Archive for the ‘Forever Tango’ Tag

Good morning America   Leave a comment

Good morning America

By Alberto Paz
September 1997

The exaggerated boasting of some returning travelers and the generous eagerness of foreign visitors have created in the otherwise private environment where thousands of Argentines cultivate the social art of tango dancing in Buenos Aires, the perception that the world out there can’t have enough of Argentine tango dancers. The sudden explosion of the Argentine tango around the world has shaken the fundamental essence of the personal interrelation of a man and a woman engaged in a sensual embrace enjoying the beat and the melody of one of the thousands of tangos written so they could be appreciated on the dance floor. The success of Forever Tango and Tango x 2, two critically acclaimed stage shows, has captured the imagination of many people and inspired others to consider tango dancing. Unfortunately, these shows and the ones tourists catch in Buenos Aires, do not have disclaimers that say, “warning, the performers on stage are professionals and they have trained for years to execute the breathtaking choreography you are watching. Please do not attempt to imitate, emulate or try these stunts at home.”

Occasionally unscrupulous performers may hustle students by showing off at a local milonga, however, show dancers in Buenos Aires show up at the milongas to dance with that unmistakable look and feel of the well known and the not so well known Argentinos who dance every beat and every silence of the music with understated simplicity. While traveling abroad these professionals occupy their free time taking ballet or modern dance classes, they go to the gym to stay in shape, they attend yoga classes, they shop and above all, they rehearse every day to be ready to deliver every night a top notch performance. Many who have enjoyed and loved these performances, appreciate the work ethics and the social manners of the talented show dancers. They also value the increased awareness for the tango these shows create. Yet, in some American cities some aggressive women and some insensitive men lie to themselves by professing a passion for the dance and a religious admiration for that unmistakable look and feel of the Argentinos who dance on the floor. Then they fall for the latest fad, they “ooh-and-aah” at the latest contraption that hits the dance floor and they enact their denial by becoming amateur performers on the social floor.

This can be very intimidating for those who feel the attraction for the dance at the social level, and annoying for those who are working hard on learning the techniques and methods to circulate on the dance floor; to develop a good and comfortable posture; to feel the floor under their feet; to attempt to master the art of improvisation; above all to care and mind the person they are holding in their arms. These are the people who are missed the most when they decide to stay home. These are the people who form the core of the most enjoyable milongas and the ones who deserve the best music, the best teachers, and the best dance floors. The one who appreciate the best information and earn our deepest gratitude for keeping the tradition alive and letting the tango change their lives without pretending to change the tango.

When they go, it’ll be time to turn the lights off. Then across America we will have more “legends” and “world’s most popular” hustlers encouraging an uptight and repressed society to become tango hot dogs. Please, pass the mustard…

Reasons to be thankful   Leave a comment

Reasons to be thankful

By Alberto Paz
November 1997

November is turning out to be a banner month for Argentine tango in this country. Take for example the successful run of Forever Tango on Broadway which has already been extended until March 1998. Or look at the sensational US Tour of Tango x 2 through many cities across the nation crowned by a first class stop in New York City for the US premiere of Una Noche de Tango, a brilliant production that pays homage to the generation of milongueros that kept the tango alive through years of fierce competition with rock and roll and a frail economy that almost brought Argentina to its knees.
This month a constellation of Tango dance stars are shining bright in the USA tango firmament. Add to that the opening of Sally Potter’s The Tango Lesson starring Pablo Veron, Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas, Carlos Copello and Alicia Monti, and the soon to be released documentary Tango: the Obsession by Adam Boucher, a young San Franciscan who spent two and half years capturing the sights and sounds of the men and women of Buenos Aires tango.

That’s plentiful enough to be thankful for when the turkey comes to the table at dinner on Thanksgiving day.

But, in terms of giving thanks, nothing comes first but our own deepest and heartfelt appreciation to you, who subscribe to our passion and who share our emotions. Month to month, without realizing it, we have crossed the three year mark and we are already one fourth of the way to our fourth anniversary of publication. It all happened because of you, who grew fond of El Firulete, (sometimes you may have gotten jilted by controversy and heated debate, but you recognized our commitment to excellence). In either case, with your support you told us to keep it up, you praised our work many times, you supported our events, and above all you opened your arms to us on every occasion that we had the chance to see each other.

So it is proper and fulfilling to say “thanks” to you.

This is also a good time to thank all of those who have provided a place so we could all dance and to those who played the music while we danced. Thanks to those who danced with us and to those who danced for us and to those for whom we danced.

This issue is very special because it came about across three time zones, from the sunny Golden State to the nippy North East. We are always obsessed with and dedicated to the tango and everything that, and everyone who surrounds it. We believe that the Argentine tango is a living experience and that both young and old have something to contribute. Wherever you might be, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and many good tangos to you and those with whom you share them.

A time for recognition   Leave a comment

A time for recognition

By Alberto Paz
June 1998

We have become so enthralled with everything that publicizes and promotes the Argentine Tango to the general public that we have failed to pay attention to a very damaging flaw on the spin that is being placed on the description of the dance for the general audience.

Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango recent appearance at AN EVENING AT POPS, at Symphony Hall in Boston was a major achievement. Now, in anticipation of the national broadcast of the program, we read that born in the bars and bordellos of Argentina a century ago, the tango is described by show creator Bravo as “a way of life.”

Given the exotic appeal of the dance, it would be easy to infer that tango as a way of life means to act and behave like pimps, johns and prostitutes. Sadly, some do; poignantly, a notorious few carry out the beguiling practice of sleeping their way to dubious fame with every willing visitor traveling under the guise of a tango personality, regardless of their age.

