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A show named Tango Argentino   2 comments

A show named Tango Argentino

The current revival of the tango spread with blazing intensity, thanks to the globalization of communications. It started to rise around 1990, after 30 years of no major tango activity, with the unexpected success of a musical revue aptly named Tango Argentino. Producers Claudio Segovia and Héctor Orezzoli synthesized all the implicit dramatic qualities of the tango on the stage. They focused on the taciturn man of Buenos Aires (who is secretly idealistic with a devastating sense of humor) and the seductive Buenos Aires woman (who is alluring and drop-dead elegant). But it was the performance of the dancing couples that captivated the public’s imagination, reintroducing a dance in which the man flaunted his masculinity and the couples embraced each other in a sensual ritual full of irresistible beauty.

This week, 30 years ago, Tango Argentino appeared for the first time on an international stage at the Paris Autumn Festival, which began on November 11, 1983. That run lasted one week, but those few days were enough to change history: the tango as dance resurfaced with an unexpected force, and became huge around the world. There has never been a time in history when so many social dancers are dancing Argentine tango as it was danced in the golden years of the 1940s and ’50s.

Posted November 14, 2013 by Alberto & Valorie in EDITORIAL

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Chicho is pissed off again   Leave a comment

Chicho is pissed off again

A Commentary By Alberto Paz
November 13,2013

Every now and then I run into a lengthy rant by the well known dancer Chicho Frumboli. After unintentionally inspiring an entire generation of dancers to act like circus acts on the dance floor, Chicho seems to have had some sort of epiphany because he keeps trying to ride out the storm that his adventures as a young transgressor helped create.

The latest manifesto landing on my desk informs us that Chicho keeps watching videos of great dancers “in the history of our tango… people who set the pace and marked styles, who defined milestones in the evolution of our dance…

I’m still learning,” he writes, “enjoying and wondering why those things are lost, why fashion and trends around the world are so empty?

 He reminds us that for years many professionals have given the best of their knowledge to many people everywhere… He seems to be incensed about the alleged rejection of Argentine DJs and professional dancers, by dancers and fashionable DJs in some European cities.

 I know, as an Argentino, how our personality is, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But, how can anybody talk about or openly criticize a DJ or a pair of dancers…?” he asks. He would like to know who’s doing that and what are the basis for all the criticism. He asks, what knowledge they have to believe that there are better or worse DJs or dancers. “I don’t feel competent or able to decide who is good or who’s not,” he writes, “we are all learning, still learning.”

 He sadly admits that many of the people who are against the tango, spent a lot of time taking classes with him, as well as with many other professionals. He now wonders if maybe it was a mistake to give out so much.

 He reminds us of a well known fact. Nobody owns the tango, no one can appropriate this dance, and anybody who ignores that, is in for a big disappointment. Just as championships and competitions are promoting a cartoonish facsimile as Tango Argentino, European DJs (which for Chicho don’t meet the criteria he expects from tango DJs) present a tango from a very limited repertoire which is also not real.

Chicho addresses European dancers and DJs who know what he’s talking about, the selective ones, the critics, those who talk without knowing, those who teach after only a couple of months of taking lessons themselves, those who climb on a stage without being artists, those who want to become famous. For them, and those who lock themselves to dance for hours in a marathon shrouded by a complete vacuum, and those who decide on a style as a group tendency and exclude those who do not dance that style or are at that level, he says…

 Why don’t you open your minds, why don’t you keep on learning, why don’t you get informed, why don’t you share, why don’t you set an example, why don’t you make a contribution to the tango and do something for the tango instead of talking, talking, and talking???”

 Wrapping it up, Chicho quotes a female friend who said that the tango is stronger than all of that, the tango is above any trend, fashion and style. The Argentine tango is not going to die no matter how hard they try to make it disappear. It’s been that way since 70, 50, and even 10 years ago… There is much dancing yet to be done, there is a lot yet to be discovered, there is still plenty to listen to.

 “People, please open your mind!”

Posted November 13, 2013 by Alberto & Valorie in EDITORIAL

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The heir of the great poet   Leave a comment

The heir of the great poet

By Alberto Paz
Augusr 4, 2013

On the night of Saturday, July 27, 2013 the world of tango suffered a great loss.

Acho Manzi, a poet, a musician, and a very dear friend of mine died in Buenos Aires at the age of 80. Acho was the son of the great Homero Manzi and he devoted much of his life to keep alive the memory of his father.

