Why Yoga is Good for Tango Dancers

Why Yoga is Good for Tango Dancers

What does Yoga have to offer Tango dancers?

Yoga is widely known to be highly beneficial to everyone in general. But in this article, let us focus on the positive effects it has on Tango dancers.

Dancers rely heavily on three things: coordination, balance and mobility. These are essential ingredients that enable dancers to dance freely and in control, and yoga can enhance these significantly.

Stamina for Tango

Yoga postures boost static strength in general. On the other hand, a dynamic class such as Ashtanga improves stamina. During arduous physical activities, we learn the deep breathing technique through the nose. You will find it extremely useful when executing difficult dance routines as well.

Mobility for Tango

Benefits of Yoga for TangoThe ability to move or to be moved freely is called mobility. When muscles lack flexibility, they hinder the movement of the joints. In order to become more agile, regular stretching is the easiest way to improve agility. It prevents muscle strains, as well as joint and muscle damage. With yoga, dynamic movements, strengthening posture and static stretches are combined to enhance overall mobility.

Maintenance of Joints

No matter how active your lifestyle is, regular stretching and recovery play a large role in performing at your optimal level. When you make yoga a part of your routine, your joints will start to move more freely and can function well with less likelihood of feeling any kind of pain. For Tango dancers (or any dancer in general), it’s important to be able to move freely without limitation or pain.

Coordination for Tango

Consciousness is a crucial part of training our coordination skills. We gently shift into postures and spend time in each posture to enable our minds to find our centre and to maximise our senses and feel every stretch of our muscles and joints in that position. Compared to everyone else, including those who practice other sports, dancers tend to find it easier to learn and execute asanas. This does not come as a surprise however, as dancers are more aware of their bodies because of the constant practice of coordination through dancing. Hence, yoga and dancing are mutually beneficial to each other.

If you haven’t tried yoga, it’s about time you give it a shot too!

Whilst dancing expresses the soul’s creativity and emotions, yoga identifies the inner self through breathing, mind focus and movements. Tangueros should definitely try it! Yogis should try dancing too. There are benefits in both directions.

Juan D’Arienzo, ‘King of the Beat’

Juan D’Arienzo, ‘King of the Beat’

‘El Rey del Compas’ (‘King of the Beat’ or ‘Rhythm King’) was what they called Juan D’Arienzo back in the Golden Era of tango. According to D’Arienzo himself, it was the famous singer and composer Angel Sanchez Carreño, a.k.a ‘Principe Cubano’ (‘Cuban Prince’)

“The nickname Rey del Compás (Rhythm King) was given to me at the Florida cabaret, the old Dancing Florida. There Osvaldo Fresedo played, while I performed at the Chantecler, which belonged to the same owners. Back around 1928 or 1930 I met the famous Príncipe Cubano (Cuban Prince), who was the show announcer. Julio Jorge Nelson was there, too. That happened when I replaced Fresedo at the Florida. The pianist was Juan Carlos Howard. It was on those days that Príncipe Cubano had the idea of calling me Rey del Compás, because of the style I had.”

But before his rise to tango fame, D’Arienzo was actually interested in jazz as a young boy. He started playing the violin at 12, and later the piano. The eldest of three children, his younger siblings were also musically skilled. Ernani was a drummer and pianist, while Josephine a pianist and a soprano. Despite this, their father, Don Alberto D’Arienzo had many disagreements with young Juan about taking up law. Juan wanted to pursue music, his father wanted him to be the owner of a major agricultural production plant. However, his mother Amalia, encouraged Juan and sent him to the Mascagni Conservatory when Juan was 8 years old.

Tango Lessons near meD’Arienzo started playing tango at 18 and by 1919, he was considered successful enough that the Teatro Nacional (National Theatre) took him in. He premiered with the Arata-Simari-Franco company, performing ‘El Cabaret Montmartre’, a comic play by Alberto Novión. D’Arienzo did not abandon his interest in jazz, though. Through the 1920s, the last few years of silent films, D’Arienzo played at theaters like Select Lavalle and the Real Cine.

In 1926, he returned to tango, playing at the Paramount with Luisito Visca and Angel D’Agostino. D’Arienzo says of the experience, “There I started to polish the style that later was distinctly mine, that one of highlighting the piano and the fourth string of the background played by Alfredo Mazzeo.”

The Golden Age of tango was from 1935 to 1955 and has been closely linked to D’Arienzo. While playing a new tango called ‘La Puñalada,’ the orchestra pianist Rodolfo Biagi recommends they change the 4/8 beat to a milonga of 2/4. D’Arienzo initially disagrees, but that night, he arrived late and found his orchestra playing the tango to this new style.

