Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A performance

Somebody asked me what I thought of Rachel Greenberg's dance on Friday night, and I've been thinking about it. Rachel gave a demonstration dance with Ivan: there were several performances that night and theirs was the only one I saw apart from Brigitte and Leo. It was crowded, and I was more interested in the orquesta, and I have to admit I'm not that interested in performances anyway. I love to watch the occasional couple in a milonga managing crowded circumstances with elegance, creativity and musicality. But give a couple the whole floor to themselves... Where's the challenge?

I like watching contemporary dance. I've watched a lot, enjoyed a lot; occasionally I've seen something that didn't quite work, but more often than not I've come away from it enthralled by the imagination of the staging and choreography, the energy and intelligence of the dancing. But I think that if I'd ever seen a whole performance that was little more than technically amazing I'd have felt cheated: you expect something more. The dance on Friday night lasted little more than three minutes, but I couldn't see more than technical excellence. Compare that with Gavito's three-minute dances: his little stories and apilado steps can be repetitive, but there was always a heart and passion and musicality to it, which I felt was absent from that dance on Friday night. It was cold, technically amazing and cold.

My impression is that this is an entirely new type of Argentine tango teacher. The teachers of the older generation danced all their lives because they loved and valued tango, and that a few of them have been or are teachers now is almost an accident. I believe the new type often starts out brilliantly at a young age in gymnastics or classical dance, and my impression is that the choice to become tango teachers is a career decision promising travel and change. They can manage effortlessly the complexities of stage tango, and they study how to teach. They are skilled dancers and teachers, but their tango seems heartless.

6 comments:

londontango said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. The new wave of teachers leave me cold. It is difficult to put a lot of passion and feeling into something if you don't have the life experience behind you. Most of these young people are 'dancers', not people who dance. Half of the people we see these days are in their 20's and although capable dancers, there is something lacking. That is why I stay away from having lessons with most of them. I am sure Leonardo and Bridgit put the others to shame.

David Bailey said...

Yeah... I think you're on to something. The only performance I've recently liked was Los Ocampos, all the others leave me bored...

londontango said...

@ David Bailey
I love Los Ocampos. They teach clearly and with humour. Their dance is still passionate after all of their years together. The show tango moves they can still do boggles my mind! I think one of the lovliest dances I have seen them do is the Zamba. They are also known for their folk dancing. I always try to do a class with them when they are in town. There is certainly something to be said for the more mature dancer. Maybe it is my age? ;-)

Tango commuter said...

@ Londontango, it may not be 'life experience' that is lacking so much as a prolonged experience of milongas, where you absorb the music and the dance. Teenagers who are so passionate about the music and dance that they spend every night they can in milongas could be very good by the time they are 26. I wonder if many of the younger teachers coming over have learned moves and choreographies primarily in class, rather than by experiencing the music and dance through spending night after night with it. They are good at gymnastics or dance, so they go off and learn to dance and teach tango. But perhaps it's not something you 'learn', it's something you become through experience, and through life experience too!

I've got video of Los Ocampo at Carablanca. I'll try and dig it out. I thought their classes are excellent, and their shows are great fun.

Elizabeth said...

What really puzzles me is that these dancers of the type you mention seem to always look espressionless, bored, not engaged at all with the partner or the passion of the music. NO feeling. I just dislike it so much..
Whatever, they can do what they want. It just isn't the tango that I love.

Tango commuter said...

It doesn't look like the tango they love either!