Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by larrynla, May 6, 2009.
OK, so it's (American) ballroom tango, but you wanna see Kung-Fu tango...
The several kinds of show tango
Captain Jep has a good point. There are several kinds of show tango.
Tango escenario, stage tango, is in large auditoriums where plays, concerts, and dance reviews are done. The dancers are full-time professionals who've likely been studying dance from childhood. They perform for hire, teach, and spend many hours each week practicing. If they are lucky they get to choreograph what they perform, but often do choreography created by someone with a lot of pro dance experience. As in every art, some choreographers are hacks, some are artists but with only a bit of talent, and some are artists of genius. The audiences may be ignorant but many of them are aficionados well able to judge the artistry as well as the athleticism of the performers and the choreographers.
In Argentina and almost nowhere else there are tango dinner shows. Esquina Carlos Gardel and Señor Tango have stages, orchestras, and fully pro dancers, but there are also places where the dancing is done on a small dance floor which can be viewed well only by people in seats close to the floor. Sometimes the dancers are full-time pros, but often they are part-timers who may be experienced social dancers but may also be not much more than pretty faces.
In Argentina and almost nowhere else there are tango street dancers. These are often high school and college kids out to make a few bucks.
TV performers may be experienced stage dancers, but not in tango shows. This produces the (to me) nauseating "sexy" and "passionate" performances for audiences who are only impressed by karate legs and lifts and fake sexiness.
Milonga performances are usually of two kinds. Inside Argentina the dancers are often a couple of long-time social dancers coaxed or tricked or invited to show off their social skills, to the tune of banter, cat calls, and appreciative whistles from other social dancers they've known for years if not decades. Sometimes they are stage dancers invited to show off their stage skills, but are also well-known social dancers. Sometimes these are kids of long-time social dancers who everyone knows who got their start social dancing and have become stage dancers. Many of the those in the audience helped the kids get started and are as proud of them as if they were their own children.
Milonga performances outside Argentina are usually traveling teachers, who may or may not be stage dancers. Sometimes they do a choreographed dance, sometimes they improvise a dance with long-time partners and produce something that may be hard to tell from a choreographed dance. And sometimes they are improvised with a local lady they know to be good enough to put on a good show.
And then, sadly, there are local men who can't resist showing off for ladies they may be interested in, either those sitting down or who are lucky (?) enough to have accepted an invitation to dance. Sometimes these ladies are ignorant enough, are stupid enough, or are attracted enough, to be impressed by the local. And even sadder are dancers who know no better than to commit "tango crimes" against the common weal.
That was interesting...I went to school with him...small world, I guess. Glad he got where he wanted to.
But the Kung Fu aspect the Tango and Chaos guy mentions doesn't have to do with the couples interaction with each other, rather the statement that the couple managed to take over an entire half of a dance floor to themselves with well placed show moves and airborne legs trapping the other couples who are attempting to dance in a traditional social fashion (there were several other couples on the small floor) in to a corner...well done! What a feat! They didn't hit anyone either! How happy and appreciative everyone must have been!
Very well said. (Although I've seen live performances which might as well have been for TV. I didn't get it, especially since I saw the couple dancing socially and it was so much more beautiful. *shrug* I dunno...perhaps it's just my pet peeve about synchronized and choreographed and matching adornos that just rubs my rhubarb.)
Yes, I know. I have nothing against Miriam and Whatzisbuttons. I just happen to like Luis, on account of him being my very first teacher, and I enjoy watching him dance. (And, I have those videos bookmarked, so they were easy to find when I was posting!)
I agree- I really don't prefer watching them perform show stuff- and I have watched videos of her dancing and doing acrobatic lifts at workshop shows with Hugo...I just don't like that stuff and find it annoying.
However, I'm with Peaches 100% on the improvised more social things I have seen them do. I watched a milonga they did some months back and I'm pretty sure it was improvised (or at least they didn't "stage" it all up) and it was lovely.
