Thursday, 1 August 2013

Nobleza de Arrabal

Something wasn't working, and it puzzled me for days. Perhaps a clue was that I'd danced with a partner I don't meet with that often, but when I do, every time, I feel her heart beat distinctly. On this occasion not only did I not feel that magic heartbeat, I realised later that I hadn't even noticed its absence while we were dancing. Something definitely wasn't working. Well, it's been hot and humid and the music was excellent, and sometimes it's just not a good idea to be on the floor nearly every tanda. After all, one simply can't be a tango machine. Tango requires a certain discipline, awareness.

Then, digging deep into chingolito2008's clips on YouTube (there's quite an archive there) I came across this from June 2008.  

It affected me in a number of ways. First, it's a fabulous piece of music by the Di Sarli orquesta. & one of Di Sarli's daughters is present, which is why Rubén Harymbat abandons his partner at the end and dashes off to kiss her. Di Sarli's last performance was in 1959 so Rubén is of an age to have heard and danced to Di Sarli live. 

Then the dance: sometimes an intense emotional charge comes through these videos, and this is certainly one, brief as it is. As if Rubén's dance is a celebration of the past and also an acknowledgement of the loss of a great musician. & Rubén's partner is Adela Galeazzi: sometimes I watch clips of her and think she's too ornamental, just because she's so good she can do it all, but here she's so much part of the dance it seems just right.

& the place! That familiar floor! The old Plaza Bohemia on Maipu: not that I was ever there that often, but it feels like as close to tango heaven as I've ever been lucky to get. Strange to see it so empty: I can only wish my first visit had been a few months earlier.

Sadly I don't recall ever watching Rubén in the milongas, and jantango's note on him partly explains that: however, her photo of him shows a face that is familiar. He was teaching until a year or so ago: I think he made several tours of the US and there are videos on YouTube of class demonstrations. I'd love to read accounts of his teaching. Jantango's post has a link to a class demonstration: tangueros of his generation could dance with style and elegance, even in trainers.

But another reason this was a revelation was that it reminded me of something dancers I've had classes with in Buenos Aires tried to knock into me: the leg that steps should be straight. I watch Rubén and see how the stepping leg is almost always straight. The other leg flexes to push the torso, but the leg that steps comes down straight and emphatic. I've found this hard to adjust to: there are so many other things to get right, in addition to actually enjoying dancing. But it's something both Myriam Pincen and Cacho Dante insisted on very seriously. Myriam would glance into the mirror and stop me if my stepping leg was bent: it was a stop-start class. 

I think I needed to be reminded that if the stepping leg is bent, the posture is weak and the connection poor. A straight leg and an upright body, and an upright body makes good connection in the region of the solar plexus. & the width of two fingers above the solar plexus is the point at which you press if you want to get someone's heart to restart.

(That sounds good, but as first aiders know CPR is unlikely to restart the heart: it keeps the blood circulating temporarily. However, the area just above the solar plexus is very close to the heart.)

No comments: