You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2012.

I am now going to express myself as clearly as possible on the topic of Traditional and Nuevo Tango. I don’t expect us – or even some of us –  to agree, but whatever the outcome, nothing will change in our lives.

Tango has grown in the past 15 years in a way that has changed some people’s lives forever, it has touched people’s hearts and expression all over the globe. They have found something to practice, think of or just enjoy. We are blessed.  I don’t know exactly when it happened but somewhere in the last decade these tangonistas have had to faced with deciding between Traditional and Nuevo Tango.

As far as I can remember, when I started dancing in 1998 and knowing nothing about the dance except for the image I had in my mind of old folks embracing and walking to Tango music.  Of course I knew what Tango was, but the only reference I had was Carlos Gardel, the tango Mi Buenos Aires Querido, Astor Piazzolla, Hugo del Carril, Juan Carlos Copes  and Grandes Valores de Tango (a TV show where all the Tango singers used to perform but rarely Tango dance).  Some of the Dancers and Masters of today did work in that show as dancers on a Stage behind a huge orchestra.  Because of that image, I knew that elegance and precision were an important ingredient in this dance. I took my first class and never stopped.  Later that night I discovered Vals and Milonga.

Back then there weren’t as many Milongas or Tango Dinner Shows as there are now.  There weren’t as many teachers or schools.  The teaching process was not as developed as it is nowadays.  Every teacher had his own approach.  Tango shoes were ugly.  Not everyone had the vision  to see the effect Tango would have on the world.

By the time I started to discover this world, I met different mentors, I knew who Miguel and Osvaldo Zotto were, Roberto Herrera, Carlos Gavito, Carlos Copello, Graciela Gonzalez,  Mora Godoy, Milena Plebs, Ricky Barrios, Luis Solanas, Horacio Godoy, Fabian Salas and Gustavo Naveira. Everyone gave me a different exposure to this dance, this was my path, with some I took lessons, with others I became friends and with others they were just acquaintances.

If you search Wikipedia, it names Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas, and Pablo Veron as the fathers of the Tango Nuevo movement.

I think Tango Nuevo became a style in itself without pretending to be one.  Naveira clearly states he did not invent anything, everything was there, the exposure of the moves and the approach of the teaching became different. I agree 100% in one aspect of this statement, but I would like to expand this analysis as well.

Back in 1998 attending a Tango lesson with Gustavo was a mind-opening experience for everyone, not because of what he was teaching but for the way he broke down and analyzed the structure of the dance. Back then it blew everyone minds. The steps were exposed as elements, boleo as an element, gancho as well.  Breaking down the steps into Open and Crossed ones was such a discovery for me back then..

Meanwhile, in other parts of BA, like at Sunderland on Wednesdays, the approach was different, let’s walk and walk and walk.  Develop your axis, your body language, your elegance and more walking.

The Tango Nuevo approach opened its exponents to 1000s of possibilities in the dance because those elements were available, visually understandable, you understood what a sacada was and the 1000 possibilities to perform them. But it had a little cost. Those who did not start dancing with Gustavo or others in his line and were exposed to the more traditional way of seeing the dance, achieving some moves or combinations had to sacrifice their elegance, walk, the embrace. IN THE BEGINNING! Opening the embrace in order to perform a back sacada, are you nuts!  Many felt this way.

What I observed along the years is that people who start dancing Tango and are exposed to the Nuevo approach (seeing the dance as a combination of elements) is that the body language of the dance to be developed becomes a second or third goal in terms of what is important. The mistake is to say that is not Tango. Because with this approach, without training the body, a self and under the radar style flourishes and ends up becoming a common natural move. A move that is adopted by the mass, example Volcada.

The Volcada as we know it is not a new move at all, it was done by milongueros before it became hot in the US in 2005 for example. The problem with the Volcada, is that it became an isolated must-have move for those who started dancing Tango by this time in 2005.  Maybe they were not able to walk straight, but they knew how to do 75 volcadas on the dance floor. Many assumed that was Tango, because there was an immediate satisfaction provoked by this move. SAD!

