Monday, August 6, 2018

Sorry - No Points for that

A couple of Toronto's more notorious high kickers and reckless Tasmanian devil whirligig flingers just participated in the Canada Tango Championship last week.  I shuddered and eye rolled until my eyes disappeared into the back of my head when I received word that they were competing.

There was big collective sigh of relief all around when neither of them placed in the top three.  Thank God!

Do we really need these freakin' dangerous dancers to believe that they are entitled, via "good results" in the competition, to kick and knock the bejesus out of everyone around them?  Hell no!  Now don't laugh, but I truly believe that since their heads are so inflated with their own imaginary greatness already, placing in the top three will make their heads so big they will start hitting people with their faces when they dance.

However, the fact they didn't "win" this time only gives me temporary comfort.  I'm sure they are going to try try try again.   And one of these days they are going to make it into the top three, or maybe even WIN, because you can actually win these things (especially in Canada with it's small pool of dancers) by being persistent and signing up year after year after year.  Once the "best" tango couple wins, there's going to be a vacuum and the "next" best will win the next time.  And so on, and so on. One of these days, your local obnoxious kicker/flinger is going to make it and unfortunately, not because they've miraculously become better, or more caring dancers.

As you know we are NOT fans of the "Tango Competition".  It has set a rather superficial and skewed standard of what is considered "good" in Tango in order to make what is not quantifiable quantifiable for ease of judging and now, as we have rightly predicted back in 2008(!), the Tango Borg has taken over the Tango Universe. 

Coming to a Tango Community near you!  Or maybe they are there already :-(

These days, thanks to "Tango Competition", a lot of dancers believe that the only indicator of "good Tango" is how much one can conform to Tango Borg standard, a great deal of which is about looking attractive while dancing and not breaking rules.  Unfortunately, few or NO points are going to be given for any of the following:

1.  Creative, original, idiosyncratic steps.

2.  An embrace that makes you melt.

3.  Musicality that makes you smile.

4.  Ability to adapt to any partner - regardless of size, height, experience - and make them feel wonderful and not inadequate or awkward when they dance with you.

5.  Ability to dance on very crowded dance floors without hurting yourself, your partner or other people.  That means being agile, considerate AND also means being able to edit the stuff you do and still make your dancing lovely and fun, and being able to restrain yourself from showing off the whole goddamn space-hogging figure you were taught/invented.

6.  Being completely bad-ass skillful with the cabeceo.

7.  Being a top notch Chamuyo bull-shitting flirty charmer with your partners.  And making them laugh!

8.  Willingness to dance with ladies who have been sitting all night and haven't been invited to dance because they are not young/attractive/skinny/or don't conform to Tango Borg standard of beauty and skill.

9.  Being "yourself" and no-body else in Tango.  Unless you were born Tango Borg, in which "yourself" means same same same as everyone else who is competing and you will probably WIN.

10.  Just being a great person and a joy to meet and talk to at the milongas.  We have some wonderful people like this in Toronto Tango.  They make everyone feel welcome and at ease and everyone loves seeing them at the milongas.  They may even organize Tango events for charity.  Beautiful souls.

The important things that makes Tango truly Tango for us unfortunately does not score points in Tango Competitions and it really seems like to us that this whole competition thing is rapidly making Tango go to Ballroom competition Hell in a hand basket.

Yes, we have been talking about this topic FOREVER (more blog whining can be found here) but do people ever listen?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

"Just the Way You Are" (sometimes isn't enough)

I've been thinking about writing about this topic for a long time but have hesitated/procrastinated because honestly, I didn't want Man Yung to read this and get mad.

OK, honey, remember you promised that you won't get mad?

I used to admire dancers most for their skill.  For their musicality.  For their elegance, their walk, their moves, or even, ha ha, their "authenticity", whatever that may be.

Yes, all of the above is still admirable, but there's something that trumps all of that.

It's so rare that in fourteen years of dancing and watching other people dance, I have only seen it in three (ok, maybe four) couples.

Those three couples (or four) were so into each other AND into each other's Tango that they didn't give a rat's ass about ANYTHING else.

Now, when you are a couple in Tango, things are not necessarily going to be "Happily Ever After".

You may have met before Tango.  Or you may have met while dancing Tango.

You may have the most wonderful relationship outside of Tango.   Or not.

You may think you are better at Tango than your partner.  Or worse.

You may wish that your partner could dance better.  Or you wish that you could dance better because you feel your partner isn't exactly happy about the way you are dancing.

