Tango has heart

I met Victorio Pujia, guitarist and dancer,  during my first visit to Buenos Aires in 1996.  He gave music seminars for dancers and currently lives in Italy with his family.  He has something important to say to tango dancers.

We know tango arose as a way of dancing, that dancers adopted milonga as  their favorite rhythm to dance tango.  Musicians adapted milonga to the needs of the dancers and so tango-milonga was born, from which tango and milonga portena came.

You need only three things to dance (at least a popular dance): a complete and functioning body; a floor; and dance music.

The dance music is the one that gives you the urge to dance.  Its tempo is andante moderato.  Its tempo is close to our heart beat.  Its compas is close to the pace of walking. Its phrases are close to the rhythm of breathing.  Then the body comes in touch with a sympathetic vibe, and we suddenly feel like dancing.

And the music that moves the body affects our emotions, and the dancer translates those emotions into movement.  The dancer is a musician whose instrument doesn’t produce sound, only movement.  He’s the one translating music into movement, with the emotion he feels from the music.

Tango is not a mechanical dance.  A tango dancer varies his choreography and the rhythm he does figures.  He performs not only the rhythmical aspect of music, but the melodic as well — the shape, tension and dramatic sense of music.

For the milonguero viejo, music is above all.  He doesn’t perform steps just because he knows how to.  He chooses them to express what he gets from the music in the best way he can.  He’s a music lover; he loves, knows, searches, enjoys and dances it.

Music is the dancer’s best ally.  When the language of choreography connects to the music, it becomes larger; when it doesn’t connect, it’s nothing. When the dancer interprets the music correctly, he becomes an artist.  When he doesn’t, he becomes a gymnast.  Steps alone lead to the gym.  Steps in accord with the music lead to art.

Bodies become one in the embrace, space unifies all on the floor, physical support of the body and movement.  Time is with the music, a temporal support of movement.

In Argentina, education is going through a crisis, and music is often put aside.  Many people arrive to dance lacking musical education.  This makes the teaching and learning of a dance very difficult.  Our education system (general, as well as artistic) leaves many things to the responsibility of the learner — what a school doesn’t offer,  you have to look for elsewhere on your own.

You can have tango without technique, but you can’t have tango without heart.  And the heart of the dancer beats to the rhythm of the music.

Victorio Pujia

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2 Responses to “Tango has heart”

  1. Chris Says:

    We know tango arose as a way of dancing, that dancers adopted milonga as their favorite rhythm to dance tango.

    Opinions vary.

  2. tangomonkey Says:

    “When the dancer interprets the music correctly, he becomes an artist. When he doesn’t, he becomes a gymnast. Steps alone lead to the gym. Steps in accord with the music lead to art.”

    Many excellent points are made in that short article.

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