The Argentine Folklorista
Until I developed an interest in tango, I had never considered Argentine folkloric dancing. To me, folkloric dancing was used for filling time in various 19th century ballets, or was something you did in character class at the ballet studio. I had always dismissed it as something less challenging that old people performed at state fairs and festivals.
And then I took a class. From a serious and brilliant professional. The kind of professional that extracts every last ounce of physical effort and artistic expression from you, along with a lot of sweat.
I took my first class from The Folklorista on a whim. I had a free afternoon and it seemed like it might be interesting. I had no idea what was coming. In my adult life, I have never worked so hard in the period of 1 hour, nor been subjected to so much physically demanding and technical instruction.
I brought home a video of my class. I lost 5 pounds just practicing parts from it in the backyard. My feet literally beat a path into the grass.
Foolishly, I went back for more.
I committed to 5 private classes of folkloric dancing. This was about what I could afford, but I also figured 5 sessions would be plenty of time to learn another dance. “It will be so much fun to do something different.” I thought. “I’m sure with my ballet background I can pick this up easily.” Looking back, I think of this as one of those impossible timelines for a huge project – like trying to tour Europe in a weekend. ALL of Europe.
Each day I would drive with The Folklorista to the dance studio. He was always very casual and cheerful about what we were going to do. And then the session would begin and I would be pushed to the extreme of my physical and mental abilities. On the second day, as if reading my mind, he remarked “Well here you are, and most people at this point ask themselves, ‘this seemed so easy and it’s not, so what have I gotten myself into?’” He was quite amused by this and burst out laughing. The class continued. My mind was a jumble, and I began to wonder if I was perhaps suffering from a deficiency of some sort. Maybe potassium. The Folklorista acted like this was all a walk in the park.
At night I would go to tango. I thought this would be low-pressure because at least it was familiar territory. I was wrong, because The Folklorista had a brother who took it upon himself to correct me mercilessly in tango. At no point in any 24 hour period was I in my comfort zone.
In fact, I was barely mobile. I was exhausted and all I could think about was how I had to get up in the morning for my folkloric dancing class. The dancing I had previously believed to be for “old” people.
At the end of five days, The Folklorista had somehow managed to pound this dance into me. I don’t know how he did it. He seemed very upbeat and told me to work on things at home, every day. “There is probably a repetitive stress injury waiting for me here,” I thought, “but I cannot forget what I’ve learned at this point.” It would mean disappointing The Folklorista, and who knows where THAT might lead? Possibly to several remedial classes, where he could add more technical details, and make me work even harder.
I feel lucky to have met The Folklorista. He is one of those rare birds who is always ON when it comes to dance. He’s on when it comes to just about anything, but that’s what makes him so good at what he does. He is the Real Deal, as we say. As I write this, he is probably busy thinking of another aspect of the dance that I somehow missed, an aspect which will require additional precise and rigorous instruction. He’ll probably break it to me by saying, “I’d like to address something…just a minor, small detail – most people wouldn’t notice – but I think we need to correct it immediately. We don’t want you to develop any bad habits.”
Planning my next trip to see The Folklorista now…