On The Room

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The moon is bright in the night sky while casting shadows into the room. A beam illuminates a floor vase containing several rose stems – yet the floor was open.

They lock eyes. He gives a slight nod and extends his hand as he hears the music. She glances down, then slowly raises her head displaying her coy face. She gently touches his hand. Without words, he slowly leads her to the floor.

They stop. Without connecting their eyes she accepts by moving closer to him. He gently embraces her and awaits the right beat while slowly lowering their joint grasp nearer to them.

He moves is a subtle way. She responds to the signals as a language. She moves her legs indicating her presence and interest.

He slowly walks. Their heads are close, but their eyes do not connect. She wants to see him, but her eyes remain closed. Without sight, she responds. Their legs touch; sometimes as a slow caress. Other times as a sharp flick. He gently guides her sleek frame to swivel – sometimes slow – other than quick.

Their arms and the embrace physically connect their bodies as one. The music connects their souls. Although their mental images are different, their thoughts are the same – yet they move as one.

Their embrace strengthens – but not physically. They transport each other. He continues leading to the rhythms and images in his mind. She responds with her desires.

He slows – leading to a gradual stop. The music ends. They pause.

The room is empty. There is no music. The moon shines on them casting a shadow of one onto the floor. They stare into each others eyes … and a rose blooms.

 

Full Disclosure: As the Categories in the sidebar indicates, writing fiction is not my forte. Once I saw this video, a story unfolded in my mind, which led to another meager attempt at fiction. Even though fiction is outside my comfort zone, I appreciate your feedback. For those who don’t know, the dance is Argentine Tango. Thanks for reading the 282-word story.

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On the Other T

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The streets you walk are stone in the old city. People are milling around – some on the move while others stand talking to others or observing others. The smell of street food is constantly challenging you.

Your ear detects music starting from within a nearby building. The rhythms remind you a fusion of African and Latin sounds; then a haunting bandoneon (concertina) and violin join the rhythm. The music draws you into the building like a magnet. The place is alive – some conversing, some focusing on the music, others dancing, and others watching the dancers in sync with the rhythms. Your soul is touched. You are hooked.

The history of many dances is a combination of myths, legends, unrecorded history, known events of time and place, a blending of cultures, and word origins. The cultures of Africa, Portugal, Spain, Britain, Italy, Poland, and Russia integrate with the lower-class locals of Buenos Aires. The result – Argentine Tango.

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The initial spread of Argentine Tango is linked to the sons of wealthy Argentine families who travelled – but at home – Argentine Tango became an important part of their culture – even having a Golden Age (1930s – 1950s) – but then the military dictatorship suppressed the dance for nearly 30 years.

Argentine Tango and Ballroom Tango (American and International) are different dances – not different styles of the same dance. Their 4/4 timing and musical rhythms have some commonality, but not always.

Ballroom Tango is dynamic, dramatic, edgier, staccato, sharp, and strong – but Argentine Tango is sensual, intimate, personal, interpretive, and smooth. The dancer’s alignment to each other and their holds are different – as are the steps and their timing.

Key Elements of Argentine Tango

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The Embrace
The embrace refers to the contact and position of the dancing partners, which can be open, closed, or someplace in between. In the closed embrace, partners connect chest-to-chest, heads touching, and bodies leaning forward (think of an inverted V). In the open embrace, the space between the partners vary. No matter the embrace choice, the bodies should not be arched away from each other as in ballroom. Also unlike ballroom, arms are more inward with the elbows down (not out).

Because Argentine Tango is improvisational, communication must be clear and through the connections between the partners. For the lead, communication is subtle, so every little movement counts. Followers must tune in to detect the subtleties, so some followers close their eyes to immerse themselves into the embrace, the music, and the dance experience.

The Walk
Argentine Tango is two people walking together in the embrace. A step involves moving to all the weight being on one foot (which creates a free foot with no weight). The next step may include another step or a weight transfer to the other foot.

There are many important aspects to the walk. For instance, pushing into the step is paramount over reaching for or falling into it – plus, maintaining a firm and balanced contact between the upper bodies in the embrace.

The are two types of walks: parallel (even) and crossed (uneven).

The video below involves two accomplished Argentine tango dancers – but note – they are just walking. Notice their embrace, weight shifts, posture, and how good they look doing the most-basic steps.

The Patterns/Figures/Steps
Argentine Tango is not choreographed or fixed with predetermined patterns. Although a lead-and-follow dance, the subtle nature allows the dancers to appear moving as one.

Besides the walk (caminar), other common steps/figures include the cross (cruce), leg hooks (ganchos), figure-eights (ochos), turns (giros), opposite-direction turns (contragiros), displacements (sacadas), foot-by-foots (llevadas de pie), cuts (cortes), breaks (quebradas), links (baleos), and others.

Let’s bring back Sebastian and Roxana for a dance involving more than just walks.

Not all Argentine Tangos are created equal because different styles exist that depend on factors as floor size, type of embrace, length of steps, speed of music, and culture. Styles as Salon, Milonguero, Milonga, Tango Nuevo, Canyengue, Vals, and others have their setting in both place and music.