I know what you mean. And I wouldn't be surprised if there are people who think I am one of those guys.
(At the CW place when we line dance I do lots of variations. The newbies cringe in fear. The people that have been around know that I am NOT going to crash into them. There's one dance where we do high hitch kicks instead of the written choreography. I only do them towards the end of the song when the music gets louder and faster. I have NEVER kicked anyone, becuase if there is any possiblity of that, I either do the "scoot" as written, or do the kick to the side.)
With boleos you CAN learn to direct them down the line of dance, etc.
There are so many exceptions where you can "dance responsibly", that I don't think sweeping generalizations are the way to go.
For me it totally depends on the music, my partner, and the conditions around me, plain and simple.
Well, maybe not so simpe.
Wow! Crouching Tango/Flying Ganchos. Stunning stuff.
I do not understand this thread. What constitutes a show, or defines a performance, or is there a diff between show and showing off, and larrynla trying to uphold CJ's point, and micro-labeling them all. It's BS. The point is if there is a milonga where persons are directed/expected to dance a certain way, and they are not adhering to the protocol, then they are in the wrong. If a couple is dancing in a manner which is inappropriate to others on teh floor, then they are in the wrong.
There is a time and a place for: flashy moves, demos, shows, exhibitions. It is not "what" or "where" the dancer/couple is dancing that makes it a performance, it is "why".
And, I have wished for a long time that this Kung-Fu tango... would just go away.
As far as I know, we're not really talking about doing show tango in a milonga. We're talking about whether "show tango" bears any relation to the tango we do at milongas. Can we connect in some way with what Miriam and Hugo do on the TV? Are dances on the stage inherently compromised because the dancers have to "act them out"?
Maybe the question has been answered, but I think it's been an interesting thread so far.
Ah...understood. That's a completely different POV. Thanks. I had not read that in the posts at all.
I believe (see sig) that dance is not steps but what happens in between. It is the feeling and/or interpretation of those feelings that define the dance.
When one is dancing onstage, if that person is dancing with the same feeling as they would at the milonga, and only exagerating the movement for the value of the performance, then I would say that what is danced at the milonga is the very backbone of what is danced onstage. On the other hand, if one is merely acting out a series of fanciful moves for the sake of the performance, then everything is compromised; the dance, the dancers, and the performance.
I don't think tango on stage is inherently flawed. And i think it has very little to do with floorcraft (yes, people who take up a disproportionate amount of space and force everybody else to watch out for them are annoying, but that is true independent of style), or showing off (there are plenty of milongueros who are proud of their footwork or elegance or signature move).
What makes tango alive for me is the immediacy of lead and follow, and the strict adherence to economy of motion and inevitability of movement due to the management of weight, impulse and geometry. I am striving towards being in theory able to dance my whole vocabulary with a relaxed and balanced beginner (in practice that makes me mainly enjoy the balance and discipline of advanced dancers ). If i as a dancer am not careful i forget that, and i start dancing my partner knowledge and habits, and i loose the freedom and immediacy. On stage dancing has to be large, and visible, and exciting, and the dancers are strong and fast and flexible. But there is a noticable difference between performances where two people perform two interlocking independent pieces paced by cues, or where they are actually dancing immediately together.
It is like the difference between dancing the 8cb as a beginner or later. At the beginning there are two people who move each on their pattern, and the two patterns fit into each other. Later they are dancing exactly the same steps, but they feel that at every moment there could be a variation, the steps don't just follow each other, but every single one is final, each time either the follower or the leader is on one of the three axes the dance could spin off into a completely different, unpredicted direction.
The very best stage performances are like that - the dancers are connected, immediate, present. And i think the same way that you learn acting by improvisation, exercises in spontaneitiy and observation, the same way this quality of presence is learned in social dance, by doing good floorcraft and by dealing with many partners. I think at least familiarity with social dance is the prerequisite of great stage dance.
