Sunday, 31 May 2009

Insularity

The UK has a reputation for insularity, which I thought was simply an old platitude. Then I discovered tango... or rather, English tango!

Here's 'El Flaco' Dany, the greatest traditional milonga dancer in Buenos Aires teaching a workshop in Darmstadt two weeks ago. Look how good he is! & nobody in the UK except you and me has even heard of him! Let alone got him here to teach. Jantango tells me he's 73, which is only just believable.

So are we insular or not? Don't we need to broaden our horizons a bit? If this clip is anything to go by, we might have a lot more fun.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just because they can do it, doesn't mean that they can teach it. In my (bitter and costly) experience.

Do you disagree that these "superstars" can actually contribute to a learning process?

jantango said...

El Flaco Dany isn't a superstar, he is a milonguero who dances very well. He can teach what he knows, but it's up to the student to learn and apply it to his own dancing. No teacher is a miracle worker.

londontango said...

I just loved watching this and can't believe he is in his 70's, but then again, so is my dad and he doesn't look it either. Obviously keeping physically active helps one to stay young.
Annon is right in saying that just because one can do it, doesn't mean they can teach it, but I'm with Jantango on this one. There are some dancers that are excellent teachers and still there are students that don't get it. People need to take responsibility for their own learning.

Tango commuter said...

I've been thinking this one over. Of course the UK isn't insular: we get a lot of younger generation BsAs teachers here. But we do seem very blinkered when it comes to the older generation.

What I think they bring to the learning process is a life-long love of the milonga, and that is very special. The milonga makes them happy, and you don't have to have specially quick feet to pick that up. True, they might not have learned the teaching skills that younger dancers have acquired, but ultimately if know you can enjoy something you'll learn it better.

In my experience the older teachers have a warmth and enthusiasm that makes you want to get on with your dancing. They do it because they love doing it: they don't have careers to succeed in, they don't teach and perform with an eye to the competition, the other younger teachers. I've found that they bring a lot more heart, which means that ultimately they teach tango, not a lot of tango moves.

Tango en el Cielo said...

El Flaco Dany is undoubtedly one of the best milonga dancers (yes there are people in London who have seen him dance!). The greatest? That's a difficult one!
Ricardo Vidort was a great admirer of Dany's milonga, but considered the greatest milonga dancer in BsAs to be Osvaldo. Take a look at this one of Osvaldo dancing milonga with his wife Coca: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irakF-rojMo
For sheer lightness and softness and musicality isn't he amazing too?
I doubt either of them knows much about teaching but if you should bring them to London and organise workshops for them I'll be the first to sign up. Just to watch them and talk with them about tango would be a very special experience.

Tango commuter said...

I should have been more careful and said 'one of the greatest'! Many thanks for the comment and for the video of Osvaldo and Coca; their milonga is wonderfully gentle, playful and musical. & thanks for passing on Ricardo's view. I'd imagine Osvaldo and Coca dance a milonga that is closer to Ricardo's: I guess he did dance milonga, although I've never seen it on video. El Flaco's style is very different; more exhilarating and athletic. El Flaco gets invited back to Germany regularly, so he's a popular teacher.

As far as I know there's no cohesive group in London that could invite anyone of this generation over, although I think there are other dancers in London who would be interested in visits from older dancers. Unfortunately there's not a lot of time left. I'd love to bring dancers of this generation to London, but I don't have any experience or the funds. All I can do is write a blog saying that I think they are wonderful and that London is missing a big opportunity. But if there is anything I can do it would be a real treat to meet them.

I think I should call them 'dancers' rather than 'teachers', as that's not their training. Their skill is in dancing, but because they've watched tango all their lives they can see where dancers go wrong, and they know how it should look.