Why I offer monthly Argentine Tango Foundation Bootcamps: Immersion learning: After teaching 4-6 week beginner series, I found the level of retention from week to week was very low, and most of the class was just reviewing what was forgotten or vague from the week before. Then as a teacher there is pressure to add more even if the students aren’t ready so that they think “they got their money’s worth” Fluency and perspective in the “language” of tango: In a one hour class, a teacher only has enough time to show the student one example of a principal, element, or rule of tango. If the student doesn’t get exposure to multiple variations or time to understand the underlying rule, their idea or concept of tango can get blocked or stuck on one sequence in the dance, paving the way for a long journey down a dead end road. Differential (a variety of differing)material is needed to understand how the rules in the dance are applied. Exposure to all of the Core Movements of Argentine Tango: Tango is made up of some very fundamental elementsWalk3 tracks3 directionsChanges of weightTwist or pivotCircular movementCrosswalks and parallel walks That’s all! Seriously. If you don’t get exposure and mastery of these basics, youcan wander around in the world of tango for years without finding the freedom of improvisation and the attention to the communication of elements. Culture:After over 23 years in tango and over 27 years in pretty much every style of dance, it is my firm belief that in order to understand Argentine tango you have to embrace the culture that created it. Language, social expression, and day to day habits and needs are very different in Buenos Aires than in Seattle (for instance). Without a willingness to start investigating the cultural context of tango it’s just cultural appropriation. Work of the man, work of the woman:Regardless of which role you want to learn, we all practice elements of both roles in my school, understanding the energetic and functional differences in Argentine Tango is the only way to cut the confusion of the dance. Spanish is a language where EVERY word has a gender association. We cannot approach the role of the man and the woman with the same attitude. Many things about the roles are the same, but understanding the difference in the responsibilities of the roles will facilitate the dynamic in tango. Musical expression and ambidexterity: From the very first moment we work on listening skills and freedom of movement. Tango is not rote memorization and regurgitation. Tango is play and exploration. Learning how to listen to the music and build the confidence for expression is the simple joy that will keep one learning, discovering, and enjoying the dance for a lifetime. Having a community with a common language: Once you understand the basic elements and responsibilities of each role it’s much less confusing to practice and learn in Tango. With monthly bootcamps we offer substantial discounts each time you take it and after 4 bootcamps its FREE! Why? Because mastery of the fundamentals is essential in Tango, so we are always looking for sustainable (affordable) ways for you to become the owner of your dance. Plus, with about half of the class repeating the bootcamp each month, beginners can understand and get a feel for the material much quicker. The concept of Buena Onda: This is a big deal in Buenos Aires. Buena Onda means “the good wave” or “good energy”. In my dance career I have seen thousands of times the insecurity that working with your body with “strangers” creates. Many people fall into the anxiety and stress of perfecting technique or “being a desirable partner” often making themselves miserable, both in their own bodies and mentally, for years hoping one day they will get to enjoy their dancing. With a lifetime of spiritual and artistic experience, I am totally dedicated to helping our community stay in the joy of learning. My background in yoga, martial arts, and Gyrotonic have helped me to teach people how to manage their state from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (relaxed open focus). Being aware and choosing the state you want to inhabit is the key to learning more easily, giving presence to your partner, and having lots of enjoyment in your dancing from the very beginning.
I hope you can join us in this wave of “Buena Onda”... please share if you like and we hope you stay in the love of dance all your life!
Interview Translation by the amazing Melissa Meza!
- He first mentions watching his dad danced, but he was embarrassed because back then dancing was not something that was considered cool, and tango was considered something for old people. When he showed up at his dad's classes the students would say it was weird that the teacher's son couldn't dance, and this made him feel ashamed too. So he had to get over being embarrassed internally and externally.
Then he tells a story, that marked him, it was about him seeing a man, he considered the husband, telling his wife,
I"'m going to the bar in the corner to watch the game,"
and her replying she would stay in class. Then a second man shows up and said hi to the woman, Javier was hung up and completely involved on this, what he considered was shady. He watched them maliciously. He watched them come together, and in his head he made up a story, thinking those people had something going on because of the way they danced. When they were done dancing they sit close to Javier so he able to hear the woman thanking the man for the dance, and adding that her husband allowed her to dance some tangos and finding him, who was a good dancer, there was just nice. The man thanked her for the dance as well and mentioned it reminded him of when his wife was alive.
