The Origin of La Cumparsita

The Origin of La Cumparsita

Would you believe a 17-year-old composed one of the most recognizable and most recorded tangos of all time? That’s what happened in 1916, when teenager Gerardo Hernan “Becho” Matos Rodríguez had his friend Manuel Barca show Orchestra Roberto Firpo his music.

In his own words, Firpo said of that fateful evening on February 8, “One night at The Giralda, a famous and classic cafe in Montevideo, a young boy–likeable but somewhat timid–approached me and asked if he could talk to me for a few minutes… He left a very modest score with me. It was ‘La Cumparsita.’ I played it on the piano and liked it. After some adjustments to the score I released it with extraordinary success, as much due to the fact that it was a great tango as the fact that its author was a boy of Montevideo. When I returned to Buenos Aires, I released it in the cafes, and Montevideo’s success was repeated.”

Gerardo Matos RodriguezRodriguez was born on April 25,1948 in Montevideo, Uruguay and was the son of the owner of the popular local cabaret Moulin Rouge. He was studying architecture around the time he composed ‘La Cumparsita,” which he wrote on the piano of the Federación de Estudiantes of Uruguay. The tango, whose title translates to “the little parade,” was first played in public in the old Café La Giralda in Montevideo, where the Museum of Montevideo now stands.

Several months after first reading the music, Firpo, in November of 1916, recorded the song for Odeon Records. It was, however, recorded as a B-side and received little success. For many years it was forgotten until on June 6, 1924, at the theatre “A Program of a Night Club.” Each play set their scenes to forgotten tangos and one in particular, involved Juan Ferrari, Enrique Maroni and Pascual Cortusi adding words to ‘La Cumparsita.’ They renamed the song ‘Si Supieras’ (‘If You Know’) without consent from Rodriguez. This version immediately became a hit.

Rodriguez learned of the song’s popularity through orchestra leader Francisco Canaro while they were in Paris. Canaro himself played ‘Si Supieras’ and told Rodriguez, “I told him how it had resurged again and how it was the rage by all orchestras; that Paschal Contursi and Enrique P. Maroni had composed a very pretty scene and adapted to the score and that Carlitos sang it to Gardel with extraordinary success”

What followed was two decades of court battles over royalties. Rodriguez was able to have the song revert its title to ‘La Cumparsita.’ Canaro came up with a binding agreement in 1948, putting an end to the lawsuits. The estates of Contursi and his business partner Enrique Maroni would get 20 percent of all royalties, while the remaining 80 percent would go to the estate of Rodriguez. Future sheet music prints would show lyrics in addition to Rodriguez’ original, lesser known ones.

The original version by Rodriguez:
La cumparsita
de miserias sin fin desfila
en torno de aquel ser enfermo
que pronto ha de morir
de pena.

Por eso
es que en su lecho
solloza acongojado
recordando el pasado
que lo hace padecer.

The little masquerade
of endless miseries parades
around that sickly being
that soon will have died
of shame.

That’s why
on his (death) bed
he sobs, grieving
remembering the past
that causes him this suffering.

Maroni and Contursi’s version:

Si supieras,
que aun dentro de mi alma,
conservo aquel cariño
que tuve para ti…
Quien sabe si supieras
que nunca te he olvidado,
volviendo a tu pasado
te acordaras de mi…

Los amigos ya no vienen
ni siquiera a visitarme,
nadie quiere consolarme
en mi afliccion…
Desde el dia que te fuiste
siento angustias en mi pecho,
deci, percanta, que has hecho
de mi pobre corazon?

Sin embargo,
yo siempre te recuerdo
con el cariño santo
que tuve para ti.
Y estas en todas partes
pedazo de mi vida,
y aquellos ojos que fueron mi alegria
los busco por todas partes
y no los puedo hallar.

Al cotorro abandonado
ya ni el sol de la mañana
asoma por la ventana
como cuando estabas vos,
y aquel perrito compañero
que por tu ausencia no comia,
al verme solo el otro dia tambien me dejo.

