Surfing on Youtube recently, we stumbled upon a series of Tango programs called "Entre Nosotros Tango con Osvaldo Rivas". It's a series of one hour variety shows devoted completely to Tango, hosted by singer Osvaldo Rivas, who used to be the lead singer for the orchestra of Donato Racciatti.
"Between Us Tango" is charmingly makeshift. In fact, the show reminds us of Public Access TV programs like "Wayne's World", except that instead of Metalheads, you have Tangueros! However, what the show lacks in production values it makes up for in content and enthusiasm. Our Spanish is not the best and we don't understand everything that is going on in the show, but our general impression is that the producers and Osvaldo Rivas himself are serious and passionate about Tango. You can see the love and care with which they bring their world of Tango to their audience.
I don't think I've seen any other tango show with so much content and hardly any filler. When Osvaldo's Rivas' guest singers sing, they sing for like half an hour. When the guest dancers dance, they dance at least three dances - usually a tango, a vals and a milonga. When Osvaldo Rivas interviews his guests the interviews seem to be at least ten minutes long. You never get the sense - as you would get in most North American late night talk shows - that any guest is there just for thirty seconds and then it's time to cut to commercial.
Unfortunately, we have no idea about the current tango music scene so we can't comment on the singers on the show, but luckily we are somewhat knowledgeable about dancers. The show features a few relatively big names like Nito and Elba and Oscar Hector, but there are many dancers that we have never seen. Some are young, some are old; some dance "stage" style, some dance "salon" style, some dance "milonguero" style. Some of them are excellent; some of them would be considered "not great" by any of the current trendy standards. But none of this seems to matter. It seems to us that Osvaldo Rivas treats everyone - from the humble barrio "mom and pop" tango couples, to the eager tango professional wannabes, to the established performers and teachers - with the same respect and interest, as if all his guests were the Clint Eastwoods, George Clooneys and Angelina Jolies of Tango.
The show's respectful attitude towards all its Tango participants reminds us of something that our teachers Martha and Manolo have mentioned to us in the past. We, like many of the current tango generation who have started to learn tango within the last decade, can sometimes get caught up in the "tango authenticity" game. We get carried away with debates about what is "pure" or "authentic" or what is "tango" or "not tango".
We remember complaining to Martha and Manolo about how horribly and "inauthentically" some people are dancing Canyengue, and how others are making a mockery of Tango or Vals or Milonga.
"What is the (Tango) world coming to?" we asked, exasperated. We feared an apocalypse.
"So long they are still dancing Tango, Tango will survive," Martha and Manolo replied.
Some people try to make their names in Tango by presenting themselves as the last bastion of "Tango Authenticity". "You have to listen to us and people like us," they say. "We are the only ones who know the TRUTH of Tango. Just look and compare our pure immaculate style to what you get out there - you will see that all those who don't dance like us are ridiculous, disgusting. We are the true heirs of Tango." They cannot bear any dissent. They ridicule any one who does not fit in their specific, rigorously tailored mold.
Maria Nieves once said, "No-one owns the truth to Tango." Then, is the kernel of Tango's truth in all of us, or in none of us? Or, as the title of Osvaldo Riva's show suggests, does the truth of "Tango" lie in the space "Between Us"? And in the end, does it matter?
As Martha and Manolo has said, "So long they are still dancing Tango, Tango will survive."
Every one of us is important in this, the greatest story of Tango ever told.
While we are still pondering this issue, why don't you enjoy some of the dancing and singing on the show?
Entre Nosotros Tango con Osvaldo Rivas Program 2:
Dancers: Laura Vasica y Julio Cesar Cordi
19:40 Tango - Milonga de 40
22:15 Milonga - La Milonga que Faltaba
24:39 Vals - Corazon de Oro
Entre Nosotros Tango con Osvaldo Rivas Program 1:
Dancers: Oscar Hector y Mily Vallejo
24:59 Tango - Patetico
27:45 Vals - Viejo Porton
29:55 Tango - Poema
Martha's Apartment in Buenos Aires
A Non-exhaustive set of Tango links in Toronto
- La Cachila - weekly milonga
- Paradiso -- weekly milonga
- Practica El Beso
- WE Tango
- Tango Sur - classes, shows
- Rhythm and Motion - classes, milonga, practica, annual Toronto Tango Festival
- Tango Obsession - classes, weekly Practica La Coqueta
- Tango Lirico - classes, practica, weekly milonga
- Tango de Oro - classes, shows
- Tango Soul Productions - classes, weekly milonga, shows, El Congreso annual Tango Festival
- Vivatango - classes
- Tango Argentino - classes
- Club Milonga - classes, special events
- Alternatango - classes, weekly milonga
- University of Toronto Tango Club - classes, practica
- El Abrazo - classes
- Tangoloft - twice monthly milonga