He says this happened because tango exceeds the erotic, it´s a very strong giving of oneself. But to his innocent eyes, it was like watching 2 people naked. And he adds, "Without a magic spark between two people the tango does not work, one can not feel comfortable in the arms of the other"
- "There are people who come together in couples to dance the tango, but if there is not a spark, it is not that they can not live the tango as it is, it's just that they can not be comfortable in each other's embrace."
In relation to attitude; It has to do with a universal education. People in the milonga are driven by an education, there are no weird things in a milonga. It is not that one to dance tango has to learn special codes that are written in a tango bible, no. In the tango the woman is greatly respected.
The woman is in a beautiful place, and so the myth of the male, the handsome. But this is only between men. In the milonga where I grew up, I never saw a man mistreat a woman. On the contrary, I always saw very strong women in the milongas. She is a woman who has earned that place, is not a submissive woman, but she is neither a violent one. She is a woman with a lot of presence. She is a woman with a lot of attitudes. A woman who stands in front of a guy to follow the steps, with height, with respect, with desire and with the challenge of following the steps of the guy, to follow even his breath. About other codes of the milongas, they are daily things seen like tango things.
For example, at a salsa place, if you dance with a girl 5 songs there must be something there. In tango, if you dance 3 tandas with the same person, there must be something there. Another example is to arrive at the Milonga and say hi to every person you know and introduce yourself to those you don't. And when you leave you have to say good bye as well, otherwise people might think something happened, that you were mad, and the next morning when they see you they'll ask you what happened, why did you leave, you didn't say goodbye. This also has to do with respect, if you are sharing a table or at the bar sharing with people, you danced with everyone, everyone dances with everyone you can’t leave without saying goodbye, at least wave at everyone and say ciao (big wave gesture) to everyone around. This happens everywhere, this is about a ritual.
Then they move on to the next question, can someone who has never been to a Milonga danced tango and feel it the same way. He thinks there is no need to have a previous dance education and adds that people who have studied dance, for example, salsa or ballet, have more difficulty starting tango because they already an education, they already have a technique. Tango requires what’s in you as a person, obviously, you have to then learn to develop the movement, for each role, woman or man.
Next, the interviewer talks about the Tango outfit, Javier says this has to do with the attitude, that there is certain elegance to Tango. “One can’t dance with the hips down or the torso sunken in. That is why the tango has a strong attitude because it has a very high connection that is here (shows the chest area), then you cannot drop that. If I lose my torso I cannot connect with the other person. In the next topic, they speak of an expression that says: Tango is a sad thought that is danced - but I hear you talk and I do not see anything sad, says the reporter. Javier says that tango does have its sad things, for example; You are dancing and entering that ritual, in that dimension and you feel good, then you listen to the lyrics of the tango and you think - how painful is this thing that happened to the person who wrote the song. But a lot happens when dancing tango, because, I think, no I correct myself, I am sure that the giving of oneself to the other is total unconditional love.
Two people who hate each other cannot dance tango together. But two strangers can dance tango, because they like the same thing, there is a neutral stance on their part, they are two people who don’t know each other but love the same thing. They are attracted by the same thing. I have seen people of different color from different religions who do not ask how much money they have in the wallet or what religion they are or what technique they use or where they learned tango, no. There are people who don’t even speak the same language and it’s not until the last tango in the tanda they realized they don’t speak the same language but they understand each other dancing.
Then the interview continues going on talking about his learning experience, he says that his father’s partner is who as a game got him started. He doesn’t remember is he was talented or not because he was young, he says he likes dancing tango because he likes the music. She then asked how was it that he decided to go to other countries to teach people Tango. He says that he used to work as a dancer and he lived all off it. He also says that this was a little fake, because when he was young and he was a Folk dancer and started learning 3 or 4 Tango steps his father would have him teach those 3 or 4 steps, when he says he really didn’t know anything yet, but he was already teaching.
