Wednesday, 18 December 2013

'My beautiful illness called dancing Tango' – Alberto Dassieu

There's a translation of the first part of Alberto's life story on Irene and Man Yung's blog: they knew him well. The rest of it was on his website, which unfortunately is no longer available. 

Tangoandchaos picks up the story, telling how Alberto and his childhood friend El Chino came under the influence of Luis Lemos, the patron of tango in the Villa Urquiza barrio. It's an interesting page. & it's impressive how tango drew in kids from poorer backgrounds and encouraged social skills, how it gave them a milieu, friends, partners, mentors. Music of the most extraordinary quality and feeling, the pop of their fortunate generation, rich in their everyday music.

I watch Alberto's videos and see the elegant precision of his walk, and can't help thinking how it looks as if he was drilled in it, disciplined, from an early age, made to practice until it was just so. He doesn't give the impression that he just picked up tango by watching and practicing; as if there's a voice in the past saying 'No! Do it again! Again! Otra vez!'

Perhaps it is a style, but he made it his own. Many people learn a similar style: stage dancers tend to learn 'style', many of them learn the same style and end up looking alike. It's easy to learn to look stylish, 'all style and no substance', but that's not the same as dancing well in a milonga. Too often style looks like a mannerism, something second-hand, copied. Alberto's dance has energy, it's his own way of moving.

& another thing: from start to finish his dance looks full of courtesy to his partner. It's also very dynamic; slow, then suddenly fast, compiling a dance with the music, but all the time the walk takes the feet into exactly the right place, at any moment, whoever is his partner. I don't think you can be that precise without also being incredibly aware of your partner. He had an elegant precision which isn't really like anyone else from his generation that I've watched (but I've not visited milongas outside the 'centro' much).

I came across this recently: it's very clear. There's not a moment in the dance that isn't precise and clear, yet everything is fluent and unhurried, the energy is exactly controlled. It's beautiful to watch.

It's easy enough to dance fast, and difficult to dance slow. In a crowded milonga like El Beso, Alberto appeared to dance slowly, almost cautiously, but it always looked extra intense.

When you miss someone, you think of all the questions you'll never be able to ask. Please teach me to walk, just like you learned to walk! 'No! Not like that! Again!'

Last time I saw him I asked him to teach me to dance the pauses. Sure! he said, laughing. Next time you're here...

'Dance the tango respecting the music, dance the tango respecting the people in the milongas, dance the tango with feeling' (Alberto, interview with Monica Paz.)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Alberto Dassieu: October 13, 1936 – December 5, 2013

My Tango is Salon style. My style of dancing is elegant, subtle, with rhythm and poetry. (Mi tango es el de Salón. Mi estilo es elegante, sutil, con cadencia, con poesía.)