If you knew,
that still within my soul,
I keep the love
I had for you…
Who knows, if you knew
that I never forgot you,
returning to your past,
you would remember me…

The friends do not come
not even to visit me,
nobody wants to console me.
in my affliction…
Since the day you left
I feel anguish in my chest,
tell me, woman, what have you done
with my poor heart?

Nevertheless,
I always remember you
with the holy love
that I had for you.
And you are everywhere,
piece of my life,
and those eyes that were my happiness
I search for them everywhere
and I can’t find them.

To the abandoned bedroom
now not even the morning sun
shows through the window
the way as when you were there,
and that little dog [our] partner
that because of your absence would not eat
on seeing me alone the other day also left me.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_cumparsita
https://prezi.com/shdgwbtkys5x/history-of-la-cumparsita/
http://www.verytangostore.com/la-cumparsita.html

Tango Reborn

Tango Reborn

The rebirth of tango, or more popularly referred to as The Tango Renaissance, started in 1983 right after the fall of the military junta in Argentina. Suddenly, Buenos Aires basked in a joyful atmosphere and everyone was in the mood to dance as though an actual veil had been lifted off them. All dance and martial arts classes were filling up all over the city. People wanted to learn Tango all of a sudden when they realised that it’s all right to take pride in being Argentine again. And what better way to demonstrate this pride than to take part in Tango, Argentina’s symbol to the world.

Argentine Tango near meHowever, there had been some setbacks at the start. One of which is that there was no tradition of teaching Tango and that there had been no Tango classes for beginners during its Golden Age. There were virtually no teachers and no standard practices being followed. There was an incessant hunger for mentors that needed to be fed.

To address this unrelenting need, dancers started giving tango classes for those wanting to learn the dance. This is the same scenario everywhere in the world since Tango re-emerged in 1983. People taught not because they thought they were gurus and knew everything but because people asked them to. Aspiring dancers learned tango through going to classes and travelling to Europe. Very few were experienced dancers.

At the beginning of the Tango Renaissance, the first teachers in Buenos Aires were young dancers who didn’t know much about tango. Those who were dancing during the Golden Age did not dance anymore and those who did had been suspicious of strangers. So the first people who danced were newbies. Those who haven’t danced tango or haven’t danced with someone in the Golden Age. One problem was that “teachers” weren’t really teaching tango. Most of what they taught were only things that they had made up on their own.

Eventually, people who had danced in the Golden Age started dancing again after 3 decades of not dancing Tango. Thankfully, they re-discovered their passion for Tango and developed a desire to teach Tango to the new generation of dancers. Miguel and Nelly Balmaceda have played a vital role in re-establishing Tango during the renaissance era. For as much as they could, they tried to stick to the traditional way of teaching tango when organising their beginners’ classes. They only allowed students to dance with teachers until they thought they were ready. Even then, they still had to dance the most basic steps only. Many of today’s most prominent tango dancers were trained by Miguel and Nelly or trained by someone trained by them.

Complex dance steps ruled in the Tango Renaissance. There was an astounding excitement to doing these complicated steps especially when combined with the techniques of traditional Tango. It enhanced the emotional connection that defines the true essence of the dance.

Antonio Todaro was one of the most famous teachers of the renaissance period of tango. He was one of the few who danced Tango before the military regime started. He created challenging steps, incorporating it with the technique of the Golden Age. He frequently toured Europe and taught many of the professional tango dancers we know now. Shortly after his death in 1993, young dancers in Buenos Aires began to steer away from the steps he popularised. A few other dancing styles emerged in the following years.

The dancing of the people who were around during the Golden Age remained the same as they could still go to milongas in the outskirts of Buenos Aires and dance the complicated steps in its most authentic manner. However, by 1995, styles such as “Club Tango” or “Milonguero”, “Short Steps” and “Close Hold” dominated the dancing style of the people who were part of the Tango Renaissance in Buenos Aires.

 

Source: http://www.history-of-tango.com/tango-renaissance.html

Osvaldo Pugliese, The Beginning of Concert-Style Tango

Osvaldo Pugliese, The Beginning of Concert-Style Tango

Osvaldo Pedro Pugliese is regarded as one of the “big four” composers of the Golden Age of tango, together with Juan D’Arienzo, Aníbal Troilo, and Carlo di Sarli. While D’Arienzo was considered “The King of Beat,” Pugliese was hailed as “San Pugliese” or “Saint Pugliese” for his dramatic and passionate melodies. He is also considered to have developed the concert-style tango music.

