Archive for the ‘IN MEMORY OF’ Category

The heir of the great poet   Leave a comment

The heir of the great poet

By Alberto Paz
Augusr 4, 2013
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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

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

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“Madame” Yvonne   Leave a comment

Yvonne Murphy

There is one nasty pitfall of the so called social media, and that is that sometimes you read about people who have gone their separate ways because of unfortunate circumstances. It was shocking and painful to read recently on the Syracuse Yahoo Group that Yvonne Murphy from Penn Yan, NY passed away around February 10. Actually we guessed that, as the message mentioned Yvonne by her first name in the context of a series of routine announcements (“While we are greatly saddened by the loss of our dear friend Yvonne, we hope you will still come to Geneva this Friday to help us celebrate her life, her love & her spirit.“) It wasn’t too hard to find her Facebook page to confirm the sad news, as we read the absurd habit of people talking to, rather than about dead people. We immediately thought about her husband Dennis, and we want to convey our condolences and sympathies to him, as we lowered our heads in prayers for the eternal peaceful rest of Yvonne’s soul.

We met through our tango lyrics page when she first asked about the translation of Madame Yvonne, and that became her tango nom de plume. In 2007 she surprised us by traveling to the Hudson Valley to meet us at a workshop we were teaching in the region. A few months later she and Dennis came to Buffalo to pick up us after another weekend of workshops, to take us on a quick trip across the border to the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls, before driving us to their home in Penn Yan, NY. There Yvonne proudly hosted her first milonga party to introduce us to her tango friends.

During our stay in Penn Yan, we got to learn about the European Vinifera or Vitis Vinifera grape, arguably the best type of grape for wine making. It wasn’t until more recent times that vinifera grapes were grown in the finger lakes. It was originally believed that the cold winters would destroy the delicate vinifera vines. But because of the marvelous “tempering effect” of the Finger Lakes these varieties not only survived, but thrived to make some fantastic wines! Dennis drove us around the Finger Lakes where we were introduced to Cabernet Franc, a vinifera grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France, that had taken very well to the Finger Lakes region. Cabernet Franc is more hearty and full-bodied than Pinot Noir, but not as intense as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. We became instant fans of the wonderful Cabernet Franc bottled on the wineries perched on the shores of the Finger Lakes. Now the wine will also celebrate the life and joy of Madame Yvonne, every time we raise our glass to toast her memory.


That seems like a long time ago. Time grows older when friends part ways because of life demands.

Just a month ago I felt the urge to write to Yvonne, having read that had been dealing with some health issues. I told her we were so glad to hear that she was recovering well and hoped she could read our message of support and sympathy, with our wishes to see her back on the dance floor.” Now the time have stopped forever for her wonderful life, full of generosity, grace and kindness. Gray skylark, your loss hurts…

R.I.P. Yvonne Murphy

Andrea Mise   2 comments

Andrea Misse died in a quad crash west of General Acha, La Pampa, Argentina

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January 2, 2012 – A multiple collision occurred at noon today on National Route 152, west of General Acha.

The accident involved four vehicles, all driven by tourists, and as a result of the accident, tango dancer Andrea Misse, who was in one of the vehicles, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash was at the kilometer 34 mark of route 152. It was about 16.30 hours approximately.

According to the preliminary expertise, the Sandero may have tried to pass one of the vehicles and there the crash occurred.

The occupants of the Sandero were the most injured. The car was hit from the front and from behind. The woman on the Renault Sandero, identified as 34 years old tango dancer Andrea Misse, died instantly and was taken to the morgue of the local health center where an autopsy was performed to determine the cause of death.

Her husband, Diego Hernán Gienex, 38 suffered a fractured femur, and her 2 year old daughter is out of danger, at a hospital in the capital of the La Pampa. The same happened with the dancer’s mother in law, who was recovering from injuries she suffered as a result of the collisions. The family came from Tigre (Buenos Aires), where they live, but their destination was unknown.

