Sunday, 23 November 2014

Ricardo Vidort: Jantango's comment

Jantango sent a comment on my post Did Ricardo Vidort Teach? She knew him to dance with so I didn't want to hide her comment in the 'Comments', where it might not get read. Here it is:

'Ricardo danced the same way whether he was on a milonga floor or an empty one -- he used the space. His dance was his. He never performed for the audience, he danced for his partner and himself. There is no choreography in his tango, it's pure feeling from the music.

'Work began four years ago on a blog: Ricardo Vidort -- the unforgettable milonguero of Buenos Aires, which included his notes for his classes, a series of eight. Then Ricardo told his students to go and practice and discover their own tango. I helped create the Wordpress site, but I don't believe the owner will publish it. There were interviews with Ricardo's dance partners, photos, videos, personal letters, and his philosophy of tango.

'Ricardo Vidort once told me that he taught everything he knew in eight classes. Then he told his students he had no more to teach them. They had to go practice on their own and develop their own style. They didn’t need more classes. He was right. Those who stay in classes for years want approval from the teacher and won’t practice on their own.

'I have a DVD of an interview of Ricardo that was part of a film by a hospice in New Mexico. I viewed it again yesterday and share it with visitors in BsAs who are interested in learning from Ricardo. I posted a transcript of the interview on Tango Chamuyo.

'Ricardo lived in New York City for several years, but he wasn't appreciated for what he had to share. Perhaps his tango was considered too simple, too basic, for those who were interested in the flash they saw on stage.'

It's too bad that the Ricardo Vidort blog hasn't been published. I know he said that you needed only eight classes with him to learn to dance tango and it's great that he left notes on them: I had just one class, so I've always wondered about the other seven! I wonder if these notes can be published independently of the blog? I think I've met the 'owner of the site', and I wonder if there's any way we can get all this material put up on the web. It really should be available for us all. I know that he talked to the camera and was filmed for the hospice where he passed away, and I believe there's a copyright issue with that film, but the rest of the material shouldn't be restricted.

Jantango doesn't give a link to her transcript. I found three short 'talks' by Ricardo on Tango Chamuyo, all reprints from Paul and Michiko's excellent, but no longer published magazine, El Once Tango News; Ricardo Vidort in his own Words, Is Dance a Therapy? and His Last Interview.

As to 'interviews with Ricardo's dance partners' fortunately there is one on YouTube.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

'Did Ricardo Vidort teach?'

-- I'm asked. Yes, he was the best ever! He taught people to stand, to walk, to embrace, to move. He taught people to dance, to enjoy moving with a partner to the music. His cheerful energy and laughter made you feel you too could dance and enjoy it! He showed us in class with his own example, he encouraged. He'd teach a basic 'figura' for us to practice with, nothing difficult. He wasn't one of those teachers who make you feel useless because you can't manage a backwards sacada with a leg-wrap. Teaching a lot of dance steps isn't the same as getting people to dance.

Of course he taught what he danced. Here's a great example: sadly it's short and fragmentary, but it's still a great example. I can watch it over and over.

(Thanks for asking, uwe-tango.)

PS. The Lladro video: not sure which it was now. He's a marvelous dancer, and he learned in a very traditional way, but you can't dance in milongas the way he dances in demos. There just isn't room, is there?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

To gently rock

I didn't intend to write more about Normarin1's videos but then I watched this one and I wanted to link to it so I can find it again. It reminds me so much of the tango of Buenos Aires. A young couple appears between 00:10 and 00:16 and I notice how he seems to gently rock with her, little movements of the torso. They are followed by an older couple, with a turn that floats, effortless and gentle as if they are suspended in mid-air; turns like this struck me immediately I first walked into a milonga in Buenos Aires. Very few London dancers, probably very few non-Argentine dancers move like that; we look stiffer, less alive in the torso, even less gentle. These videos are full of details like these: here a precise, elegant stepping, there a laid-back move to the beat, or just an amazing, whole-hearted embrace.

It also occurs to me that it just doesn't concern these dancers whether they are dancing in broad daylight, under fluorescent or mercury vapour lamps, or in the darkest milonga: they are dancing! -- and that's what matters. I've heard European milongas described as 'playing at tango'; a bit harsh, perhaps, but after sitting at milongas like these in Norma's videos it's not hard to see the reason for the description. Perhaps the dancing in her milongas isn't always technically flawless, but it's always for real, it always has real heart: tango isn't something they play with. It's 'about' human contact, there's a passion for it, it's a necessity. The dance and the music are still new to us: we love it but it's not our family background, not our history, not yet.

One other thing: I hate photographers at milongas! Photographers and people filming. It seems completely contrary to the private experience of the dance. But it's fairly obvious from Normarin1's videos that she's among friends who welcome her filming. & if her camera makes anyone uncomfortable, she's quick to turn away from faces to another couple, or the floor. I don't think her videos mean that anyone and everyone can turn up and start filming. In any case, it's been done for us! Thanks again!