“Dramatic,” “passionate,” and “lyrical” are some of the words associated with Pugliese’s music. Female dancers would find his violin melodies excellent for decorative footwork. On the other hand, male dancers might have more difficulty as the beat is not as apparent.

Osvaldo PuglieseAt an early age, Pugliese had already been exposed to tango. He was born on December 2, 1905 to Aurelia Terragno and Adolfo Pugliese, the latter an amateur tango flautist. Meanwhile, Osvaldo’s two brothers, Vicente and Alberto, were violinists. The young Pugliese was taught to play the violin by his father and this early training allowed him to join the Odeon Conservatory. Here, he was tutored by maestros like Antonio D’Agostino, Rubione Scaramuzza and Pedro Vicente. Pugliese started playing professionally at the age of 15 as a pianist at Cafe de La Chancha.

In 1921, at the age of 16, Pugliese moved to Buenos Aires, where he met the first professional female bandoneonist in Argentina, Francisca Bernardo Cruz also know by her stage name, Paquita Bernardo. He joined her band, the Paquita Orchestra, as their pianist. They made their debut at a bar, Dominguez, and went around performing at other bars and cafes.

Pugliese eventually left the group and in 1924, joined the Enrique Pollet quartet. Around this time, he wrote one of his most famous compositions, ‘Recuerdo,’ which is considered to be the origin of stylised instrumental tango. The title, which translates to “memory,” is dedicated to Pugliese’s fond memories of his cousins, who would go to La Chancha to hear him play.

He went on to the renowned Pedro Maffia and his Orchestra, which marked the beginning of Osvaldo’s rise to maestro status. The group followed the De Caro school of music characterised by slow and languid phrasing. This would influence Pugliese’s style for the rest of his career.

As the late 1920s and early 1930s rolled on, tango was reaching its peak. During these years, Pugliese was playing at cafes and silent movie houses. He collaborated with musicians like violinist Alfredo Gobbi, bandoneonist Anibal Troilo, Pedro Laurenz, Miguel Calo, and Elvino Vardaro. In 1936, at 31, he fulfilled his dream of directing his own orchestra. He formed a sextet with Alfredo Calabró, Juan Abelardo Fernandez, bandoneonist Marcos Madrigal, Pedro Juan Rolando Curzel, violinist Potenza and Aniceto Rossi on the bass.

In 1939, he put together what’s regarded as one of the best tango orchestras in the world, Orquesta Típica Pugliese. While the lineup of musicians would vary over the years, Pugliese would work with this orchestra for the remainder of his life. The orchestra had a specific style, still following De Caro, with no drums, highly syncopated, bandoneón solos, holding notes slightly longer than expected for dramatic effect (rubato), alternating slow and fast tempos (slargando or slentando). Pugliese coined the term “yumba,” which denotes that the first and third beats should be stressed and the second and fourth beats should be played softly with a bass piano note.

Pugliese made his first recordings in 1943 while traveling the world. Some of his most raved about tangos aside from ‘Recuerdo,’ are La Yumba (1945), Negracha (1948), and Malandraca (1949).

Pugliese was a renowned and committed activist as well. In 1936, he joined the Communist Party of Argentina. This earned him the hostility of those in power and even spent time in jail. While away in prison, he kept on writing arrangements for his tango band. Pugliese was so loved by his musicians that a red carnation would be placed on the piano during his absence.

Pugliese holds multiple distinctions. He is a distinguished citizen of Buenos Aires, a Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of France, and, was an Honorary Academician of the Academia Nacional del Tango. And, when tension between Pugliese and President Juan Perón’s government was eventually resolved, the great tango musician was awarded The Order of May, Argentina’s highest civilian award.

In July 25, 1995, at the age of 89, Pugliese passed away from a short illness. ‘La Yumba’ was played at his funeral. His legacy continues through his daughter Beba, and granddaughter Carla, both of whom are pianists.

