Saturday, 24 March 2012

Meeting Myriam

Meticulous and precise, as a teacher and in approach to dance. Ricardo Vidort was neat and precise in his movements. I'm not sure if she taught with him, but she danced with him a lot.

After a single tango she reminds me the details are important: the upright posture, getting the embrace right, the right arm in full contact with the woman's left side but not tight, the left arm and hand firm, so the energy for a turn comes from the full extent of torso and arm. '& STRETCH that leg straight!'

I ask about Ricard Vidort's way of emphatic stepping, almost stamping, and her face becomes radiant; for a moment she becomes Ricardo walking. 'The energy!' she says, walking and turning her torso, eyes shining. Meticulous, precise, funny, friendly and utterly charming.

You don't need to do a lot of complicated things: it's good just to walk well.

The energy down into the ground, yes, the body upright. With the foot, like a cat, soft but strong, not pointed like a classical dancer, on the ball of the foot not the heel, the upper side of the foot leading, the weight forwards. The feet always collecting, stepping into the space left by the partner's foot. The legs straight. Breathe in and then keep the chest raised. The main connection is right upper arm under the woman's left armpit, rarely ever with the right hand. It's a flexible connection, the upper arm and shoulder opening a little in turns to give the woman more space. In turns make sure the upper torso, left hand to right shoulder, stays in line, firmly guiding the giro. Once the leader starts the giro, leave it to the woman to continue the energy. The head angled slightly down to the woman's right shoulder.

Head up and chest out when you go to dance with a lady. I am a winner!


tango en el Cielo said...

Yes Ricardo did teach with Myriam for a while.
Ricardo described his way of stepping as "shooting the feet". He felt this was a very masculine characteristic, one of the qualities of dancing that distinguished a woman's way of dancing from a man's. (He told me when I was leading that I should shoot my feet like a man!). I think this describes his action much better than "stamping" as his footwork was also light and soft. I remember him going pad, pad pad as if he was in slippers.

Louis said...


Really curious about this "shooting the feet" technique? Is this consistent with the description on, e.g., ( where the writer seems to have been heavily influenced by Ricardo Vidort.

A second question regards the embrace. A common feedback from my friends (Asian ladies, therefore more petite compared to many European women) is that the older men tended to have a rather stiff and at times stifling embrace. I am not claiming that all these men are great dancers, but just wondering if Ricardo was the exception rather than the rule from among his generation of dancers?

Agreed with the rest of your descriptions by the way. Thanks.


Tango en el Cielo said...

Hi Louis, Just had a quick look at the pages you linked to. I think it is consistent with the way Ricardo danced and what he meant when he talked about shooting the feet. BUT I comment very cautiously for several reasons: (1) I haven't read the whole chapter of T&C on walking of which this section forms a part, still less have I tried out and tested that author's theories; (2) Ricardo eschewed technique. He believed that technique analysis was only for stage dancers; social dancers didn't need it as "the body finds its own technique naturally". So he didn't analyse his own technique systematically. (3) Consequently, when he did make comments about technique, one should take them with a little pinch of salt. What he said he was doing in a technical sense was not necessarily always consistent with what he did do. For example, he used to tell people to "aways lead with the toe". But he used his feet in a variety of ways. So it's very hard to equate what Ricardo did instinctively and what he said about it with an attempt at a highly technical deconstruction in a book. (But it would be interesting to try).

With regard to the embrace, I agree with your friends' experience. I also find the embrace of many older Argentine men that I dance with in BsAs milongas too rigid and constrIcting. In fact I often find their whole upper bodies too full of tension. BUT THOSE GUYS ARE NOT MILONGEROS!

Ricardo's embrace was never tight, never restricting, never uncomfortable. He led by energy not by force. I was never conscious of him leading me with his embrace. I never thought about the embrace while we danced. The same applies to other milongueros I've danced with, such as Osvaldo Cartery. He's as light as a feather and amazingly soft and gentle. I had to concentrate really hard to follow his subtle movements. I just loved it! Sadly, there are very few milongueros left so guys like Ricardo and Osvaldo are nowadays the exception rather than the rule, although in their heyday they might not have been so exceptional.

Greetings from London!

RealityPivots said...

Myriam would always reach up and tug my right arm tighter when we started to dance. I would love to go back and find out exactly what she meant.
The partner here who likes that hold is willing to have me MOVE her in the sense that she trusts me completely to treat her body as a whole and manipulate her, to bring her with me into my reaction to the music.
I think I picked up that emphatic foot punctuation from watching Ricardo on video.
Very interesting. `

Chris said...

Tango en el Cielo wrote "He led by energy not by force."

One day I hope to hear a dance instructor explain how it is possible to lead by energy without force - given the impracticality of electromagnetic radiation, gravity waves etc. :)