What touches your expression Is always a question of sensibility.  My approach was always a more conservative, traditional one, but if I hadn’t opened my sensibility to be affected by other influences my dance would have died.

I walk the way I do, because I was exposed to that, my hard drive was filed with this information. This information is the sensibility that captured my expression and matched the image of what Tango meant to me and the way it should be danced, my own expression.

The traditional approach was different, you learned different combinations from different teachers.  Of course you had a knowledge about what a basic step was or an ocho, or turn.  Gustavo Naveira, Pablo Veron, even Chicho come from this root, the traditional root, you see it in their dance, there is a solid background of traditional Tango.


This is a simple question to share with everyone. When we think about the process of learning this dance and  start taking lessons and, to be more precise, Private lessons, should we start out taking them from a Woman or a Man?

It has been my observation that in the US, where I’ve resided since 2005, the tendency is that women take lessons from men and vice versa.  If this tendency is correct, is it the best way to start?

When I started dancing in 1998, private lessons were not an option for me for various reasons: I was not aware of their existence, couldn’t find the correct teacher and, of course, money, which was probably the main reason.  I didn’t have money and I thought the group lessons were enough.  Back then I never thought of myself as “a dancer”.  In going to the milongas and performances I saw some dancers who showed they had some skill or talent I wasn’t seeing in the group classes and I decided to save up to take some private lessons from some of these dancers. This teachers were MEN. I wanted to learn something specific that they did, a way to do a certain move, enrosque, leading a boleo, interpretation of the music and such.


Because I reasoned if I were going to be a leader in this dance I would be better off learning from a leader, someone who was going to teach and explain to me how to do certain things.  What rotation is used here, how to pivot, when, how much. How to embrace, the posture, the walk – oh, the walk, they drove me nuts with it.


On the other hand, if a woman wants to dance, I believe she would be better off learning how to follow from a woman.

Ideally, I think the best thing is taking from both men and women.  If you are a man, the man teacher will teach you how to do things, and the woman will teach you how those things feel.  If you are a woman and you want to learn how to follow, you must learn form a follower and the man will tell you how those things you learned feel.

The thing is that what I said some paragraphs ago, is that maybe, men like to take lessons with women, because they are only seeing the feeling aspect of the dance. They want the feedback from a woman, because they are able to dance alone for an hour or however long the private lesson lasts. The disadvantage could be that she feels the movement is great or whatever she is lead to but with the cost of the man applying a bad technique. When we dance, sometimes it’s difficult to see how are the feet being placed, or what muscles are being used in order to succeed in this or that combination. The same happens with women who only take lessons from men.  A man can tell you how to move, feel you during the lesson, but the walking, pivoting, technique of the woman is very specific.


I think I do a very good job whether I’m teaching men or women, but Silvina, my partner, knows so much more about the body movement, the muscles, posture in the woman, that many times students of mine want for some lessons with her because I could not explain what it was what they were needing in order to achieve that specific walk in this dance.

Many times I thought men here in the US are a little afraid to take lessons and hold another man in order to dance this dance. Maybe they don’t think a man is going to teach them how to do things. Maybe they are more interested in having the feedback from a woman and the technique eventually could be upgraded later. Maybe also it’s a question of ego, not willing to learn from another man.



Tango and Martial Arts.

