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 AmenĂ¡bars 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 AmenĂ¡bars 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.