Must the tango Dance be linked to the Music-Tale?
* illustration credit:Taste4tango.net
These thoughts were “provoked” by reading a fellow tanguero’s Facebook status in which he was wondering where he could find more inspiration for his dance. I wanted to answer right there on the spot – telling him that I get plenty of inspiration from the “tale of the music” – but, in the end, it came out to this…
Must the tango Dance be linked to the Music-Tale?
I’ve noticed in plenty of dancers (and I am talking about great names) that even though “the Tale” is missing, nonetheless, the Dance is present.
There are great dancers that Lead-the-Dance (movement) and there are great dancers that Lead-the-Music (tale).
Pablo Veron, for example, Leads the Dance. I believe this is a top dance form (maybe the highest there is).
Carlitos Espinoza would probably be at the other end. He leads the music. The tale of the music is visible, tangible, fluid, danced, lived, connected.
In the middle, in a place of “compromise“, would probably sit Chicho – a king of rhythm, an Angel. On the same level we could place Godoy – A Demon, a devil, the Rhythm Itself. Godoy seems to ride the music just as a mythical character would majestically ride a devilish dragon, comfortably sitting in the saddle until the dragon (the rhythm) would come down tamed. Godoy masters and tames the rhythm.
Lead-the-dance Dancers: Organic Lead of Movement in Couple
Judging by the dance-movements complexity and the lead-follow organic flow standards, the first form is definitely “the ultimate” and these are the main characteristics defining dancers who “lead-the-dance-movement” (movements complexity and lead-follow organic flow).
They are expressive, very organic and comfortable in doing complex and very difficult dance-movements. Their dance is concentrated on/in the organic lead of the movement in the couple. The dance-structures, the “steps” are at a hyper level and almost impossible to be “reproduced” in the dance of someone following the “tale of the music”.
Lead-the-dance Dancers: highly expressive stage dance-art like
The movement is relaxed, powerful, expressive. The connection of the couple with its own movements (which become a highly expressive dance) is also at its peak – theatre / movie / stage dance-art like level.
Story-Tellers: “Supreme” level of connection with the music
Looking at the dance of the “story-tellers”, we could say it is most of the time much, much simpler: the “steps”, dance-structures, “tricks” are simple(r), basic but highly concentrated with “substance”, with tales. What defines them is the “ultimate” level of connection with the music.
Their dance is (also) organic because the “steps” are simple, but mainly because the lead-follow level is close to zero. The couple is “lead-followed” by The Music Itself (the music tale) and, given these circumstances, all that is needed for the dance to happen is for them – the couple – to just be there, to be present; characters in the ongoing events of the story. The Music (the tale) will take care of the rest carrying them here and there, wherever “the plot” would place them.
Taletellers: the fantastic heroes of the Tale!
For these “taletellers”, not only there is no movement surpassing the music (to go “off the music” would just be like a rude awakening from a beautiful dream, or… like a banishment from Heaven), but, from their perspective, there’s really not too much of a movement at all, period! The couple will surreally “float”, fluidly, effortlessly, across the dance because, in fact, it is not really there; him and her (the couple!) are the fantastic heroes of the Tale.
Movement-Tale vs. Music-Tale vs. Dance-Tale
I’d say that dancers from the first category dance the movement-tale while the others dance the music-tale.
Those in the middle (placed in “Purgatory”) are both organic and musical, they go inside the “tale” but “lead-follow” the dance as well. Let’s say that they “lead the dance-tale”.
Dance-Tale Dancers: not just Characters but Creators!
This type of dancers would best be described as following: they are not 100% in the first category, neither in the second, but maybe they harvested what’s best (or what suites them) from both. Well! There I said it! A bit of a nonsense but there is no proper way to put it.
Because they like “the tale” (or parts of it), but they’re also very good “lead-the-dance-movement” dancers, they are capable to integrate (quite organically) movements, dance-structures, difficult and highly difficult “steps” in a tale-frame that ultimately becomes DIFFERENT.
They allow themselves to be lead by the music, but also “intervene” by adding lead-follow “inputs”. The OBVIOUS fact is that many times they DOMINATE, they SUBJECT the music. They are not just “characters” but really “creators”.
Lead the Dance-Tale Dancers: Angels or Demons Subjecting the Music
These dancers can be Angels or Demons, but the degree in which they dominate (subject) the music is pretty significant. The dance will thus be spectacular, esthetical, abundant in musically and neatly (organically) performed complex dance-structures and movements.
As a simple dance aficionado I find the dance in the first category a bit “lifeless”, lacking “authenticity”.
As a great fan (addict) of milonga social dance, dancing exclusively the elements of the first category (assuming that I would ever even get there), would deprive me of what I consider a proper musical dance in the couple, for the couple, for Milonga.
These being said, it really doesn’t mean that I should ever stop from discovering and revealing its incredible value: for practice, for study, for aesthetic, for organic-movements purposes.
So… Where to find Inspiration?
I have always found my inspiration (and, many times… perspiration) in the music tale.
If the music tells me something then my body will be able to “offer” movement to the couple, to “offer” stories, tales, ideas, inspiration, spontaneity… lead-follow.
So, I consider myself closer to “leading-the-music” and, respectively, to “leading-the-dance-tale” forms (last two categories) when I dance socially, but “leading-the-dance” should be considered as a complete and highly-sophisticated form, best for study and practice.
See you on the Ronda!
Cristian Dumitru – Romania
Who is Cristian Dumitru?
Tango addict for a little bit more than 6 years. Teaching tango to first-level and intermediate-level students for more than 4 years. Dancer in “Un Tango Mas” Odeon Theatre dance play.