“July 9, the public danced with such gusto that when the crowd, shouting and clapping, asked D’Arienzo to continue with that new style, the director had no other choice but to play it all night.”

D’Arienzo’s style caught the attention of the youth, which reinvigorated the tango scene.

Young people like me. They like my tangos because they are rhythmic, nervous up-tempos. Youth are after that: happiness, movement. If you play for them a melodic tango and out of beat, they won’t like it,” said D’Arienzo.

D’Arienzo recorded more than 1,000 tangos, milongas and fast valses, and composed 46 tangos. He passed away on January 14, 1976 and is buried at the La Chacarita Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

The Origin of ‘Adios Muchachos’

The Origin of ‘Adios Muchachos’

Composed by Argentinian pianist Julio Cesar Sanders, ‘Adios Muchachos’ was intended as a playful hymn for a group of friends, but since its inception in September 9, 1927, the tango has evolved in many ways.

One night, Sanders had been in a cafe with his friends in the Buenos Aires district of Flores. As the evening ended and they parted ways, one of them said, “Adios, muchachos (goodbye, boys).” Inspired by this, Sanders created the song on the piano and a friend, Cesar Vedani, added lyrics.

Brisbane Tango Classes near meWhen Sanders and his friends performed the tango in public, it was highly acclaimed. Many singers and orchestras recorded the tango, supposedly reaching 1,500 recordings within the first few months of its debut. However, a tango database notes that the song has had 118 distinct recordings.

The first recording was by Agustin Magaldi in 1927. Carlos Gardel recorded it as well in 1928 and the song became a hit throughout Europe when Gardel went on tour. The tango has appeared in numerous films as well as on television, including ‘Scent of a Woman’ (1992) and an episode of ‘I Love Lucy.’

The original lyrics portrays a very ill man on the verge of death, saying farewell to his friends while fondly looking back at his life. Below is a translation of Vedani’s lyrics.

Goodbye boys, fellows of my life,

Loved bar from those times.

It’s my turn, today, to commence the retreat

I have to move away from my good group of young people

 

Goodbye boys, I go now and I resign,

Nobody beats the destiny.

All the parties/mockeries are over, for me,

My ill body doesn’t resist anymore.

 

In my mind come memories from other times,

Of the beautiful moments that I have long ago enjoyed,

Close to my mother, old saint,

And to my beloved one, whom I have so much idolised.

 

They remember that she was beautiful, prettier than a Goddess,

And what a full of verve love, did my heart give her.

But, God, jealous of her charm,

Took her away, sinking me in cry.

 

God is the supreme judge, nobody resists in front of Him,

I am now accustomed, to respect His law,

Well, my life ended with His orders

Taking away my mother and my beloved one, also.

 

Two sincere tears cried at my depart

For the loved bar that never forgot me,

And giving to my friends, my last goodbye

I give them, my blessing, with all my heart.

 

Goodbye boys, fellows of my life,

Loved bar from those times.

It’s my turn, today, to commence the retreat

I have to move away from my good group of young people

 

Goodbye boys, I go now and I resign,

Nobody beats the destiny.

All the parties/ mockeries are over for me,

My ill body doesn’t resist anymore.

Tango Classes ToowongIn the United States, the jazz musician Louis Armstrong recorded ‘Adios Muchachos’ in 1951, but with the title changed to ‘I Get Ideas.’ Dorcas Cochran was credited as the lyricist and this version became an international hit. While it retained its title in Italy, the new lyrics have been criticized for straying too far from the original essence of the tango. The new words were more about a man about to be imprisoned for a year. This version was recorded by the singer Milva, whose interest in tango was so great, she was called “an Italian that loves Buenos Aires.” In Great Britain, two versions were recorded, one called ‘I’ll Always Keep You in My Heart’ and ‘Paul the Dreamer.’

After the 1943 Argentine coup d’etat, some changes to the lyrics were made by the military dictatorship. A 1945 recording by Enrique Rodriguez had the words ‘la barra querida (beloved gang)’ to ‘viejos amigos (old friends),’ ‘nadie la talla (no one size fits all)’ to ‘nadie batalla (no battle),’ and ‘todas las farras (all those binges)’ to ‘todas las fiestas (all those parties).’

