Tag Archives: nuevo

Touchaphobia

A word that should be in the lexicon of English. Touchaphobia is a condition that blights the majority of the peoples of these isles. I have no idea why this should be but it is an indisputable fact.

When I attend dances there is a real reluctance to just get close. I see old married couples dancing as if they are frightened of catching some disease. Most of them have grandchildren, how they ever conceived is a mystery.

When I try to teach tango, I often find the women struggling to escape. To have someone so much in their space is an athema to them. They do this with their partners so to be this close to others is just too much.

To give an idea of what is expected I will often dance with the men. This gets a whole new reaction. A man being this close to another man, urgh!

As a child I barely touched my parents, we never kissed, we never embraced.

But you know it can be overcome, there is a cure. Tango eventually brings us all around.

Now I can hold a woman in my arms without any self consciousness. I can kiss strangers; I have even been known to kiss men when in Argentina.

The passion that comes with Tango, the love that comes from the Argentine people, will get to even the most touchaphobic in the end.

But to reach this nirvana we must dance close, pure milonguero style tango. It is no use pacing around the room with enough room to drive a bus between you. No good saying “I do Nuevo” and leading with your arms, and it will not do to step away to give your lady space to do an ocho. Once we dance in close hold, this is where we stay. You will get comfortable with it, we did, and if I can overcome touchaphobia anyone can.

 

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Arguments 2

Well I asked for it and I got it. I want to thank John for his very comprehensive answers; obviously he has thought deeply about the subject and is not just answering at an emotional level. So I think that it deserves a good answer.

Tango, it is true is a dance that evolves with time and as I have also said, no two milongueros do the same dance.

Exploration has its value, without it the dance will just become fixed and in the end we will just have a boring set of steps. There must however be rules, ok we can stretch the limits; rules after all were made to be broken.

Where we seem to be disagreeing is on the definition of Nuevo Tango. Let me be quite clear, Nuevo has time and again been defined by teachers and aficionados as a style designed to be cinematic, it must by its very nature be danced open and large, because to be seen, is its raison de etre.

Talk of Fantasia as a different style I think is pointless, Fantasia is show tango, Nuevo is designed for the cinema, I think differences are largely academic.

Modern tango does not need to be either large or choreographed. If you talk of dancing the music, following the line of dance and connecting with your partner, then you are not talking of Nuevo tango as I mean it. This I think is where we differ in opinion, a good tango teacher will incorporate all these things in the dance, whatever he/ she calls himself, but if you learn to dance socially you are not learning Nuevo.

John spoke of teaching in Chester; I did not quite follow his meaning, so if I do not answer him fully perhaps he could comment again. (Please do any way). 

At one time (to my knowledge anyway) there were four teachers offering Argentine tango in Chester, and the range of their teaching shows the confusion that there is; We had one teaching from a ballroom syllabus, one teaching pure choreographed fantasia one teaching salon and one who did not know which side of the fence he sat on. There may well have been others who I was not aware of and I am sure there will be others to come.

Of the London scene I know little, except what I have read. I was last in that scene in 1997 so I suspect it, like everywhere has changed somewhat, hopefully for the better.

Tango in the UK is starting to come of age, of that I have no doubt. The quality of the teachers has improved a thousand fold since we first started in the ninety’s, there are still poor teachers out there and there are good ones, just how anyone new to this will know the difference I cannot tell you , I just hope it does not take them too long.

The problem of course is that for many in Buenos Aires, tango teaching is seen as a way out of poverty. There is no qualification or other way of telling if any of these “teachers” actually can teach or even dance tango at all. I have seen some very poor teachers who come from Argentina, and just because they are from Buenos Aires does not mean the know tango. In saying this, I truly believe that the reverse is not true; you cannot know tango without knowing Buenos Aires.

That is where I draw my knowledge from, I don’t claim to be the best tango dancer in the world, but the time I have spent there has at least equipped me to be able to tell when things are not right.

So while it is, I think, necessary to have at least been to milongas in Buenos Aires this alone should not be taken as a sign of good teaching. Likewise whatever the teacher, do not accept a whole sequence of moves as true tango. Tango is an improvised dance; it is basically a folk dance, a dance of the people, a social event. When it becomes performance orientated it is no longer tango.

