Saturday, 24 November 2012

Tango perplexities

Platform 3 continues:



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Trade Unions and Music:

Listened to a fascinating documentary on Radio 3 this morning from Budapest. The city's symphony orchestra had invited Radio 3 to sit in on rehearsals and recordings.

It was fascinating for all sorts of reasons but one incident stood out for me. The sound recording engineer, who seemed to be American and had worked with orchestras all over the world, was asked what made working with this orchestra special.

"No unions," he replied immediately.

Where there were unions, everything was geared to stopping for lunch breaks, tea breaks, only working so many hours during the day etc.  It was frustrating, he said when after hours of working to get the various balances right between strings and woodwind, solo instruments and conductor etc etc, a metaphorical whistle was blown and everyone downed instruments and one had to start all over again after lunch.

In Budapest, everyone was motivated to reach perfection no matter how long it took to reach it.

Now, there is the opposite argument to be put here re workers' rights etc.

But it wasn't that issue of rights which I found fascinating.

I was also reminded of tales from the world of rock music where bands would famously start recording or rehearsing at 11 o'clock at night and keep at it till they dropped with exhaustion perhaps mid-afternoon the following day. Perhaps one can explain that difference by pointing out that rock stars are not employees unlike orchestra members.

Does being an employee take away the passion for playing one's instrument?

That's not what fascinated me either.

What fascinated me was why this state of affairs existed in Hungary, a member of the EU. Was it a hangover from the Communist or rather Soviet past?  That question was not asked.

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Last night's dinner:



Steak pie and boiled potatoes washed down with milk.

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How to Tango:

My character leaves me frustrated when experts in any field do not agree over the fundamentals. I've found this in all sorts of pursuit from medicine to tennis coaching to laying track for a model railway.

And now for Tango too.

One of the fundamental building blocks of Tango is 'walking correctly'.

Perplexity 1 - heel or toe.

I find walking in a Tango fashion very difficult, very unnatural.

All I know is that my life-long habit of clattering my heels down heavily with each step is wrong.

So, landing on the balls of the feet or just sliding one's feet along the floor is not natural to me and no matter how much I practise the correct gait on my own, I revert to my natural ignorant way of walking when with a partner.

So today as I walked back from morning Mass I looked closely at the footfall of passing male pedestrians. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM LANDED HEEL FIRST WHEN THEY WALKED.

So, I'm not unique in having that as my default walking style.

BUT WORSE WAS TO COME. WHEN I WATCHED A SELECTION OF TANGO VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE, ALL THE MALE DANCERS LANDED ON THEIR HEELS FIRST WITH EACH STEP.

Then I looked at a really well laid out Tango website and they started with the fundamental building block of the Tango walk and re-iterated that one lands on the ball of the foot.

Perplexity 2 - straight or bent leg.

Also, this website stated as crucial that one always keeps the non-stepping leg absolutely straight whereas I'd been told that one always keeps a slight bend in the leg.


Perplexity 3 - pushing off with backfoot or not

One point that everyone seems to agree about (and perhaps I should cling to this) is that the male propels the Tango partnership  by thrusting forwards with his upper torso.

One school of thought states that one generates this forward momentum by pushing off with one's backfoot; that's achieved by raising the heel of one's back foot.

But other schools of thought make no mention of this raising of the back foot and instead claim that the secret of forward propulsion is to allow one's body to be constantly in a tipped-forward position and then imagine that an invisible hand on the upper back is shoving one forwards.

I WISH THERE WAS A CONSENSUS ABOUT THESE BASICS












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