 

Sources: http://www.interlude.hk/front/tango-beyond-piazzolla-ii-osvaldo-pugliese/

http://www.verytangostore.com/legends/osvaldo-pugliese.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osvaldo_Pugliese

 

The Dark Side of Canaro’s ‘Poema’

The Dark Side of Canaro’s ‘Poema’

Canaro, FranciscoFrancisco Canaro’s 1935 recording of the tango ‘Poema’ is considered to be a favourite at milongas (dance salons). Composed by Mario Malfi and lyrics by Eduardo Bianco, this particular recording is sung by Roberto Maida. It has been described as “gently melancholic” and “softly nostalgic.” But, the tango has a darker side to it.

Tango DJ Hermann Nemolyakin has provided us with a deeper insight into ‘Poema.’ Nemolyakin says, “Poema’s lack of acceptance in Buenos Aires wasn’t helped by the dark political undertones of its story, and the fact that its lyrics are a thinly veiled confession of a banished murderer.” Read the lyrics for yourself and see if you can decipher mystery lying under the romantic words.

Poema

Fué un ensueño de dulce amor,

horas de dicha y de querer,

fué el poema de ayer,

que yo soñé,

de dorado color,

vanas quimeras del corazón,

no logrará descifrar jamás,

nido tan fugaz,

fue un ensueño de amor y adoración.

 

Cuando las flores de tu rosal,

vuelvan mas bellas a florecer,

recordarás mi querer,

y has de saber,

todo mi intenso mal.

 

De aquel poema embriagador,

ya nada queda entre los dos,

doy mi triste adiós,

sentiras la emoción,

de mi dolor…

 

Poem

It was a sweet dream of love,

hours of joy and hope.

Yesterday was a golden poem I dreamed,

a vain construction of my heart

that I can never rebuild.

So quickly lost are

our dreams of love.

 

When the roses in your garden flower again

you may remember my love,

and understand my sadness and my pain.

 

Of our intoxicating poem

nothing remains,

So accept my last goodbye

and for one moment

remember all the passion and the pain…

To further understand ‘Poema,’ one must first understand the life of the composer. Bianco was an Argentine who lived in Europe for nearly 20 years. He succeeded in making the Argentine Tango sound Parisian. As for the origin of ‘Poema,’ the story goes that Bianco and Melfi, along with some band members, composed it on a train during a 1932 tour of Germany.

So, did Bianco commit murder? Apparently, in 1924, Bianco was first violinist for an orchestra, which had played at the Teatro Apolo. He learned that the orchestra’s pianist and Bianco’s wife were secretly having an affair. Desperate and jealous, Bianco shot the man. He was jailed and tried but was eventually acquitted thanks to his political connections. Bianco would later leave for Europe, touring successfully for a number of years, performing for kings and heads of states.

Perhaps even darker than being a murder confession, ‘Poema,’ another Bianco composition, ‘Plegaria,’ has been called the ‘Tango of Death’ and it has to do with Bianco’s Nazi-sympathizing associates and praise from the führer himself.

Bianco became friendly with Eduardo Labougle Carranza, the Argentine ambassador for Third Reich Berlin and a staunch anti-semite. Supposedly, both convinced Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels that tango should replace the “racially tainted” jazz music. When Bianco and his orchestra performed before Adolf Hitler, the führer demanded an encore of ‘Plegaria.’ The Nazi leader would find a morbid use for the tango and, in the Auschwitz concentration camp, the prisoner band would be ordered to play it as prisoners were led to the gas chambers. Hence its name, ‘Tango of Death.’

During World War II, Argentina attempted to remain neutral, a cause pioneered by Bianco’s ambassador friend, Labougle. Argentine leaders, however, wished to emulate the Axis Powers’ nationalism and expansion. They were able to quietly install a pro-fascist government in Bolivia after a 1943 coup. But, by January of 1944, Argentina cut its ties with Nazi Germany, but did not declare war (until a year later). While all of this was going on, Bianco was playing for Nazi troops and on Third Reich radio stations. When he left Nazi Germany on a Spanish visa, Bianco underwent investigation from British intelligence. In 1943, he finally returned home, just as tango’s Golden Age was at its peak. Here, Bianco proved he was merely an export of Argentine tango as he failed to compete against local talent.