The Dark Age of Tango

The Dark Age of Tango

Tango, just like many other art mediums, has also gone through a dark phase. When General Juan Perón was ousted in 1955, it brought about a myriad of consequences to the whole of Argentina. The new military government was made up of elite members of society who did not have an understanding of the mass culture of Argentina. Tango was not part of their norm. To them, it was the dance of the poor and inferior.

In addition to that, they seemed to have a prejudice on anything related to or can be associated with Perón. They believed that anything Perón said and believed in were wrong. Just like Perón, Tango was both national and popular and is something that can be identified with Perón as he had used it for his political campaigns. Many tango artists had been involved with the Pro-Perón movement and had been either imprisoned or blacklisted as a consequence.

A nightly gathering of men in the social halls of political associations to dance was regarded suspicious and was thought to be an undeniable disguise for political upheaval. As a result, the new regime devised ways to curb the growth of Tango, if only to cripple the opposing organisations and prevent an uprising.

Because banning Tango was impossible, specific songs were banned and some song titles were revised. The new government’s restrictive measures had put a strain on dance. Curfews were imposed and meetings involving more than three people were forbidden. It made things difficult for Tango with it being a social dance held mostly during the night.

Tango Classes BrisbaneThere had been one particular attack made against Tango that was very subtle yet clever at the same time. The military government started banning minors in nightclubs. What made it even more offensive was that it strictly imposed on Tango clubs only. For some reason, some clubs such as the Rock and Roll ones were spared. It was viewed to be a deliberate strike against tango as boys and girls abruptly stopped learning Tango and went to Rock and Roll clubs instead. Back then, going to dances was the way for men and women to meet. So, if they cannot meet through Tango, they will move on to the next club where they can gather and socialise.

The new regime, although particularly conservative, oddly enough supported and encouraged a rather rough and callous dance like Rock and Roll, especially during the time when the rest of the world seemed adamant in stopping young people from dancing to this wild new music. Why? Because it conveniently served its purpose to the regime. It was undeniably the biggest competition of Tango and they used it to their advantage and they used it well.

The dark era spanned from 1955 until 1983, the fall of the military junta which took place after the Falklands War. No one learned how to dance Tango in the period of 28 years that the military government reigned. However, Tango did not completely disappear. Tango just went underground and many people still went to dance. Some professional Tango dancers made a living out of teaching Tango and made choreographies for shows as an attraction for the foreign market. And slowly Tango was reborn.

The Man Who Revolutionised Tango – Astor Piazzolla

The Man Who Revolutionised Tango – Astor Piazzolla

Once described as “the world’s most foremost composer of tango music,” Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla established nuevo tango (new tango), a blend of jazz, classical music, and tango.

Nuevo Tango BrisbanePiazzolla was born on March 11, 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. His parents were Italian immigrants Vicente ‘Nonino’ Piazzolla and Assunta Manetti. At birth, Piazzolla’s right leg was twisted due to polio and he underwent repeated operations until it was fixed, albeit one leg was slightly shorter than the other.

In 1925, the family moved to New York, where they lived until 1936. They first went to New Jersey, then Manhattan, near Little Italy. While the young Piazzolla adjusted well enough to American life, he was expelled from school for fighting and consequently earned the nickname ‘Lefty’ because of his left-hand punch.

It was around this time when he received his first bandoneon at age eight. He learned to play this instrument along with the piano. Initially, Piazzolla was not argentine tango classes near mekeen on the gift. In one interview, he said, “[My father] brought it covered in a box, and I got very happy because I thought it was the roller skates I had asked for so many times. It was a let-down because instead of a pair of skates, I found an artifact I had never seen before in my life. Dad sat down, set it on my legs, and told me, ‘Astor, this is the instrument of tango. I want you to learn it.’ My first reaction was anger. Tango was that music he listened to almost every night after coming home from work. I didn’t like it.”

In 1929, The Great Depression struck and the family moved back to Mar del Plata in 1936, only to return to New York nine months later. At 11, Piazzolla began playing his bandoneon on stage and started taking lessons with Andres D’Aquila, an Argentine pianist. He also made his first recording, ‘Marionette Spagnol,’ and composed his first tango, ‘La Catinga,’ which has never been recorded.

Piazzolla was introduced to jazz in New York, when he would sneak into clubs, where Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman and other jazz icons would play. Meanwhile, it was pianist and neighbour Bela Wilda, who taught him the piano and introduced him to classical music. One of Piazzolla’s earliest and long-lasting influences was Johann Sebastian Bach. Wilda even taught him to play Bach on the bandoneon.

