Connection & Musicality: Interview with AT Instructors Felipe & Rosa

Enjoying the Dance: Connection & Musicality
An Interview with Felipe Martinez & Rosa Corisco
by Karin Norgard

Originally from Spain, Felipe and Rosa are Argentine tango instructors based in San Francisco. Their deep knowledge of the dance and generous teaching style have taken them across the United States and Europe. In early February, they taught a series of workshops in Anchorage, Alaska. I sat down with them during their visit to ask them about what makes social dance, and Argentine Tango in particular, so intoxicating. Here are some of their thoughts.

The Attraction.

Felipe and Rosa had both long enjoyed various types of social dance, including salsa and ballroom. But it wasn't until they encountered Argentine tango that they found their true passion. Felipe discovered no other dance was as interesting, as powerful, as deep, and as addicting as A.T. Rosa as well found the dance to be a fascinating representation of a culture and its values, its ways of thinking and moving that "open doors beyond dancing". Both formerly schoolteachers, they have found a new home in teaching Argentine Tango.

Connection & Musicality.

When I asked Felipe and Rosa about what makes someone an enjoyable dancer, they both agreed that connection and musicality matter more than moves and choreography. For Rosa, connection means two people moving together as a single unit. This happens when both partners take the time to communicate and connect. For Felipe, it is when two people form an emotional connection through the dance. Though all the technical elements may be present, they do not necessarily guarantee an enjoyable experience. Instead, Felipe finds that connection is beyond what the dancers do; it is seeing glimpses of the other person's personality through the way they dance and feeling close to another person even when you do not know them.

This same connection happens when both partners are attentive to the music. Two people may discover that they feel and express the music in a similar way. Or, another person can "show you something in the music you didn't realize." In both instances, when both partners are allowing themselves to be moved by the music, the movement no longer comes consciously but from within. This combination of the personal connection and the musical connection, say Felipe and Rosa, make for an enjoyable dance.

A Deeper Experience.

When asked what they think is the biggest misconception that beginners typically have when learning Argentine Tango, Felipe and Rosa both agree that many beginners don't appreciate the depth of the dance. A lot of beginners, they say, try to copy a sequence of steps without paying attention to the music, the connection, and the emotion. Tango, Felipe says, "is not just a physical activity but an entire world." Unfortunately, many beginners miss how rich and deep the culture and history of the dance are.

This depth - what Felipe calls "inexhaustible" - is what he finds so unique about Argentine Tango. In no other dance, he says, are you so close for that long with someone you don't know. Because of this embrace and this connection, he adds, the dance touches many aspects of your being: emotional, creative, intellectual. This "flow of energy" is a strong experience with many nuances and subtleties. And whether simple or complex - beginner or advanced - says Felipe, "it's still tango."
This article is from the March issue of the e-newsletter Joy in Motion (see below).

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