Canaro, who grew up in Bueno Aires, also toured Europe and chose Paris as his home base. His 1935 recording of ‘Poema’ continues the journey of tango from Argentina to Europe and vice versa, during a time of great political and cultural upheavals around the world. Europeans were delighted by it, but, by this time, the recording did not impress Argentine listers.

 

Sources: https://tangowords.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/poema/

http://www.tejastango.com/terminology.html#T

http://humilitan.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/so-thats-why-poema-is-hard-to-fit-into.html

https://www.tangotolatvia.lv/german-nemoljakin

The Traditional Way Men Learned to Dance Tango

The Traditional Way Men Learned to Dance Tango

During the early years up until the 1940’s, young men learned Tango the same way as everybody else did in Buenos Aires. Ask every elderly man in Buenos Aires how they learned to dance Tango and you’ll get the same response over and over again. They would often start with, “I was 12 years old and there was this pretty girl…”. Unlike 12-year-old’s now, 12-year-old’s in the 40’s or earlier were effectively young adults as they were full members of the workforce at such a tender age. Most of them would have left school at 11 and started working in factories like an independent adult.

It was right around this age when they started to feel attracted to the opposite sex. Back then, they did not have many options to meet girls. Tango was basically their only way of meeting young women and this encouraged them to an all-men dance practice to learn Tango. They will watch other men dance and eventually join in, dancing the part of the woman. When he had learned enough of being a follower, he would then be allowed to dance the man’s part with another young man so he can practice dancing the role of the leader.

Argentine Tango Classes BrisbaneThey will continue to learn dancing, alternating the roles of leader and follower until they are good enough or until they learn some more. They will then be asked to don a suit when going to a dance or milonga. The entire process starting from their first Tango practice until when they were allowed to attend milongas took way more time than you would expect. Most elderly men say it took them up to three years or more to be considered good enough for milongas. Back then, women would not dance with men whom they haven’t seen dancing before, so the young men’s first dance with them would have to be arranged. Milongas were filled with so many good dancers that women would not want to waste their time dancing with someone they were not certain could dance well, unless he was especially attractive. The scenario would usually be that one of his friends (who is more experienced in dancing) would ask a woman to dance with the boy as some sort of a favour. If it went well, then he can carry on dancing as other women would no longer hesitate to dance with him as they’ve already seen him dance. If it didn’t go so well, he’d have to go back to the practica and keep on practicing before he’d be given another chance. Nonetheless, men kept going to practicas even when they’ve become more experienced. They’d go for about a couple of hours each night to dance with beginners before going to the milonga. For them, real Tango dancing happens in practicas. The Milonga, to them, is just a way for them to get noticed by women.

Learning Tango could basically be compared to how a child learns language. First, they listen, then, after a few months, they would start to make noises imitating the sound of words. Slowly, they start to speak simple words and short phrases, then gradually learn how to speak sentences and carry a proper conversation in a few more years. The child may grow up to be a linguist or they may stay inarticulate. Nonetheless, the fundamentals of learning the language are just the same.

Source: http://www.history-of- tango.com/learn-to- dance.html

Tango: More than just a dance

Tango: More than just a dance

Tango, once labelled as an erotic dance, was only performed in localities of lower class. Fast forward to the present, tango is now being danced by people from all social classes and is even dubbed as the most elegant dance in the world.

Private Tango Lessons BrisbaneTracing the roots of tango to the date that it was created or to identify the person who invented it is impossible. As far as we know, it originated in Rio de la Plata in Greater Argentina in the late 19th century. It was brought about by the collision of different people and cultures —a mixture of Europeans, African slaves and Peones (farm labourers) who all moved in to the seaport in search for a better life. This was followed by the emergence of Barrios (slums) and the sudden boom of prostitution that ultimately made Tango the artistic outlet of overall misery.

Argentine dancers and orchestras began travelling to Europe at the dawn of the 20th century. A “Tango de salon” was then developed in Paris as it was known to be the birthplace of trends and new fashions. However, it was still regarded by Europeans of the upper class as a vulgar dance thus it was not considered acceptable in the social norms of that time. In the later years, various standardised styles and techniques have been developed as English dance teachers formed a new version of the dance. Tango was officially announced cultural heritage by UNESCO in September of 2009.

