Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pope Francis celebrates his birthday... and gets Tango for a birthday present!

Wonderful...thousands of people dancing Tango outside the Vatican to celebrate Pope Francis's birthday yesterday:

The message people have for the Pope?  "Life is Beautiful!" 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

New and Improved

Our Honda has gone 300,000 km and it's twelve years old. 

"Our mechanic says that the transmission or the engine may fail in the car because they have limited life span, maybe we should get a new car before they do?" said Man Yung.

"But our mechanic also said that there's no evidence that the transmission or the engine has any signs of failing right now.  So long we don't take the car on long road trips and stay in town, there's no downside on keeping the car and driving it until 400,000 or even 500,000 km!"

Our car is old but is is reliable.  It worries us that all the newer models of the same car have not been as trustworthy - a friend who also bought a later model of the same car experienced steering problems, and a relative who bought an even later model had paint bubble and peel from the hood for no reason, and the brakes keep on wearing out really quickly.  There's been tons of recalls of the newer cars.  The newer models are shinier, sleeker, faster, more spacious - New and Improved, as they say - but the cars aren't as good as the car we bought.  At this point we think that our old run-down car is probably better and more reliable than any new one!

We are very suspicious of any claims of "New and Improved".  We have been loyal devotees of a certain supermarket cheesecake for years - when they came out with a "New and Improved" formula, we bought one as a treat and was not only disappointed - we had stomachaches from eating it and couldn't finish the box.

Ice cream too - all these boxes of "New and Improved" formula came out, we looked at the ingredient label, and we discovered there was no cream in the ice cream!  We checked online and confirmed that instead of having real dairy in ice cream, the big food corporations have found it cheaper to make a creamier feeling ice cream product by whipping air into OIL and marketing it as a better ice cream.

"New and Improved" seems to us to be just another way for corporations to cut corners, cut costs, and increase profits while tricking customers into thinking that they are getting something better.

Happens in politics too - look at the "New and Improved" kind of democracy that the Chinese Communists are pushing onto Hong Kong citizens.  It is a fake democracy!  People want real democracy and not the "New and Improved" formula.

We are glad that Tangueros everywhere woke up and realized that the "New and Improved" Tango i.e. Nuevo Tango is just like ice cream with no cream.  We don't see anyone dancing it in Toronto except dancers with whom no other dancer wants to dance with. Since Nuevo Tango is already dead, it is not worth our time talking more about it - just trust us on this, ok?

We don't want "New and Improved" in our lives!  We want the classics - Martha and Manolo, Osvaldo and Coca, Alberto Dassieu, the old milongueros....and we want to dance like them and not follow any new-fashioned Tango fads.  We don't feel like being recalled anytime soon, thank you very much.

Here's a video of Martha and Manolo performing milonga in 2002.  Enjoy!:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Zamba - Maria Jose Palermo y El Puchu "La Siete de Abril" Estancia El Tropezón (08-11-14)

Man Yung was very moved by this beautiful impromptu Zamba between El Puchu and a lady by the name of Maria Jose Palermo:

We don't know the story behind this improvised Zamba but it looks like that El Puchu was invited to perform at this venue with his regular partner, the talented and fiery Gladys Rivero - there are videos of him dancing Tango, Vals, Zamba and Chacarera with Gladys on Youtube in front of the same crowd on the same Youtube channel as well.  But this Zamba by El Puchu and Maria Jose Palermo was particularly touching for Man Yung.

"I'm guessing that Maria Jose Palermo just happened to be there and El Puchu took the opportunity to dance with Maria due to popular demand of the crowd. That's why she isn't wearing any shoes - she kicked them off so she could dance better, and she borrowed the handkerchief from El Puchu and Gladys to use in the Zamba," said Man Yung.  "When you watch El Puchu and Maria dance, it is clear that they haven't rehearsed beforehand, but since they are both experts at folklore, they are well versed in the language of the Zamba.  You get a strong sense that they are communicating and reacting to each other's movements, but their dancing is natural and fresh and doesn't feel choreographed. There is give and take, lead and follow - there is dialogue between them creating this beautiful dance."

I watched the video and I agreed with Man Yung.  "They both look thrilled to be able to improvise with a partner who understands the Zamba at the same level.  The audience looks spellbound."  I did a quick search of Maria Jose Palermo on Youtube - turns out she is an "Profesora Nacional de Danzas".  No wonder why this Zamba between her and El Puchu is just magic.

Quick random thoughts about the Zamba:

1.  We think the Zamba is even more "Romantic" in a way than Tango.  The Zamba we've seen has been about the initial stages of courtship - boy meets girl, love at first sight, everything that makes romance novels and romance movies so popular.  If you look at the audience for this Zamba, the ladies are particularly enthusiastic with their applause.  If only we could be perpetually in the honeymoon stage of love!

2.  Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way.  Red hearts and red roses give way to dirty dishes, kids, mortgages, expanding mid-sections, and general crankiness.  That's when you can start to really appreciate the Tango. 

3.  (In Tango, you can imagine that your partner is Alain Delon* instead of the cranky dude you are stuck with.  Or better, you can dance with another person who is not your partner, and it's not considered cheating. Shhhh - Don't tell Man Yung!)

* Man Yung suggested helpfully, "You can also imagine that you are dancing with George Clooney... Jack Palance or even Charles Bronson, or Mr. Bean!"

I looked at Man Yung like he was crazy.  How did he know that I had the biggest crush on Rowan Atkinson in my teens and to this day I always imagine that I am dancing with him instead of Man Yung?

4. You can't dance the Zamba for hours on end every week - you'd get bored.  "I think it would be exhausting trying to look starry-eyed at your dance partner for more than 15 minutes!" says Man Yung.

5.  However, it is perfectly normal for people to dance the Tango for hours on end every week without getting bored or tired.

6.  During the our last trip to Buenos Aires this May, we actually danced the Zamba at La Nacional.  Osvaldo and Coca thought we danced it really well!  Actually, we didn't dance it well, we forgot most of our steps but since Osvaldo and Coca didn't dance Zamba, they may have thought we were doing a very interesting Hong Kong style interpretation.

7.  A milonga organizer in Toronto once asked whether we would like to perform in his milonga.  We said okay, but on the condition that we will only perform Zamba.  He looked puzzled and maybe even frightened and did not persist in asking us to perform. 

Alberto Dassieu


Roxina and Adrian Canyengueros


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