Sunday, 14 August 2011

Friday night at Canning

I always look forwards to walking into that huge room again. Anna Maria Schapira's class: she recognises me, even remembers my name. The usual, useful class: centering exercises, walking rhythms solo then in embrace. Walking develops into a 'figure', and when we're getting fluent at that she shows a kind of 'thinking out loud' of some of the ways we might try to extend or vary it. A few in the class are already into the variations, most are still working on the basic. A lot of dancing, not too much demo. It's very relaxed, a good class/practica environment, and there's help if you need it. I recognise a number of her class from previous visits, it's a friendly group. Previously I've been here in November, and there were more visitors then.

The milonga begins: the usual hiatus. I get up and walk around to find a dance. Surprising how partners can open up when they dance: I ask a woman whether she dances here much – do you come here often? would be just a joke in English – and I'm quite surprised, and pleased, too, to listen to a long sentence of regrets about how little time she can find to dance. & me, I fly 7,000 miles to do nothing else...

Canning very full of memories of Tete. On my last visit in December 2009 he'd arrive during the class and sit making audible comments, and get up to help the dancers; he practically had to be restrained from taking over the class. Alicia Pons was assisting Ana Maria, and it was her birthday. After class a tanda of vals was played for her birthday dance – and Tete, so eager, kept trying to dance the entire tanda with her; she had to keep turning away from him so she could dance with other men. The night before I left he danced a demo here with Sylvia, and he died a week later.

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