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Courtesy of Konstantinoschalnt’s channel

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Andrea Misse’s true and unique philosophy of Argentine Tango

By Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz

It was a 1996 Autumn night in New York City. In fact it was a Thursday night. We made our way midtown to the restaurant Il Campanello, where Paul Pellicoro presented his Tango Nights show. We had seen this conglomerate offering before, mainly consisting of dynamic Paul and his striking partner Eleny and the professional dancers from his Dance Sport Studio. Raul Jaurena’s first class New York Tango Trio with excellent singer Marga Mitchell; a few expatriate local old timers from Argentina; and the visiting flavor of the month professional couple completed the ambiance. It was a pleasant night out in the world of the tango, a place to sit and eat dinner, have a few drinks, talk with our New York friends, dance a few tangos – you know, the kind of place where everybody knows your name.
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As the show got underway, a ripple of excitement went through this very experienced audience as two young dancers from Buenos Aires were announced. In true tango world fashion, only first names were offered: Leandro and Andrea. They were going to dance to the music of Angel D’Agostino’s version of Cafe Dominguez. Two very young looking slim dancers held the audience spellbound as they interpreted the music in an entirely fresh, but authentic way. Lots of sighs from the women in the audience as they coveted Andrea’s precise, pretty and musical footwork. Lots of sighs from the women as they drank in the perfect face of Leandro and the way he lovingly and generously partnered his Andrea. Lots of pride in the eyes of the men as they watched this young man execute fantastic figures, combining the speed of youth with the maturity of someone who might have been dancing for thirty or forty years.

And then it was over, and in the din of the very enthusiastic applause, we asked a table mate “WHO are they? Are they a new couple in Forever Tango?” The reply was that they were just a couple of kids from Buenos Aires trying their luck on the teaching circuit. We can’t even remember if we had the chance to say hello to them that night and congratulate them. But they made a strong impression on us.

A year or so later we were invited to do an exhibition at Matej Oresic’s Tango Generations Weekend event in Ithaca, New York. New York teachers Danel and Maria, Buenos Aires milonguero Toto Faraldo, and “those kids” from Buenos Aires, Leandro and Andrea where the teachers representing the various Tango generations for a weekend of workshops. It was December 1997. We rode the bus from New York City and arrived in a flurry of fairy tale snowflakes to a snow covered Ithaca.

The workshops were almost over for the day, so after the various introductions, our lovely house hosts whisked us away to a group dinner and then home to change for the night’s gala milonga and exhibitions.

The next day we attended the workshops: first an excellent Vals workshop with Danel & Maria. Then we took an authentic milonga workshop with Toto Faraldo, with Andrea assisting and translating for him. Finally, we participated in Leandro and Andrea’s Tango class.

We really appreciated the way they ran their class. They were organized; they presented fundamentals in a fresh and fun way; they were caring and attentive to everyone in the class; they spoke perfect and fluent English. The weekend was over before it began, and the last meals were shared, the last dances danced, the good-byes said. We both agreed to keep “those kids” in mind for future projects.

Fast forward to Summer 1998. Final plans were in motion for our Labor Day Tango Getaway in Reno. A disappointing glitch occurred regarding one of the couples we had initially invited. We needed another couple to fill the position. We contacted “those kids” in hopes that they would be available.

Those who went to Reno know that the connection was successful. So now we all knew that Andrea Misse and Leandro Palou were professional dancers and teachers.

They both began dancing tango at a very young age, Leandro at 14 and Andrea at 11. Before that, Leandro studied acting for five years and Andrea studied Argentine folklore dances, appearing in many performances and television specials in Buenos Aires. Andrea began her tango studies with Carlos Rivarola, one of the stars of “Tango Argentino.” She studied for several years with Miguel Angel Zotto (Tango X 2) and later with Osvaldo Zotto and Antonio Todaro, considered by many to be the greatest teacher of tango choreography of all time. Leandro also studied with Miguel Zotto and with numerous milongueros. Leandro and Andrea’s partnership began in 1995.

They danced with the Color Tango Orchestra and toured in the show Milonga Boulevard. They presented successful workshops on both the East and West coasts of the USA, and also in Europe. As well as being a top rated professional dancer and Andrea had her degree in simultaneous translation.