Because new influences and techniques were mixed, European tango was born. Now, what is the difference between Latin Tango and European Tango? It’s all about the people’s attitude towards dancing. Whilst people in Europe prepare and make time to go dancing, things are far more casual in Latin America. People just turn on their radio while doing their chores and dance to the beat whenever they feel like it. It’s sort of a common occurrence in households where pieces of furniture are pushed aside to make room for the entire family. They never had to go to dancing schools or attend Tango lessons or classes to learn how to dance. They just allow themselves to be taken over by the rhythm. They don’t follow any rules and figures. They just follow where the rhythm takes them. They dance at family celebrations, gatherings of friends or even on the streets. Tango is virtually everywhere. It seems as cliché as a scene straight out of a musical but in Buenos Aires, dancing is basically their way of life.

In addition to the fact that tango has become more popular than ever in the last decade, it has now been regarded as a new method of treatment for neurological problems. A study has been conducted on patients with neurological problems and it was found out that dancing tango slows down the progress of some neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease. Tango improves the patients’ balance and enables them to walk backwards. And to top it all, it gives them joy and rids of their feelings of isolation brought about by their disease.

 

Sources: https://creativecultureint.com/tango-more-than-a-dance/

Tango: more than a dance…

https://neuro.wustl.edu/dancing-to-ease-disease-tango-with-a-beneficial-beat/

What Makes an Advanced Tango Dancer?

What Makes an Advanced Tango Dancer?

All tango beginners start at the same level but progress at different rates and in their own ways. They are all novices, often unsure about what to do first, how to walk, and how to embrace a partner. The first time at a milonga can be a harrowing experience for some as they take their first step into the world of dancing tango socially.

Ideally, it would take one to two years for a beginner to reach the intermediate level, another three to four years to reach an advanced level, and five more years to reach a master level. Then again, there isn’t really any standard as to how long it would take a person to progress into another level. It all boils down to their individual pace. Some would only take 3-4 years to reach the master level while others get stuck in the intermediate level for 10 years.

Advanced Tango Classes BrisbaneUnlike learning ballet, there is no prescribed order in progressing from one level to another. It’s just a matter of signing up for a particular class. It’s commonplace to find a variety of different levels of dancer in a single Tango class or workshop. Anybody can learn tango. Whether you’re musical or not, or whether you move easily or not, it doesn’t matter. You could be young or old. There is no right or wrong reason for wanting to learn tango. It may be to meet a potential partner, general exercise or the challenge of learning a new skill. What matters is that you enjoy the dance whilst you’re learning the basics and slowly discovering the wonders of dancing tango.

So how does one become an advanced dancer? Just like in any other domain, one has to have the passion and the drive to learn tango along with religiously following a routine of practice. However, one should not settle on just taking Tango classes or lessons. Going to milongas is also an important part of the learning process. On the other hand, if you keep going to milongas without properly learning the basics, you will only enhance your bad habits. It needs to be a good mixture of both.

Passion without dedication amounts to nothing in becoming an advanced tango dancer. This and, of course, good tango teachers to guide you and teach you what you need to learn are paramount. Unlike traditional professional dance education though, there is no standard way of teaching or a good way of dancing. It’s basically about what you want and what the teacher can offer you. Tango teachers are of every kind, not only in the style with which they dance but also the way in which they teach. There are no good or bad teachers, some are just more suited to different students. You just have to find the one whose style of teaching works best for you.

When can we say that a person is advanced in tango? Well, for starters, an advanced dancer has good posture, feels at ease when dancing, and someone who has a comfortable yet functional embrace. The leader is able to navigate around the floor safely whilst effectively leading their partner and the follower should be able to keep their balance without the leader’s help and complete their movements whilst maintaining connection to their partner.

We can say that a dancer is truly advanced when they know how to adjust their dancing to effectively dance with their partner, no matter what their partner’s level of expertise. No matter how good you are at dancing, you should be able to dance according to your partners ability.