He also says there is a different to be a stage dancer and to dance at a Milonga. He says he teachers a lot more the significance of tango more than the dance, because there are people who dance tango and know nothing about it, people don’t know why there are moving like this and like that. For example, the adornos, are [art of the dialogue and not only a movement, the woman is talking to you with those movement. There is also the nothing, nothing is also part of this vocabulary, and when you understand it all you feel it all. Then then asks about this new tango; he thinks this has to do with what is happening to you, no matter the form.
If you listen to a tango and you are not wearing the right shoes you’ll dance it anyway because you really want to dance it, because something happens to you when you listen to the music. She also mentions people of the same sex dancing together, he says that is something that’s happening because people want to experience the dance that way, there are Milongas gays and that is fine.
Tango nuevo might have something to do with the consumerism, people might want something different like coke or pepsi. But tango is one thing, it does not matter how you dance it, with a new or old system, what matters is that you dance it. Sooner or later things end up happening, the embrace can be close or not, but what matters is to dance it.
Lots of things have changed not in tango, there are old things about tango that needs to be kept, but for example in the past everything was more rigid like you could only fall in love once. The old tango, the classic tango was rigid the old timers didn’t even like to be filmed. They whine a lot before understanding how important it was to pass on the knowledge. There was one generation that didn’t dance tango and when the old timers had to pass on their knowledge to very young kids they saw that tango was staying on weak and young kids.
Link: https://www.facebook.com/leonardosantiago.barri/posts/1607298729289471 ENGLISH A text of the Great Teacher Olga Besio (thanks, Cecilia Capello for helping spread this magnificent explanation of the meaning of the adornments. It’s fundamental to have our minds and hearts cleared when dancing in these so commercial and fictitious times dance, let’s be sincere again, and let’s remember the spirit of dancing: Many years ago, I was asked to write an article about Adorno, for a page that does not longer exist. That article was written in Castilian (Spanish) and translated into several languages. It seems that lately, it is difficult to get it in Castilian (Spanish), so here I transcribe it.
ADORNO: AN APPROACH TO IT’S UNDERSTANDING Prof. Olga Besio To speak of adornment - and as a basis for all that may come later - we must, first, delve into the origins of the essence and existence of tango and dance. It is necessary to make it clear that the word "dance" has not only a meaning that connotes technique. Quite the contrary, its broader and general sense refers to all forms of dance (in particular) and the act of dancing. And it alludes to the most natural, primitive, remote, visceral, and even animal of the human being. And in this sense, it is very old, both historical, chronological, and ontologically, to any technical conception. If we understand dance as a deeply natural event, that is born with the human being - and we speak like this about the popular dance, of which the tango is perhaps our most intrinsic example -, everything superfluous is immediately discarded. So, what is tango? What we all already know: a dance of two, a deep communication with the other, and with music, and ..., and ... and "discover" the idea of dialogue. The dialogue of the dancing couple, the dialogue with the music, the dialogue of the feet among each other and with the floor drawing the famous "ochos" and a thousand other things - and, if the dialogue of the feet and the legs fit with the air, drawing accurately boleos of clearly defined forms, created and recreated each time. But what is the "adornment", sometimes also called "embellishment", "expressiveness"? The adornment consists precisely in expressing the essence of tango. It is useless to make adornments by merely technical procedures if one does not really understand "what is involved". The legs of the female dancer (and ATTENTION: also, those of the male dancer) are equivalent to a tango couple. They embrace, get together, dialogue, caress ... technically, this is achieved from a set of rotations of the joints. But this game of rotations should not be taken as something coldly technical, but as something absolutely natural and logical, as natural, and as logical as any language. The legs "express", "they are expressive" when they have a