They had a true and unique philosophy of Argentine Tango being danced as a fifty-fifty proposition for the man and the woman. Andrea had been in the presence of many important teachers and dancers, but she felt that something was lacking in the information provided for the woman dancer. She took it upon herself to investigate a system of techniques that enable the woman to create a beautiful head to toe body line, to be completely responsive to la marca, and create the possibilities for musical interpretation through embellishment. One of the teachers of technique that she greatly admired and appreciated was Graciela Gonzalez.

Andrea with Leandro dance to La bordona at the 1998 Labor Day Weekend Tango Getaway in Reno, Nevada
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Standing (l to r), Daniela Arcuri, Armando Orzuza, Andrea Misse and Leandro Palou
In front (l to r), Maida Zanaboni, Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart at the 1998 Labor Day Weekend Tango Getaway in Reno, Nevada
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To compliment Andrea’s approach for the woman, Leandro had developed a series of men’s techniques that also stressed the importance of body alignment and balance. He taught the men clearly and easily to mark the woman’s steps in a precise, understandable and generous way that allows her the time and the option to simultaneously interpret the music along with him. For him, this is the way to dance with the woman, which he contended is the reason men want to dance tango in the first place.

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Curtain call at the 1998 Labor Day Weekend Tango Getaway in Reno, Nevada
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Both young, but already world famous and acclaimed teachers from Buenos Aires, Leandro and Andrea teach in the tradition of best teachers from the Golden age. They remain faithful to and teach Tango de Salon, the most elegant style of tango dancing.

In 2005 Andrea became the professional partner of Javier Rodriguez and together they traveled all over the world with great success. In 2008 she and her husband Diego Hernán Gienex were blessed with the birth of Guadalupe. Her daughter and her husband both survived the crash that took the life of one of the most exquisite tango dancers of the new generation.

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Posted January 2, 2012 by Alberto & Valorie in IN MEMORY OF

Esther Pugliese   Leave a comment

The news was devastating, our hearts ached with sorrow, and the tears flowed out of control as we read the Pugliese children’s announcement of the sad news of the passing of their mother Esther Pugliese.The world of tango has suffered an irreparable and irreplaceable loss. For those who have been touched by the angel of Esther, words can not begin to describe the deep emptiness that her passing represents. For us it is very painful..

For most of 1996 and the early days of January 1997 we had been driving south from the Bay Area to Southern California four days a week to teach and dance tango. One morning the phone rang in the kitchen of our friend’s home in Los Angeles and she stopped tossing the salad to answer the call. Our friend was our local promoter and we stayed at her home. After a few minutes of animated conversation in Spanish, she handed me the phone and asked me to talk to the person on the other side of the line. His name was Mingo and he was calling from Buenos Aires. His wife, son and daughter were coming to California and he wanted somebody trustworthy to house them and handle their tango tour. Our friend thought we would do a better job than she could.

One week later we picked up Esther, Pablo and Marisa Pugliese at the San Francisco airport. We didn’t know then that our lives would take an unexpected turn and change forever.
For almost a month we shared our home with this family, and we chaperoned then all around tango communities in San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles promoting and translating Esther and 16 years old Pablo classes.

At the time we had almost two years of tango experience but as we listened what the teenager had to say, witnessed the way they taught, and began to understand the logical and methodical way in which they developed their lessons, we started to think that somewhere in Buenos Aires there was a hidden treasure of knowledge. Somehow the idea that there was a method for this tango madness began to settle in.

By the time their stay with us came to an end, we had been exposed to an incredible wealth of information we had never heard or seen before. We also had become intrigued about the person they talked about with awe and reverence named Mingo, who eventually turned out to be Esther’s husband, and Marisa and Pablo’s father, although the words husband and father never came out of their mouths.

This collage of photos is offered in loving memory of Esther Pugliese, RIP.

And here are the words of Esther Pugliese from an exclusive interview recorded at Stanford University in 1997 during the last Tango Week.

NESTOR RAY   Leave a comment

Updated 5/22/11
On May 22, 2003 at 4 PM local time in Buenos Aires, our dearest Nestor Ray passed away, fifteen days after he had returned to his beloved Buenos Aires. His sister Josefa Luisa Raiano indicated that he died peacefully following a cardiac arrest.

Dealing with matters of life and death is a difficult task when different cultures are involved. We made the choice to follow the dictates of our conscience and express our feelings with the honesty and integrity that the loving memory of a friend like Nestor Ray deserves.