Advanced dancers should also be musical, able to improvise easily, and, of course, someone who has a good understanding of the tango vocabulary. When you consider all of the aspects it takes to be truly an advanced Tango dancer, very few dancers actually can be considered such.

At the end of the day, however, whether you are considered an advanced tango dancer or not, it will always be about the connection that you create with your partner and the enjoyment you derive from dancing tango.

Learning Tango: More Than Just Learning a Dance

Learning Tango: More Than Just Learning a Dance

Argentine Tango is classified as a dance, but what sets it apart from other dances is that the process of learning and teaching tango is unlike that of the rest. In fact, learning tango is not even comparable to learning a dance. If anything, it’s more akin to learning a language.

Tango Lessons near meA dance that’s more like a language—how do you learn that? Well, just think of it as similar to learning a new language. So, the basics are to first learn the vocabulary (steps), then the pronunciation (execution of steps) and then the grammatical rules (rules that apply to the tango style that you are dancing). Simple concept, right?

Now, here comes the challenging part. In learning a language, you have to have something to say in order to practice speaking with another person. And for you to be understood, you have to say it well. The ability to express yourself clearly has little to do with the language itself but comes from your innate ability to be creative in expressing yourself. The exact same idea goes with learning and teaching tango.

A language teacher would teach you the language with its structure and order. At the same time, they would try to teach you literature so you could understand and master reading in that language. When it comes to creativity, it is entirely yours to incorporate to the language but the teacher is still going to at least try to teach you how it’s done. A tango teacher can teach you the steps and how to dance them well. They can be a language and literature professor all in one and it’s a significantly difficult task that only few know how to do.

What I usually hear people complain about tango teachers is why they keep teaching sequences. Why they keep repeating the same sequence over and over like robots and that they never teach about the creative part of dancing tango.

You see, the equivalent “words” in tango is steps and the sequence its poetry. In order for you to create good poetry is when you have read countless poems by other people. Yes, you can write your own poems without being influenced by others but you could do even better with more ideas and styles learned from others. Tango teachers, especially in Tango classes, teach you sequences to inspire you to cultivate your own creativity not by showing you exactly how it’s done but by leading you in the right direction.

Not everybody can create their own sequence though and most tango dancers will only keep the sequences of others, even tango professionals. And that’s perfectly fine. Students who are aspiring to learn the dance must be able to reach a certain level of understanding in order for them to appreciate the small things in dancing Tango.

For you to enjoy a certain sequence of steps, you have to have tried other sequences created by other dancers to see what you like and suits you best. You can either stick to just one way of dancing or sequences that you like or create your own movement as you see fit. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are in the moment and experience the emotion brought about by the dance that is Tango.

In Tango lessons and classes at the Brisbane House of Tango, we endeavour to not only teach you how to move in a natural way but also encourage you to explore your own creativity in dancing Tango.

Tango: A Form of Meditation

Tango: A Form of Meditation

Tango - A MeditationOver the years, many cultures worldwide have been using meditation to quiet the mind and get to states that are favourable to both psychological and physical wellbeing.

Tango dancing, as discovered by scientists after years of studying its functions, can enable a person to achieve mental states similar to that of people who meditate regularly. Also, it is likely that highly skilled Tango dancers are able to enter deeper levels of the mind. This coincides with the greater connection that a dancer has with his/ her partner.

The US National Library of Medicine conducted an experiment that aimed to prove that Argentine tango has similar effects as that of mindfulness meditation in terms of decreasing the symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. For the experiment, they assigned 97 people suffering from depression to either a tango class, a meditation class, or neither.

Contrary to other types of meditation where you enter into some sort of sleep-like state, mindfulness meditation is a kind of meditation where a person is aware that he/she is meditating.

They have arrived to the conclusion that tango, just like meditation, can treat depression and manage stress effectively.

An even more comprehensive research was done by St. Mary’s College of California. Using an Electroencephalograph (EEG), they measured brain activity of dancers. They attached electrodes to the scalps of Tango dancers, as well as a group of volunteers who stand as a control group.

It was discovered in the study that just like in mindfulness meditation, tango dancers trust on internal focus and attention while dancing. Also, another thing that a person can benefit from meditation is not only can they decrease stress levels but they may also enhance their cognitive abilities.