Argentine Tango Classes BrisbaneAt age 12, Astor Piazzolla’s life would change. It was 1933 and he learned one of his idols Carlos Gardel was in town. Piazzolla went to Gardel’s building and what followed next was something straight out of a movie. Gardel’s assistant was outside and had left his key inside the room. Piazzolla volunteered to climb the fire escape and went in through the window to wake the sleeping Gardel. Turns out, it was lyricist Alfredo Le Pera. One thing led to another and the two became good friends. Piazzolla eventually became Gardel’s translator and his bandoneon player.

The Piazzolla’s moved back to Argentina in 1937 and the teenage Piazzolla immersed himself in tango. By the time he was 17, he moved to Buenos Aires and was invited to play the bandoneon in one of the most prestigious tango orchestras at the time, the Anibal Troilo Orquestra, and eventually became their arranger.

Piazzolla formed his own orchestra in 1946, the Astor Piazzolla Y Su Orchestra Tipica or commonly referred to as ‘The 1946 Band’. During this time, he composed his first “formal” tango, El Desbande as well as scores for films. In 1949, Piazzolla started in earnest his musical experiments, one of which, titled ‘Buenos Aires,’ was submitted to the Fabien Sevitzky Competition, where it won first prize. When the piece was performed by Sevitzky, however, it was met with negative reaction, with many complaining a bandoneon had no place in an orchestra.

Piazzolla travelled to France for his Paris Conservatory scholarship. Here, he played one of his tango-classical experiments, ‘Trifunal,’ for the great music educator Nadia Boulanger and she encouraged him to press on. And so, in 1955, tango nuevo was born with the formation of the group Octeto Buenos Aires. Even with growing criticism, Piazzolla carried on, touring the world with his unique blend of tango, jazz, and classical music. His favourite expression for tango nuevo was the bandoneon, violin, bass, piano, and electric guitar.

After a period of great productivity, Piazzolla had a heart attack in 1973. Shortly after, he moved to Milan, Italy and a year later he composed the infamous hit, ‘Libertango.’ This symbolised his break from classical tango to something new.

In 1985, he was named an exceptional citizen of Buenos Aires and in 1986, received the Cesar Prize for his score of the film ‘El Exilio de Gardel.’ One of his most well-known performances was in 1987 in Central Park in New York to a crowd of over 4,000. In 1990, Piazzolla suffered a massive stroke and two years later, the genius Tanguero died in Buenos Aires on July 4. He leaves behind more than 1,000 works and the legacy of having revolutionized tango forever.

The Origin of ‘Volver’

The Origin of ‘Volver’

In 1934, French Argentine composer Carlos Gardel along with lyricist Alfredo Le Pera created the tango ‘Volver.’ It is considered one of the most famous and beautiful tangos as it has become a symbol of nostalgia for all the Argentines forced to migrate from their homeland.

Like many migrants to the United States, Argentines were seeking better economic opportunities. However, it was in the 1970s when many of them fled the ‘Dirty War’ and political and military upheaval. They numbered 44,803 people.

Argentine Tango Classes BrisbaneThe tango was recorded on March 19, 1935 for the film ‘El Dia Que Me Quieras (The Day you Love Me),’ which was also written by Le Pera and starred Gardel. In the movie, Gardel plays Carlos Arguelles, the son of a wealthy man whose only interests in life are business and making money. While trying to succeed in show business he falls in love with a dancer and they elope to marry.

In ‘Volver,’ Gardel sings about the pain and nostalgia of exile. The tango symbolises the fleetingness of life and the destiny of a man who is heading down the path of no return.

Only three months after the recording, on June 24, Gardel and Le Pera perished in a plane crash in Medellin, Colombia. ‘Volver’ is reputed to be his last song for his fans, a melodic and nostalgic piece for the adoring millions in mourning. It has since been surrounded by an atmosphere of veneration and superstition. No orchestra or discerning DJ would play this piece in a tango ball.

This tango has been covered by multiple singers, including Julio Iglesias, Libertad Lamarque, Los Panchos, Andres Calamaro, and Il Divo. In 2006, Pedro Almodovar’s film also entitled ‘Volver,’ utilized the tango, but turned it into a flamenco sung by Penelope Cruz.

Below is an English translation of the lyrics:

I imagine the flickering

of the lights that in the distance

will be marking my return.

They’re the same that lit,

with their pale reflections,

deep hours of pain

And even though I didn’t want to come back,

you always return to your first love

The tranquil street where the echo said

yours is her life, yours is her love,

under the mocking gaze of the stars

that, with indifference, today see me return.

 

To return

with withered face,

the snows of time

have whitened my temples.