(I am not sure i understand how ballet dancers do it - i have talked with friends who are professional dancers, and it seems to me that what they do is that they train enough to be able to honestly believe that this it the way they naturally move, and rehersals are spent on making the choreography their own, and believing in it (and they talk about how a good choreographer allows them to adapt the choreography to themselves, but to be honest i don't see any adaptations - the changes they make must be tiny) - this might be an alternative approach to good performance tango? In general the people i like performing tend to be also great social dancers - tango as the method acting of dance ? ).
A performance (or a social dance pattern, too) can be completely scripted, but if the performers believe it is not it will be gripping - i have even been convinced of a few completely, obviously unleadable moves. But in tango quite a few dancers know that they are doing a move, and when the move ends, and only very rarely do i feel "hey, they just thought of that, and it was inspired by the music". Good ballet or salsa shows are often able to do that, too, and it is obvious that they are completely choregraphed - a dozen people do not spontaneously move in synchronized patterns - but at the same time you see the dancers being connected, and present, and in the music and the group.
When Melissa was studying flamenco with a certain instructor....I found another great instructor for my daughter, that billed himself as a Flamenco instructor. We were naive to Flamenco (as I am currently, with A.T.), but he taught my daughter a great deal. She even spotlighted a suit and tie performance with two adult backup dancers. She did a beautiful castanet routine, a fan dance routine, a spanish ballet routine and another routine that I can't remember (scarf?). I soon discovered that this was not flamenco...and flamenco affecionados criticized me (rather harshly) for calling it such. "Flamenco dancing does not use castanets!". Though she also danced flamenco (gypsy flamenco) with the hand clapping and all, ...what Mr. Neri was teaching my daughter was Spanish Dance/Spanish Folk dance.
Therefore, I can certainly understand the purist's ideals.
This is not unique to A.T.
Here is a clip of Missy social dancing salsa. (a j. and j. comp.).
Salsa social dancing can be really fast and you simply don't have time to think about what you are going to do. (Missy had never danced with this guy before). Melissa, I think, is very good at following a lead...and is why I think she would be great a A.T. social dancing.
Wow. Again. And yes she is great at following a lead with whom she'd never previously danced (a testament to how good a lead he is too no less). She is a gifted dancer as well as performer (note: performing in a non-performing setting i.e. as merely as a social dancer sans script to an audience is not easy) and so yes, she would make a great A.T. dancer/professional performer.
To your earlier statement/question if whether being pro at 3 different principles of dance is possible: yes it is. As to her not enjoying her milonga outting for lack of requests to dance she has to give it time. Doing the classes, getting to know fellow students and sticking around for the milonga grouped together with same students would be better. Dad can come too but dad would need to step back just a wee bit so the shy guys are not shy'ed out. (Yay Missy...more clips please).
It is probably universal to all dancing.
I am just trying to explore why (at least in my opinion) high level tango performances require social dance skill, while e.g. in salsa this doesn't seem to be as true - i know of a few troupes where the members never dance socially, and when they go to clubs they they dance only with each other i.e. they are essentially rehearsing their performance on a smaller scale, and they dance a large percentage of moves that not based on lead/follow. Judging from the ballroom threads it seems that at least some ballroom dancers view social dance as activly detrimental to performance/competition dance.
i think this is pretty much what I think too. we watched one one the Mundial scenario dvds and argued which dancers flowed.
as performances go this is one of my favourites: its just so physical fast and still very fluid and necessarily connected ( with a couple of small clunks)
As far as contemporary dance is concerned, this performance was utterly soul-less/passionless. I think the word too is "contrived".
This is an excellent contribution to this thread - thank you - it is quite far out there in terms of showiness and being a pure performance, but the movement logic of tango is clearly present. I think they are much more "tango" than many others who keep more of the outward look intact while sacrificing the underlying principles. (and i would bet that they do a nice social tango)
Separate names with a comma.