatarso tissue collected!
A friend of mine is a professional modern dancer with many hours on bare feet; training and performing. The increasing pain on the front part of the feet was horrifying, challenging her career as a dancer. A solution for her was a bandage of sport tape around the front part of the feet. She changed it once a week during the long period her feet needed to recover.
If you put a piece of tape on the floor and step on it with you whole weight you vill get right supporting effect without squeezing the feet. Wrap the ends around your foot. This may be exactly what you need but for more stable support you can make another round.

This will keep the metatarso padding collected into its proper place without squeezing the structure or your foot.

Giving your feet some extra padding!
There is kind of jelly, colorless paddings used by many here but they are mostly loose ones so after a milonga you can find some lonely, sad jelly padding on the pista or they move around in the shoe so you need to put them to the right place again. In central Europe these devises have a band around the foot keeping them in place.  According to the info you can even wash the after a long dance night!

Do it together! Start a new trend in your community!
I have talked to followers here about these possibilities and helped them to test but it has been too embarrassing to use visible devises in those beautiful shoes. But according to the ladies it helped when they tested!
If this could be something for you and your follower friends, please go together and use the visible paddings, visible sport tape!  If you are 5-10 followers doing it at same milonga it will be  easier and others will join you quite soon!

The change can go VERY fast! 
When I visited a German encuentro and found these white bands in many shoes
 it became soon kind of signature of a dedicated, experienced dancer!