Saturday, August 30, 2014

Good or Bad?


Come on, admit it....this kind of thing in Tango used to make you cry (and not because you thought it was bad, but because you thought it was good!)

We were asked by a beginner of Tango recently - how can we tell who is a good dancer, and who is a bad dancer?

Our beginner friend pointed to a couple on the floor she felt were good dancers.  "What about them?  They look very good on the dance floor."

"They only look good because they are young, tall, athletic, good looking and skinny and they do a lot of movements, but in my opinion, they aren't really 'good' at Tango.  Look at how the girl is kicking up her heels and how the guy is occupying enough space for ten couples with his movements and how what they are doing has nothing to do with the music and there is absolutely no emotion in their dancing....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

In the middle of pointing out why this couple "looks good, but isn't really that good," I fell asleep out of sheer boredom of having to explain again what is good or bad in Tango. And as I slept, I had dreamy (nightmarish?) flashbacks of Tango we once thought was good....

The elegant local couple who moved Man Yung to tears with their rendition of "Nochero Soy".  The interpretation of "Recuerdo" by Juan Carlos Copes in the movie "Tango" that sent shivers down my spine.  The summer all the Toronto Tangueras fought tooth and nail to dance with the visiting Fabio because we thought that he and his "Tango" was the best thing since sliced bread.  The year we watched every one of our Cosmotango DVDs at least once a week because, gosh golly, what a treasure trove of REAL tango they were!

Of course, now we are all experienced and cynical and we can see all the faults of the things we once admired:

"Lacks music and emotion!"
"Completely choreographed and unsuitable for the dance floor!"
"Dressed like a bum and instead of leading, he shoved!"
"Lacks music and emotion, completely choreographed, lots of shoving instead of leading, and if anyone danced like that on the dance floor, they are looking for a thrashing (or at least, a lot of evil eye)."

Sometimes (and only sometimes), we wish were still caught in our little time warp of naivete.  We may be embarrassed now about the things in Tango we used to adore, but Tango dancers should have a time in their Tango lives when Tango is all wonderful, like a world made up totally of unicorns and rainbows.  Hardened veterans can give little snippets of crucial advice (like, "Tangueras, keep your heels on the floor so you don't kick anyone on purpose or by mistake!" and "Tangueros, don't tailgate and take up all the lanes in the line of dance!"), but on the whole, it is best to let the newcomers enjoy the process of their evolution.  Otherwise how else can you blackmail them with the sordid details of their past Tango preferences when finally, they inevitably blossom into expert international Tango Professionals/Luminaries?

I woke up from my refreshing nap.  Our beginner friend had just returned to the table grimacing and nursing a big bruise on her shin.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I got kicked on the dance floor by those guys!" She pointed to a couple on the dance floor still bouncing backwards and forwards frenetically and knocking into bystanders like they were the ping-pong ball and it was 999th level of Pong.

The perfect illustration.  "Now you know for sure what is good and what is bad in Tango.  Couples who have kicked you or may potentially kick you while you are dancing:  Definitely Bad.  Couples who have not kicked you and don't look like they are doing anything that may kick anyone: Good!"












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Alberto Dassieu

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