Acho was born Homero Luis Manzione on March 6, 1933 in the neighborhood of Boedo. He inherited his father’s poetic vocation and at age 15 he collaborated with his father penning the lyrics of El ultimo organito

Acho was 17 when his father died. In 1954 he wrote a poem entitled Father.
Fleeing the burden of being the son of Homero Manzi, he choose the anonymity of an adventurous life in the United States. Far away, he put away memories of another life and the dream of becoming a poet. But the experience of confronting himself a cancer diagnosis changed his plans.

Some friends who moved to Spain, left him a huge ranch home in California. He went into a downward spiral beginning to feel discouraging physical symptoms. We got together once week at my house in Sunnyvale, and took turns to cook fro each other. He couldn’t decide whether to go ahead with the treatment recommended by the doctors. Then he met an Argentine woman who was doing tango research, they became friends, and that was a magical encounter for him. She convinced him of the need to take care of his illness.

He returned to Buenos Aires, got treatment, and beat the cancer. He married Marilu, a wonderful woman and they had a daughter which he named Malena, like the famous tango written by his father. We kept in touch and he was there in 2005 during our Katrina exile, inviting us to spend Christmas with his family. Then in 2008 he joined us at Club Sunderland for the celebration of my birthday. We last saw him in 2009 when we met him at the offices of the Society of Authors and Composers to discuss the possibilities of handling the North American offices of royalties collection.

He was among the first to call Valorie to offer his unconditional support when I suffered an almost deadly cardiac arrest in Calgary. Knowing that I had been in an induced coma for 48 hours, he asked me a week later, “Did you see my dad by any chance?” His deadpan sense of humor was something we both always cherished and were proud of, in good and bad periods of our lives.

The news of his death came late and took me by surprise.

I paraphrase verses he wrote about the loss of his father, to express my sadness for the enormous vacuum Acho has left in our hearts when he departed unannounced to his eternal rest. The pain that chokes my heart is so intense that I have not been able to shed any tears until this moment…

Acho, my brother in tango, how much we’re going to miss you.

Yesterday you were just a gentle and sad giant
Merciless claws ripped you away from me
You left in an instant without saying good bye
You never compromised the way you lived.
You accepted that one day we cease to exist
You were among the first to rejoice when I almost bit the dust
In a world where it is easier to forget
Forgetting you is not an option for me.”

Valorie and Acho rejoice as I blow the candle at Club Sunderland, April 19, 2008

Posted August 4, 2013 by Alberto & Valorie in 1, IN MEMORY OF

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The night Pugliese died   Leave a comment

The night Pugliese died

By Alberto Paz
July 25, 1995

Like the guy at the street corner or the next door neighbor, that’s how PUGLIESE was. But deep inside that slender figure, beyond the thickness of his myopic glasses, there was a volcano that erupted with his tangos.

OSVALDO PUGLIESE was a figure that showed the way to the modernism of tango without leaving the essential roots. In 1924 he created RECUERDO, a composition far advanced for his time. The dialogue of the bandoneons still today represents the pinnacle of tango interpretation. Then, NEGRACHA, MALANDRACA and LA YUMBA became a trilogy that opened the way for the vanguard tango.

The orchestra of the MAESTRO grew up in the sprawling neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Leaving behind the mud and pathways described by BARDI, COBIAN and AROLAS, PUGLIESE absorbed the pulse of the new city and began to foresee its future. In those new places, he discovered a new Argentina, with a violent rhythm, powerful like gun powder, with all the strength of an industrial revolution, OSVALDO PUGLIESE captured the mystery of the city into music and named it La Yumba.

La Yumba was a lyric poem that made people tremble with emotion as they saw themselves interpreted by the captivating melody. There was Yumba in the ecstasy of the public at every venue where the orchestra performed. Yumba was floating in the air when a labor dispute tore apart the city and PUGLIESE entered the Ford Motor Co. factory that had been taken by the workers, and embraced each one of them as a gesture of solidarity with his people.

PUGLIESE died tonight and there is Yumba in my heart and it pounds so hard that I can’t hold on to my tears and I can’t tell if the music is coming from the speakers or from my soul.

Suddenly, is LA BIANDUNGA, then EL PENSAMIENTO and now LA MARIPOSA. Was it just yesterday that very dearly I held against my heart a beautiful woman and with my eyes closed I went around the dance floor falling in love with every beat of a PUGLIESE tango?

Tonight she is far away, PUGLIESE is dead, I’m alone, unable to stop the wrinkled box lodged in the middle of my chest from sobbing and the sound of his music is tearing me apart.
Tango, your music hurts like a dagger in my chest, and yet, I love you!