To feel… that life is a puff of wind,

that twenty years is nothing,

that the feverish look,

wandering in the shadow,

looks for you and names you.

To live…

with the soul clutched

to a sweet memory

that I cry once again

 

I am afraid of the encounter

with the past that returns

to confront my life

I am afraid of the nights

that, filled with memories,

shackle my dreams.

But the traveler that flees

sooner or later stops his walking

And although forgetfulness, which destroys all,

has killed my old dream,

I keep concealed a humble hope

that is my heart’s whole fortune.

 

To live… with the soul clutched

to a sweet memory

that I cry once again

Styles of Argentine Tango

Styles of Argentine Tango

Within Argentine tango there are various styles you may hear people refer to.  They will say, “Oh, he’s a milonguero dancer,” or “She dances salon style.”  Styles are as unique as dancers and I think it’s rather foolish to try to categorise either. Just remember if you hear terms like ‘salon’, ‘milonguero’, ‘fantasia’, or ‘orillero’, someone is talking about a certain style.

As with any evolving art form, trying to pin down the rules is impossible. Every day, new styles come forward and dancers find ways to play with them and incorporate them into their dance. In the past few years, styles known as ‘nuevo’ and ‘liquid’ have appeared. Who knows what’s coming next? All we know is that it’s coming.

Many tango dancers dance in a range of unique and personal styles all over Buenos Aires and some parts of Argentina. However, they refuse to accept any classification of their dancing by any broad elaborate name. They’d much rather say that they are simply dancing tango in their own individual style or that of their region. In some cases, there is confusion with the styles as some tango dancers identify their own style by a name that other dancers identify as an entirely different style.

Tango Classes near meNevertheless, if we think of style as a way of dancing that closely follows the listed elements but has a number of incompatibilities with other approaches then I guess it’s safe to say that there are a variety of distinguishable tango styles such as: Tango de Salon, Villa Urquiza, Milonguero-Style Tango, Club-Style Tango, Orillero-Style Tango, Canyengue, Nuevo Tango, Fantasia, Tango Escenario, Nuevo Milonguero, and Liquid Tango.

  1. TANGO DE SALON

“Tango de Salon” refers to a plethora of social dance styles that includes Milonguero, Villa Urquiza and as well as Club-Style tangos. These are social dances that are often danced in salons or improper venues instead of the purpose of exhibition. Traditionally, tango de salon dancers are required to respect the line of dance, but they are allowed freedom to have their own styles in terms of embraces and characteristic movements.

In other countries, “salon-style” tango may refer to Tango Fantasia, Villa Urquiza, Tango Escenario or a fusion of these different styles. The combined styles is distinguished to have a looser embrace with a more prominent V than the Villa Urquiza styles. The distance between the partners allows the woman to pivot freely without much independent hip and torso movements.

  1. MILONGUERO

Generally, Milonguero-style tango is danced with a somewhat leaning posture that unites the partners in their torsos from the stomach towards the solar plexus to form a joined axis, at the same time, allowing a slight distance between their feet. It’s an embrace otherwise known as “apilado”. In the embrace, the woman’s right shoulder should be as close to her partner’s left shoulder as her left shoulder is to his right. Her left arm should hang over behind the neck of her partner.

Constant body contact is maintained and the embrace does not loosen even when executing turns or ochos, which limits the partners walking steps and plain ochos until the woman is ready to execute her turns stepping at an angle instead of pivoting.

Milonguero-style tango is identified with the ric-tic-tic rhythm that is distinct in the music of Rodolfo Biagi and Juan D’Arienzo, as well as in other tango orchestras.

  1. CANYENGUE

Canyengue is a form of tango that can be traced back from the 1920s to the early 30s. It is a historical form of tango that may not be accurately captured by the dancers that currently practice it. At the peak of its popularity, women dancers wore long and tight dresses. In this form of tango, the couple’s embrace is close and in an offset V, they move with bent knees and the woman does not execute a cross. Therefore, the steps are much shorter and more frequent in the ric-tic-tic-rhythm. Some Canyengue dangers exaggerate body movements to emphasise their steps.

  1. CLUB-STYLE TANGO

Like Milonguero-style tango, Club-style tango share the same rhythmic sensibilities although it is executed with a more upright posture and separate axes. Its embrace is as close as that of the Villa Urquiza style. The woman is able to rotate more openly and pivot without much independent movement as the couple’s embrace is slightly looser. Like Milonguero-style, Club-style tango is also danced to the ric-tic-tic rhythm that is noticeable in the music of Juan D’Arienzo and Rodolfo Biagi, as well as in other tango orchestras. This style of tango also uses the ocho cortado and other rhythmic figures used in Milonguero-style tango.