language; not when they merely move. Thus, we have just overthrown several myths. * One, is that adornments are "movements to learn" or "copy." No way. Technical learning is very important, but it is not enough. There are wonderful female and male dancers who make of adornments a real emotion, but we also see, unfortunately, the mere repetition of movements or copies of this or that dancer, without having really understood its essence; In these cases, the "original" dancer is generally excellent, and the copies are inconsequential, sometimes even unpleasant and even grotesque. * Another, that the adornment is "a matter of women". No way. Adorno is everything that man and/or woman do without interfering in the marking, the step, the figure, the sequence, etc., including it accurately in the music and without producing any kind of vibration or pulling. For this, it is absolutely necessary to know how to lead and follow and to have a very good musical ear. (I always tell my students that the partner must know that his or her partner makes adornments when he sees them in a video. This happened to a famous dancer, who one day was filmed and discovered what his partner was doing y why there were so many good comments about her. * Another: that "for the woman to adorn, the man has to give her time". This is true when it comes to a choreography, which can be worked out either jointly or unilaterally, or by a third party. But in the improvised tango, it is in the intelligence, skill, in the "tangueridad" of the woman, the ability to decide if it corresponds, and if so when, how and what adornment or type of adornment is the most appropriate according to the circumstances. Of course, if the dancer has little experience it is not advisable to try it in the milonga; for that, there are the classes and the practices. * One more: speaking of hearing and musicality, some dancers (or apprentices) consider that it is sufficient to "listen to the rhythm". Others, more advanced or exquisite, speak of "dancing the phrase". It should be clarified that this is not enough; it is also necessary to understand the melody and the peculiar expressiveness of each piece of music, each arrangement, each version ... And in this sense, the musicality that both dancers need goes far beyond the recognition of "rhythm", the "beat", the "strong" or the "weak time", the "setback,” and all those things that are usually mentioned (sometimes even mixing or confusing them). The musicality that is required here is a true language that can translate, reinvent, and recreate once and a thousand times the feeling, the composition structure, the essence of this particular work that this man and this woman have the joy of being able to dance here and now. Finally, it is necessary to mention that the adornment is not limited to the movement, nor is it limited to the feet and / or legs - although these are perhaps the most visible - but it is of the whole body, it is an attitude, a quietness, it’s the act of closing your eyes, a pause, a succession of changes of speed and a thousand other things that can and often need to be worked technically, methodologically, but that ultimately shows the love and the passion of dancing the tango as the man and the woman and as a couple that is able to feel it. THANK YOU MELISSA MEZA FOR THIS TRANSLATION!
SPANISH Texto de la Gran Maestra Olga Besio (gracias Cecilia Capello x ayudar a difundir esta explicación magnífica del significado de los adornos. Fundamental que nos aclaren la mente y el corazón al bailar en estos tiempos tan comerciales y ficticios a veces del baile, volvemos a ser sinceros, recordemos el espíritu de bailar: Hace muchísimos años me pidieron que escribiera un artículo sobre Adorno, para una página que ya no existe. Ese artículo fue luego compartido en muchísimas otras páginas en castellano y también traducido a varios idiomas. Parece que últimamente es difícil conseguirlo en castellano, por eso acá lo transcribo. ADORNO: UNA APROXIMACIÓN A SU COMPRENSIÓN Prof. Olga Besio Para hablar de adorno –y como sustento de todo lo que pueda venir después- debemos, en primer lugar, hurgar en los orígenes de la esencia y existencia del tango y de la danza. Es necesario dejar bien claro que la palabra “danza” no tiene solamente una acepción que connota técnica. Muy por el contrario, su sentido más amplio y general refiere a toda forma de danza (en sentido particular) y de baile. Y alude a lo más natural, primitivo, remoto, visceral y hasta animal del ser humano. Y en este sentido es muy anterior, tanto histórica, cronológica, como ontológicamente, a toda concepción técnica. Si entendemos la danza como un hecho profundamente natural, que nace con el ser humano –y hablamos así de la