Friday, 15 May 2009

La ronda

If that video of Ricardo Vidort and Myriam Pincen looks rather formal (the music is slow), there's another one I like: I can't embed it because it's not on YouTube, but it's here (the second clip on the page), poor sound but a wonderful dance in a small space. The music and a translation of the poem are here.

I can't help noticing, in both these videos of Vidort and in the video of Harymbat, the way they 'throw' their feet onto the floor, hardly stamping but a kind of emphatic stepping. It's very obvious, perhaps even exaggerated with Harymbat. I gather that this is a characteristic of true 'milonguero' style. I've heard it described as 'adoquin', cobblestones, the way you walk on cobblestones. Whether it matters, whether it makes any difference to the lead or musicality I've no idea, but I'd imagine it emphasises the beat.

Another thing: Vidort uses the entire length of the small space he dances in. We live in a place and time where the ronda is becoming optional. Tango, for more than 50% of the dancers on any floor in London, could well be static, and often is. Tango is said to be a walking dance, but walking movements, or movements that take a couple down the line of dance, aren't taught so often. & tango now takes more space: movements are bigger and less predictable.

Change came from within tango. Here are Todaro and his daughter dancing in the early 50s: they perform all the steps of 'nuevo', but for me the really scary thing is that, like jive or salsa, it all takes place almost entirely on the spot, although the space is about the same as Vidort and Alejandra dance in. Your worst nightmare in a milonga! Change also came from the exchange between tango and contemporary dance: trained dancers like the challenge of a more complex dance and, like many dancers, are fascinated by the possibilities in the synergies between partners, how the movement of one person can suggest a movement to another. So many rich possibilities in the dialogue of tango! It's only really regrettable when dancers ignore the health and safety of those around them: it's usually in the attempt to impress, but the impression of a steel heel can be life-threatening.

The tango of the ronda still predominates in Buenos Aires. Sometimes non-traditional tango is tolerated (until someone gets kicked a lot), sometimes traditional dancers amuse themselves by bunching together to restrict the space available to a non-traditional couple. But in general the two species don't share the same floors, which seems the best solution.

5 comments:

jantango said...

Ricardo Vidort and Ruben Harymbat are different. They should be. There is no one true milonguero style, even though Susana Miller travels the world teaching what she named "milonguero style" in 1993. Each milonguero has his own personal style of tango, vals, and milonga and dances differently to each orchestra. In their younger years, a milonguero never copied another; you admired other dancers but created your own style.

I have danced with both men. Ricardo was so smooth that I hardly noticed he was in front of me when we danced. Ruben is a more forceful dancer. Ricardo felt like he was walking on eggs; Ruben on stone. The only difference is how it feels to a woman.

Game Cat said...

That Ricardo and Alej vid is one of my favourites, and Adios Arrabal is one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite composers and singers (D'Agostino and Vargas). In other words, I am totally biased and unobjective. ;-)

Back to the vid, I especially like how effortlessly he does the cross, turning into it and emphasising the side-step exit at the end of a musical phrase. A friend of mine (who is a very good dancer) coined it the "turning cross". In London it is often taught as a forward step (for men), with the emphasis on the entry. It is often, I think, taught too early to beginners, as it is challenging to do well, as Ricardo shows. He is also perfectly on the beat, even in the spots when the orchestra hangs on that bit longer to emphasise the hit.

I agree with JT about having your own style. I used to think one could imagine an abstract objective perfect style (whatever that is). I now think it is useful to have that in mind as a reference (nothing more), but also it should be unique to each person, and it should be organic to their personalities, physique, etc.

Tango commuter said...

Isnt it terrific? & you hear him say at the beginning: "You dont need so many steps". & that turning cross: something I've not yet mastered. (Nor the French keyboard either, being in Paris.) & mqny thanks, Jantango, for the personal experience: Ricardo just looks so effortless and playful.

Game Cat said...

TC - somehow, even with the volume at max, I'm hearing Ricardo say something else like "see? I know the steps". That said, I like your version better!

Re the turning cross. Have experimentd and observed closely some more. Often he executes it without a pivot, even though there is an illusion of one. He does this by changing the angle of each of the 3-4 steps it is composed of, each about 45 degrees, which gets him a total of an 180 deg turn. This makes it much easier for the woman to follow.

I also find it very handy musically and navigationally in the confines of a milonga.

Tango commuter said...

You're right about the turn... but he definitely says '... a lot of steps. See?'

Just watched it again. I completely agree with your biased and unobjective view. The best of music and dance together. And Alej just floats around in front of him, the synergies and the timing are perfect: great invention. Wonderful.