Scene: In Buenos Aires at Aurora Lubiz’s studio. Recently, I participated in her group class for women, a private class, and the milonga class she teaches with Jorge at the Burges Cultural Center. Each class was informative and enjoyable. I wished I had more time to interview her but she had to teach a private. Next time.
Q: I have taken classes with many teachers and very rarely is there a strong focus on the follower’s role.
Aurora: Si, as you know, I teach both roles. Most classes, they teach the leader’s role that they feel is most important. I feel and Jorge agrees that it is 50% and 50%.. no more no less.
When I was learning tango, the old milongueros would just say, “Pay attention to your walk and follow me”.
So in order to understand and learn tango I had to carefully watch the older ladies and gentlemen dance
because they could show the steps but not explain them well.
Many times, I would not dance. I would sit and watch.
Also many milongueros did not have clear technique because they arrived at tango from other dances; salsa, samba, etc. and they put everything they knew together and mixed it up. So I decided that there needed to be more attention to technique so that other tangueros from around the world could come here and learn the history, roles, and technique of tango and then teach it to others.
Q: When and why did you start your class for mujeres?
Aurora: 5 years ago, I decided to teach a class because many of my students from other classes had a lot of questions about the follower’s role.
There are two roles in tango.conduction (the leader) and reception.receiving the lead. I wanted to be able to know and explain the difference. Also, to help me become a better teacher, I attended the university and took classes in topics like sociology. I enjoy teaching and find the feedback and questions from students to be very interesting.
Graciela Gonzales was the first to teach classes for mujeres and some of the milongueros did not approve. They felt that the leader role was everything so why do women need classes.
Q: You mentioned that women were asking questions. Which questions are most common?
Aurora: Balance. How to keep it
Back ochos and giros
What happens when I go to the milonga and I’m shy?
For the first two questions, I answer, “Feel your body”. Put your feet flat on the floor and use your spirit in the dance. As you know, in my class I do not teach steps but focus on the mind, and where to place the body and feet.
So, when you walk in the street, feel your feet. When you are in the supermarket, stand with your weight forward. Also walk backward.. not at the supermarket but to the kitchen and at each doorway do an adornment. Doing this will help your dance.
Q: And number 3?
Aurora: I don’t have the answer. Perhaps we can change our basic spirit and relax. If we go to the milonga and think “I want to dance.I have to dance” then we will be too stressful. Do other things.watch the men drinking and what happens when they are drinking .watch the women smoke. Watch the dance.
Q: It feels that it’s less about lowering your expectations and more about changing your expectations. Equal but different. Also, I noticed at milongas that many women sit with a serious and sometimes sour expression on their face. A friend commented that he would not dance with them because they look unhappy and negative. For myself, I have discovered that I enjoy going to milongas to socialize and talk to people. Then the dancing happens naturally.
Aurora: If you go to the milonga, you must have positive energy. In class, I have the women practicing in pairs so that they learn about connection. During the practice I look around and I can tell when the energy is good. If not, I change the partners. Things happen in tango. Like the effect of energy.
Sometimes I wonder “how can two people dance all night and have wonderful connection while two other people at the same level can not connect in the dance.”
Q: When you teach, I sense that you use tools from other venues. Are you involved in other forms of movement?
Aurora: Yes I have learned modern dance, classical ballet, yoga.
Q: Yoga? Has yoga influenced your tango?
Aurora: Yes. For some people, yoga would not help because where you place your weight is different from tango which asks for the weight to be forward. I like yoga because it’s good for the spirit and introspection and tango is about introspection.
Q: I like the idea about tango as introspection. That’s a wonderful adjective.
Aurora: When I perform, I need to feel two ways..
My feelings for myself and my partner …. And what happens with the audience
Both are equally important. To perform without the connection is not good.
Socially, tango is about the first feeling mentioned. For example, last night I went to El Beso and I danced all night with my eyes closed. Many women dance with their eyes open but if the eyes are closed, the attention is in the body. This way the follower feels the leader.
For me, if the leader leads me, it’s catastrophic. But if he says, “Go with me”, he understands the spirit of tango. Many leaders lead and think about steps so they become like machines.
Q: Aurora, do you have any technical suggestions?
Aurora: Well, when we started to dance tango, many teachers teach the follower to give too much weight to the leader. This is not good for the man. I go to the leader with control. I feel my axis. I dance with him but I also dance with me.
Q: And for followers that go too fast?
Aurora: I say, “Wait”, and also I have an exercise that helps. I have the leader pause on one foot at different points and so the follower must learn to listen.
Q: The other question I have is.most teachers say keep your heel close to the ground when you walk back. You suggest stepping back and lifting the heel and really pressing down with your toes. What’s the difference?
Aurora: I would say aesthetics. The heel up looks better and if you use your toes the step is softer. Feeling the floor with your toes changes the feelings.ah, I have toes, I have an arch, I have the outside of my foot. You should be aware of all the parts of your body because your stomach is different than your hand.your shoulder from your chest. You are not a block and should not dance like one.
Q: Any final words?
Aurora: It’s important to want to know more and to enjoy the process of learning. I enjoy having tangueros come from around the world because they bring different spirits, energy, and creativity and therefore change the dance. It’s exciting.