Sunday, September 20, 2009


In our tango journey, we've had terrific opportunities that we did not miss (like taking all 52 hours of classes that Martha and Manolo held in Toronto), and "Whew! Close-call" lucky breaks that we took advantage of (like not being fooled into choosing the nice young gentleman who dances badly in sneakers as our first Tango teacher).

But in Tango, as in Life, there are some things we cannot help but regret.

Tangocommuter just unearthed and posted a newly discovered video of Ricardo Vidort here (But IMHO, the best example of his best dancing on the web is here). What a great dancer, but now he is gone. Now all we have are snippets of footage and the memories of those who knew him.

Most people miss the opportunity to learn from the greats of the older generation by not traveling to Buenos Aires, or by traveling to Buenos Aires and just taking classes for three weeks with either people with trophies, or people who claim to have learned from the greats and have big long resumes to show for it.

We missed the opportunity to learn from Ricardo Vidort when he was RIGHT HERE IN TORONTO.

Ricardo was in Toronto for the first Toronto International Tango Festival, must be at least four or five years ago. We saw Ricardo demonstrating in the opening night milonga, and also at Club Milonga, and we saw him hang around a few of the local milongas after the festival.

We knew he was giving some classes and some "talks" about the culture of the milongas. But somehow he failed to capture our interest - and indeed, the interest of a lot of other Toronto Tango folk. We didn't understand the concept of milonguero or close-embrace (except that it seemed kind of boring and stuffy), there was no Youtube to educate - and any tango that didn't have at least one or both persons flying in the air was kind of lame to us (and to most of Toronto Tango), so... well, Ricardo fell under our radar. He just didn't register.

In fact, Man Yung knew Ricardo was watching us while we happily and obliviously danced our "Tango Estilo del Centro" in the Toronto milongas. Yes, even in those days we were kind of different and stood out.

It wasn't until years later, when we finally knew who Ricardo was, that Man Yung told me.

"You know, when Ricardo Vidort was in Toronto, he once tried to get my attention while I was on the way to the washroom? He stopped me, and started demonstrating some steps. He seemed friendly. I thought he was just showing off or having a lark. But I didn't speak Spanish so there wasn't any point trying to communicate. So I just smiled and went on my way."

"What do you think he meant?" I asked.

"Now that I have gotten to know some of the older dancers and have some insight on how they think, I understand. Something I was doing on the dance floor reminded him of the way that the older generation danced, but I was probably doing it wrong. He saw potential in me and wanted to correct me, and teach me what was right. But I had no idea. I missed my chance to learn from him and I feel ashamed to think of it."

It was a missed opportunity, but who knows. Given our level of dancing and understanding, our lack of knowledge of Spanish at that time - no, even when I replay the scenario over again in my head, it wouldn't have worked. It may have been the right person, but it was the wrong time. And if we became Ricardo's students, would our history with Martha and Manolo, Alberto, Osvaldo and Coca be the same?

Missing our chance to learn from Ricardo Vidort, from Pedro Vujovich, from Pupi....these are the regrets we have to live with.... But at least we know our regrets. At least we can learn from that.

How many out there don't know enough to KNOW to regret what they have missed?


Tangocommuter said...

Lovely post. At least we do have a few videos to watch, and some of the best are on Tango & Chaos. I think there are more to come, and more about him too. I was fortunate to get one lesson with him: I was a total beginner and I didn't know who he was, but he made sense in a way the other teachers didn't. Sadly, it was his last visit to the UK.

Incidentally, he spoke excellent English, and I assume he would have been teaching in English in Toronto. & I didn't 'unearth' the video: I just noticed it on YouTube, and linked it on the blog.

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Tangocommuter,

Darn drat! We didn't know that Ricardo spoke English well. That kind of makes our regrets..... EVEN WORSE.

We're always checking your blog to see the videos you are finding on Youtube. You seem always to be the first to notice newly posted gems!

Thanks for your comment,

Irene and Man Yung

toronto argentine tango associates inc said...

Many years ago, while visiting a milonga in New York, we met Ricardo and I was lucky that he asked me to dance. Unfortunately, we didn't know who he was and we didn't take advantage of the opportunity to invite him to Toronto to teach. C'est dommage!

Anonymous said...

Ricardo Vidort wasn't appreciated for what he knew about tango. He spoke fluent English when he lived in NYC and still many passed up the opportunity to study with him.

In January 2001, he talked about his life in my apartment while I recorded him. I have these precious 17 minutes on tape. Even more precious are the tangos and milongas I danced with him in Salon Canning, Club Gricel, Salon El Pial, etc.

Ricardo was a true milonguero and gentleman. I'll never forget him.

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