danza popular, de la cual el tango bailado es quizás nuestro ejemplo más intrínseco-, inmediatamente queda descartado todo lo superfluo. Entonces, ¿qué es el tango? Lo que ya todos sabemos: un baile de a dos, una profunda comunicación con el otro, y con la música, y..., y... y “descubrimos” así la idea de diálogo. El diálogo de la pareja de baile, el diálogo con la música, el diálogo de los pies entre sí y con el piso dibujando los famosos “ochos” y mil cosas más – y, si cuadra, el diálogo de los pies y las piernas con el aire, dibujando con precisión boleos de formas claramente definidas, creadas y recreadas cada vez. Pero, ¿en qué consiste el “adorno”, también llamado a veces –posteriormente- “embellecimiento”, “expresividad”...? El adorno consiste, precisamente, en expresar la esencia del tango. De nada sirve hacer adornos mediante procedimientos meramente técnicos, si no se comprende realmente “de qué se trata”. Las piernas de la bailarina (y ATENCIÓN: también las del bailarín) equivalen a una pareja de tango. Se abrazan, se juntan, dialogan, se acarician... técnicamente, esto se logra a partir de un juego de rotaciones de las articulaciones. Pero este juego de rotaciones no debe tomarse como algo fríamente técnico, sino como algo absolutamente natural y lógico, tan natural y tan lógico como cualquier lenguaje. Las piernas “expresan”, “son expresivas”, cuando tienen un lenguaje; no cuando meramente se mueven. Así, acabamos de derribar varios mitos. * Uno, es el de que los adornos son “movimientos que hay que aprender” o “copiar”. De ninguna manera. El aprendizaje técnico es importantísimo, pero no basta. Hay maravillosos bailarines y bailarinas que hacen del adorno una verdadera emoción, pero también vemos, lamentablemente, la mera repetición de movimientos o copias de tal o cual bailarín/a, sin haber entendido realmente su esencia; en estos casos, generalmente el bailarín o bailarina “original” es excelente, y las copias resultan intrascendentes, y a veces hasta desagradables e incluso grotescas. * Otro, el de que el adorno es “cuestión de mujeres”. De ninguna manera. Adorno es todo lo que hacen el hombre y/o la mujer sin interferir en la marcación, ni en el paso, figura, secuencia, etc., incluyéndolo con exactitud en la música y sin producir ningún tipo de vibración ni tironeo. Para esto, es absolutamente necesario saber llevar y seguir, y tener muy buen oído musical. (siempre les digo a mis alumnos/as que el compañero/a tiene que enterarse de que su pareja hace adornos, cuando los ve en un video. Esto le pasó a un famoso bailarín, que un día se vio filmado y descubrió lo que hacía su compañera y por qué había tan buenos comentarios acerca de ella). * Otro: el de que “para que la mujer adorne, el hombre le tiene que dar tiempo”. Esto vale cuando se trata de una coreografía, que se puede elaborar de común acuerdo o en forma unilateral, o bien por un tercero. Pero en el tango improvisado, está en la inteligencia, en la habilidad, en la “tangueridad” de la mujer, el saber decidir si corresponde, y en caso afirmativo cuándo, cómo y qué adorno o tipo de adorno es el más adecuado según las circunstancias. Por supuesto, si la bailarina tiene poca experiencia no es aconsejable que lo intente en la milonga; para eso están las clases y las prácticas. * Uno más: hablando de oído y musicalidad, algunos bailarines/as (o aprendices) consideran que es suficiente “escuchar el ritmo”. Otros, más avanzados o exquisitos, hablan de “bailar la frase”. Hay que aclarar que esto no basta; es necesario comprender también la melodía y la peculiar expresividad de cada pieza musical, de cada arreglo, de cada versión... Y en este sentido, la musicalidad que necesitan el bailarín y la bailarina va mucho más allá del reconocimiento del “ritmo”, el “compás”, el “tiempo fuerte”, el “débil”, el “contratiempo” y todas esas cosas de las que habitualmente se habla (a veces incluso mezclándolas o confundiéndolas). La musicalidad que aquí se requiere es un verdadero lenguaje que pueda traducir, sobreinventar y volver a crear una y mil veces el sentimiento, la estructura compositiva, la esencia de esta obra en particular que este hombre y esta mujer tienen la dicha de poder bailar aquí y ahora. Por último, es necesario mencionar que el adorno no se limita al movimiento, y tampoco se limita a los pies y/o a las piernas –si bien éstos son quizás lo más visible-, sino que es de todo el cuerpo, es una actitud, una quietud, un cerrar los ojos, una pausa, una sucesión de cambios de velocidad y mil cosas más que pueden y muchas veces necesitan trabajarse técnicamente, metodológicamente, pero que en definitiva muestran el amor y la pasión de bailar el tango como cada una, cada uno y cada pareja es capaz de sentirlo.