Thursday, 6 October 2011

Osvaldo Natucci, part 2

The second part of Osvaldo Natucci's Practimilongueros interview is here.

I wondered why his name was familiar, and then realised I read about him in Tango and Chaos a few years back: he spent some years working as an industrial engineer in Spain – the dangerous years one would assume. (That page has a very interesting account not only of Natucci teaching, but also of Celia Blanco teaching, Celia of the Lo de Celia milonga.)

Natucci confirms that the way of learning these days must be different to how it was when he learned. In the years of the 'tango fiesta', the tango party years between 1935 and 1955, there was such a tango saturation that going to formal classes was truly redundant. There are still people like him around, who heard the music from before birth since it was always on the radio, and learned the dance as they learned to walk, but these days, he says, we need classes: the question is, what needs to be taught, and how. & what shouldn't be taught!

I think there's a subtle problem with classes: the idea of a class suggests a topic that can be learned within a finite timespan, whereas I don't think tango can be acquired like that. You can't do a course of ten or 20 classes and 'learn tango'. I enjoyed the long BsAs classes because they are as much practica as class, because there was an emphasis on basics like walking, and because there was a lot of dancing. & material was taught, which might or might not be new. I noticed even proficient dancers came regularly to these classes, relaxed and enjoyable classes, and always useful. But never the suggestion that this is the cure to tango ignorance, just an aid to the endless improvement of the craft. Natucci distinguishes the tango amateurs from the tango artisans, and becoming a tango artisan means work to improve the craft, rather than mastering a syllabus.

Here's a brief guide to what shouldn't be taught!

Animation by Yatango.

1 comment:

Chris said...

"between 1935 and 1955, there was such a tango saturation that going to formal classes was truly redundant"

Surely truly impossible. I've seen no indication of any social tango dancing classes even existing then.

You learned from someone you knew who could already dance. There was no shortage of supply amongst friends and family. You learned one-to-one by dancing.

Classes arose only in later times and places where the density of existing dancers was so low that a newcomer had no choice by to rely on someone they didn't know, who'd help them only for money, and could maximise takings by diluting themselves across a dozen students. Hence what we now now recognise as the standard commercial tango dance class model.

But nowadays as the number of tango dancers grows, the traditional, non-commercial model is returning, as more and more newcomers know someone who will help them start for love. You can see this widely in cities like e.g. Berlin where the density of existing dancers is so high that many of newcomers never need to resort to dance school classes.

If tango dance popularity continues to increase, eventually the clock will turn full circle and the tango class industry will diminish back to zero. We'll look back on the decades when learners suffered hours standing in a circle listening to lecture and watching step demos, and call them the Tango Dark Ages. :)