The night we danced La Mariposa

July 28, 2013

Posted July 30, 2013 by Alberto & Valorie in ESSAYS

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Tangoman and the dancing butterfly   1 comment

Tangoman and the dancing butterfly
By Alberto Paz
August 1995
Revised July 2013

The Fifth edition of the legendary Stanford Tango Week in 1995 marked the beginning of the journey for many of us. We were treated to twin sets of tango weeks because of overwhelming registration. It was billed as the year of the milongueros, and American dancers were introduced to real life milongueros from the halls of Buenos Aires milongas. Our souls changed forever as we went our ways back across the United States.

Two weeks after it ended, I went back to walk through the empty halls , the cavernous rooms, the cozy studios, the quiet courtyards. As I entered Roble Studio I could hear the ghostly sound of tango past reviewing one more step. The choking voice of a teacher thanking us for the love and respect we have shown for our tango and its masters. It had only been just a dozen moons and countless tangos ago that we had anointed Veronica as the angel who came down from tango heaven to paint a smile on Eduardo’s face.

Remembrance. Reminiscence of sore feet soaking on ice cold water. A gentle and soothing foot massage. The cold sweetness of a milkshake in the early hours of the morning. Syncopation, music appreciation, infatuation, perspiration, revelation. New York, California. A connection. Conversation.

Danel and Maria, Michael and Luren, Daniel and Rebecca, Nora, Lampazo, Juan Bruno, Eduardo and Veronica, Graciela. Dispensers of tango. Messengers and message. Tango is about feeling. Tango is about life. Close your eyes, feel the passion. Hold her close. Who’s the girl with the red shoes?

The heart of Tangoman is a wrinkled bandoneon that moans and whines. What’s Canaro doing in Paris? Help me find the Caminito. Who left the room A media luz? Stop that piano that is pounding in my heart. Lazy bass, don’t hurry up. Sing a song with your voice full of smoke and alcohol. A mordida, a boleo, heavy breathing, gancho frenzy. Who’s the girl with teary eyes?

Empty halls, silent walls, water falling. Hear the tapping right next door. Tango club, salon style, orillero, milonguero. It’s so hard to say good bye!

One more glance, one last sigh. Old acquaintances here we come. Turn around one more time. Oh my God, over here, they are dancing in the park! Barefoot, she is dressed in white, he is all in black. The music is playing from their hearts. Pugliese is becoming immortal. Fragile like a pretty butterfly she has landed in his heart.

Please get real!. How corny can you get! I don’t know… how much longer can you stay? They’re not leaving. They refuse to let it go. Are they nuts, people say. Of course they are. Crazy for each other and for that tango with no end. And the night begins to smile. A three-minute love affair. All the intensity and passion of a lifelong relationship exploding in a turn. It begins. Then it ends, and then begins again. Close your eyes, feel the beat that’s coming from your heart, hold on tight. You’re going to be dancing quite a lot.

The night we danced La Mariposa

July 28, 2013

Posted July 29, 2013 by Alberto & Valorie in ESSAYS

Live and let dance   Leave a comment

Live and let dance
By Alberto Paz
This editorial was originally written on Nov 28, the year of the tango 1995 in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was part of ongoing discussions about what could be done to take care of the tango so it remained strong and not become a hollow shell like happened to ballroom tango. A little over three months earlier, the country had been introduced to the first wave of “milongueros” from Buenos Aires at the 1995 Stanford tango week.
Copyright (c) 1995-2013, Planet Tango. All Rights Reserved – Permission to reprint and share is granted as long as the proper attribution is clearly indicated

Valorie and I were the first to publish an actual hard copy newsletter starting in 1994. El Firulete was born out of the need to educate an entire new generation of dancers, to provide a forum for open discussion, and to foster and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Argentine tango. We did it while keeping a lighthearted attitude, sometimes laughing at ourselves, and working hard to enjoy our tango more. It can be argued that life is a tango, and that for many, tango is their life. It has been so for us since the early nineteen nineties.

Success breeds imitation, and sometimes envy and jealousy. As public figures we have buried our happy faces in the ground like the ostrich oblivious to the danger around, but like the ostrich we have left our behinds exposed to the proverbial kicks. To be honest, we have many good friends who have helped us spread the goodwill along the way. But it’s also disheartening to be surrounded by people who react in virulent ways to other people’s happiness. That is also tango for you.
Tango music and its dance are all about feelings and emotions. In a culture where emotions are held close to the vest, the way people act can have a profound effect on a community. For the good of tango we always tried to keep a good supply of olive branches, but for good measure we also have a few pieces of the tree.