There is a argument in our beautiful Tango world as to who should be teaching and who should not. If he/she dances Milonguero style, Nuevo style, Salon style, his/her own style. Why does this happen?  There are many reasons. It’s very common to hear, “oh this guy/girl hasn’t even been dancing a year and is already teaching,” “ they’re teaching Nuevo, that’s not tango,” “they’re teaching Salon, I want to have fun.”I’m going to try not to offend and I hope I won’t be misunderstood. Why don’t we take a look at the Martial Arts System, which by the way is a relatively a new late 19th Century invention and not from ancient times as many people think. When we use this analogy, the first belt we think of is the “Black Belt.”  I’m sure many fantasize themselves as Tango Black Belts, untouchable on the dance floor. Well, this belt has to be earned. The white belt is the lowest and the black is the highest, and from there further subdivisions occur which are called DAN. Each belt means growth, growth in knowledge, ability, performance, maturity etc.  This is usually monitored by a master, teacher, or Sensei.  The word “Sensei” is also used to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill: accomplished puppeteers, novelists, musicians and artists, for example, may be addressed in this way.Who is a Tango Sensei? What is the official parameter in which to define someone as Sensei: his participation or creation of a tango show, play, festival, certain choreography, certain amount of turns, a certain degree of creativity?  Is there a Tango Oscar for best performance, lecture, teaching ability or an UNDER THE RADAR ACCEPTANCE BY THEIR PEERS?  It’s a difficult question for many of us to answer and at the same time, a very easy one. I have my own scale of reference I choose to keep to myself.  According to the Sensei definition above (which I copied from Wikipedia) I know many dancer/instructors who have accomplished this status but the Tango world is so open, with no rules, no levels, no tests, which dilutes the meaning of Sensei. From the moment anyone decides to teach, they can say I have my style, anyone can say what they believe Tango is or is not.In the Martial Art World, to earn each belt, a series of exams have to be taken, Kata in Japanese, Toulu in Chinese and Hyeong in Korean.Kata originally were teaching/training methods by which successful combat techniques were preserved and passed on. Practicing kata allowed participants to engage in a struggle using a systematic approach, rather than an individualistic disorderly manner.  If we take this analogy to Tango, Antonio Todaro, to name one of them, is one of the original creators of a Kata Tango with certain combinations he created and taught to many tango dancers of our time. I am trying to make an analogy here! So please abstain from commenting, but in Tango we don’t fight we love, express, blah la blah… We all know that.The basic goal of kata is to preserve and transmit proven techniques. By practicing in a repetitive manner the learner develops the ability to execute those techniques and movements in a natural, reflexive manner. Systematic practice does not mean rigidity.  The goal is to internalize the movements and techniques of a kata so that they can be executed and adapted under different circumstances, without thought or hesitation. A novice’s actions will look uneven and difficult, while a master’s appear simple and smooth. Why this is not applicable to Tango?  Or is it?  The answer is both. I came to the conclusion that it depends on the sensibility of the person approaching this dance. Many professional Tango Dancers or dedicated Tango aficionados would approach the dance with the Kata goal if there were one because they have the sensibility of movement, quality, precision and technique to accomplish this goal.  Others just want to dance and have fun.  Now many people will say, “I just want to share a night expressing myself with someone in my arms,” this does not betray any of the approaches.  It’s not one or the other, it could be both because there is no OFFICIAL KATA to determine who nails it or who doesn’t because the dance is an expression and what it may be simple and easy for one person may be difficult and ugly for another.  In the Martial Arts world YOU HAVE TO ACCOMPLISH THE KATA TO EARN THE NEXT BELT, LIKE IT OR NOT, and the reason this happens is because there is a united compromise, with many many years or centuries of discipline that sustains the knowledge and recognizes those who are in the position to judge.Many times in Tango lessons the good teacher who knows what he’s doing gets criticizes by the students because the lesson is to hard, or to boring or this or that. I wonder if the same attitude happened in any Martial Art lesson.  Maybe the impression of a black belt is so big, that the attitude and self-opinionated personality inherent in everyone of us, becomes tamed for those two or three hours.But Oliver, this is a dance, don’t be so strict, I want to have fun, I want to enjoy, blah la blah…
What would be the reaction of someone who dedicates his life to know about anything, any craft, wine, coffee, tea, cooking, martial arts, medicine, etc… Still we can have fun, but there is a confusion with Fun and Enjoying what we do. Sometimes fun is an escape or an immediate satisfaction pursuit in order to avoid the difficult, challenging, painful process of learning something new.  It is very understandable for someone who took a few tango lessons to stop learning because he/she is already satisfied with the knowledge they’ve acquired, enough to go and dance Tuesday nights etc… Is this wrong?  NOT AT ALL, people are different, think differently and appreciate differently all over the globe. This is a fact. Period.Should we start using belts in order to start teaching? A Tango Black Belt will always be a good teacher?