You cannot say that Nuevo is bad dancing; anything that gets people out and away from their televisions has to be good, but Fantasia should not come into the milongas. There are places where this can be danced and places where they social dance, mixing them up only causes bad feelings.

So in summary, while I agree with everything John said about teaching, I cannot agree on the definition of Nuevo. What you consider Nuevo is tango with a modern twist, not what is defined as Nuevo by all the experts (or by me though I do not claim to be one of the experts). Of course we could get into a very similar argument about who are tango experts, on this I note the wikipedea definition of Nuevo Tango, which states it is anything from the eighties onward and not a style at all….. (A North.American article by the way not Argentine)

If you accept this definition then I suppose I must agree with John, this I of course is the dichotomy, as there is no written definition we will always argue about it. Perhaps I should replace the word Nuevo with fantasia in future.

Finally I have to say I like and enjoy the company of both John and Anna whenever we meet, I hope that no one thinks our on line arguments mean we are not friends.

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Arguments

Regular readers will know that I do tend to poke a little and provoke an argument. I do this because I know that many long held opinions are not held through a logical argument but simply because that is the view we have always had or because of some principle or other. I have even been known to start an argument with an opinion that is contrary to my own, just for the sake of debate.

Debate, you see, can be a useful way for us all to question our own beliefs, because if we are not challenged we simply believe that our views are right. In this way lies extremism.

So I welcome any comments that challenge my views, as much, if not more than those agreeing with me.

I see it often on forums, someone has their views challenged, and because they have no real argument they resort to insults and threats. For me, at least, this is the point where the argument is lost. The beauty of forums of course is that, unlike face to face arguments, you can go away and research every answer before you reply. This should mean that the arguments there, are more thought out and fact based, yet time and again I find myself insulted and threatened. Not that this bothers me at all, after all the other beauty of forums is that you are largely anonymous. I just wonder why anyone would feel the need, unless of course their arguments are so weak to start with (and maybe their intellect as well) or they just cannot be bothered to do any research.

I carry on with the forums because I enjoy the cut and thrust, also I like poking fun at people who express views on something of which they have little or no knowledge. There will always be those who think that they can bully the rest of us into accepting their views, but the amount of people who come back with solid and well thought out answers gives me hope.

So because I get so few comments that contradict me, I thought that I should spend some time on one that does: Anna, I am sure will be happy to enter debate with me, but feel free if anyone else wishes to come in.

I first learned to tango in a very showy way. The dancing we did looked good to anyone not in the know, and we were taught that you could tango to anything, if you were any good. It took two tango festivals and a fortnight in Buenos Aires to convince me of the error of my ways. A routine, however well danced cannot be a good reflection of musicality, and what we did was pure routine.

Whenever we see anyone who dances “Big” or in the Nuevo style, they have little or no regard to the music. There are good reasons, of course. Firstly, if you dance to just anything, the music is unpredictable, unless you know it very well you cannot know when it will change cadence. Secondly when you are dancing big, every move takes time, so that by the time you realise that the music has changed you are already doing something not fitted to the music.

I have no doubt there are people that dance well in the Nuevo style, but usually they know a particular tune very well and only do their bit to a limited repertoire.

I know people who love to dance to Pugliese, the early stuff I can cope with, but later music is too Avant Garde for me. The people who love it listen to it avidly and know its every change and mood. This is fine because they know it well they can dance it. Me? I can’t cope, that is a failing on my part of course, but for me there is so much unexplored music from the Golden Age that I can live with that. I will leave Pugliese for now, and may be in time I will be familiar enough, who knows some day?

There is much confusion about Nuevo, in close hold, milonguero style you cannot see very much of the participants and almost nothing of the lady. That is why Nuevo was invented, the open style and big moves are specifically designed for the cinema and stage for the participants to be seen. Much of what we see masquerading as Nuevo is just anti social dancing, not done for the stage, but someone trying to show off to an audience who are just not interested, or some poor woman who is struggling to keep up with some very poor leading.

If you want to be seen, dance Nuevo. If you want to show off dance Nuevo. But are we not dancing for our own pleasure, for the pleasure of our partners, the joy of the music and just for three minutes of stolen bliss? Don’t ruin the moment by caring what others may think, feel the mood, forget steps, just drift away to the strains of some of the best musicians who ever lived.