Here’s how it works. As a person meditates, the mind relaxes and enters a state of heightened alpha-wave activity, the same waves that appear prior to sleep. These waves fill a considerable portion of the brain which ultimately settle in the frontal areas. If this is prolonged, the brain may exhibit theta and delta wave patterns as it enters into lower frequencies.

In conclusion, the study has proven that the more experienced a tango dancer is, the more powerful is their alpha state in comparison to other subject groups. Whilst all other subject groups did display an alpha state, the neural efficiency hypothesis has been perfectly demonstrated by the experienced tango dancers, suggesting that the use of mental resources is less for those who have more experience with the same activity.

Furthermore, just like with meditation, the more one practices tango, the more capable they are of entering these relaxed states. With more practice comes more chances of entering deeper relaxation states which ultimately leads to experiencing more positive qualities.

So…keep practicing!

Connection

Connection

Tango Classes Brisbane

It’s deep connection with self and another, it’s cerebral and completely free of mind, it’s masculine and feminine. It’s sensual. It’s physical. It’s movement meditation. It’s tango. Come give yourself this lifetime gift…

For those who have not been stung by the Tango Bug yet, or those who have tried it but lost interest, this probably sounds exaggerated or foolish, even. But allow me to change your mind.

More often than not, what comes to mind when people hear ‘Argentine Tango’ is ‘Dancing With the Stars’ or Al Pacino’s tango scene in ‘Scent of a Woman’ which, by the way, is pretty impressive. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s NOT. Well, at least, it’s not all that.  It’s way more just a mere dance. The more you get to experience tango, the more it becomes apparent that tango is life.

So how and where did tango begin? The origins of tango roots from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buenos Aires is a port city which is why it was flocked by immigrants around the early 1900s. Different people coming from different countries with varying cultures have settled in and called themselves Porteños. It was the fusion of multiple cultures, styles of music and dance, instruments and ideas that bore Argentine Tango and allowed it to thrive for the years to come.

Alright, so enough of the history lesson. The point I’m driving at here, however, is that tango is not about the traditional Ballroom stereotype it has been known for – with its false eyelashes, spray tans and pomp a-la sequins. Simply put, Argentine Tango is a soulful, modest, improvised dance created by a diverse wealth of cultures, arts and influences.

Tango is meant to be danced, not performed. It should not be choreographed. You are not going to dance in order to impress or be watched by an audience. Tango is all about self-expression with the use of body language just like any other social dance.

To be able to express yourself and connect with your partner, presence is required. This presence is otherwise known as “connection”. In tango, there are three most important types of connection and they are:

  1. Centering yourself (Connecting with the floor) – this type of connection simply means to feel your weight and feet on the floor. It’s being aware of your physical and mental state where you align your spine, release your body tension and clear your mind of any thoughts. Listen to yourself. So, the next time that you are idly just standing on the bus stop or waiting in line during lunch-time, try turning your attention to the soles of your feet and recognise the fact that whilst gravity pulls the weight of your body downward, at the same time, the floor holds you up.
  2. Building Relationships (Connecting with your partner) – when you master the art of centering yourself, it enables you to connect with others and build relationships. As I have mentioned above, tango is not about technicality or choreography. It is about self-expression and feeling the music. It becomes even more magical when we connect with our partner and become more responsive to them.
  3. Connecting with the universe (Connecting with the music) – tango is a walking dance. It is an improvised walk that is relaxed yet vibrating with expressive energy. It is elegantly smooth but varies with the beat and the pulse of the music.

Whilst we recognise that tango is a man and a woman’s elegant walk to tango music, we must also remember that tango is a feeling expressed through dance. If there is lack of emotion shared between a man and a woman in embrace, then it is nothing but a series of synchronised motion. Music is your source of emotion and emotion is what you share with your partner communicated through the embrace. All that is going on while you are walking through the music makes up the fundamental ingredients of tango.

Source: http://urbanspiritual.org/2013/05/23/tango-is-life-part-1-connecting-with-yourself/

https://tangovoice.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/the-essence-of-tango-argentino/