The absurdity of funerals and postmortem homages is that they serve those who stay alive but do very little for the ones who died. A poet wrote that we need to tell about our love for others “en vivo,” while they are still alive to hear us.

A week earlier we had been dancing in Rome. There, a dancer from Buenos Aires who has known Nestor Ray for many years, spoke of her concern for Nestor’s health. A few days later while picking up e-mails at Rome’s Central Railroad Station, a message from a teacher, organizer and Nestor’s host in Los Angeles read, “Nestor is in very grave condition” and had “very little time left.” He had been taken to Cedars Sinai Hospital Saturday, May 3 because “he could not walk.” A second message indicated that Nestor had been discharged from the hospital Sunday evening and the doctor said it was okay for him to travel to Buenos Aires.

The phone call with the sad news of his death caught us unprepared. Suddenly nothing mattered more except shedding tears, surrendering to grief and allowing the mourning to begin.

Nestor Ray traveled around the world under the sponsorship of dozens upon dozens of promoters, who saw their communities and their own personal careers benefit with prestige because of his presence, talent and generosity. When we were told that his family couldn’t afford a simple funeral, we wired the required amount of money overnight to take care of the problem. We then suggested that anyone wishing to help could contribute to a fund set up on the Internet. Only four among the dozens of the aforementioned promoters joined a handful of individuals who had known Nestor, united by their desire to show their respect by insuring that he had a decent and dignified funeral.

He was born Salvador Pedro Raiano on April 19, 1945 in Villa Ballester, Buenos Aires, the son of an Italian horse caretaker and bricklayer, also named Salvador, who died young almost at the same age Nestor died. His mother, still alive at the time of his passing is nearly 90 years old. She was married twice and had a dozen kids. He acquired his nickname “Nestor” from a prison gang where he spent a great deal of time taking the blame for his younger brother’s robberies. Bad behavior and rebellious attitude earned him a trip to the notorious Zapala correctional facility in the southernmost tip of Argentina. Finally, after he was sent to a Juvenile Rehab center, he learned to be a tailor and an upholsterer, professions he made good use of during his adult life. He became a teenager at the dawn of a period of military rule that would change the way people lived and died in Argentina. Rock and roll was sweeping the airwaves and tango was only danced in traditional settings in neighborhoods with a long standing reputation for the caliber of their dancers.

By his own account, at age nine he learned his first dance of embrace to the sound of “chamames” and “rancheras,” popular dances from the north eastern provinces of Argentina. Downtown, in the clubs of Buenos Aires, Conga, Mambo, Cha-cha-cha and Boogie-woogie were popular dances inspired by the likes of Fred Astaire and Carmen Miranda on the silver screen.

In 1956 Bill Haley and his Comets rocked the city around the clock and the fever that ensued captured the imagination of youngsters nationwide. Nestor was one of those gifted “rockeros” who became a sensation winning dance competitions by the time he turned seventeen.

In 1960, he started working as a jockey, but his passion for dancing kept him away from training sessions and denied him the opportunity to participate in any races.

His tango dancing began as with most young kids, hanging around the “viejos,” watching and practicing in front of a mirror, making mistakes and alternating the roles of men and women with the other kids.

Second line at Ernie K Doe jazz funeral

During his visit to New Orleans in 2001, we asked Nestor how he began to dance tango. Nestor answered, “I was very young when I began hanging around my neighborhood club. One day, one of the “viejos,” took a liking of me and decided to teach me. He first asked me to go to the other side of the huge dance floor and watch the people who were dancing there. After a while I came back and told the old man, “those people there don’t know how to dance!”

“Right,” he said, “that was your first lesson. That’s how you are NOT supposed to dance!”

The elder milongueros advised him to develop a personal style, to dance with feeling and to look at tango as a hobby and not as a business.

Somebody noted in the aftermath of his death that Nestor had spent more time dancing for joy than for money. And he may have just remained one of those anonymous milongueros, whose names are only known to a close group of friends who shared the same joy for the dance.