  1. VILLA URQUIZA

A tango style named after one of Buenos Aires’ neighbourhoods, Villa Urquiza is generally danced with the couple maintaining an upright body posture and keeping separate axes with their eyes fixed towards their clasped hands. This position creates a slight V impression in their embrace, where the woman’s right shoulder is closer to the man’s right shoulder than her left shoulder is to his right.. More often than not, the couple allows the woman to rotate more freely by loosening their embrace although it is supposed to be closed. The more the woman rotates, the less the embrace needs to be loosened. This style is otherwise known as “Tango Estilo del Barrio” in some neighbourhoods and “Salon-Style Tango” outside of Argentina.

  1. FANTASIA (Show Tango)

This style of tango is influenced mainly by the Villa Urquiza style of tango. Fantasia or Tango Fantasia refers to an exhibition style of tango.  Fantasia is unique for its dramatic poses, ganchos,  high boleos  and thorough use of embellishments. It is danced during breaks in social dances in milongas but is also performed in the stage in which it has evolved into another style of tango as some elements have been added to it subsequently, turning it into an entirely new style called Tango Escenario.

  1. TANGO ESCENARIO (Stage Tango)

Its name means tango danced in stage shows. This style has developed from that of the Villa Urquiza and Orillero styles of tango and has recently drew some elements from nuevo-tango. In this style of tango, the couple dances in an open embrace with exaggerated movements and other elements foreign to the vocabulary of social tango.

  1. ORILLERO-STYLE TANGO

This style of tango is considered to be one of the older styles and basing on its name, it seems that it originated from Buenos Aires’ streets of impoverished rural tenements. It was later referred to the style where the man is dancing around the woman. During what is considered to be tango’s golden age, Orillero-style tango was not accepted in the refined salons of Buenos Aires. To this day, Orillero-style tango has become more like the Villa Urquiza style of tango.

Orillero-style tango is danced with upright body posture. The couple then keeps separate axes with their embrace a typical offset in a V that can either be open or close. The woman is free to move and pivot in the turns without the need for much independent movement between her hips and torso.

When dancing in a close embrace, the couple slightly loosens the embrace in order to make room for the turns. The embrace would not have to be loosened that much if the woman is rotating her hips through the turns independently of her upper torso. What makes it different from Salon-style tango is that it has a more playful embellishment that requires more space and its figures do not strictly follow the line of dance.

  1. NUEVO TANGO

This dancing approach was originally made to be an instructive approach to tango, highlighting the structures where the connections to the elements of tango, as well as the step patterns and new combinations, can be found. The dancers following this approach have developed a style somewhat akin to nuevo tango which is danced in an open and elastic embrace with a posture that is very upright, emphasising the dancers’ axes. This tango style is distinguishable by figures such as linear boleos, volcadas, overturn ochos, single axis spin and cadenas. Such moves are best done in a loose embrace.

  1. LIQUID TANGO

An approach to dancing Argentine tango where the couple’s embrace shifts between open and close in order to allow the combination of different styles of tango such as the club and nuevo styles. We cannot really consider Liquid tango as an independent style of tango dancing as it is considerably similar to nuevo and does not have distinctive separate groups of followers.

  1. NUEVO MILONGUERO

Nuevo Milonguero is a somewhat recent approach to Argentine tango that includes some nuevo movements. Like Liquid Tango, we also cannot consider Nuevo Milonguero to be a separate style of tango as this approach is largely similar to the Milonguero style tango, plus the fact that it does not have a group of followers that is distinguishable. In fact, Nuevo Milonguero can only be considered as Milonguero style’s show version because of its showy elements that does not befit being danced in crowded venues.

Francisco Canaro, A True Star of Tango

Francisco Canaro, A True Star of Tango

Uruguayan composer Francisco Canaro is considered one of the tango world’s most popular artists. His recordings, both traditional tango and milongas, are noted as beautiful and melodic.

Canaro was born on November 26, 1888 into extreme poverty, with seven other siblings. His parents were Italian immigrants. Canaro was given the nickname “Pirincho” when the midwife noticed that his hair has a fuzz and curl like the head feathers of the South American bird of the same name.

The Canaro family moved from River Plate when Francisco was less than 10 years old and settled in the densely populated “conventillos,” an urban tenement in Buenos Aires. Unable to attend school, Canaro instead started working as a newspaper boy, a shoe shiner, a painter, and then as an apprentice at a can factory.

