– 13th October
Michael Lavocah gave us an excellent and entertaining talk on the ‘Big Four Tango Orchestras of the Golden age’. They are Juan D’Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Pugliese and Anibal Troilo. Taking time to just listen carefully to excerpts of several pieces from each orchestra we were guided through many of the major differences. All of this was woven together with stories of these orchestras and their personalities. Michael has written books on Troilo, Pugliese and Di Sarli, and is currently writing about D’Arienzo. Go to our Home page Recommendations for Michael’s links. So if you missed the talk or would like to learn more, buy the books.
Very simply, D’Arienzo can be described as characteristically Rhythmic, Di Sarli more Melodic, Troilo more Lyrical, and Pugliese is Dramatic. Though of course all of these elements arise in each orchestra to some extent.
– Saturday 8th September we had a special event “A JOURNEY THROUGH TANGO”. We took a journey through 100 years of Tango music and dance. Starting from Candombe, Canyengue, Milonga, Vals, Guardia Vieja, Guardia Nueva, Golden Age, to Tango Nuevo and some alternatives. We gave some brief explanations between ‘tandas’ ( sets of three tunes ).
For those that have the time, there was an interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 at 11.30 am on Tuesday 21st August 2018, about ‘Polyrhythms’.
During August the over-riding theme will be about connection, leading and following, understanding the movements and dynamics of not just our own bodies but our partners as well , and of course doing whatever we do to the music.
Some of the newer students have said they want to learn new steps. I have said many times that our emphasis is on connection so that we can respond continuously to each other, to the music, whilst being aware of everyone else around us. Nevertheless, we do cover lots of well known sequences or figures in different ways, to different rhythms, and see how we can change or adapt according to circumstances.
At the end of August we will have Hernan Brusa to look again at dancing to ‘Rhythmic’ and to ‘Melodic’ Tangos.
“But wait !” , I hear you cry, “Most of the Golden Age Tangos we dance to have both Melodic and Rhythmic components in them anyway.”
This brings us back to the point of being clear where we are, where our partner is, and our connection.
We welcome discussion, ideas and questions from those attending Saturday afternoons at TangoE14.
Over the coming month the over-riding theme will be about connection, leading and following, understanding the movements and dynamics of not just our own bodies but our partners as well . Think about the meaning of ‘Proprioception’, ( In Spanish – Propiocepcion ), and then add your partner in to that as well !
Talking about ‘ Connection, Leading and Following’, many of our students recognize how fundamentally important that is, and how we need to continually
The whole point of ‘TangoE14’ is to help everyone improve and enjoy their tango, and to find that magical connection with whoever their partner is.
Guest Teachers, Omar Ocampo and Monica Romero ( ‘Los Ocampo’ ) gave a class on
‘ CANYENGUE ‘.
Canyengue is generally regarded as an early form of Tango, as distinct
from Milonga or Vals. It is a simpler form of Tango, but it has its own
particular character or style. Some people enjoy dancing Canyengue
for its own sake, while others appreciate what it brings to one’s
understanding and personal development of Tango.
Here is some more information on CANYENGUE if you have time :
1/’ The Canyengue is at the root of the tango. It goes back to the 1900s. It means “walk with
cadence” and comes from Africa. The dance is a sensual, rather upbeat performance.
2/ Rodolfo and Maria Cieri, from Buenos Aires, were famous exponents of Tango and of
Canyengue. I saw them and had lessons with them in about 1996 or 7. Rodolfo died
in 2000, before posting video recordings on You-tube became the norm.
Here is a clear video of Maria dancing a Canyengue entitled ‘Charamusca’ with Nahuel Barsi:
3/ Note the clothes they wore. In the late 1800s through to the early 1900s fashionable ladies
often wore a bustle, which was a supporting undergarment to keep the back of the skirt from
4/ There are some recordings of Rodolfo and Maria which are not as clear, such as:
‘Carmencita’ – Rodolfo & Maria – “estilos de aqui y de alla”.
5/ And for fun,see what Hollywood made of it.
