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Saturday, 30 January 2010

In need of a pick-me-up? Try a vals or two!

What makes the tango vals unique? Are there elements in vals music that distinguishes it from Viennese waltz, or are they the same but we simply dance them differently?

Joaquin Amenabar, in his book ‘Tango. Let’s dance to the music!’ says: “The tango waltz is not different, from a rhythmic point of view, from the Viennese waltz. They both have a three-beat rhythm".

"The only difference is the speed: the music of tango waltz is faster than the Viennese waltz. It is only for this reason that, whilst in the Viennese waltz one steps on every beat, in the tango waltz we normally step on only the first of three beats – if not we would be dancing too fast.”

He goes on to say that in addition to the simple-time step, we can also make double-time steps. However, we step on two of the three beats – either as 1st & 2nd beat, or 1st & 3rd beat. These can also be interspersed with simple-time beats.

If we are going to dance vals, then we are obliged to step on the strong 1st beat …… then we can choose to introduce double- time steps and pauses in response to the music.

But quite apart from these technical details, we only need to look at the following three clips to see that personal style & personality adds another layer that makes each person’s tango vals unique. The second clip is evidence that, despite Joaquin’s statement, there are also some beautiful slow valses.

The first from Tete and Silvia “Claro de luna” illustrates the sense of freedom and joy that Tete brought to his vals.

The second from Osvaldo & Coca “Con tu mirar” is a lesson on understatement, and it’s worth looking for those elements of rhythm Joaquin talked about.

Thirdly, Roxana Suarez & Sebastián Achaval’s “Pabellon de las rosas” shows a very skilful young couple with wonderful timing & musicality.

Finally, for the classical music buffs, the lyrics of El viejo vals start with the following line: Al lánguido compás de un vals de Chopin, mi amor te confesé ... (Orchestra: Francisco Rotundo, singers: Campos & Ruiz).


Monday, 25 January 2010

Poetry sung out loud

Maybe I've been listening to too much tango for far too long. But lately, I find myself quietly singing along to parts of my favourite tangos that have gradually embedded themselves in my brain. (Too bad, if you happen to be close by!)

Dancing to a tango, vals or milonga, when you know the story, adds an interesting dimension to the dance experience. Hence, the addition to our weblinks of two more tango websites with very good translations of many lyrics. So if you want another perspective to your tango experience, you couldn't go wrong with indulging in a spot of poetry reading while listening to the music.


Monday, 11 January 2010

Tete Rusconi and Osvaldo Zotto

How can we make up for the recent loss of these two great dancers? In short, we can't. They take with them to their graves the essential elements that made Tete's valses unique for their vigour and sense of joy, and the beauty that Osvaldo's precision gave to his dance.

Tete was no doubt dancing as a young man during the Golden Age of tango - think of the great musicians and dancers that contributed to what became Tete's dancing. We saw him often at Maipu 444 and El Beso dancing with the energy of a young man; there was absolutely no doubt that the milonga was a second home to him and that he simply loved to dance.

Our first memories of Osvaldo were from his instructional tapes with Mora Godoy in the late 90s, teaching his viewers precisely where to step & how to lead. Later, we would regularly see him at the Club Sunderland restaurant with his partner Lorena and friend Carlos Gavito; it was very obvious how much he cared for Gavito and no doubt took part of him into his teaching and dancing.

Perhaps there is something we can all attempt to do to make up for this loss in a small way. We can strive to pass on to the next generation of dancers what we have gleaned from these two masters: the joy of tango and its simplicity when danced from the heart.

Here is a glimpse of the irrepressible Tete , Osvaldo with Lorena part 1 and part 2 (unfortunately, the recording of their dance to Indio Manso was divided), and finally Osvaldo in a remarkable solo.


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