[Tango-L] demo advice needed

Jake Spatz (TangoDC.com) spatz at tangoDC.com
Sat Feb 9 19:38:10 EST 2008


While I've never done anything but improv performances, I generally 
agree with Keith (and others) about things like LOD, the finale, the 
entrance, etc. But here are a few more thoughts... whether you're likely 
to do choreo or not.

1. Change the blocking
("Blocking" meaning stage placement & movement.) Mix up floor coverage 
with stationary figures. All travel gets boring. All stationary gets 
boring. Change the channel, and with a sense of purpose. Use the 
verse-chorus structure of the song, or further subdivisions therein.
This makes it easier to cope with unpredictable stage conditions. Give 
the dancers a sense of freedom about using the whole stage as they see 
fit, and they can improvise to use that stage better.
As for facing the house, the only real answer is to cheat the embrace a 
little bit, possibly using a salon-style V shape. Having had to deal 
with this issue in front of cameras (sometimes moving cameras in close 
proximity), I can say it's a pain in the ass. Tell the guy to keep the 
girl facing the house as much as possible-- _his_ pretty face is NOT 
important-- and (very important) not to obscure her with his upper body. 
He's probably broader than the broad, and likely will be wearing a 
uniform color, so it's very easy to make her disappear by accident. A 
little practice with a stationary camcorder, however, explains a lot. 
(Also, let the dude SEE this. Just telling him how it looks, if he's a 
man, is going to get you nowhere.)
For my part, I like close embrace in a performance. It doesn't have to 
stay that way, but it's special, and a damn bit more poetic than a gancho.

2. Let THEM choose the music
I'm sure you have good ideas as a coach, but nobody cares about them 
unless the performers are into the music. Just make sure they pick 
something they'll want to practice to, without getting tired of it by 
the time they hit the stage. And make sure they don't over-rehearse, if 
only to keep the song from getting stale.
If possible, give them alternate recordings of the piece, so they can 
discover what's unique about the music they're dancing to, and thereby 
enjoy it more for what it does.
And make sure the chick gets a say in it. She's gotta know it and like 
it. That's easily overlooked, I find.

3. Don't forget about content
I tire of pointing this out in my dance-life, but _moves_ alone are 
meaningless. One must first be _moved_.
Encourage the dancers to get into character in some way-- hopefully 
transcending cliche-- so they can define what they're presenting to the 
audience and to each other. So long as the moves aren't really, really 
boring, people don't care That much about how flashy they are: real 
chemistry can steal the show.
Caveat: I'm not saying you should have them dance "a story." There's 
nothing quite so lame as that threadbare "get-together, breakup, 
reunion" bit. I'm talking Character: something not so predictable. 
You've got to give people a reason to _keep_ watching. Then the final 
moment isn't so overwhelmingly important, and you can actually match the 
musical ending-- which in tango is often reserved & cool: "WHAM... 
(boom)"-- rather than dancing an idea that the music doesn't suggest. In 
any case, follow the music, which will probably suggest a lot of ideas 
about _character_ anyway.

None of this is confined to stage dancing either. These ideas come 
directly from improv social dancing, and in my opinion are better built 
upon than junked. Ultimately, it's more fulfilling for everyone that 
performers dance something they actually feel-- something genuine. This 
makes the embrace the main attraction, so to speak. And aside from the 
music, it's the embrace that is most unique to tango. To watch people 
inflict a bunch of moves on each other is a travesty, no matter how 
skilled they are, and whether or not you can see their gaudy shoes.

Break a heart,


Trini y Sean (PATangoS) wrote:
> Hola everyone!
> If you’re an anti-performance person, please hit your
> delete key.
> So I'm wondering if folks might have some tips regarding demos or performances.
> 1. Any tips for handling a demo when the audience is on
> only 1 side of you, such as on a stage
> 2.  In cases where the audience is sitting down and the
> demo occurs at floor level, it seems that the only ones who
> get to see the demo is the front row.

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