Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Remember The Borg? The ultimate villains of the Star Trek universe, subject of multitudinous episodes of The Next Generation, spinoff movies and books - who can forget them?

Just in case you forgot, this is a handy overview from a trekky website:

The Borg's need for new technological advancements, and their obsession with the perfection of the 'body', has ultimately cost them their humanity. They now lack any emotional responses or individuality, which is why they are easily the most feared species in the Star Trek universe. The Borg's dependence on technology serves as a warning to humanity not to sacrifice our individuality and our emotions--in essence our humanity--for perfection through inorganic enhancements.

You know what? Seems like the Tango universe has been invaded by the Borg these days. Did everyone start taking lessons from the Academy of Borg?

There's Show Tango Borg:

Note: "My hair is greasy and slicked back - check. My suit is tight and just right - check. No expression on my face - check. Am I doing moves that induce LSD flashbacks to Tangox2 and every single other Tango show ever known to humankind? - check."

Villa Urquiza Tango Borg:

Note: "Look, we may be upright but we are just so not 'Show Tango' - we don't jump around or do back sacadas, you know! Don't tell us how to dance in a 'Salon' - of course we can, since we are very sensible and we keep our feet on the floor and do lots of giros. We are the TRUE authentic Villa Urquiza - can't you tell by our constant adorning? Oh yes, we take our perfection very seriously, and we don't need to smile because we are PERFECT."

And believe it or not, there's even Milonguero-style Tango Borg!!!:

Note: "We must be dancing Milonguero Style because we are dancing so very very close, you can't wedge a toothpick between us. And we are doing the same three steps over and over again! Can't crack a smile - must look dead serious, perfection is a serious matter and not to be joked about! Because if we deviate the Borg-meister will tear out our entrails and feed them to a pack of wild dogs. Mommy, I'm scared!"

And last and not least, hasn't the Camponeato Mundial become "El Carnival de Borg"?:

Only a mere 20 years ago, people danced like this:

So what if your posture isn't perfect? So what if your arms in the embrace are not exactly "just so"? So what if you are smiling and enjoying yourselves and doing funny little moves and separations not codified by the Academy of Borg? So what if everyone is dancing totally differently from everyone else? Isn't tango about savoring the music with your partner in the dance?

Apparently not, tango nowadays is all about adhering PERFECTLY to THE CODE OF BORG, Chapter XVIII, Section 4.2, paragraph A subsection d.

(What? You don't own a copy of THE CODE OF BORG? Shame on you. You are't allowed to dance tango unless you have memorized it from cover to cover and back again.)

If the Academy of Borg catches anyone these days dancing like the people in this videoclip, chances are the Borg-meister will start cracking the whip and yelling - WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!! And then you will have to take thousands of dollars worth of private classes to get in line with THE CODE OF BORG, because we don't want to dance all WRONG, do we?

I'm guessing at the rate we are going, by 2015, we will all be assimilated by The Borg and we will have to dance tango like this:



Irene and Man Yung said...

Manolo always tells me that his tango and the tango of his "tango brothers" Juan Bruno and Rodolfo Cieri "no es academia". The way they danced, and the way a lot of their generation danced, was all about individuality and not about something that you learned "at an academy". It was a point of pride.
Knowing this, it is frightening to see the "codification" and "academization" that is happening in Tango these days.
To a certain point, academization of tango is helpful for beginners to learn this difficult dance. However, after a certain point - and certainly crucial at the level when a dancer feels ready to go out and teach others - the dancer must realize that quality in the dance does not rest in some artificial adherence to some strict manufactured standard of perfection. If we are talking about trying to achieve perfection in certain "standard styles" of dancing (no matter how helpful these standards are for judges to award points in competitions), we become no better than pedigree show dogs at a dog show circuit. Or ballroom dancers in a dancesport competition.
After this certain point, any criticisms based on adherence to any standard "style" are foolish, narrow-minded and invalid. Are you not dancing tango because your hand position is not a certain way, that your head position is not a certain way, or that your feet position are not a certain way? If these little nitpicking criticisms are all to do with conforming to someone's dictatorial concept of "correct style" and nothing to do with functionality or facilitating the dancer's enjoyment of the dance, skills in leading and following and ability to interpret the music, those criticisms should be rightly ignored.
Examples: contrast how Fino and Portalea dance with the way the modern "Villa Urquiza" couple dances. Fino dances in a completely different way from Portalea, yet both have been categorized by some people as "Villa Urquiza". The way the modern "Villa Urquiza" couple dances has no relation to the way that Fino and Portalea dance, and you would really be straining to make an overarching "Villa Urquiza" connection between all three examples - but yet it is commonly acknowledged that the modern couple and the Campeonato Mundial couples are all dancing in the same style marketed nowadays as "Villa Urquiza". Same with the "Milonguero Style" couple - obviously they are adhering to some kind of style they feel is "Milonguero Style", but what a contrast if you view their performance right next to performances of dancers like Osvaldo Centeno, Nelly and Pocho, the Milonguisimo performers etc.
As dancers of tango, we must be very cautious and not be lulled into illusory quests for perfection through "style". Dance what makes you laugh, cry, sing, what makes you ugly or beautiful, sad or happy - dance what is YOU. Don't dance like you have graduated from Academy of Borg - or what a Stumpy Tailed Cattle Dog looks like in a Pedigree rulebook.

tangocherie said...

What a fantastic post! Love it, and a point (or several) well made!

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Cherie,

Thanks for your comment and for understanding what I'm talking about! I sincerely hope that we will continue to be able to dance tango as it should be - from the music and from our hearts - because if the Borg Academy tells me that I'm dancing "all wrong", I certainly don't want to be right!

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