Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Lesson

In between watching soccer, playing with our cats and doing laundry this fine Sunday morning, we were searching for tango videos on Youtube. We wanted to check on our "old friends" from Cosmotango (as Man Yung said, "Hey, I don't think I have heard anything about Cosmotango this year - did they even have one?") and so we did a quick search on the usual culprits.

Well, apart from a snippet of a performance on the Cosmotango website, there was nothing on Youtube - I guess the organizers didn't want anyone to steal their "intellectual property" and start duplicating all the moves on the dance floor or in the classes of their own mini Nuevo festival? Anyway, it was not a big loss - just from the clip we saw and some videos from 2008 that were available we knew not only were we not missing anything, we had ample proof that age, time, experience, innate talent and hours of vigorous acrobatic practice can, in some instances, do nothing to improve one's tango and in fact, make it a lot worse (no surprise there).

We did come across a new video from Marisa Galindo's youtube site though! As the tango blogging community has already reported, Marisa Galindo has been uploading clips from the show she organized in the 90's with all the older generation dancers (our teacher Martha Anton was also in the show) and the footage is rare and amazing. She has recently uploaded the video of all the dancers on the stage dancing La Cumparsita in a simulated "Milonga" scene:

"La Cumparsita" with the Greats

This video is a treat because a) we can't stand watching cookie-cutter "contemporary" "campeonato salon style" tango dancers on youtube anymore - for us, it's the videos of the unique older dancers that are really worth looking at; b) there's a lesson to be learned looking at this milonga scene.

If you watch closely, there are "show-off" dancers (not exactly the same as "show dancers" - there is a distinction, you know) and "dancers from the milonga" on stage together at the same time in this video. Much like what you would find in a milonga of today.

And just like in a milonga, you have the "show-off" dancers doing every single "show-off" movement they know - regardless of the line of dance, the people around them, and the fact that perhaps it is inappropriate to finish the step sequence they have programed into their bodies given the music and the space available!

The "dancers from the milonga" can be dancing plainly (Portalea and Marta) or fancy (the gentleman in the brown jacket with the young girl, or Lito and Lidia) but some things they do really well are a) staying calm, despite the profusion of high boleos and charging "show-off" bodies; b) dancing in the music; and c) navigation - which frequently means expertly changing directions and running away from the "show-off's" when they come too close!

As I said, there's a lesson to be learned from all of this. Man Yung has to learn how to "run away" when he feels crowded by crazy "show-off's" in the milonga - would Portalea start to use his partner, helicopter-blade style, as a weapon in this instance? Not likely.


Simba said...

Ahh -- the cosmotango dvds, I remember the time when I waited for each new rendition. Then one year, I realized I was not so excited, even after receiving it in the mail. The reason was youtube. Where my favorite dancers were to be found :-)

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Simba,

Youtube has really changed the face of tango, for good and bad. The good: anyone can go online and see thousands of examples of what tango should look like. The downside: people refusing to take any classes at all because they can get it free from youtube. You can spot these quite easily in the milonga - plenty of high-kicking awkward looking moves but no sense of lead, follow or navigation!

Thanks for your comment!

Simba said...

In my experience, there were plenty of that kind before youtube as well, so I won't blame youtube for that :-)

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