Thursday, October 12, 2006

Agony and Resurrection of the ArgentineTango

By Judit Lentijo
English translation by Alberto Paz
Copyright (c) 1998 Judit Lentijo. English copyright (c) 1998-2000 Planet Tango. All Rights Reserved

Brief Reflections About
How to Write The Story Never Told

As soon as I began the task of writing about the revival of the Tango through the dance, I became aware that I was getting myself into a labyrinth which I did not know where it would take me. I had to keep in mind that a deep, yet clear understanding of the rebirth of the Tango could not result from modest quasi arithmetical computations that some musicology experts tend to formulate adding and subtracting papers with notes, underlining without questioning, a bunch of sanitized documents.

This made me recall a question posed to me by an old milonguero, who with total innocence and almost with a sense of admiration asked me one afternoon at the Confiteria Ideal, How are you doing at that place where they study what we do? That brilliant question referring to the National Academy of Tango made me realize that I was about to embark into a trashy allegory of the recent history of the Argentine Tango revival. That is by the way, how Jorge Luis Borges described certain definitions attributed to Juan de Dios Filiberto, the celebrated composer of Quejas de bandoneon, and one of many Tango artists whom Borges detested because of what he called their delusional desire to consider themselves intellectuals.

It was then that I decided to direct my inquires to non-traditional sources, milongueros, disc jockeys, tangologist taxi drivers, the Internet, publications and all other information that could be useful.

There I became conscious that I was stepping into a chaotic zone bigger than all the Cambalaches, put together by all the aspiring Discepolins of the tanguero universe, as if I had brought them together in some delirious fantasy. Not just because there are so many versions of which one is the true Tango as there are tangueros and tangueras, but because the Tango always was and it will continue to be cryptic, marginal and inaccessible. It does not reveal itself all at once and much less to aspiring beginners. The Tango is discovered little by little and like Anibal Troilo said, Tango chooses you. When it does, it gives you a glimpse, but as always, it was, it is and it will be surrounded by a halo of impregnable mystery.

Suddenly, fate or the Tango, which in my case are one and the same, put me across people who helped me unravel the intricate knot. They were people like Carlos Borquez, Eduardo Arquimbau and Elvira Virulazo, all three protagonist dancers and founders of Tango Argentino, and in the case of Borquez and Arquimbau, also part founders of Forever Tango. Individuals like Felix Picherna, the number one DJ in Buenos Aires, who plays or has played the music at Confiteria Ideal, Club Almagro, Pavadita, Maragata and Club Sunderland, and a person who has been almost to all the milongas, who lived the Golden Era, and above all, a human being always ready to help those who share his passion for the Tango.

He and others who requested anonymity, tried to make me be less stupid about the phenomena that I was about to write, and whose copyrights belong to the Great Two Ignored, Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezolli, genial minds behind Tango Argentino, the Show.

Segovia & Orezzolli, the creators...

And these two, who knows them?

Segovia and Orezolli own very prestigious curriculums. Segovia was born in 1938 in Buenos Aires. He is a choreographer graduated from the Visual Arts National Academy. In 1973 he produced his first international show, Baguala, featuring Mercedes Sosa, that played in the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The late Orezolli was born in 1953 in Buenos Aires and studied literature and psychology at the University of Buenos Aires, scenography and wardrobe design at the University of Belgrano and by 1975 he had already worked on the show A Taste of Honey.

Both Segovia and Orezolli had an intimate and profound friendship for over eighteen years and they became artistic partners, being the creators of three international hits, Flamenco puro, Black and Blue and The Incredible Story of Erendira, which they produced for the Teatro Experimental de Paris. They alternated this activity with the creation of shows based on the musical expressions of South America and countless stage designs for the main stages of France, Brazil, Spain and Italy, including Carnaval de Venecia in Aux Provence, France, Peleas y Melisand for the Opera of Madrid and The Seagull for the Opera of Rio de Janeiro.

All of their work had something in common. The two geniuses managed to bring to the stage in its purest forms, the surviving traditions of popular artists whose expressions were in danger of becoming extinct, utilizing the genuine protagonists, like the overweight bailaoras fresh out the tablaos featured as dancers in Flamenco puro. Yet, a project which they had been dreaming about for years, could not find its way into a concrete realization. They were proposing to show the History of the Tango and the lack of corporate or government support did not discourage them from pursuing their dream.

At the beginning of the 80s, the Tango was agonizing in spite of the success experienced by some shows for export featured at prestigious tourists venues like Viejo Almacen, Caño 14 and Michelangelo. This and the already very well known prestige that the names Segovia and Orezolli carried were not enough to find sponsors who would underwrite a show that had been ten years in the making.