And finally, if you disagree with anything I say, or just want to provoke debate, please comment, surely Anna is not the only person out there who occasionally disagrees with me.

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Visitors

Many will have heard me rant on about moves people and how their tango disrupts social tango and often makes more than just their partners uncomfortable. We know that their style of learning is different and they do not learn the basics of the lead and follow.

Sometimes though what we know is challenged, our basic beliefs are proven wrong and we are driven to question what we have always known.

We had some visitors to the Shrewsbury class, they did what I often do, search out what tango is around the places we visit. They were holidaying not too far away and decided to visit The Lantern and see what tango was like in Shrewsbury. The man of the couple was an absolute beginner and so was exiled to the back room to have some intensive technique in walking and leading. For a change the numbers allowed me to stay with the main class and see what they were all learning. I had a chat with our visitor, and it seems she had come from classes that were nothing like ours, they learnt moves and little technique, but I thought that in the interval I would take her round the floor and see how she performed. I admit to being pleasantly surprised, she followed well and as I slowly upped the level, at no time was she phased.

As I have often said, women follow instinctively and I am sure that this is in part what was happening, but also I think that, despite everything, there must have been some element of lead and follow in her other classes. Our tango worlds may not always sit happily together, but, as has been proven, we can cross the divide happily, provided we remember where we are at any given time.

I do wonder though if it would be quite so easy to cross the divide for a man. My first steps in tango were all about moves, my routine based tango stayed with me through most of my formative years of salon tango. I never lost it until I went to Buenos Aires, then in two intensive weeks of dancing my tango changed forever, and my routine was lost.

No matter how hard I tried I could not recover my routine. I could not even remember how we started. I think that now, as I try to dance the music, I am unable to arrange my moves in a pre arranged order, routine simply will not fit to the music, the music dictates.

I would love to hear from men, can you go from Nuevo to salon easily? Have others lost their routine when faced with hours of salon tango? And more importantly can any men survive in both worlds?

After the class we had our usual meeting in The Coracle and had further options to explore the differences in our tango worlds. One thing that still surprises me is that women actually prefer a gentle simple dance; they do not get bored with doing the same thing, longing for more and more complex moves. When you dance the music, that decides what you should do and the way you mix up the moves and alter cadence can make even very few moves feel like an interesting dance.

We men all do it; we worry that, maybe, that was one too many ochos, or is she getting bored with not enough moves. Yes even me, we also see good dancers and think “I could not possibly ask her to dance” We all have our own crisis’ of confidence, we men have fragile egos, in this way tango is much like sex; women have complex desires but a man prefers the woman who just tells him he is great in bed or on the dance floor. 

So while I can bang on that there is no need to do more and more complex moves, and you must dance the music and the women will love you for it, the women must play their part and tell us that this is what they want, or we will just go off and learn more moves just to try and please you.

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Happy New Year

First let me apologise for being a day late, but I wanted to include Dave Bassett’s party in my post.

We brought the new year in at The Memorial Hall Wrexham. Steve, who had organised the occasion was on top form. The group who normally attend these socials are not the easiest to please, but we never heard one complaint.

Steve again brought out his trumpet and gave us a blast, not having tried myself, I can only give the opinions of others, who tell me that to play the keyboard and trumpet at the same time requires some skill. All I know is that we love it and we want more.

New Years day evening is always a bit flat, and so it was nice for once to be invited to Shrewsbury again for a House Milonga. Dave Bassett had invited a few tangueros for an evening of dancing.

He, like most of us completely hooked ones, has a room dedicated to dancing. I was impressed with the technology he had, as well as the obvious sound system, he had a projector screen covering one wall and one of those back lit televisions on the other, and while we danced we were treated to tango videos from Youtube.

The group from Shrewsbury is starting to develope into a knowlegable and friendly group, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Dave. He has a battle on his hands though as the, neo, nuevo, show dance, fantasia, whatever you choose to call it faction, is still in evidence and seem determined to take over.

I will be keeping an eye on the Shrewsbury scene and Dave in particular through the coming year ( as best the distance and my work allows) because with the enthusiasm that is there, I am sure that it will grow and grow.

Prospero Año Nuevo a todos.

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