Saturday, August 31, 2013

Signs that you are dancing the Best Tango in the Universe

1.  You swirl your feet for an obligatory 20 seconds at the beginning of any music in a creative, inventive, artistic - heck, even 'original' and 'individualistic' - manner.   Sure, every couple doing your style of dancing is doing the same thing, but the way you do it is somehow a million times more special!

2.  You then "walk" in "close embrace" for another obligatory 20 seconds.  This shows that you are passionate about the two cornerstones of Tango, being "The Embrace" and "The Walk".   Doesn't matter that you quickly abandon both of them because a) you can't do exciting figures if you don't separate and b) you don't want to bore the audience and the judges doing nothin' but walkin'!

3.  Not only do you totally separate, you are hanging on to your partners by the tips of your fingernails for the rest of the Tango - you are so carried away with the thrill of the music (and by the thrill of executing big fast spins and enormous movements with all those jutting elbows and knees and kicking heels that would probably kill all the little old milongueros within five feet of you on a crowded Buenos Aires dance floor).

4.  In fact, you are so thrilled by all those eye-popping movements you will do them irregardless of compas or music or both.  Haven't you heard?  It is sooooooooooo 2004 to fit your Tango to the music, and heck, isn't it more interesting when you don't?

5.  You've got them all fooled into thinking you are improvising, and thousands will flock to take lessons from you on HOW TO DANCE TANGO SOCIALLY.  Come on, do you really believe that all those intricate step sequences and giros can be spontaneously generated by lead and follow, and all those fancy beat-skipping logic-defying adornments can be done just because the leader is giving the follower enough time to do them?  Here's the secret: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE... YER CHOREOGRAPHY.

6.   You dance in a style with a long and ancient pedigree - nope, not "Fino" and not "Portalea", and not even "Villa Urquiza", because if you look closely and compare, none of the old style milongueros danced remotely like you.  However, what you are dancing is something right out of a Miguel Zotto stage show, and that's several...years old already, right?


Actually, we think that this "Tango de Salon" by Miguel Zotto and Milena Plebs is a very good piece of dancing - but we are not going to forget that this was choreographed for the STAGE and this dancing is an adaptation of some of what Miguel Zotto had seen in the milongas for STAGE PERFORMANCE purposes.  They call it "Tango de Salon" but really it is a FANTASY of "Tango de Salon" and not completely suitable for social dancing.  Take note: Most of the competitors in the contemporary Tango de Salon or Tango de Pista competitions are dancing in a style almost identical to this these days (except the competitors unabashedly dance even more 'open' than Zotto and Plebs!), but just because they have named it something that sounds like you can do it in milonga, doesn't mean you can really execute this kind of dancing in a milonga and not make yourself into a total dance floor a-hole.

7.  Hey look!  Even what you wear is exactly something right out of a Miguel Zotto stage show -  in that part where the dancers pretend they are in a real milonga.  Of course, not really a real milonga, because you can't fit more than six couples dancing like that in a real milonga before everyone will start getting into everyone else's way.

8.  Didn't you hear?  They now call what you are dancing "Tango de Pista" so that all those tango skeptics out there would stop questioning whether the stuff you are dancing is truly suitable for a real-life dance floor situation (it is not).

9. This is true - you will encounter people who admire your straight-backed, bloodless, emotionless, cool as a cucumber, technical, by-the-rule-book dancing so much they will be moved to tears and couldn't stop gushing about your "embrace" and your "elegance" and your "musicality" and your "passion" etc.  This makes us roll our eyes and contemplate that you can slap a label onto anything and there's always someone out there who will believe it.

10.  Look, they hand out trophies for the way you dance!  A sure-fire sign that you are dancing the Best Tango in the Universe!





11 comments:

Pm said...

Great and funny description, I have seen this "Best of Universe unique tango performance" so many times :)

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Pm,

We agree with you - it's like, this is becoming so common that it's almost ALL you get to see if you want to watch any new Tango video on Youtube!

Watching this kind of Tango makes us feel nothing - except ANNOYED.

Thanks for your comment!

Irene and Man Yung

Christine--RHP said...

'annoyed' is a good way to describe it...or 'bored'
;)

Janis said...

In my early days of tango, I used to think Zotto & Milena were the best and saw their shows several times. Watching that video today I see fancy footwork with no connection to the music. We were all fooled into believing that was tango of the milongas.

Chern 朋友 said...