Rudolph Valentino dancing tango in the 1921 film
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE (original music has been changed). Francisco Canaro first playing “El Castigo”, then “Hotel Victoria”, finally “Invierno.
Guest Teachers, Omar Ocampo and Monica Romero ( ‘Los Ocampo’ ) gave a class entitled ‘Milonga coming from Candombe’. We had a short introduction to Candombe, but the main part of the class was on Milonga showing how Candombe informs both the music and the dancing of Milonga.
Please note that we are using the word ‘Milonga’ in two separate contexts with two separate meanings.
Argentine Tango is generally considered to comprise three main strands or ingredients of social Tango: ‘Milonga’, ‘Vals’, and ‘Tango’.
So here we have a class on ‘Milonga’.
But the word ‘Milonga’ also means a general social dance.
So the class ( 1 – 3 pm ) on ‘Milonga’ was followed by a ‘Milonga’ social dance
including Milonga, Vals and Tango, from 3 – 5 pm.
Here is some more information on CANDOMBE if you have time :
1/ Last week I said I thought this will be the first time this subject,
‘ Milonga from Candombe’, has been approached this way in London.
Then I thought again and remembered that Kely and Facundo Posadas
demonstrated Candombe – Milonga in London over 15 years ago.
Watch them here:
2/ The ‘ Candombe ‘ we are focusing on is as practised in Uruguay and
Argentina and has its roots in the African music brought by slaves.
Note that slavery was more or less abolished from 1830 in Uruguay,
and from 1853 in Argentina, but these dates are not clear cut, and
there was a lot of vacillation over the issue of slavery in Latin America.
People of African descent in Argentina, often but not always, continued
to be marginalised for many decades.
Here is a link to a famous painting by Martin Boneo,
‘A Federal Candombe in the time of Rosas’ c 1845. Note three drums.
3/ A useful link to ‘ What is Candombe ?’ is here:
4/ Candombe Music. There are three drums used to create candombe :
The largest ‘piano’, the smallest ‘chico’, and the middle one ‘repique’.
There could be more of each drum, but it takes these three to form the
Last week Pablo Nievas gave us an excellent workshop/class on ‘Sacadas’. So it will be appropriate to spend a bit of time this week on revising what we covered .
Pablo particularly emphasized that the floor is the Tango dancer’s friend. We need to use it to achieve what we want to do. We can use the friction of our feet sliding over the floor to control speed, balance and musicality.
A simple example is when we do a ‘Corrida’ ( a ‘ run ‘ ), we speed up. But then we also need to slow down again with the desired control and musicality. If a boat wanted to slow down quickly, one way would be to drop an anchor. In the same way the trailing or ‘free’ leg can be used as a brake.
Our focus at ‘TangoE14’ is Social Argentine Tango. We should be able to go to any social tango anywhere in the world, even without speaking the local language, and dance with any reasonably competent tango dancer we have never met before.
So we need to feel comfortable in our selves and our own bodies how we respond to Tango music, and comfortable with how we engage with and respond to our partners to enable us to tango together.
We do not negate the value of learning choreography. It is very helpful in one’s tango growth to learn a choreographed routine, perhaps in a group with other dancers.
There are some excellent teachers in London that take groups through a routine, often
with a view to performing at an event. For example; Rachel Greenberg, Mina and Giraldo ( Corrientes ), Bruno Rodriguez ( Tanguito ), and others. So if that line of development interests you, then do it.
We do not know everything. We can’t solve all your problems. Our objective is to find ways of dancing together, to the music, in the space available, respecting others around us. So we try to develop our classes and practicas with the view of not just teaching specifics, but helping us all to discover and share and realise things for ourselves.
6 April 2018
There has been some attention recently in the media about reusable cups.
We have been using reusable, washable, friendly mugs for our free tea or coffee for ten years.
We are also right on the point of social friendly accessible Argentine Tango being something that just about anyone who can walk can enjoy if they want to. But you still
have to put time in to doing it, understanding it, and allowing it to become part of you.
29 March 2018
Ancient European stargazers looked at the stars and joined the dots to form animals and other shapes.