Choreography as an Art FormNowadays it is very clear that every Tango dancer or couple wants to be original.  Everyone wants to put his mark on this world. There are many ways to approach this goal. On Stage, on the Dance Floor, dancing Tango, Vals or Milonga. Dancing through Choreography or just Improvising, putting a little story in between dances etc…These are all wonderful, but my analogy is related to another art form, such as music, and to be more specific I relate this to playing instruments. If we think about artists or aficionados who play an instrument, piano, guitar, saxophone, flute, trumpet, violin to name a few, most musicians play and learn through compositions that already exist. It is very common to hear pianists interpreting MOZART, BETHOVEEN, CHOPIN, BACH, RACHMANINOV or others. Through these compositions people appreciate the art form and take the steps to learn the instrument.  We’re all aware of concerts being held to honor a particular artist and we appreciate the INTERPRETER who brings the COMPOSER to life.My question is, why isn’t this a possibility for the Tango Professionals or Aficionados.  I think that studying and interpreting someone else’s choreography could be not only a great exercise but also a beautiful theme for a performance as long as the interpreter gives credit to the original choreographer. Performing by improvising is beautiful and I think one of the biggest channels in which to express the dance.  With many couples improvisation becomes as fluent as talking to each other. They are so familiar with each other the dance becomes a dialogue.  In a chorography the dance becomes a script. We dance that script.It might sound very strange for someone to announce: I will or they will interpret  the Tango “Recuerdo” as choreographed by Roberto Herrera and Vanina Bilous for example. Or simply rehearse this or that choreography in order to become better.  If some people do this already, I don’t mean to announce it as my original idea, this is just a thought.  I don’t consider this to be copying, it’s training and can bring many benefits to our dance.Interpreting someone else’s choreography could be the same analogy as someone else’s composition in music. This happens all the time in Tango. The Cumparsita has been interpreted by almost every orchestra with different arrangements and different colors. The Cumparsita still is the same.Maybe we have the idea that we will be copying steps from others. The isolated steps belong to no one, it is the way in which we combine movements and steps that creates an original choreography. When we see a Tango Show those choreographies are registered and have a value, the value of building a show. That is why there is a choreographer.There are thousands of choreographies created by thousands of couples around the world. Maybe a good way to interpret the art form, Argentine Tango, could be not by creating one but by interpreting an existing one as cleanly and slickly as the creator thought of it.Now the question is among us, who do we consider to be the Mozart, Beethoven or Chopin in our small world, our Argentine Tango World? Does he/she exist? Our ego lets us see it?


The Channel



March 9, 2012

9 марта, 2012


В течение последних 7 месяцев я живу в Чикаго. Я переехал сюда из Нью-Йорка в связи с работой. Я помогаю строить танго сообщество в Чикаго. Пока все идет очень хорошо. Людям нравится, и те, кто приходит в первый раз, получают огромное удовольствие от изучения аргентинского танго.


Из тех, кто приходит на свой первый урок танго, 90% имеют неправильное представление об этом танце. В их представлении танго это танец, который они видели в программе «Танцы со звездами». Они думают, что они будут учиться тому, что они видели на экранах телевизоров. Они хотят танцевать именно так.


