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Alicia Pons: My First Workshop Part I


Since this was an amazing long weekend, I am separating this off into two posts. In order for you to reach the next level of dance, it is strongly recommended to attend workshops.  Let me tell you how workshops work for starters.

  1. Workshops run for 3 days- Friday evening, all day Saturday, and most of the day Sunday. For these 3 days, you do nothing but eat, drink, breath, and sleep tango.
  2. You first arrive on Friday to get situated where you are staying. Since Friday is a short day, it only consists of a late afternoon workshop and an evening milonga (social dance for tango).
  3. Saturday involves 3 early afternoon workshops, a break, and then the biggest milonga of the weekend.
  4. The last day, Sunday, entails 2 workshops and a nightly milonga.

Friday for me was a bit frightening. I traveled alone to Charleston, came alone to the workshop, and then came alone to the milonga. As much as I wanted to, I did not let my fears get the best of me and continued to tell myself that I am here to improve my dance and nothing else. Upon arriving to Gage Hall, I glanced to my left and saw her, Alicia Pons. She is the woman that most people consider the gold standard in Tango and one of the most sought out maestros (teacher).It was like seeing my first tango celebrity! From that moment, I was instantly motivated to learn from one of the best.

Alicia Pons has a special way of explaining things and talks in analogies (which I love by the way).  It’s like all of the sudden, Steve and Diane’s words lit up in my mind and created an “oh so that is what they were saying”.   “You will eventually listen to something when you are ready to hear it” Steve always says.

The workshops overall had a bunch of information. I kept on hearing from others “Yeah workshops can be overwhelming for beginners.” It was a tad bit crazy with how much information was being communicated, but I tried to keep my eyes eager, my mind like a sponge, and my heart a window. It is expressed during these workshops that it is almost close to impossible to retain all the information that is given. It important that you walk away with at least one thing to work on.

Friday milonga was at the Charleston’s teacher’s beautiful home in the middle of the city. You all know me by now, thoughts engulfed my mind quickly:

  1. What if people don’t like me?
  2. What if experienced dancers shun me?
  3. What if I become isolated from the tango cliques?

“Who you really are is enough.”- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

All of these fears are common when coming as a new-comer to a different community. I have a specific memory from that night I would like to share with you.  A gentleman asked me to dance and the song playing happened to be a milonga. That style of music is very fast paced and often difficult for a novice like myself. Regardless, I went out to dance. After only one song, he said thank you.  Gasp! Now I know what you are thinking, “what’s the matter with saying ‘thank you’?” In anything besides tango, thank you is used a nicety, but with tango, you only say it when you are doimagene dancing with that individual. After one tanda (a combination of 3-4 songs), that is when you are permitted to say thank you. If it happens before the 3-4 song tanda is over, it is pretty much saying “I do not want to dance with you.” You can imagine the humiliation I was feeling.  A part of me wanted to run and hide. But deep down, I realized something; you become stronger in situations of adversity. There is not one successful person on this planet that never had challenging times.  A celebrated story-teller, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, would say “Who you really are is enough.”

During difficult times is when you should not let go of your passion. These situations help shape you into something better! Oftentimes we get caught up in the emotions of “now”, rather than seeing how it can affect our future for the better.

Stay tuned for next week’s continuation of this weekend. Until next time, live, breath, and tango on…xoxo Liz

Email: elizabethtango706@gmail.com

Twitter: @elizabethstango #elizabethstangojourney

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