The Ancient South Americans, Pre-Inca civilizations, looked at the spaces between the stars to discover the animals and objects they saw in the night sky.
We can think about and interpret music in different ways too.
We can focus on the point of the note or beat, but we can also explore how we might enjoy or interpret the space in between the notes.
Never forgetting of course that whatever we do in Tango is a joint enterprise.
15 March 2018
If we do ‘Ballroom and Latin’ dances we mainly stick to the very clear rhythm of that dance.
For example a Slow Waltz is a definite 1 – 2 – 3 1 – 2 – 3 etc.
A Cha-cha-cha invites us to ‘ dum – dum chachachaa’ .
So what is the rhythm of Argentine Tango ? Does it have a consistent rhythm ? Does it have more than one rhythm going on at the same time ? What about the changes and pauses ?
I will say that whereas many dances are driven by a basic constant rhythm, Argentine Tango has so much going on that the dancers have to find a common point of entry that they can agree on, and enter together into the musical landscape. Tango dancers seem to have an inner calmness or stillness. That does not mean they are stopped dead, slumped, heavy on the floor, or hard to shift. Quite the opposite ; the stillness contains potential energy that is ready for anything. We will no doubt discuss this a lot more in classes.
What do you think ?
22 Feb 2018 There are many different aspects to Tango; the evolution and history of the dance and the music, the different styles, techniques, learning about our own and our partners capabilities, finding ways to connect and dance together, finding ways to improve our ‘tango dance fitness’, respecting ourselves our partners and our limits.
We encourage everyone to attend other Argentine Tango dances and classes, and to come to TangoE14 with the generosity of spirit to dance with and share with the various people they meet.
Tango can be competitive, elitist and selfish, but it can also be exceptionally considerate, egalitarian, loving and thoroughly enjoyable social dancing. You can make what you want out of it. Let ‘s make it good for everyone.
15 Feb 2018 Last Saturday Hernan Brusa helped us refine our ability to dance to the music with his chosen topic, ‘ How to dance to Melodic and Rhythmic Tangos ‘.
We worked with Carlos Di Sarli’s melodic tangos, and Juan D’Arienzo’s rhythmic tangos.
So this week we will start with a quick revision of that theme, and see where that leads us.
What is the difference between Rhythm and Melody ?
Rhythm is the space ( time ) between the notes ( think about the various rhythms one might beat on a drum ).
Melody is what results from playing notes of different pitches ( eg. up and down a scale ).
A violin will typically play a Melody. A double bass is often used in Tango to play Rhythm.
But all the instruments in a Tango Orchestra could be used to play either Rhythm or Melody.
When ‘ Il Faut ‘ Tango guitar duo played for us they demonstrated how the guitar can be used to play Melody or Rhythm. Have a look at the links to them on our website if you have time.
1 Feb 2018
At ‘ TangoE14 ‘ we aim to help people to enjoy their Tango experiences. To think about what they are doing. To exchange ideas, and experiences. To make manageable and steady progress that suits each person.
Last Saturday the challenge was ‘ How to link anything with anything ‘. So we had to look closely at a number of important details including : connection, are we really listening to each other and not just anticipating a set choreography, and having a clear axis.
26 Jan 2018
If you learn a line dance you are simply learning a sequence of moves that are repeated. It can be good fun, and good exercise. Many people enjoy it and it is a way to get started on dance fitness and awareness. But no matter how often you do that you will not learn the skills of partner dancing.
Argentine Tango is a completely different approach to dancing. One way to think about it is to compare it to literature. We learn letters, and words, then sentences, then simple stories or conversations. But there is no end to the variety of conversations or stories we can have. Another way to think about it is to imagine the music as another dimension, another landscape that you step into and enjoy together. The great joy of tango is finding each other in that space.
Tango has a beginning, but no end.
We want to enjoy it and share it.
There is a vast amount of Tango material on the internet nowadays. Choose a dancer and google them.
Here’s one you might enjoy:
Miguel Zotto and Daiana Guspero dancing a Milonga