I’ve edited the earlier post on Alberto Dassieu, changing the embedded video for another I preferred. And soon after I wrote it I discovered that several of the videos I linked to were unavailable in France. I hope some clips Alberto and Paulina are available there: it’s most likely a copyright issue with Pugliese’s music. Fortunately that’s not a problem here.
In any case, that post was incomplete. I started writing about dancing to Pugliese and found myself writing about Alberto. But Alberto didn’t only dance Pugliese, and of course he wasn’t the only person of his generation to dance Pugliese. The orquesta continued to play as much as possible, despite government persecution of Pugliese himself through much of the lifetime of Alberto’s generation. Pugliese was a hero for many, he stood for freedom at a dark time, and was imprisoned for his political views. You couldn’t expect a quiet life, perhaps you couldn’t even expect a life if you were openly communist in South America in the 1970s – 80s. He was brave and he survived.
It was a great pleasure to find a few clips of Pugliese danced by Alberto’s contemporaries. I hope there are more, as dancing to Pugliese is an important topic! I’d really like to find more, but I think the few I’ve linked here give a good idea of how Pugliese is danced by the generation that once danced live to the orquesta.
First, Beba Pugliese with Jorge Firpo. Beba was Pugliese’s daughter, growing up with his music, with the orquesta rehearsing in the house. She still directs her own orquesta from the piano, like her father, and she also dances. Here are
Beba Pugliese and Jorge Firpo. & here she is directing the Orquesta Beba Pugliese from the piano in La Yumba.
The late Enriqueta Kleinman with Nestor La Vitola dance to Pugliese's Don Augustin Bardi.
There are several other good clips of Nestor La Vitola dancing Pugliese with other partners, all well worth checking out.
Gavito danced Pugliese a lot, but sadly most clips are of his show dance, although he came from much the same background as Ricardo Vidort and other tangueros of that generation. I think I once found a very indistinct clip of Gavito dancing in a milonga in Club Gricel, but mostly you’ll see Gavito and partner on stage in a near-horizontal line. This clip shows him dancing with a very young-looking Maria Plazaola, perhaps around 2002 when she started to dance with him and before he fell ill. It’s a class demo to Pugliese, showing class material, and probably the nearest to how they might have danced in a milonga.
But my favourite Pugliese clip is of Ismael Heljalil dancing in Lo de Celia. It’s particularly valuable as it shows Pugliese danced in a crowded milonga, Pugliese in the real world, if you regard the milonga as the real world of tango. It’s marvellous how they move in a limited space as a single unit, inseparable from the music, echoing in dance its sinuous line and energy, rising and falling back. There’s no ‘style’, no decoration, to get in the way of dance, there’s just music, a couple, and fluent, calm, energetic movement. It’s minimal, intense and beautiful. Dancing the music, not the steps! & certainly the closest I’ve found to one-metre Pugliese.
Isa Negra also uploaded a track of the same couple dancing Di Sarli. I was also delighted to find a clip of Ismael Heljalil dancing a whole tanda of great vals tracks in the much-missed Maipu 444 more than a decade ago. Jantango uploaded a 15-minute talk in Spanish by Ismael, introduced by a short section of dance.
A pity there aren’t more clips like this, but we’re lucky to have these and a few more. A real inspiration.