"This is true - you will encounter people who admire your straight-backed, bloodless, emotionless, cool as a cucumber, technical, by-the-rule-book dancing so much they will be moved to tears and couldn't stop gushing about your "embrace" and your "elegance" and your "musicality" and your "passion" etc."

What's wrong with good posture and good technique?

"Take note: Most of the competitors in the contemporary Tango de Salon or Tango de Pista competitions are dancing in a style almost identical to this these days (except the competitors unabashedly dance even more 'open' than Zotto and Plebs!), but just because they have named it something that sounds like you can do it in milonga, doesn't mean you can really execute this kind of dancing in a milonga and not make yourself into a total dance floor a-hole."

Well, if they have enough space they can do these things. If they don't they won't.

Besides, who says milongueros don't open up their embrace do those kinds of things when there is enough space? Take a look at this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuIVHxEO5Es

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Chern,

Nothing wrong with good posture. It's the "bloodless, emotionless, cool as a cucumber, technical, by-the-rule-book dancing" that's the problem. And the uninformed, Emperor's New Clothes "gushing" by people who think that this kind of dancing is superior just because... they win trophies for it?

Only doing space-hogging stuff just because there is space for it? You must be living in utopia. What we have seen is that dancers of this style (ESPECIALLY visiting professionals - it's like they are privileged and have a carte blanche to be inconsiderate) do it anyway and expect the crowds to part like the red sea before Moses. But you are right, there are considerate dancers of this style. Since their navigation skills are limited, they try out the crowded dance floor, bump around a few times... and then sit down for a few hours until almost everyone has left so they can have space to dance.

You pointed out something relevant - Championship Style dancers are dancing kind of like the people in the video! More "Orillero" than "Canyengue" though.

Thanks for your comment,

Irene and Man Yung





NelsonStJames said...

Starting to sound like the old my style is superior to your style debate. Fact is poor floor craft is poor floor craft regardless of what style you call it. I've seen people who are dancing strict milonguero who exhibited extremely poor floor craft and I've seen very good dancers doing "salon" that had excellent floor craft and never abused the space.

There has been this mythologizing of the the old-timers that a lot of purest have adopted as gospel, but if you were blessed to talk to a lot of those guys, you find out they were pretty much going through the same stuff -- mainly how do I distinguish myself from all these other guys.

Chern 朋友 said...

"Nothing wrong with good posture. It's the "bloodless, emotionless, cool as a cucumber, technical, by-the-rule-book dancing" that's the problem. And the uninformed, Emperor's New Clothes "gushing" by people who think that this kind of dancing is superior just because... they win trophies for it?"

Sorry, but that is your subjective view that they are bloodless, emotionless, etc. I don't see if that way, and many people would likely agree with me. I agree the dancing is quite homogenous, thought.

"Only doing space-hogging stuff just because there is space for it? You must be living in utopia. What we have seen is that dancers of this style (ESPECIALLY visiting professionals - it's like they are privileged and have a carte blanche to be inconsiderate) do it anyway and expect the crowds to part like the red sea before Moses. But you are right, there are considerate dancers of this style."

Perhaps you're either being quite harsh or basing this on an small sample size. I've seen Christian Marquez dance in a milonga, I've seen other " dancers of this style" dance in milongas- heck I've even seen Chicho dance in a milonga and they are all quite considerate and do not expect the crowd to part like the Red Sea. Their navigation skills are also quite good.


"Since their navigation skills are limited, they try out the crowded dance floor, bump around a few times... and then sit down for a few hours until almost everyone has left so they can have space to dance."

How can you judge that their navigation skills are limited if you only see these people dance in a setting where there is plenty of room?

"You pointed out something relevant - Championship Style dancers are dancing kind of like the people in the video! More "Orillero" than "Canyengue" though."

So if this is so, then why do you approve of the dancing of milongueros such as Alberto Dassieu, Osvaldo and Coca Cartery, etc. and not the "Championship Style dancers" who dance like the milongueros in the video?

Just curious about your thoughts.

Best

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Chern,

Thanks for taking the time to comment again.

Yes, in our subjective view we find the championship dancing cold and emotionless. We know plenty of people who think differently and gush endlessly when they see this kind of dancing - we don't agree with the assessment that championship dancing is rich in emotion and feeling. We have milonguero friends who have been dancing fifty years or more who agree with us. Of course, it is all our subjective opinion.

We are frustrated by the people who think Championship Style dancing is the most remarkably emotion filled thing since "The Notebook". If we say, "That's not true, they are like robots!" and you don't agree with us, well, it's going to be impossible to convince you.

