A rather grim-faced picture of Nestor La Vitola has headed my blog for too long. Afraid I have no control over the photo chosen. Time for a change.
A happy new year to everyone who comes across this, and may your best wishes come true in a peaceful and wonderful 2011!
Just back from a post-xmas milonga at the Festival Hall. It's a great space, and one of the best ballroom floors in London. There must have been well over 100 people there to dance – and it lasted just one hour. Well, it was free. So one of my wishes for the new year is at least one decent milonga post-xmas!
Three films to escape into, post-xmas. Talking Heads Stop Making Sense with David Byrne in his massive suit: a great concert, wonderfully filmed. Then the reworking of Sleeping Beauty by the Swedish choreographer Mats Ek, which is funny, constantly inventive, colourful and full of breathtaking full-on dancing. I've got it on an old tape from TV, from the days when UK TV broadcast dance: in fact I discovered over an hour of video dance shorts on the same tape, all experimental film-making and choreography. Nobody would broadcast that here today.
& Flamenco by Carlos Sauros. I have to admit I was very turned off by his Tango which seemed to lack any real substance. I understand he went to BsAs to film Copes and Maria Nieves, but couldn't persuade them to dance together. I know people who think it's marvelous, but it somehow seems to have missed the point. Only the scene of eight-year-olds learning tango in school seemed at all realistic, and I couldn't help wondering about kids of that age being taught tango: it looked like a school exercise, a cultural heritage class, strange. But Flamenco is another story altogether. He got together some of the best flamenco singers, dancers and musicians and provided them with a succession of stages to perform on. I know very little about flamenco except I love the music, and I watch this film again and again. The emotional intensity of it is extraordinary, and the colours are warm throughout. Another great concert for the north-European midwinter.
Curious that Flamenco shows the dance as something the whole community, young and old, are involved in and enjoy, whereas tango solemnly performed by schoolchildren looks incomprehensible to them.
& a new blog on the block. Many thanks to Bora for her wonderful account of a visit to BsAs. This is her first day: a wonderful breathtaking, breathless read. A lot of the blog is taken up with detailed descriptions of classes and technique, but then one uses – well, I use – a blog as a way of keeping track of oneself: I go back to posts from a year or two ago to remind myself of what I was discovering then. Interesting how younger teachers, both European and Argentine, are working on trying to improve the interaction between partners, the mechanics of lead and follow, of the embrace. So long as the musical passion that has sustained tango for so long doesn't get forgotten amidst the details of a recently-elaborated technique. Perhaps it needs to retain some rough edges.
This email arrived recently:
'LES CIGALLES MILONGUERAS in the wonderful south-west of France from 20 to 23 May 2011 in Eauze (Gers). A meeting with a total immersion in Tango: 50 hours of dance on a parquet floor during four days, with first-rate Djs, food and lodging on-site in a 100% Milonguero spirit of sharing. The complete programme soon on our site.' (Which is here.)