Monday, April 28, 2008

Laughter. But mostly tears.

Many dancers in Toronto are gradually becoming aware of the existence of this blog. The people who have come up to us so far have had mostly positive comments - but it's only time before someone will come up to us and tell us that they feel offended by what we have posted.

Dear offended: I don't blame you for feeling hurt, because yes, if you feel that we are laughing at or criticizing you, your feelings are justified because we are. And we aren't sparing your feelings.

Not that it would make any difference to you, but let me explain. I don't write about you out of any sense of malice, vendetta or grudge, or because I want a target when I write something funny.

I write to you from a place of sadness. Sadness that you, and others like you, can say you love tango and yet be so self-unaware to be still doing the awful things that you do on the dance floor and in our dance community. Sadness that the way you think and the way you act are destroying that tango that we love.

I don't think I am the only tango blogger or dancer who has looked out on the dance floor or has read the latest tango news and have felt a chill take over my heart. The milongas in Buenos Aires are now densely populated with tourists who either can't dance or are too busy showing off to respect the line of dance or the codigos of the milonga. All over the world, the tango scene is filled with the arrogant and ignorant - the brand new teacher who has only been dancing for six months and who can't even walk properly, the mediocre instructors who are trying to find a teaching niche for themselves by combining tango with their other totally unrelated hobbies, and the so-called tango gurus who abuse tango and take advantage of the ignorance of other dancers to make money or gain power. I see followers being man-handled by leaders with poor personal hygiene who charge around on the dance floor doing every dangerous high-kicking nuevo or show tango step they know. I see followers not following but doing every ugly adornment in the book and making strange fake faces that have nothing to do with what they really feel but what they think they should be emoting. Tango music is beautiful, heart-wrenching, emotional, transcendental - people are moving around on the dance floor but they aren't dancing to it - either because no-one is listening, or no-one has learned how to dance it.

The milongueros and old masters, with their vast dancing experience and knowledge of tango, try to go to foreign countries to teach foreigners how to feel and dance their music. But no-one is taking their classes because they are not interested in "50's/40's/30's style tango" or whatever "old-fashioned thing" they are teaching - while people flock to nuevo workshops or workshops with the trendiest label or most peculiar flavour. People are not learning how to listen to the music or to connect with the music or each other - instead of learning to love the dance and dancing it for itself, people are conditioned to seek the biggest egotistical, physical or intellectual thrill - the fanciest, showiest and most challenging new step; the most complicated, arcane, far-fetched theories of tango. And when the thrill is gone - they move on to the next thing.

I see the milongas emptying out because people just can't connect to tango - they have become too misdirected in their tango path by the charlatan teachers and marketing geniuses of tango to have fallen in love with the dance for what it is, and to stick with it because of the emotion and beauty it creates in their hearts.

Tango is dying. The milongueros are dying. Who will show us the way when they are gone?

I have no aspirations that my writing can change the world or the way that you act and think. But if I have made you know that somewhere, someone's watching you and has your number, then I've fulfilled the purpose in writing this blog.

I relish the day when the muse for my writing will no longer be the ridiculous, the ugly, or the destructive - when it will no longer be YOU. I look forward to the day when I shall write only about the beautiful music I heard last night at the milonga, the happiness and tranquility in the faces of my friends when they have danced the perfect tanda, and the warmth, love and sincerity in the embraces of our argentinian friends when we see them again.

Until that day, there'll always be a spot on this blog for you.

2 comments:

Movement Invites Movement said...

Hear hear!

Thank you for speaking out loud and helping others become aware (of their ignorance?)... People are getting tired of hearing Jani & i vent about these very issues - although soon we will do it through our own blog when we leave for the "mother land" :)

Why are we called fundamentalists when we choose to learn ARGENTINE TANGO and not "Playground Tango"?
(see: http://blogcritics.org/
archives/2008/04/15/125453.php)

I had actually posted a note on my FaceBook (for fun)- "Tango has become your philosophy when..." and i had chosen MY top 20 (out of a couple hundred i believe). Number 13 was:

13) MINE: You realize that Argentine tango can only truly be danced to tango music (changed from: Your ear has been trained to recognize the tango possibilities in all forms of music)

Well, one Toronto instructor decided to copy my top 20 AND state my name on a mass email sent out to the tango community. Which was fine... except for the fact that the instructor changed my #13 by deleting the part that said MINE!? What nerve and how rude! Why didn't she just post her own top 20 then?

Jani & i are very saddened by the state of tango in our community too... unfortunately, my sadness usually comes out in frustration and anger... "Tango isn't salsa people! Have some respect" :)

As for the new Alberto videos... for us, it's the vals. Alberto's musicality is so lovely... I can truly appreciate Man Yung's tears.

J&K

Irene Ho said...

Dear Kristina and Jani,
Thanks for commenting on this rather "inflammatory" post of mine, I totally share your frustration and anger.
As for the misappropriation of your "list", I say, fortunately I haven't been receiving the mass emails from the person you speak of, but from what you describe,her actions are symptomatic of one thing - NO SHAME.
But no matter. You can't become a great dancer unless you have a sense of humility. Instead of following the music and following the lead, she is following her oversized ego and stealing, manipulating, misappropriating, bullying and generally abusing tango in her insatiable greed for attention, power, money, etc.
Too bad for her. I just hope that we can always retain a good sense of humility to keep us in balance.

Alberto Dassieu

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