Monday, 22 June 2015

More from the milongas

I've just updated this post. The videos I thought had been removed are still there: I posted the wrong link. As I said, they aren't the best videos, but altogether they give a good view of a very enjoyable milonga. & a friend has just sent me this link to a series of videos of the Lo de Celia milonga posted by EQZ tango DJ, with posts of some excellent music too. This started at the beginning of the year, and is ongoing. So now we know how people dance in Buenos Aires!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Blog list problems on Blogger

No sooner have I found a way out of one problem on Blogger when another pops up. I can't update the blog list. Many people have reported it on the forums. Google's 'expert reply' in 2013 is that they are working on it night and day, but I have yet to find their answer. It's suggested that the problem is because individual computers manage cookies/filters/scripts and security measures differently. (So I guess it gets dismissed as 'user error'.) If anyone has found a simple answer please let me know.

I wanted to add one blog This is European DJ Konrad Krynski's blog about tango music and its stories.

I also need to update the address of the Realitypivots blog, the story I've always enjoyed of living on a smallholding in the woods of North America while maintaining a connection with tango. The scene has shifted to Thailand, and the new address is here. In reply to David's comment, I've done what I can to push the Ricardo Vidort website onto the net, but it's not up to me. However, I'm told that much of the material is already available on the web, though not collected into one place.

Saturday, 13 June 2015


I was delighted to find this clip recently.

It's a short quote from a TV documentary made in 1999, in which Royal Ballet soloist Deborah Bull explored four kinds of dance; hip-hop, swing, belly dance and tango. (I wrote about this clip here, before I found it.) The tango programme includes a sequence with the author and broadcaster Clive James who was then a regular tanguero. A pity the whole programme isn't available. In this clip one of the earliest tango dancers in the UK, Christine Denniston, teaches Deborah to walk, and outlines some of the background of social tango.

Sadly, perhaps, the programme ends with a highly choreographed tango performance: I could wish it ended with Deborah happily lost in a Buenos Aires milonga. I watched it before I started classes in London, and the insights of this clip in particular stayed with me. & I've read that Susanna and Cacho amazed Londoners with just how close together they danced...

Interesting thought: Christine says that because there were relatively few women in Argentina in the years when tango evolved, men had to work out how to please the women they danced with, as women had plenty of choice of partners. The pressure to evolve came from that need. Currently in London the opposite is true; there are often many more women than men. It follows that there is less pressure on men to improve their dance, as they can usually find partners, although this must be offset to some extent because men who do dance get more practice.

(I've worked out how to embed video! It used to be straightforward until a software upgrade a few years back. Since then, an HTML embed code pasted into the text editor has been simply published as embed code. A few weeks ago it occurred to me that I should try inserting the embed code into the HTML editor rather than into the text editor. Either that, or write in the HTML editor from the start.

& someone asked if I knew how to enable comments. It's under options in the post settings on the right of the 'compose' page.)

Monday, 8 June 2015

Some videos of Ismael Heljalil

I was totally astonished to see a couple of videos of Ismael Heljalil dancing with María Nieves at La Nacional a few months ago. Surely that's not the María Nieves, the tango queen of Broadway, and long-time partner of Juan Copes? The María does still dance, but recent videos of her don't greatly resemble this María, who is almost certainly younger. (The María was born in 1938.) I've never seen Ismael Heljalil outside Lo de Celia, looking frail in a heavy sweater which I assumed protected him from the airconditioning, but there's no doubt it's him in La Nacional, looking well and minus the sweater.

I first saw him on TangoandChaos. At a time when there were few videos of salon tango on YouTube, TangoandChaos suddenly electrified many of us with a series of videos of traditional tangueros from the then distant world of the Buenos Aires milongas. So this is what tango looks like in Buenos Aires! We'd heard about it but never seen it. The very first of these videos was of Ismael Heljalil in Lo de Celia, and the music was No Me Extraña of Pedro Laurenz. McGarry wrote a thoughtful introduction to the video and the music. As he says, there's no 'real giro', but what strikes me is that it is a dance full of turning. The opening phrase is about thirty seconds, and the couple calmly turn back and forth in one corner of the floor, and the dance continues like this. It's a dance suited to confined space, and of course the constant turning gives the lead a mental picture of the space around. 

(Apologies: this isn't from the T&C site, as the video there loads slowly -- it was set up before YouTube got so good.) I still love to watch this clip, and I still find No Me Extraña (along with Paisaje, also from Laurenz) just marvelous music. 

I enjoy watching clips of the complex and energetic dance of Ricardo Vidort. Ismael's dance may be deceptively simple by comparison, but as an example it's less intimidating. The content of the dance is the way he dances, rather than the steps he uses. It's not a particularly slow dance, but wonderfully effortless, smooth and unhurried, energetic, and calmly precise on the beat. The more recent clips of Ismael with María are more of the same, but in La Nacional, which is well-lit and more open than Lo de Celia, so the dance is clearer. I enjoy watching this María: I like her simple elegance, nothing superfluous, and her total attention to the music.

Not to dismiss the María who, it's said, claimed her success came without ever taking a lesson. 'The first time I danced the tango, it entered my skin through my feet, passed from my skin to my blood and through my blood to my heart. It requires no acrobatics, you simply have to devote yourself to your heartbeat.' & her comment on a recent Mundial del Tango was brief: 'Menos aire y mas piso', '[There should be] less air and more floor'. 'Tango acrobatics' is an oxymoron.

There are also two excellent videos of Ismael in Maipu 444 from Jantango and three tangos in Lo de Celia from Isa Negra tango.