1995 will become without a doubt the year in which the face of the tango in North America will change forever, and the onset of a global wave of social dancing will sweep across large and small cities in the United States. We’re still relishing memories of our first contact with “milongueros” during two memorable weeks in July in Palo Alto. And already we’re engaged in discussions about preserving the newly found essence of the tango from the influence of those who want to make it the eleventh dance of the competition circuit.

Within the tango there is a tradition of respect for the elders that tango dancers understand and value. But with some notable exceptions, our young communities lack elder milongueros. People who come to dance tango are often at the mercy of self-appointed teachers and tango experts. They can become pawns of politics and power plays. A word or two here and there can be enough to turn some people off, and for some to walk away and never come back.

So it is up to those who know, and who live and love the tango, to speak up against those who attempt to legislate behavior, and who pass judgment on who’s good or not based on their personal promotional agendas.

Tango will never become a hollow shell because the Argentine tango is about life. As in life, there are those who merely survive and those who live; those who simply get involved and those who truly make a commitment. Tango has evolved from obscure and hybrid origins to become a way of life for people all over the world. Many have and many more will attempt to “own” it, to make it the latest fad, and to legislate behavior. But unless someone puts shackles on people’s ankles, tango will continue to exist because it lives in each one of us: in those we love, in those who hate us, in those we care about, in those who ignore us, in those we know, in those we never met. Tango lives every time we say I love you and every time we don’t. It exists when we long for a hug or a kiss that doesn’t happen. Tango lives when we are angry, when we are jealous, when we feel insecure, when we feel powerful, when we are tired, when two lovers or two strangers embrace and move together.

We will die, but somebody else will walk across the floor and catch somebody’s eye. And silently they will move around the floor, oblivious to what you or I or anybody else might decide is good or bad. It is about their lives, not ours.
So live and let dance.

Posted July 28, 2013 by Alberto & Valorie in EDITORIAL

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Let’s Be Careful Out There   Leave a comment

Let’s Be Careful Out There

Mental health is a serious issue that doesn’t get the necessary attention it deserves. Occasionally somebody goes way over the edge and tragedy ensues. Like the absurd killing in her sleep of a tango dancer and Pilates instructor by her disturbed husband who committed suicide, leaving the proverbial question of why it happened, unanswered. A few days earlier the woman had written a foreboding poem on her Facebook page.

A social media site like Facebook,where people are in daily contact with a lot of “friends in name only (FINO)” most of whom have never met, is not the place to be abusive of ex-spouses, or to air dirty linen in public. Unruly children, regardless of biological age, are bound to run into parents everywhere. The world of tango is not excluded. Lack of tact and propriety in venting family or personal feuds in public are good enough reasons sometimes for an adult wanting to intervene.

When one of those FINOs went into a public tirade about her daughter’s “lame-ass father,” I commented on the wisdom of writing in public, “he hung up when she asked him to take her to the doctor for an infection that was giving her shooting pain. She was way upset and she called me at work asking what to do. He doesn’t give a damn and that’s that.

Her reply was very eloquent, “If you or anyone else can’t handle that, then you are the psychological screw up. I tell it like it is. He has time for his Bible studies, to distribute Gideon Bibles in Motels, has time to sit around and blow off his daughter while she’s suffering. And I’m divorced because I have a brain and don’t put up with this kind of crap! You’d better block me because I’m going to litter your inbox with TRUTH! So if you hate TRUTH, then hate me.

People may feel the need to be very sorry for this person. Personally I had no love nor hate available for her. I saw a dangerous person capable of a different kind of harm, as she continued.

BTW, my daughter is 18. She talks about how her dad treats her poorly. Yes, I confirm it so she doesn’t wind up picking up the same kind of man, a selfish, selfish, selfish man who is a major hypocrite. Puts on the airs at church and treats people badly at home. You would be contributing to the psychological screwing by saying I should defend his behavior. Shame on you!!!!!!!! Maybe you like hypocrites? Yes? Put on the airs of holier than thou, eradicating truth? You’d better believe I’m putting it on Facebook. I’m sick of the people who think he’s so holy when he doesn’t give a shit about his own kids. He deserves far worse!

But, but…

You sound like a sorry excuse for a man. I bet your tango dancing sucks…

But, but…

And clearly if you have kids, you must not give a damn about them like my ex doesn’t give a damn about her. Go continue to abuse women… I’ll be sure to warn my tango friends about your abusiveness in case you wind up in their tango community.

And that my friends, is how psychotic and hysterical words that have been repeated so many times in high school bathrooms all over the land, make their way into our sacred adult tango world. And that’s how character assassination begins.

Now, the words of a possible mentally unstable person are not as dangerous as those of the ones who willfully propagate innuendos and harmful gossip because they lack character and moral fortitude. So let’s be careful out there…