He might have spent his days toiling in a body shop, fixing dents and reupholstering car seats. He could have continued winning tango tournaments joining Fino, Pupi, Todaro, Kalisay, Balmaceda and others giving exhibitions all over the blue collar clubs of Buenos Aires. If it hadn’t been for actor Robert Duvall.

During his last stay at our former residence in California in 1999, Nestor talked at length about his relationship with Robert Duvall. There was a time when the actor, fascinated by a dancer he’s watched spinning with grace and rhythm in the movie “Tango mio,” went to Buenos Aires looking for him.

At the time, the members of the original cast of the show “Tango Argentino” were basking in the glory of the international success of the show, and almost everyone from Mayoral, Virulazo to Copes took turns teaching tango to the famous movie star while at the same time claiming not to know, or having no idea who this guy was that Duvall was looking for.

According to Nestor, he had been dancing many times at the same places where Duvall was rubbing elbows with the TA cast. One day, as Nestor was asked to do an exhibition, Duvall introduced himself and said that he liked the way Nestor did the “giros,” and that it reminded him of a guy he’d seen in a movie but couldn’t find.

Nestor realized that in the movie he still had a head full of hair, and in vintage Nestor Ray replied, “Sir, I am him, nobody can do these “giros” like I do.”

Cut to a farm in Virginia. Nestor was now being touted as Duvall’s personal tango coach. Dissolve to a sidewalk cafe around the block from a Washington, DC. theater where “Forever Tango” was playing. We were managing Carlos Gavito’s workshops in all the cities where the show played. The year, 1996 and joining us at the table were the aging actor, Nestor Ray and Marcela Duran (she never realized that she could have been the star of Assassination Tango judging by the way she blew off the advances of a smitten Duvall).

Later that July, Nestor was announced as a last minute addition to the Stanford Tango Week faculty. With no command of English, fighting health problems and paired with an egocentric young Argentine dancer residing in the Bay Area, Nestor’s debut in California was a flop of major consequences. Remarkably he was able to recover, turning a negative experience into an educational one. As he learned from his mistakes he began a new phase in his life, first becoming a master-in-residence in the San Francisco Bay Area, and later being a good will ambassador in tango cities all over the world.

He often told about the experience he shared with Juan Bruno while rooming on campus during Stanford 1996. A raccoon had made its way from the nearby hills and stood in the middle of the room when they walked in. Such was their scare and their terror that for long minutes they were both convinced that they both were in the presence of an extraterrestrial creature.

Everywhere he has been, there are many people who can share stories, anecdotes and tales from the rich and colorful mind of Nestor Ray, people who somehow have chosen not to make their video memories of Nestor available for a commemorative tribute reel. A memorial web page was set up on Planet Tango’s website www.planet-tango.com/nestor.htm).

Nestor liked the concept of Assassination Tango and he claimed to have contributed to the original script. He was looking forward to the filming of the movie. He took credit for introducing Duvall to Luciana Pedraza, who worked as a tourist office in Buenos Aires, adding that when she first came to the US he introduced her as his cousin because of Duvall’s contested divorce. He felt sad about the circumstances that eventually edged him out of Duvall’s inner circle, but he wouldn’t elaborate beyond that.

With him, the tango lost one of its greatest living testimonies. He passed away at a too young age, the way bohemians do, lonely and suffering in excess. He was truly a great one. A true bailarin. It was impossible to avoid watching him. The day will come when somebody dancing a great tango may be asked who his teacher was, and he might respond, “my teacher was Nestor Ray.”

Click HERE to watch on You Tube

We will always remember the contagious and joyful nature of his personality and dancing style. We hope that his legacy will be one of hard work, honesty and generosity to inspire future generations.

First published on El Firulete’s June 2003 issue. Copyright (c) 2003-2011 Planet Tango. All rights Reserved

Posted May 21, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in IN MEMORY OF

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CHULA CLAUSI   2 comments

For more than seventy years the neighborhood in the Agronomy district has not changed much. The familiar sight of ladies washing the sidewalk and cats playing on top of the cars parked on the street are a common daily occurrence. Then there is that house where Chula Clausi lived surrounded by piles of musical scores on the table, on shelves, on chairs. Close to 500 of his own published works. Where visitors grew accustomed at being received by a man dressed like he was going to a concert.