Despite his bitter upbringing, the young Canaro was enthusiastic about music at an early age. His neighbor, a cobbler, was his first teacher, showing him how to play the guitar and mandolin. While working at the factory, he built a violin out of a wooden fingerboard and the remains of an oil can. He taught himself to play this creation. According to Canaro himself, the first tango he played from heart was ‘El Llorón.’

At 18, Canaro made his professional debut as part of a trio in a town called Ranchos, a hundred kilometres outside of Buenos Aires. He started devoting himself to tango when he was introduced to bandoneonist and tango orchestra director Vicente Greco in 1908. Canaro went on to join Greco on several successful tours and produced records.

By 1915, at the age of 26, Canaro began conducting orchestras. His first headline was the first Baile del Internado, which was a comedy ball organized by the hospital interns to make fun of their doctors. The gala was held at the Palais de Glace and here, Canaro premiered ‘El Alacran’ and ‘Matasano.’ In 1916, he was the headliner once again, but for Bailes de Carnival, where he was met with such adoration that he was invited again and again. In 1921, for the Bailes de Carnival, he reunited a 32-piece orchestra, an orchestral mass unknown in tango until then.

Canaro’s music is considered to have reshaped the way society perceived tango at the time. Back then, high society did not entertain tango, at least not until Canaro’s orchestra.

Tango Lessons BrisbaneCanaro pioneered the incorporation of a singer in the tango orchestra in 1924, but only for the main part of the tango or the ‘estribillo.’ The first estribillo used by Canaro was Roberto Díaz. This ushered in the ‘estribillistas era’ from the mid-1920s to the late 1930s.

By 1925, Canaro toured the world, beginning in Paris, where tango was now in fashion. He also traveled to the United States. By 1926, his contracts expired and he was free from commitments. Canaro visited Italy to meet his grandmother.

After his absence, Canaro returned to Argentina. He also dabbled in musical theatre and film. He founded Rio de la Plata productions, although none of his projects proved to be commercial hits.

In 1956, he published his memoirs, ‘Mis 50 Años Con El Tango” (My 50 Years with Tango).’ Canaro was forced into retirement after being diagnosed with Paget’s Disease. He eventually passed in 1964 at the age of 76.

The Origin of Por una Cabeza

The Origin of Por una Cabeza

One of the most popular of Carlos Gardel’s tangos is “Por una Cabeza”. Written in 1935, the song’s title is originally a horse racing term “to lose by a head”. It was co-written by Alfredo Le Pera, just shortly before they were both killed in a plane crash in Columbia on 24 June 1935. The lyrics bemoans a man’s life as it compares losing the horse race to losing with women.

The complete lyrics of the song in Spanish along with its English translation was provided by the late Alberto Paz and his wife Valerie Hart on their website Planet Tango.

In 1935, the song was sang in the movie “The Tango Bar” by Carlos Gardel himself. It’s a fun and entertaining movie to watch even for those who do not understand Spanish because of its humour that is easy to follow.

Por una Cabeza

Songwriters: Carlos Gardel / Alfredo La Pera

 

Por una cabeza, de un noble potrillo

Que justo en la raya, afloja al llegar

Y que al regresar, parece decir

No olvides, hermano

Vos sabes, no hay que jugar

 

Por una cabeza, metejón de un día

De aquella coqueta y risueña mujer

Que al jurar sonriendo el amor que está mintiendo

Quema en una hoguera

Todo mi querer

 

Por una cabeza, todas las locuras

Su boca que besa

Borra la tristeza

Calma la amargura

 

Por una cabeza

Si ella me olvida

Qué importa perderme

Mil veces la vida

Para qué vivir

 

Cuántos desengaños, por una cabeza

Yo juré mil veces no vuelvo a insistir

Pero si un mirar me hiere al pasar

Su boca de fuego

Otra vez quiero besar

 

Basta de carreras, se acabo la timba

Un final reñido ya no vuelvo a ver

Pero si algún pingo llega a ser fija el domingo

Yo me juego entero

Qué le voy a hacer

Por una cabeza, todas las locuras

Su boca que besa

Borra la tristeza

Calma la amargura

 

Por una cabeza

Si ella me olvida

Qué importa perderme

Mil veces la vida

Para qué vivir

 

Only By a Head (English Translation)

By only a head of

a pureblood race colt

that just on the finish

had slowed down to shamble;

and upon riding back

it seems to be saying

forget not this brother,

you know that you shouldn’t gamble

 

By only a head I

was love struck at first sight

with that one coquettish

and cheerful dame

who by pledging with a smile

a love that she’s lying about

she burns all my love

in a blazing flame

 

[Chorus:]

By only a head were

all of the follies;

her lips when she’s kissing

the sadness are dismissing

the sourness make jolly

By only a head that

if she forgets me

won’t matter if I lose

my life that hurts me;

what is there to live?