You may have an ideal image of what you and your partner should look like or dance like in Tango and let's face it, your partner's skill, height, looks and dress does not fit into those parameters.

You may prefer to dance with other people not your partner.  Or you want to dance with your partner very much, but he/she seems to prefer dancing with other people rather than you.

Or neither of you want to dance with each other really.  Or you only want to dance together sometimes for appearance's sake because after all you guys are a couple but let's sit apart in the milonga so that other people won't be afraid to cabeceo us (separately).

Why not one person stay home and play mahjong/watch Netflix/do some online shopping while the other goes obsessively every night to milonga?  Or, in order to avoid any kind of confusion for other tangueros/tangueras that you may be together, why not go to different milongas on different nights...on different continents?

Now, the following describes US (and I just had to google "Irene and Man Yung Tango Kill Argue" to get to the link without having to sort through all our past posts):

You argue a lot over Tango and want to kill each other constantly.

And people still go up to us and say to us, "Wow, you guys dance so beautifully together!  You guys look like you are so in love!!!!"

Thanks for the compliment, but we are NOTHING compared to the three (or four) couples I've seen.

Man Yung keeps on saying to random ladies he dances with, "Love means never having to say you are sorry".

Well, there's absolutely no place for apology in the Tango of those truly blessed couples.

No need to say sorry to each other - when the leader isn't really leading right and the follower isn't really following right.  Nothing is a "mistake", you know each other's Tango so well you just carry right on over any glitch.

No need to say sorry to anyone around them -  when the intensity of their uninterrupted eye to eye staring vertical tango love making is making other people think "For God's sake go Get a Room!"

No need to say sorry to Tango itself - because it doesn't matter how cheesy or "wrong" their Tango is, their all-consuming "Love" makes it right.*

* You look at them and objectively, they are dancing all wrong and ridiculous but it looks fantastic because they are so much in sync and have so much chemistry.  So there.

Do you know what I'm talking about?  In fact, the turdier they dance, the more it shows how much they truly love each other because they just DON'T CARE.  They can be dancing like s*** or maybe not like s*** but it doesn't matter because they are thinking all the time their partner is TANGO PERSONIFIED and OMG TANGO WITH HIM/HER IS THE BEST TANGO IN THE HISTORY OF ALL TANGO.

Yes I envy that and wish that Man Yung and I can be like that instead of "Irene and Man Yung Tango Kill Argue" but oh well.**

** Man Yung says: "No, I cannot be like that, Irene!  My goal is continuous self-improvement, and that includes Tango.  I am constantly improving MYSELF in Tango by watching Youtube vids on continuous loop for more steps.  You must too!  No rest in turdy Tango for the wicked Mwahahahaha!  Crack the whip!  Back to work!  Roll that watermelon!" ***

*** This post is totally serious and we have discussed this topic together and we really do admire those couples for the way they love each other and love each other's Tango.  A love like that is even better than winning any Mundial!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pedro Vujovich and Graciela Cano

The first time we went to Buenos Aires, we were eager to see a number of dancers live.

One couple we would have loved to see dancing in the milongas was Pedro Vujovich and Graciela Cano.  They had won the Metropolitano (Buenos Aires city-wide) competition in 2005 and we saw snippets of them dancing in Oscar Hector's Milonguisimo show in a youtube video.

The few seconds we saw of them dancing in the video of the show were totally awesome - their musicality was impeccable and their style completely unique.  However, when were in Buenos Aires we didn't have an opportunity to catch them and shortly after our visit we heard that Pedro had passed away.

We have been searching for videos of them dancing every since.  We discovered recently their son Gustavo had posted some videos on Youtube of Pedro and Graciela dancing as a tribute to them.  Here's one of them dancing an exhibition of Tango, Vals and Milonga:

There are quite a few more videos of them dancing in Gustavo's youtube channel, including videos of them while competing.  It's fantastic that we are still able to see these examples of their dancing, it's such a treat.

Confession:  Man Yung has been trying to steal Pedro's steps!   But he has not been successful.  I think it's because Pedro and Graciela's style of dancing formed organically from decades of dancing together and you have to look at it as a whole.  It is impossible (as Man Yung has learned) to take out and dissect/steal any one part of it!

We had the pleasure of meeting Graciela once when we went to Club Oeste and Man Yung even had the opportunity of dancing with her.  She's a beautiful dancer and we were happy to know that she still went to dance in the milongas.

A short and charming biography of Pedro Vujovich can be found on the Todotango website here.

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