Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mimí Santapá 2

'Postura, postura, postura'. She picks on me for a 20-minute private class while everyone is arriving. 'Come, show me how you dance'. Then comes the feedback. A lot of it is beginners' class stuff, but with reasons thrown in. Two people dancing close: Mimi teaches how each must move so that neither disturbs the others' axis. If you are both to dance comfortably close together there are certain practical necessities.

It doesn't seem to be a very instinctive way to learn, in fact it's surprisingly detailed, mechanical, even academic. I'm just fascinated that so much thought has gone into the details, the dynamics of two people walking close together and not upsetting each others' balance. 'Postura, postura, postura!' She says that with correct posture and torso position the steps follow automatically. What matters is the torso, where it is and how it's used. It's a very functional approach, which I like. 'I don't teach steps, I teach posture'. She says it over and over again. If you thinks about steps, your attention is towards your feet, not your torsos. &: 'This is my father's teaching. This is what I got from him'.

Late evening, a small hall, door open to the street to bring in some air, and the odd mosquito. It's warm, and there's a downpour halfway through the evening. A dozen or so people, not the beautiful downtown milonga crowd, just ordinary people, some beginners, the weariness of a day in the city in their faces, the faces you pass daily in the streets, coming together for a dance class. It was a real treat. A non-stop, 2½-hour class: we walk a lot, then use the walking positions in turns and saccadas. I step out of it feeling I've met strangers and been welcomed, that I'm walking differently, more upright, more confident. That feeling is still there next morning.

She says she was in London earlier this year. This surprises me, but I only came across her name a few months back. More to the point, she's been invited by London teachers to visit again next year. I linked a video of her dancing a while back.


Anonymous said...

Funnily enough have just come across an (old?) tango blog which says that Mimi did teach in Sheffield in June ("Tango Words"). Err yes the one in England ..

from the blog -

"Just back from my Monday tango class… thinking we’re pretty lucky in Sheffield, having three tango classes per week. I usually go Mondays and Fridays. Some people seeking to start tango ask me which is the best to begin with. Not something I would care to judge; I enjoy both for different reasons. Tonight, however, was a little special. We had a visit from Mimi Santapa, a famous teacher from Buenos Aires. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to take classes with Mimi on several previous occasions so when she was at the Sheffield Milonga on Saturday (run by tango Monday-nighters) I made sure I was there this evening.

So what’s so special about Mimi’s teaching? She clearly has a deep knowledge of and passion for tango, and she is able to communicate this through her teaching. It’s not just about learning steps or sequences, it’s also about a feeling for the music, the nuances of lead and follow. Tango is a feeling, and dancing tango well has to be about sharing that feeling with your partner through the music.


Tangocommuter said...

Thanks, Anon. What I found special, unique, about Mimi's teaching is her detailed understanding of how partners need to position themselves in relation to each other. If they get this right, the dance will function properly, but if dancers don't get their torso postures right, no matter how much they work on the form, their dance won't function well, and musicality and creativity will remain a problem.