Argentine Tango competitions

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by tangobro, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Let's call it the Perez style


    Fifty years ago in Buenos Aires, dancers went to dance in their neighborhood club on the weekend. Transportation was limited. The tramvia (street car) didn't go out to the barrios. If a friend didn't have a car, one stayed in one's barrio. Dancing at the confiterias and cabarets downtown was easier; walk a block at you arrived at another one. They were all within the same area near Corrientes from Callao to Florida.

    Times have changed. Dancers go to different neighborhoods to dance, because they like a change of scenery and to see different dancers for a change. Whatever.

    A Clarin article written 11 years ago used three labels for tango styles--Almagro, Nuevo, and Villa Urquiza-- and they stuck. Americans love to name everything from dance steps to styles. The result is there are groups of tango dancers who don't associate with others because they dance a different style.

    There was a time when a dancer's personal style was admired. All the new young dancers are being trained rather than learning on their own, so they don't have personal styles. They are clones. They are told how to dance, what is right, what is good.

    I propose we change the name from "Villa Urquiza" style to the "Carlos Perez and Rosa Forte" style. They have trained the champions for the past six years. Talk about discrimination in competition. If couples aren't trained by them or Mario Morales, they aren't "selected" as winners by the judges.

    Each milonguero has a personal style. No self-respecting milonguero would copy another's steps. The milonga was a competitive arena for the best female dancers. Pupi was a character who hustled tourists for classes. He learned to dance to be noticed by girls, but I'm sorry to say that dancing with him was not pleasurable. He did figures and had no feeling for the music.
  2. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Do you mean Pupi Castello? (did I spell that right?)
  3. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

  4. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

  5. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    The "styles" thing is a very hard issue to get to grips with I think.

    Because there are, clearly, different ways of dancing tango. And sometimes there are common elements in differences.

    Amir made a comment a couple of years back - can't find the original, sorry - about styles; as I recall, the gist was that people imitate other people, and sometimes these imitations are called "styles".

    To me, dance styles within individual dance forms are irrelevant - frankly, I don't really care that much whether a particular dancer holds his left hand in a peculiar position. If it works for him, fine.

    But the question is, "what is a dance form"? To me, there are the following mainstream dance forms in the Tango social dancing umbrella:

    1. Tango ("Tango de Salon" / "Traditional tango" etc.) - close embrace, trad music, mainly based around the walk.
    2. Nuevo Tango ("Neo tango" etc.) - open embrace, non-traditional music, mainly based around the pivot
    3. Milonga
    4. Vals

    (One problem is that 1. and 2. are still overlapping, and probably will be for a while).

    So all the different styles within Category 1 are simply that - styles, ways of expressing yourself individually. They're not, you know, important.
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    For the most part, styles really only are relevant for discussion and comparison. BTW, I actually do agree with Janis that people should aspire to create their own style(s).

    I'm not sure how my comment about Villa Urquiza style caused so much angst. It's pretty clear that judges go by how the dance looks (since the judges don't dance with the participants). It's also quite clear that the judges seem to favor a certain look (or style of dancing) in the Salon competition. I simply posted that look is called Villa Urquiza style, but it's not like I made up that style name. If others have another name they prefer, so be it. However, some of us do use that term, and at least you'll know what we are talking about.

    Me personally, I see why that style always seems to win, as it's very visually pleasing (when done well), unlike milonguero style which is pleasing on a different level, the connection (again, when done well).
  7. JohnEm

    JohnEm Active Member

    It's not hard at all - the question is do we need to?

    Jan has touched on it quite well already. Many dancers in BA had individual styles,
    after all you'd never mistake Tete for Ricardo Vidort. Miguel Balbi is more subtle
    but I surprised myself watching a video filmed of milongueros in a milonga
    that I picked out Miguel Balbi so he too has a distinctive style. But they are
    all personal and their own.

    Surely you get Amir's point? Teachers tend to teach their own way of doing things.
    As an aside I'd pick Simon & Nicole in modern jive for the same trait.
    Jan seems to be saying that so many teachers have adopted the Villa Urquiza name
    and are teaching it similarly that that is now a recognised style. And, because
    it has more of a visual emphasis, it is what is winning competitions.

    I consider it a strange emaciated tango, lacking in the other senses,
    slightly uncomfortable with a sort of half embrace. But maybe it is
    a result of the age, of today's culture and worldwide communication.

    The dynamic now is very different to the circumstances in which Tango evolved
    and developed. Regrettably perhaps, now teachers and commercial interests
    seem to be style makers rather than the individual social dancers within the confines
    of BA. And because teachers travel widely teaching large classes of people,
    some of whom become teachers themselves, VU seems to be winning.

    Tango has attracted dancers from other genres and they bring their possibly
    regrettable influences. Amir is a case in point.

    So as a teacher, what is it you teach? Will there be a DB style?
    Nor do I. But I do care when a lady has learned some close variant
    of VU and therefore doesn't really embrace because that matters.

    Well I disagree with your split actually but it's not that that is important.

    Styles affect compatibility and that matters a lot. Tango is a close, very personal,
    partner dance with the result affected by both partners. Right now what seems
    to be being taught, and therefore inevitably learned, is a sort of cut down, anaesthetised
    tango. If that's what you're happy with that's your choice, but it isn't mine.
  8. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Honestly, have you ever seen dancers proclaiming to dance VU and dancing the same way? May be it´s only kind of a reverence to their teachers, or kind of a figurehead to have learned on Mount Olympus of TA?
  9. JohnEm

    JohnEm Active Member

    And your point is?

    Of course they don't dance with VU written on their foreheads!
    But there seems to be a lot of dancers dancing in that trademark way
    shown in the videos earlier in this thread which is why we are here.

    You helped make mine though, or rather jantango's.
    Yes, they do what teacher teaches.
  10. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Re: dance forms

    Remember, I saw the fly flaps ;) when I raised this subject ..

    Anyway for me the most important thing when asking someone to dance is, may she fluently switch between parrallel and V hold, open, close, and deep embrace.
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    ...to take the VU question easy. They behave like an aristrocracy. My main teacher is a chileno who learned with Orlando Paiva (sr). AND, really, can any one else represent VU style better than Orlando Paiva? BUT, Orlando Paiva did not dance VU (though he was highly respected there), because he was born in Rosario. They only conceded, Orlando dances a very elegant Salón style...
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Me too.

    I also agree with her that there's a possibly-unfortunate tendency for some people to create too many categories of styles and attempt to artificially-enforce this categorisation.
  13. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I certainly don't believe that "styles" are required - or even particularly useful - in learning, teaching or dancing Tango.


    It was more a general point that there are no "styles" in a living dance form; there are simply prominent individuals who define a, ummm, style.

    Which, yes, again is pretty much Jan's point.

    Could be.

    I admit, I thought the slew of guest teachers breezing through London a year or so ago, all proclaiming to teach "Villa Urquiza" style, were simply cashing in on a fad.

    There'll be a DB style of teaching, absolutely. In fact there is already - it's based around trying to get students to understand and incorporate key principles, via clear explanations, structured lessons, follow-up notes and videos, and dancing with your students.

    I doubt there'll ever be a DB style of dancing -I don't see it as my job as a teacher to try to define a style of dancing; in fact, I think it's arrogant to even try.

    Yeah, good point - for example, I've occasionally encountered women who insist on the "V" shape for the embrace, and I really really really don't want to dance that way...

    Not really sure what you mean by that - can you elaborate?
  14. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm probably not getting your point. How does one (artificially or otherwise) enforce categorization?

    My dance style is influenced by the music, and the partner. I dance closer to a milonguero style with some songs (and/or if the follower has a great embrace), while to other songs I'll dance closer to VU (with even a few nuevo moves while staying in mostly close embrace).

    Hopefully someday, my style will have a better name than: sucks.

    ;)
  15. JohnEm

    JohnEm Active Member

    OK, if that's what you want to do . . . . not for me though.
  16. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    ..you mean, you find this kind of patronage or meaningless branding acceptable? By the way, you were the one against watering down tango


  17. JohnEm

    JohnEm Active Member

    Inevitably you teach what you do, what you know.
    Me too, on both counts.
    We've had threads recently about the embrace and the unique feel of tango
    leading to tango bliss/trance/entraga. VU seems anaesthetised because it concentrates
    on one sense, the visual appeal of the dance. Other senses are secondary,
    even the connection is more visual. That heart to heart connection and
    mutual involvement is gone. Maybe it makes it easier to attract people to classes
    as the chest to chest embrace can be very disconcerting initially.

    It's almost constrained show tango and Olivio Paiva, referred to by OpenDoor,
    was most certainly someone who concentrated on the look, in fact on how he looked.
  18. JohnEm

    JohnEm Active Member

    I'm not quite sure why you've drawn that conclusion. It isn't a question though
    of whether I find it acceptable because whatever I think it's happened.

    I am against watering down tango but it seems to me that you and I
    have different ideas about what that means.
  19. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    ..perhaps I´ve misunderstood you totally. But we have to find out later: I will go out now for dancing. CY?
  20. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    You are on the right track. At least you know enough to dance differently to Pugliese and D'Arienzo. Most of the salon tango competitors do not. It was all one homogenized tango for them. They were programmed by their teachers.

    You are listening and being present while you dance. You do what feels right. No style name is required. The result is your tango coming from within you. No one else can dance your tango and how you feel at that moment.

    A recent post worth reading at www.tangobora.wordpress.com/2010-09-02/the-man-behind-the-dancer-2/

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