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Friday, 5 June 2020

Who was Elvino VARDARO?

"... there was no other violin player like him."

By age 14, Vardaro was playing violin to silent movies and had met Rodolfo Biagi.  At age 17 he was invited to join Juan Maglio's orchestra, followed next year by joining Roberto Firpo.  Then at age 21, in 1922, he joined Pedro Maffia, where he played with Osvaldo Pugliese.

1929 - 1931: The Vardaro-Pugliese Sextet had formed with other prominent musicians, but in 1933 Pugliese left, and Vardaro formed a new sextet that included the 18 year old Aníbal Troilo.  Teh sextet was popular in cafes, cabarets and radio.  In 1938 he briefly payed with Lucio Demare, and in 1942 joined Osvaldo Fresedo's  orchestra where he played for several years.

During 1955- 1961, he alternated playing in the Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Di Sarli orchestras.

Yet, despite a pedigree like this, his sextet made only one test record - Tigre viejo, with the RCA Victor recording company in 1933.  It was deemed of little commercial value (looks like he was ahead of his time), so the disc was given to a member of the sextet.  Eventually his family preserved it in olive oil!  Much later it was cleaned up with Vaseline, and that's what you can listen to below.  Sadly, his sextet did not record any other music.

Michael Lavocah wrote "Tigre viejo is the closest thing to jazz that tango has to offer: six men playing on the edge of their seats, and just about keeping the whole thing on the rails."  See what you think:

The arrangement is quite experimental.  Remember, it was recorded in 1933!  Early in the piece, the sounds of a later Pugliese can be heard (although he was no longer in the sextet for the recording), and later you may pick up elements of Troilo.  Certainly quite jazzy in places.


For more information on Elvino Vardaro:

Monday, 25 May 2020


When I watch some male dancers, particularly some older ones, the term 'rock-solid' often comes to mind.  They seem to be absolutely grounded, totally in control of their bodies, and always with a strong axis.  As a result, their partners appear secure and in doubt where they are going - the leads are clear, signalled in time to allow an accurate, beautiful response, and the couple dance as one.

Watch José Luis Gonzalez.  What are the skills that make him appear rock-solid?

Now watch Luis Anchava

... and Gabriel Missé
Here are some common features with all three men:
  • Posture exudes strength & stability
  • Body moves first and advances strongly
  • They quickly establish a new axis whenever they step or execute a turn
  • They abide by the principle: 'I lead, she responds, I follow her'
  • Calmness throughout
Do you agree? 
Perhaps there are other things that you notice.  If so, comment below.
... and that's quite apart from the magnificent women they are dancing with!


Monday, 11 May 2020

Irresistible Valses

By their nature, valses draw many dancers to the floor - they are rhythm-driven and contain exquisite moments.  But then there are those valses that won't allow red-blooded dancers to remain in their seats.

Here are five valses that I believe are unmissable and unforgettable.  Once you have danced to them, you'll be drawn back to the floor every time they are played.

Rodolfo Biagi Dichas que viví (1939) singer Andrés Falgás dancers Vanessa Villalba & Facundo Piñero.
This couple is sensational!

Juan Maglio Princesa (1931).
Don't you love that teasing introduction .... and the variación at the end?

Francisco Lomuto Idolatr


a (1937) singer Jorge Omar.

Carlos Di Sarli Alma mía (1940) singer Roberto Rufino

Osvaldo Pugliese Desde el alma.
Watch this performance. It was the only time that Pugliese was invited to perform at the Teatro Colón .... in 1985, at the end of his career.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Five tangazos

There are some tangos that totally transport me in a milonga - the body is governed by the heart, which is governed by the music.  No thought of  'steps'.  Each movement is my response to the feeling that the music provokes.  Maybe this is 'entrega' (surrender) - an informed passion discussed in Tango and Chaos.

I'm a lover of D'Arienzo's tangos with singer Echagüe - so much fun and room for improvisation coming from the strength of the rhythm.  However, the following selection of music will tell a story about how I also like to dance.  It was a hard choice, limited to one piece from five orchestras.  It doesn't include unmistakable tangazos from the likes of Caló/Podestá, D'Agostino/Vargas, Tanturi/Campos, etc.  You may wish to add your favourite tangazos to this list.

Carlos di Sarli - singer Roberto Rufino: Griseta 1941 (Lyrics: Poesía de gotán)

Juan D'Arienzo - singer Juan Carlos Lamas: Viejo tintero 1943

Enrique Rodríguez - singer Armando Moreno: Este es tu tango 1945

Aníbal Troilo - singer Alberto Marino: La luz de un fosforo 1943

Osvaldo Pugliese - La tupungatina 1952

… and one that wouldn't fit - Carlos Di Sarli - singer Roberto Florio: Cantemos Corazón 1956, beautifully danced by World Champions 2019 Agustina Piaggio and Maxim Gerasimov

It's interesting to look back at an earlier post Que tangazo! (2010), that drew several comments, illustrating just how personal the declaration "Tangazo!" can be.

Friday, 30 August 2019

The Why, When and How of Feedback

When students talk about a recent difficulty which they've been experiencing in tango, one thing we look at is possible causes in their technique.  However, the unknown factor is what their partner at the time may have been contributing to the issue, especially if the student has come to us alone.

If we ask whether they tried to raise it with the partner (at a practica, or in class)
  • typically ladies will not have done so, for fear of bruising an ego  
  • on the other hand, a few men claim that the man is always at 'fault' when something isn't working in the dance!
Unfortunately, neither approach is likely to result in any improvement.  Clearly, open communication is the key to working out what might be happening and how to resolve it.

But when and how?

That's what practicas and classes are for!  The milonga is not the time.

So, how to broach the subject.  Criticizing your partner's technique presumes that you know best, and is most likely to put him/her on the defensive.  The last thing you want to do is hurt your partner's feelings. You want to find a solution together, not lose a friend.  Here are a few possible strategies:
  • "I feel + sensation + describe when it's happening" (Much more useful than saying "You are doing ...")
  • "Something doesn't seem to working.  Could we look at it together?"
  • Ask a teacher for advice together: "We're not sure what's happening here.  Could you take a look?"
Take a look at Veronica's very insightful article about why most advice you get about your dancing is wrong.

Remember, avoiding the issue doesn't help you nor your partner improve your dance.  For a long-term win-win outcome, approach it constructively and respectfully.


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