Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Milonga - but not quite as we know it

Video thanks to un rien de tango.

Nathalie Clouet, a trained dancer inspired, like so many, by the Tango Argentino show in Paris in 1989, spent a year in Buenos Aires on a government grant in the early 1990s, and returned to Paris to teach. Later she invited Tete and Sylvia to Paris yearly: I went over for the workshops in 2009, the last he gave in Paris before his death, which were unforgettable, intense and warm events. She teaches and organises milongas and practicas. I'd say there's always a playful and creative spirit at work, which doesn't conflict with her great respect for Tete and traditional tango.

Her website is here. There's a lot of material of different kinds on it, mostly in French, and including a link to writing produced for her grant. My rather clumsy translation of the statement at the top of the web page is: 'To dance, to make a journey to become one with the floor, the music, space, time, partners. Our goal is to partake of the experience of movement as a group, to develop the qualitative aspects of movement at the heart of the dynamics and rhythms of social Argentine tango'. Elsewhere she explains the 'qualitative aspects of movement' as co-ordination, fluidity and lightness.

Incidentally, I notice on her website a link to a video of Pina Bausch and some of her dancers at a milonga organised in Paris in 1996 by Tete, but the video has disappeared from YouTube: it was on an account terminated because of multiple copyright infringements. Too many good videos of this kind disappear.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

By invitation only

Isn't that a bit snobbish? asked a partner when I told her I'd been to a milonga you couldn't enter unless you were on the guest list. Maybe...

It's something new in London, a milonga you get invited to on personal recommendation, not one you can turn up at and get into so long as you pay the entrance, a milonga that's not advertised, that focuses on respect and courtesy, on following more or less the codigos. & the result is that you can dance for four hours without anyone blundering into you, without having to work your way round a lesson in the line of dance ahead of you, without incessant chattering from the couple behind you, without having to take evasive action from violent dancing. Since everyone is dancing, there's little chatter to drown out the music. In other words, it's a real pleasure, with a good DJ and excellent music, too. Yes, you might encounter all those problems during an evening at most London milongas, so you could say the invitation list is an act of desperation, an extreme measure, perhaps, in defense of the great pleasure of social tango. Teachers have failed to insist on basic good manners on the dance floor, and this seems to be the answer. A wake-up call, in a way.

It's not been going long, but I'd say it's a great success. Enough people turn up to make it a very enjoyable afternoon, and the dance is almost entirely close embrace salon. And since it's in the afternoon, there's no attempt to create a reddish gloom in which dancers are half asleep: tango feels relaxed and alert in daylight. I don't know how close the organisers are to covering their costs: it's difficult. But I hope it continues and thrives, because it's a sign that there's a substantial number of people in London who want to enjoy their dance and music without disturbance.

Is that snobbish?