Также, большинство начинающих не знают, насколько малы их способности владеть своим телом, поддерживать баланс, чувствовать музыку… Их уверенность в себе при этом просто поражает. И это замечательно. Жаль, что у меня нет такой уверенности по отношению к баскетболу, но те, кто меня видел, поймут, почему я не могу играть в баскетбол. Я короче февраля. (“short” по-английски значит как «низкий», так и «короткий»)


90% приходящих на базовый курс представляют танго, как танец, в котором женщина в колготках в сеточку и туфлях на высоком каблуке, да еще и с розой в зубах, медленно шагает к скучающему мужчине в смокинге. Многие начинают заниматься танго благодаря сцене в фильме «Запах женщины», в которой Аль Пачино танцует под танго «Por una Cabeza» — возможно, единственное танго, известное людям в США. Через несколько месяцев эти же люди пересматривают эту сцену и осознают в который раз неограниченные возможности СМИ продать что угодно.


Новичкам обычно достаточно двух месяцев, чтобы понять, что это за танец, и именно в этот момент они либо бросают, либо остаются на некоторое время, или получают пожизненную зависимость от танго.


Вчера вечером я сидел в клубе «Зеленая мельница» со своими друзьями и заметил очень интересную вещь. Там был парень, который танцевал свинг — очень хорошо, ритмично, грациозно. Он был наполнен радостью и СЧАСТЬЕМ. Этот же парень приходил к нам на занятия танго. Однажды он пропал и больше не приходил. Если честно, я сразу и не заметил, потому что у нас очень большие начинающие группы, и новый набор происходит почти каждый месяц. И тут я вспомнил, что во время уроков этот парень казался грустным. Он не мог двигаться вместе с женщиной, он не мог установить контакт. Его тело не давало ему такой возможности. Он не понимал принципов поворота и объятия. Если совсем уж честно, я решил, что у него просто нет способности танцевать.


А вчера я понял. Я был неправ. Ему не нравился «канал» — музыка танго. Он не получал никакого удовольствия от нее. Он очень разумный молодой человек, но его тело не чувствовало энергии музыки. Печальная, меланхоличная мелодия близости, которая есть в каждом танго, просто не соответствовала ему по духу. Ничего в его душе не оживало при звуках этой музыки. Его тело поэтому и не могло реагировать.


Когда он танцевал линди-хоп, он был полон жизни, он получал удовольствие, он делал повороты, танцевал в ритм — в этой музыке он нашел свою радость, свое средство выражения.


Существует много способов, при помощи которых мы можем выразить себя. У меня это танго. Но это не обязательно долженбыть танец. Несмотря на умение владеть телом, музыка танго — Ди Сарли. Пуглиезе, Троило, Д’Ариенцо, Фреседо, Лауренс, Донато, и т.д. — не для всех, и это нормально, потому что на свете существует 1000000000000 способов найти возможность выразить себя.






Learning the Other Role

Изучение роли партнера/партнерши


March 1, 2012

1 марта, 2012


Есть ли сходство между тем, как развивается аргентинское танго, и тем, как развивается общество. Что заставляет меня сделать подобное предположение?

Причина, по которой я задаю этот вопрос, связана с эволюцией, которую переживает роль партнерши в танго с тех пор, как около 20 лет назад началось возрождение интереса к этому танцу.

В развитии человечества женщинам приходилось бороться за многие вещи. Женщинам пришлось бороться, чтобы получить право голосовать, пришлось доказывать, что их работоспособность не хуже, чем у мужчин, чтобы найти свое место в корпоративном мире, причем делают они это настолько успешно, что в списке двадцати крупнейших корпораций становится все больше и больше компаний, где генеральными директорами являются женщины. Женщины становятся президентами и премьер-министрами. Женщины получают Нобелевскую премию. Женщины занимают лидирующие посты в армии. Почему я перечисляю все это?

Хорошо известно, что в основе танго лежит простой и непреложный принцип: в этом танце один всегда ведет, второй — следует. В большинстве случаев, ведущим является мужчина, а следует женщина. Но мне кажется, что танго развивается и изменяется, и постепенно достигнет той стадии, когда основоположный принцип танго станет более гибким, и разграничение между ролями будет менее строгим.

Грасиэла Гонзалез, которая великолепно танцует и преподает танго, была одной из первых партнерш, которые научились ведению в этом танце. Тогда это воспринималось как нечто из ряда вон выходящее. Ее постоянно спрашивали: «Неужели ты будешь «водить»?  Однако по прошествии времени все больше и большее женщин в танго хотят научиться ведению. Сильвина Вальз, Ариадна Навейра, Корина Эррера, Мариэла Саметбанд, Грета Экьер, Кайла Джой Марэс, Паола Бордон, Сико, Кэт Горзач, Лекса Розеан, Марианна Галасси — вот он, неполный список партнерш, которые великолепно умеют водить (а некоторые из них водят гораздо лучше своих партнеров-мужчин). (Я прошу прощения, если я забыл включить кого-то в этот список). Женщины начали учиться ведению по многим причинам: среди них работа, необходимость, удовольствие, любопытство, стремление развиваться технически и творчески, желание понять, как лучше следовать, надоело «сидеть» на милонгах, и тд. Это не так важно. Гораздо важнее, что это уже неотъемлемая часть реальности, и слава богу.

Именно по этой причине, я считаю, мужчинам стоит подумать о том, чтобы научиться следованию. О чем ты говоришь, Оливер? Считайте меня наивным или чокнутым, как хотите, но танцевать, постоянно меняясь ролями в танго, невероятно сложная задача — и по технике, и по динамике. Если вам удается поменяться ролями, то вы, по моему мнению, переживаете совсем другой диалог: вы «отдаете» ведение своей партнерше и наоборот. Это может занять пять счетов или двадцать, в зависимости от умения обоих танцевать в двух ролях.


Конечно, многие скажут, что это НЕ ТАНГО, что в танго мужчина ведет, а женщина следует. Я с этим полностью не согласен. Конечно, мужчина ведет, а женщина следует, но это если мужчина ведет, а женщина следует. Но это только потому, что все, что мужчина знает, это ведение, а все, что знает женщина, это следование. Если женщина умеет вести, а мужчина умеет следовать, это не танго? Неужели это все вопрос половой принадлежности? В 2012 году?!

Мне кажется, многие предубеждены против изучения противоположной роли в танго. Среди этих предубеждений:

— Мне потребовалось много лет, чтобы выучить свою роль

— Мне не нравится вести / следовать

— Мне нравится следовать / вести

— Мне некомфортно в противоположной роли

— Это не танго

— Это противоречит самой природе танго


«Я не хочу развлекаться, я хочу почувствовать страсть». Для некоторых людей идея смены ролей это практически преступление: «Чтобы я учился танцевать роль женщины, вы что, с ума сошли?»

На самом деле, подобная смена ролями очень обогащает. По моему опыту партнера, это дает возможность создавать новые комбинации движений, это открывает новые возможности для творчества, вы начинаете видеть возможность для новых шагов, которые вы раньше не замечали, и все это потому, что вы начинаете смотреть на танец с противоположной точки зрения. Когда партнер получает возможность почувствовать, как некоторые движения воспринимаются с точки зрения партнерши, затем он может гораздо лучше понять, как вести это движения.


Только представьте себе: милонги, где люди, которые танцуют «по-обычному», также танцуют, меняясь ролями в паре. Представьте семинары по танго, где мужчины и женщины могут научиться ведению от преподавателя-женщины и следованию от преподавателя-мужчины. 10 лет назад никто себе и представить не мог, что милонги будут проводиться на двух танцполах одновременно: с традиционной музыкой и альтернативой. Представьте, что будет и третий танцпол — для пар, «меняющихся ролями». Произойдет ли это?


Не бойтесь, если это и произойдет, то нескоро. Расслабьтесь, никто вас не заставляет …