This notoriety is so unfair for the thousands of respectable, distinguished and passionate men and women who, every day in every city, embrace with respect, affection and enjoyment the ritual of tango dancing. They are, for all practical purposes, responsible for the huge success that the Argentine tango is enjoying worldwide. They take classes, buy videos and CDs, attend workshops, travel to tango events and support all activities that heighten the awareness of the tango to wider sectors of our society. Remarkably they do it unassumingly, with the conviction of a true believer.

Unfortunately, sex sells even if it is gift wrapped under the seductiveness of an exotic dance and the promise of the ultimate experience. That is the price that a free society has to afford in order to enjoy many other freedoms and choices. I suggest that a cancer survives when it finds cells unaware of the ravishing consequences of its power of destruction. The magnificent body that constitutes a tango community needs to exercise its choice to reject the pernicious elements who debase the beauty and charm of the milonga as a pleasurable place for social encounter and gratification.

Luis Bravo and Forever Tango, who over the past few years have provided employment for hundreds of dancers, musicians, technicians and personnel of all ages, while offering a product of the highest quality, deserve the recognition and accolades that the critics and public have bestowed upon them, not because some like to portray them as promoters of low life bordello stereotypes, but because of their sheer talent, impeccable work ethics and relentless pursuit of excellence in the delivery of a production of the highest quality. They deserve our loudest cheers and applause.

The time for recognition and appreciation for the countless young men and women, middle-age housemates and incredibly youthful grand parents from our tango communities, who open their arms and hearts to give us many very special “three minutes” of elegance, poise, and charm in a setting of decor and respect, is also largely overdue.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH ALBERTO PAZ AND VALORIE HART   1 comment

A testimony by Jean-Pierre Sighé
April 2, 2006

I met Alberto and Valorie during the Winter of 1998, in California . I had just made the decision to learn Argentine Tango, after going to the show “Forever Tango” twice in San Francisco and watching the movie “The Tango Lesson” by Sally Potter. I needed someone from the Culture of Argentina to teach me Tango, as I had intuitively sensed how deep Tango seemed to touch the different delicate layers of the human emotions.

Someone had given me their phone number. I called and during the preliminary introduction, I explained the reason of my call: “I needed someone to teach me Tango, but more than the steps. I wanted to understand the “Culture” behind the moves”. After his delighting usual chuckle, he said: “Well…you found me. I think I can teach you what you’re looking for”. These words marked the opening of a marvelous door to my quest.

The first lesson consisted in Walking and… Walking, with no reference to any figure. I had to learn how to keep my partner in front of me, therefore, learn how to “negotiate” curving and straight paths. “Tango is a walking danceAlberto said. Little did I understand at the time all the profound implications of that comment. Confident I was, sensing I was studying with someone who knew what he was doing.

After several months of private and semi-private lessons, Alberto and Valorie encouraged me to start going to the milongas to dance. The dance floor is the place where my many lessons taken, would show, they kept saying.

About 6 months later, as I signed up for the Nora’s Tango week-end (a major Tango event in the San Francisco Bay Area in July) I began to realize how fortunate I had been to study with Alberto and Valorie. I had been very well prepared to understand the instructions of other great tango Masters such as Fabian Salas, Carlos Gavito, Tito…etc. that I encountered at the event and later on, studied with.

I had NEVER had to go back and unlearn or correct anything Alberto and Valorie have taught me. For that I will be forever grateful to them. In the world where many delve and stagnate in so much fantasies and half information dispensed by people who have not yet studied long enough and yet want to be “teachers”, it means a lot to find the right Master Teachers such as Alberto and Valorie, from the very first neophyte’s steps.

To Teach is also to express Love. It is a gift and a talent. I was very impressed with Alberto’s ability to go into my mind and explain to me a difficulty I was experiencing. He was thus able to help me identify the problem and therefore put me in a better position to correct it. Infinitely patient, Alberto and Valorie NEVER looked at their watch to “check the time” of the lesson. I remember one day where I was so enthusiastic about a subject we were studying, that I kept working on it and asking questions, over and over. At some point, Valorie went to the kitchen for a quick brake. I continued with Alberto for a while. Then, Alberto walked toward the couch, slumped onto it with his hands resting on his head. At that moment, Valorie came out of the kitchen and Alberto, looking at her said with a very calmed and exhausted voice : “I think we’ve created a monster!” She burst out laughing. I quickly realized…checked my watch and (Oh my God!) we had been working for over two hours already, for a lesson that was meant to last one hour. I too laughed, apologized for my “stubborn focus” and departed shortly after to allow my teachers some rest.

That availability of a Teacher, that Love expressed tirelessly for the student, has marked me forever. There is an indescribable joy in helping a student receive the information and to see that information take shape in his/her mind. The length of time it takes to accomplish the goal does not matter anymore. That is the modus operandi of Alberto and Valorie.

Very attached to the historical accuracies, Alberto opened my eyes to many facts about Argentine Tango. He is the one who made me realize the contribution that the African descents in Buenos Aires , along with the Italian, Spanish and Indian, had brought to the birth of Tango. After the class, it was customary to sip a cup of tea, graciously offered by Valorie, in the kitchen of their wonderful house (I called it ‘The Temple of Tango”, because everything in that house was breathing Tango). During that special time, casual comments often helped me open my heart more to the Argentinean spirit.

Alberto and Valorie gave me a gift of a priceless value, an added life lasting joy to my existence: the experience of Tango. They opened a window on the garden of my soul to let more rays of the sun and more warmth of Love rush in. Thank you!