Argentine Tango has found a place on the stage and screen. Tango Argentino was on Broadway in the 1980s. Forever Tango (in the mid-1990s) toured the US as a show before having a long-running stint on Broadway

The big screen has provided a long list of Argentine Tango scenes through the ages. Here’s a snippet. Argentine Tango serves as an important backdrop in The Adios Buenos Aires (1938), The Tango Bar (1988), Tango (1998), Assassination Tango (2002), and Tango Libre ( 2012). Dances scenes also provide impact as in Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), Scent of a Woman (1992), Evita (1996), and Moulin Rouge (2001). Scenes from Shall We Dance (2004) and Take the Lead (2006) fuse elements of Argentine and ballroom into their tango.

For those who want to compare, here’s my past post on Ballroom Tango.

Personally, I know enough Argentine Tango to be dangerous because I rely on my ballroom instincts, musicality, and ability to improvise to be a solid beginner. On the other hand, ballroom also gets in the way of the posture elements necessary in Argentine Tango. I would love to learn more, but the city’s Argentine Tango studio is further away than we prefer.

To conclude this post, below are 4 Argentine tangos to enjoy. Each is well done, different, and full of sensuality. Which did you watch or enjoy the most?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 305

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For those enjoying the Cincinnati murals, here’s an article (with images) about the latest additions.

To my Muslim readers, best wishes as you start Ramadan.

The passing of any life causes us to reflect about that life – and the passing of Muhammad Ali was no exception. I was a teen when he became champion, and I know I didn’t understand much about him. But over time, my respect for him grew – and watching him light the torch at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta was quite the surprise. I salute a great ambassador for humanity. Here’s a gallery of images about his life from the BBC.

In this week’s post about the gorilla incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, I mentioned this editorial by the Toledo Blade calls for boycotting all things Cincinnati. I wrote to the paper’s editorial board to issue a challenge, but (as I expected) no response. After all, I want them to practice what they preach. I challenged them to the following:

  • Encourage the people of Toledo to
    • Not shop at any of the 12 Kroger grocery stores in Toledo
    • Not shop at Macy’s
    • Not purchase any Procter & Gamble products
    • Never come to Cincinnati, attend an event, eat at a restaurant, stay at a hotel, or even stop for gas as they travel south on I-75
  • Ask all retailers in the Toledo area (especially Kroger, CVG, Walgreen, Walmart, and Target) to remove all Procter & Gamble products from their store shelves
  • Encourage the University of Toledo and the Toledo professional hockey team to cancel games with Cincinnati teams

An idea: The Cincinnati Zoo could lead the way by enclosing pedestrian walkways in wire to keep visitors contained.

There are different types of tango, but our ballroom time has been with American tango. Argentine tango is different, so we decided to attend a 3-week group class. In week 1, the instructor focused on walking – then sent us this video of a couple doing an Argentine tango routine focusing on walking. Wow … now that is making simple look great.

That couple competes at a very high level. For those who what to see one of their routines, click here.

My favorite golf tournament (the US Open) is a week away. Oakmont is hosting the tournament, so given the USGA’s recent record of setting the course, I will be interested to see what they do to this fabulous golf course.

After a delay of a week, Colors: The Musical returns next week featuring songs with a color shades in the title. Curtain time will be at 9:30 pm (Eastern US) on Tuesday, June 14th. Here are the key rules.

  • No songs with any of the following colors in the title: Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, Purple, or White in the title.
  • Shades should be an acceptable shade name, therefore caution should be used when selecting a shade.
    • Just because the shade is used as a paint color doesn’t automatically qualify the entry.
    • To make matters worse, The Producer has the final say on if the submitted shade is acceptable.
  • No duplicate shades can be used. In other words, once an acceptable song with Puce in the title has been submitted, no other songs with Puce in the title will be acceptable.

If I can get it ready, there will be an Explore post this weekend.

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Public service is about serving the people. Politics is about serving the party. Unfortunately, much of public service is about politics.

Congratulations to Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for coming the presumptive Democratic nominee.

I find it interesting the ardent supports of Donald Trump (R-NY) continue to find scapegoats for his lying, harassment, disrespect, and lack of knowledge on issues. Then again, they are simply following the actions of their leader.

This week’s aFa Power Rankings for Donald Trump’s running mate: 5) Nikki Haley 4) Jeff Sessions, 3) John Kasich, 2) Bob Corker, 1) Newt Gingrich

The first week’s aFa Power Rankings for Hillary Clinton’s running mate: 5) Julian Castro, 4) Sherrod Brown, 3) Mark Warner, 2) Tim Kane, 1) Thomas Perez

We are already getting many televisions ads from both sides in the campaign for the contested Senate seat (Portman/Strickland).

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To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion explains what our planet will look like in the year 2100.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Antidepressant Medication Label Reminds Users That Pill Should Never Be Mixed With Long Look In Mirror
U.S. Consumer Confidence Shaken After Mom Buys Wrong Kind Of Tortilla Chips
Man Who Sees The Good In All People Universally Despised
KFC Manager Wants Bucket On His Desk By End Of Day
Governor Urges Calm At Toyotathon

Interesting Reads
Zachary Taylor and death to the Whigs
The right to try experimental drugs
Maneuvering Heimlich
A brief history of pirates
New water-saving techniques
Global trends with renewable energy
The UK’s oldest handwritten note
BBC’s look at the US media-Donald Trump addiction

Summer has arrived for those of us in the northern hemisphere, so here’s Glenn Frey to send you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.