Igor Polk, 2004 October 20
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I have just came from Portland Tango 2004 Fest. It was a grand event. Wow! You can find more about it on their own page. Here are evaluation links ( anonimus people share their straight, sometimes perpendicular opinions about the event ):
There were a lot of people. I mean A LOT! At the first milongas crowd tried to dance familiar Tango Salon Open Embrace, or Tango Nuevo, or something more crazy like Homer and Jaimes from Seattle dance and it was very disappointing - mess on the floor, but gradually things came to the shape. Everyone started to dance close embrace. Music had been wisely chosen - calm slow rhythmic tangos of 1920-1950. Everything came to the perfect dancing order: close embrace - micro steps - circular motion. So, if you plan to come to the next Portland Tango Fest - be prepared! Learn to dance very close, dance on a square foot. And that is worth it! To the credit of organizers, there was enough opportunities to dance in styles requiring open space also.
All teachers and performers where good. I do not have an opportunity to tell you about all of them. But I'd like to highlight noticeable and talented creators of new styles (THANK YOU!):
As for me, I have practiced Apilado. For me it is the King of Tango styles now. Of course, nobody taught it there. So called Milonguero style, the way it is danced, is nothing but underdone Apilado. What did I do? I have asked my partners during a dance: "Let me show you one trick, it sounds strange, but let us try doing like this...". What have I got back? "Wow!", "This is the hell of a trick!.."
Taking lessons, watching dancers, dancing myself whole nights long I definitely progressed in my understanding of Salon, Nuevo, and that crazy Dynamic Tango which Jaimes from Seattle dances. All that is very cool, but Apilado is my greatest achievement, and I'd like to promote Apilado as much as I can because it is super cool. "What Apilado is he talking about!? We are all dancing Milonguero, and that is great!" Well, there is a very important trick to apply to Milonguero. Simple, but super-effective. The trick which turns even beginners into advanced dancers right away. Unbelievable? Yes, but that is true. I have tried it. Proven. Yvonne Meissner comparison of Milonguero and Apilado styles.
Also I had opportunities to exchange lead and follow. Judy Maxon from Portland is very good at it. It is not when you change embrace, no. It is done during the dance. Exchange can happen from figure to figure or even from step to step. It does not require any special signs or changed shoes. Lead is just given or taken. Very interesting. If you willing and know how to follow, gentlemen.
I had a very vivid example of general public knowledge of Apilado and what teachers are doing with it. I took an advanced class "Are you ready for an exhibition" with the stars of the show - Patricio and Eva. This is turned out to be an excellent musicality and technique class also. We practiced the very beginning of their show dance. On the third step of the dance Patricio led Eva into the Apilado position. Then, preserving Apilado he led her into cross. Then half turn around, I would call it a variation of molinete, in strict Apilado, and then they moved out into flashy side steps. We supposed to learn and repeat it. Well most people were able to get to the first Apilado position since it is widespread. But nobody could preserve it to the cross and molinete. I could make it, but my partner had no idea what she supposed to do. The teachers acted swiftly: "Oops, let's do it this way" - and they switched to Salon position which was familiar to students. Got it? The greatness of the figure disappeared like vapor, but lesson went on. This is why Apilado is unknown - teachers teach here in America what we want, what we are able to repeat based on what our local gurus have taught us. Strictly in accordance with business practice - do what your customer demands. Good for trade, but unhappy for arts.
And one more thing. I especially liked Studio TEN-fifty at 1050 SE Water Ave. Surprise! This is a very small studio with UNEVEN floor! The floor at one side is elevating toward the wall a little. You can imagine how great it is for Apilado! I am not kidding.