Thursday, 18 August 2011

Maria Plazaola in boots

On my last visit I went to a class at La Academia Tango Milonguero at el Beso, and didn't enjoy it. Susanna Miller taught: she came across as pompous and unfriendly so I didn't think of returning until a recent partner recommended Maria Plazaola, who now takes the classes at El Beso. She is refreshingly straightforward, friendly and helpful. She speaks enough English if you need it, and takes trouble to help when required. The classes start with stretching and warm-up exercises, which are never amiss, then basic walking in rhythms, solo and in embrace to the music, developing into walking ochos. After a quick break, we are taken through a fairly common but always useful pattern of steps. Towards the end I enjoy a few dances with a partner who says, let's just dance, put the 'figura' in somewhere if you can. An irresistible invitation: she clearly enjoys the music, and I enjoy the dance.

The classes are straightforward to the point that almost everyone dances in ordinary shoes, which I found reassuring. In fact, I was slow to recognise that this young woman teaching in fairly substantial boots had actually been the late Gavito's partner...

Here she is, emphatically not in boots, with Gavito at the Welsh Centre in London some years ago.

(Thanks to adagio con brio.)


Anonymous said...

"useful pattern of steps" -- doesn't La Academia Tango Milonguero focus on improvising? If not, they're the same as all the other schools selling step patterns. Milongueros improvise in the moment, so you were overcharged for the class.

Women don't dance tango the same in flat shoes versus heels. Boots aren't very elegant, nor a good example.

Chris said...

I think generally women-led couple classes use more prescribed patterns and less improvisation than those led by men. As you'd expect from the fact that women class teachers on average have much less experience of improvisation than do men, and it takes very little experience of anything to dictate step patterns.

I'm sure it's this, rather than gender per se, that's behind the common understanding that for a man to learn to dance like a man, he needs to learn from a man rather than from a woman.