Navigation: Yes, there are exceptions - not every single championship dancer is terrible at navigation, but their championship style of dancing is definitely a handicap because it is based more on SHOWING elegance, long steps, big turns or whatever wins points in a competition. If they are navigating well in a crowded situation, they have switched to a different style - something more close, with smaller steps, etc. No way are they going to dance whatever they used to win a competition and not have some rough bumping on a floor that is so crowded that it takes you a tanda or more to complete a ronda around the edge.

Yes, we can judge their dancing, we have observed many of this style of dancing in a crowded room. The movements that they know can't be executed without space - and we can see them fail miserably after a few bumps into other couples and sit down. Those are the considerate ones, the ones with the big heads keep on doing the fast spins and big steps - even kicks and ganchos, we have recently seen this in a Championship couple (who actually won!) with our own eyes, we weren't hallucinating. And they DID expect us to "Make way! Make way!"

Not sure what you are getting at when you mention Alberto Dassieu and Osvaldo and Coca. If you think that they dance identically to the style danced by the modern standard "Championship Style" dancer, well, or that the dancers in the video dance like them, well, we can't help you, we see very well that they are very very different, it's quite obvious to us if not to you.

All the best,

Irene and Man Yung

Chern 朋友 said...

Hi Irene and Man Yung,

The only two people that know how emotion filled a dance is are the two people sharing the embrace and dancing. I am not sure how you can claim it's cold if you aren't really dancing with them.

Of course these dancers are not going to dance this way in a milonga if it's crowded. Most people will dance more tightly with smaller steps when it gets crowded. Their "campeonato style" can be scaled down.

Yes, we can judge their dancing, we have observed many of this style of dancing in a crowded room.

Re championship couple telling you to make way: Well, I cannot refute you since I was not there so I will take your word for it. That said, you cannot generalize this to everybody.

Sorry- I think I stated my point incorrectly. I am not saying Alberto Dassieu and Osvaldo and Coca dance alike, nor am I saying they dance similar to the championship couples, or the the old milongueros in the videos that I posted above. What I am trying to say is that you often use old milongueros' opinions to back up your points, which is completely fine, since they have been dancing for their entire lives, and without them we would not have tango. However, I would say the old milongueros in that video do more extravagant things (kicks, boleos, ganchos, whatever) than the championship dancers. Clearly, they could not dance this way in a crowded milonga, in the same way that championship dancers cannot dance the way they do on the stage in a crowded milonga- they could only do this in a more spaces milonga (like Sunderland or something). I have not mentioned you disapproving of the milongueros in the video, yet I hear you denouncing the championship dancers, suggesting what they dance is not real social tango. Yet, we see old milongueros in the milonga dancing in even more extravagant fashion. Do you think these old milongueros in the video are not dancing authentic social tango either, then?

(Btw sorry if I come across as antagonistic- not trying to sound this way, and it's hard to convey tone across the internet- just trying to have a discussion)


Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Chern,

We disagree that the only way we could feel emotion is by "dancing with the Championship Style" couple - even though we have both danced with such couples, and found the particular dancers we danced with not as full of feeling as say, dancing with Osvaldo and Coca and Alberto Dassieu as you have mentioned, for example. One in fact reminded Irene of "The Hollow Men" - she could feel the blankness inside and she shudders at the memory. They (the ones we have danced with) were more concerned with transmitting elegance and correctness than conveying emotion and getting carried away by the music and the embrace - but then, we have not danced with "ALL" the Championship Style dancers in the world, as you sometimes point out.

We believe many would agree that emotion can be transmitted to the onlooker by the dance, we are moved when we watch certain milongueros dance, and this is without actually dancing with them. It's kind of weird that you would say that we would only know emotion by dancing with CS dancers - if that's the only way we could feel it, this confirms that their transmission of emotion is sorely lacking.

If a CS dancer is able to navigate a very crowded floor by cutting out the big walking and spins and by dancing small... perhaps he isn't dancing Championship Style anymore but something else more suitable for milonga setting? Doesn't this prove our point?

We are not going to slam the old orillero dancers in the videos, we recognize some of them from the documentary "Tango Baile Nuestro" - their style was born out of of places where there was more space, in the milongas of the barrio. However, if you put them in a crowded downtown milonga, they would also have to "scale" it down, unless they were looking for a fight. As each individual dancer was different, some would be able to adapt to crowded environments, and some wouldn't.

We still don't agree with what you say and we don't think you have proved your point, but we appreciate you voicing your opinion.

Irene and Man Yung

Alberto Dassieu

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