On February 17, 2010 something changed. Don Gabriel, the 98 year old neighbor, known by many as the bandoneon player, composer and arranger Chula Clausi, died of respiratory complications. With his departure, he took with him a fascinating and mysterious centennial history that includes a major swath of the evolution of the tango. His life trajectory includes a active role in the fostering of the Guardia Vieja all the way to a late rediscovery of his talent way into the 21st century. A mixture of religious man and modest person, he preferred to say that his trajectory and the general recognition he obtained in the last few years were “a gift of God”.

Actually it was a hot and humid summer night that God chose to work His mysterious ways via rock and roll band Los Piojos (The fleas). Already into his nineties in 2003 Clausi surprised the standing room only 70,000 plus crowd at River Plate Stadium when he slowly walked with an old time elegance across the stage, totally dressed in white as a guest of Los Piojos. He got an thunderous ovation as he pulsed the always austere and confessional sound of his bandoneón.

Something similar happened a couple of years later at the Teatro Colon. He walked slowly on stage, delivered an intimate interpretation and received the unanimous applause of the audience. Of course, that was the Cafe de los Maestros CD Release Party night. His presence among other glories of the tango stood out not only for his longevity conjugated with vitality but also by his subtle style and his rich history. And with the launching of Gustavo Santaolalla and Gustavo Mozzi’s project, the journalistic curiosity and the attention of a public not necessarily tanguero were focused on him.

It’s not unusual for Argentines to venerate dead people with fanatical passion while being blase about those still alive, but Clausi was already playing at Teatro Astral at age 15 with the Francisco Pracánico orchestra along side Miguel Calo. In 1928 he was part of the Roberto Firpo orchestra, recorded and played with Pedro Maffia during five years, was one of the main members of the orchestra of Julio De Caro in 1936, knew Carlos Gardel, composed with Celedonio Flores, Enrique Cadícamo, Francisco De Caro and Jose Maria Contursi.

Strictly speaking, he had known them all. He was part of the representative ensembles of the Guardia Vieja led by Juan Maglio “Pacho” and Roberto Firpo. But its main influence was Pedro Maffia, the father of a whole stylistic school of bandoneón playing. For Clausi, the golden decades of the tango had been the 20’s and 30. Later he missed the definitive consecration: during the 40’s and part of the 50’s he lived and worked in several countries of Latin America, mainly in Chile. Peculiarly – and also, unfortunately, he returned to the country when the tango began to wane.

Gabriel Clausi always played the same since the beginning, trying to do what he felt. His artistry didn’t reside in the virtuosity, it was in his expression. “Chula” never touched with his fingers nor with his brain. He played with his heart.

He has now graduated of immortal, and his name has become synonym of legend.

Posted February 18, 2010 by Alberto & Valorie in IN MEMORY OF

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TETE   Leave a comment

In the early morning of Thursday, January 7, 2010, two days short of his 74th birthday, the life of Pedro Rusconi, better known in the world of tango dancing as Tete, completed its full cycle. Close friends will remember as long as they live his inimitable mischief and innocence enlivening the popular milongas in Buenos Aires. Tete’s absence is a painful reminder for many who have known about his indefatigable presence among the exclusive circle of friends since the resurgence of the tango as a social dance in the late eighties. He was the darling of many youngsters.

With Mariana Dragone and Indio Benavente With Mariana Dragone

For an even larger world population Tete was painted as an iconic myth who allegedly invented the close embrace milonguero style, a claim he never made nor typify in the colorful style of his dancing. The reality was, as some tango bloggers pointed out, that although he was admired tremendously, not everyone cared much for his style of dancing. From thinking that he was overrated and difficult to dance with, to  adoring him, he was one of the many personalities of the milongas in Buenos Aires. Everyone loved him. That’s life in the world of the milongas in Buenos Aires.

In sharp contrast to many Argentines who finagle their way into the American market with the most ridiculous resumes claiming to have taught at “close embrace milonguero style” academies in Bs. As., to impress unsuspecting organizers, Tete did very little traveling compared to those who have appropriated the “close embrace” mantra while spreading poor instruction, teaching very little, because they are guaranteed repeated business. He first had a rare appearance at a Tucson, AZ tango festival in the late 90’s, and a couple of tours in the past five years through the circuit supported by the “close embrace” cartel that cycles practitioner after practitioner of that style several times a year in preordained cities.

