Monday, 21 November 2016

Ricardo Viqueira in Cambridge

I recently got this link from a friend, Gideon in Zurich, with info about Ricardo Viqueira's visit to the UK this month. Thanks Gideon! Ricardo will give a series of workshops and classes in Cambridge, starting on Thursday November 24. The details are in the link.

Ricardo is a milonga dancer who teaches in Buenos Aires, and has taught regularly in Europe. I can't say much about his teaching as I've never taken classes with him, but he has a good reputation as a teacher. It's claimed he's developed simple and practical methods for teaching leaders to mark the step, and and for followers to understand the lead. He emphasises listening to the music, and development of a personal way of dancing.

Apart from the excitement created by dancing fast on a small coffee table (will they fall off?) this video seems to show a dance that looks rather monotonous, a relentlessly fast dance to music that has gentle and lyrical phrasing, as if the dancers are being forced to mark every beat mechanically and without fail, while ignoring the lyrical phrasing. This lack of expresion isn't generally characteristic of what I've seen of the Buenos Aires dance. At the same time, he obviously leads with great clarity and confidence, and successfully in a very confined space. If you can learn to lead and follow with that level of clarity, you can obviously adapt to a much more expressive and lyrical dance on a crowded milonga floor.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Today's tango is...

A while ago I heard about this source of tango on YouTube. I’ve only just checked it out, and I find I’ve been missing out on a good source of music and lyrics.

Paul Bottomer is a dance teacher with a background in ballroom, who went to Buenos Aires in the 1980s and studied with Maria Nievas and Juan Carlos Copes. (Separate classes, I assume, since they had their differences.) His website says he won the ‘Grand Slam of Tango competitions’ (he doesn’t say what they were) between 1990 and 1994. He still teaches in London.

He currently seems on a mission through his YouTube channel to ensure that as much tango as possible is available online, in some form of HD, with translations of lyrics and all the readily available information on each track, such as performers and recording dates. Since he studied with Copes and Nievas he must be a Spanish speaker and I assume his translations are at least serviceable. I can’t check them, but I expect they are useful to listeners in general, even if lunfardo experts and historians of tango lyrics might not always agree on the details. His channel is called ‘Today’s tango is...,’ but he often uploads many tangos a day, and not always the well-known tangos you hear in milongas. Yesterday there were five tangos, including two versions of Yo quiero cantar un tango (Laurenz and D’Arienzo). Only one so far today, D'Arienzo's 1966 Virgen de la Serranía, but it’s only 4pm. This channel is clearly a labour of love, and it’s a very welcome, ongoing effort to make the songs more accessible. It’s been going for a while, so there’s a substantial archive of songs and music. There’s also a Facebook page.

(PS: On YouTube you need to click on SHOW MORE to access the translations.)