 

Lots of disappointments,

by only a head all

thousand times I swore that

I won’t fall for this

but each time a passing

look off my feet sweeps me

her burning lips, once more,

I want to just kiss

 

I’m done with the race tracks,

I’m quitting all gambling

a dead heat I don’t want

to ever watch again

but if a young filly

looks sure bet on Sunday

I’ll gamble all I have,

what can I do then!

(chorus)

Argentine Tango Carlos Gardel“Por una Cabeza” is an easy song to dance tango to because of its slow and clear rhythm. Because of this, it become one of the most popular songs played by almost all of the major orchestras during the 1940’s and 50’s.

Even to this day, “Por una Cabeza” is still widely used, especially in Hollywood. In fact, it appeared in numerous scenes in the following movies:

  • Scent of a Woman (1992) – The song was performed by “The Tango Project”, consisting of William Schimmel (accordion), Michael Sahl (piano) and Stan Kurtis (violin). The band also appeared in the scene along with Al Pacino.
  • Schindler’s List (1993) – it suited well with the implication of Oskar Schindler’s “addiction” to women
  • True Lies (1994) – Arnold Schwarzenegger dances to it twice – the first time was with a female spy and second was with his character’s wife.
  • Frida (2002) – it was heard on a radio sung by Gardel
  • Bad Santa (2003, Uncut version)
  • All the King’s Men (2006)
  • Easy Virtue (2008) – Colin Firth and Jessica Biel dances to it sensually
  • Planet 51 (2009)

FUN FACT:

During the tango scene in True Lies, it was discovered that Arnold had two left feet and fought to dance even the simplest of steps so most of the scenes were of him dancing tango from the waist up.

The Beginnings of Couple Dance

The Beginnings of Couple Dance

Couple dancing was originally sequence-based where couples dance the same steps at the same time, except maybe the Boston which was a rhythmic dance that was a more difficult form of the Viennese Waltz but never really became popular. Then came Tango and it revolutionised couples dance into something that we all now know.

Tango really set the standard of couple dancing that is widely known in the world today.  It was the first couple dance in Europe that involved improvisation. It came to Europe around the early 20th century and probably began in France when Argentine sailors arrived in the port of Marseille where sailors danced Tango with local girls. There had been evidence that Tango was danced on stage in Montmartre, Paris in 1905 but it wasn’t entirely felt until 1912, when Paris was taken over by the Tango invasion.

Tango Lessons BrisbaneDuring that time, Argentina became one of the richest countries in the world. It was ranked seventh, even higher than Spain or Italy in terms of average per capita income. Although, the overall standard of living in Argentina was high, the poor became poorer whilst the rich became even richer. It became a trend in well-off families to send their children to Europe to either go to university or simply just to tour lavishly.

As expected, young men frequented places they weren’t supposed to visit and dated women their families would prefer they don’t marry. And it so happened that these young men were pretty good Tango dancers despite the fact that Tango was still not acknowledged by Buenos Aires’ elite society. But when these young men danced in Paris, the upper classes fell in love with it and became an instant hit.

1913 was the year Tango invaded the world. It was the couple dance that everyone was dancing throughout many parts of Europe. But of course, like all great things, there were many who disapproved of it. Nonetheless, Tango had already gained a foothold and grew quickly. Victorian corsets and hooped skirts were gradually changed into less constricting clothing to allow women to move freely when dancing Tango. Vertical feathers in women’s hats came into fashion to accommodate a partner’s embrace. Tulip skirts that opened at the front became the new trend as well as Tango shoes, stockings, hats, dresses, and basically anything that would make dancing Tango easier. This also meant that the majority of the outfits were in orange as it was the colour of Tango.

Tango’s popularity in Paris and throughout the rest of Europe has transformed it into an alluring couple dance that roused the interest of Buenos Aires’ upper class, which eventually swayed them into accepting the dance. And because of this, Tango was re-introduced to Buenos Aires, its original home. This has been evidenced by a book published in Buenos Aires around the First World War which says that it was written to teach Tango as it is elegantly danced in Paris. This turned into a total transformation of the dance as opposed to the tasteless, indelicate dance previously danced by the Buenos Aires’ lower class.