For anybody with an independent mind, it has always been obvious that the way Tete danced had in no way any resemblance to the choreographed multiple iterations of the so called “ocho cortado” schools. Promoters paid lavish lip service to a person who looked and acted different to what the press releases claimed. Yet, what has had massive circulation in lieu of a real biography of Pedro Rusconi, are several manifestos made public in which Tete lectures and admonishes those who take the dance of tango in vain. Vested with a natural angel for moving with the music with a consensual partner hanging from his neck, Tete was one of those living examples of individuality and confidence that eludes those who think imitation is the way to be recognized for something else than being imitators. When it came to heed his advice/lectures/admonishments calling for respect to tradition, to the music, and to the dancers sharing the floor, Tete became a topic of conversation, name dropping and video watching but not an example to follow.

Chicagoan Sarah Graf interviewed Tete and his long time partner Silvia Ceriani at the University of Chicago on April 20-22, 2007. From that, we learn that Tete started dancing at 14, which means that he was still wearing short pants and what he danced was what every other teenager danced in the early 1950’s, rock and roll. Later, he worked for the city of Buenos Aires as a public employee from 7pm -1am. After work he went out dancing and got to bed by 8am, sometimes missing work. Tete was a rock and roll champion for 5 years. Once he entered a marathon dance contest with people from all over and all kinds of dances. He beat the record of 102 hours of dancing with his 137 hour-long marathon. In case it is not obvious, during those early years of his life, Tete was not dancing tango. Almost nobody did until well into the 1970’s. Tete and Silvia began dancing together in 1995, a period when the resurgence of tango because of tourist influence brought back the popularity of the dance. They traveled together to Europe in 1996. In 1997 German choreographer Pina Bausch invited Tete to Europe. He danced a piece of hers called “Nur Du” (only you) for three years in a row. She also invited him for the 25th anniversary of Tanztheater Wuppertal. There he danced “Nur Du” with her using his tango embrace. It was a 30-day spectacular and some of the best dancers in the world, including Nureyev, were there.

Very little else is learned about the man after that, as the interview turns into platitudes about how the present played in the past, a natural approach when solid understanding of the social, cultural and historical evolution of a foreign society is lacking. Very patiently Tete answers a series of questions associated with tales and myths about “the old times,” without any further details about his life.

As one reflects on the passing of Pedro “Tete” Rusconi, there is a compelling desire to remember those who had a marked influence during the formative years of the tango in North America before passing away: Rodolfo Cieri, Jose Vasquez, Lampazo, Juan Bruno, El pibe de Ciudadela, Pupy Castello, Carlos Gavito and Nestor Ray. Theirs was a time when blogging didn’t exist, writing on Internet lists was inhibited by a lack of fluency in the English language. All we have been left with is the echos of their words, in our minds, on tape, film or print, but it is not the same as having the sound of their voices expressing their opinions and beliefs. Tete went to sleep at his boarding house when the new sun was painting anew the muddy waters of the Rio de la Plata with the colors of a lion. A few days early, on a Sunday, he had shared a table with the usual friends, and he was very excited about the following Saturday when he would be celebrating his 74th birthday. He just never woke up going into eternal rest and becoming yet another legend to fascinate people’s imagination for years to come with his unabashed way to speak his mind.

“You have to respect the music that people like. I respect all the people that dance to all other types of music. Electronic music is not tango. No matter how much bandoneón sound they add to electronic music, it does not make it tango. You don’t have to call it tango. Piazzolla came here and played music and said it was music of Buenos Aires but he didn’t say it was tango -and he plays tango. The music of Argentina is folklore and tango. If people dance folklore the way they dance tango, I don’t like that either. It’s folklore so it should be danced that way. Folklore is folklore and tango is tango. You can dance swing or rock and roll in the U.S. and you dance it the way it’s done here. Tango is not rock and roll and it’s not swing. It’s something else. How is the world? It is terrible, right? Because they don’t respect anything. The world would be tranquil if you put everything where it’s supposed to be.”