During the long decade of waiting, while they continued working with other shows in Europe, Segovia and Orezolli explored all the places where people “lived” the Tango. They inquired about who were the best bailarines argentinos who could also contribute their psique du rol to the characters that they would be asked to play in the show. They looked for orchestras and musicians until they found and transmitted their contagious enthusiasm to Jose Libertella and his Sexteto Mayor, a group that the talented bandoneon player had formed in 1973.

Then in the Fall of 1983 the organizers of the Festival d’Automne en Paris paved the way through their patronage to bring Tango Argentino to the stage for the first time. The show premiered at the Festival d’Automne de Paris 83’ thanks to the sponsorship of one of its directors who made arrangements to have the show play for six days during the event. The new company made its first presentation and immediately achieved an unqualified success that would continue to grow year after year. In 1984, when they returned to Paris, the show had such an impact that it carried on to the Biennial de Venecia in Italy and one could begin to foresee what was coming. In 1985, after a triumphal week at the City Center in New York, Tango Argentino opened on Broadway for what was initially going to be a five week run at the Mark Hellinger Theater. The show was such a hit that it continued to play for the entire season only to be interrupted by a commitment that they had to fulfill in Los Angeles. In 1986 Tango Argentino received two Tony Award nominations.

Zubin Mehta, one of the best orchestra leaders in the world was quoted in TIME MAGAZINE as saying that Tango Argentino had been the best show I had seen this year. The Tangomania had exploded, first invading New York and then expanding its irresistible wave to the rest of the United States, Europe, South America and Japan. The Argentine Tango, like in the 30’s had begun to be danced on all five continents.

The show Tango Argentino continued touring the United States and Canada for three years and in 1987 they returned again to Europe for their third visit to Paris, playing to full houses and initiating a tour that included dozens of cities in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland and Japan (they eventually visited Japan a total of eight times).

In 1989 Segovia and Orezolli took Tango Argentino to London, premiering at the histotric theatre of Mr. Nederlandar, the Aldwich Theatre. They returned in 1991. Tango Argentino, the show beat all box office records around the world playing to full houses until 1992.

At the pinnacle of its success, the run of Tango Argentino came to an end because of several factors. First, it was the brittle behavior of American producer Mel Howard towards the Tango Argentino company. Segovia and Orezolli came to find out among other bigger trickery that Howard had amassed a small fortune by skimming money from the ground transportation costs of the troupe. Apparently he was billing Tango Argentino for a lot more than he was paying the ground transportation service used to move the company around the country.

Forced to sever their association with Mel Howard, Segovia and Orezolli had to find other producers. Then in 1990, the untimely death of Orezolli, who was Segovia's right hand, co-director of the show and the handler of all the financial arrangements, left Segovia in a total state of sorrow and disarray. Alone, he had to learn how to manage the business in unfamiliar terms with the natural fear of making costly mistakes, and as a consequence of that, the presentations of Tango Argentino began to happen farther and farther apart, while on the other hand he continued reaping Tony Awards and critical acclaim with two other shows, Flamenco puro and Black and Blue.

When virtuoso bassist Kicho Diaz passed away in 1992 Segoviafell into a deep state of depression. Diaz had been the foremost contrabass players since the days of the Golden Era when he had been with Anibal Troilo until his participation in Astor Piazzolla's various ensembles. Astor has dedicated his composition Kicho to the late musician.

The final blow to Tango Argentino was provided by the Sexteto Mayor when they betrayed Segovia and negotiated behind his back a more lucrative contract with Hector Zaraspe to participate in a new show named Tango Pasion. Mel Howard's keen business acumen had earned him the exclusive rights to all Tango related shows wanting to play in the U.S. It was Mel Howard who introduced Zaraspe to the Sexteto Mayor. Before jumping ship, Sexteto Mayor and Tango Argentino made their first and only presentation in Buenos Aires, where they played for two weeks at the Gran Rex Theatre in what was going to be, unbeknownst to all involved, the very last time that Tango Argentino would be on stage. Claudio Segovia, overwhelmed and dissapointed by the sum of all the tragedies and intrigues, let the curtain fall for the last time for Tango Argentino and called it quits to realizing his dream of continued presentations of the exceptional show.

Intimacies of a Success

Claudio Segovia loved the Tango since an early age, because his mother made sure he listened to Tango music frequently. Segovia witnessed the success of the most important orchestras in Argentina, and he transmitted that passion for Tango to his life partner Hector Orezzolli, who became an expert in that musical genre. These elements influenced them to become involved in producing the show Tango Argentino.

When they began to plan their project in 1973, the Tango in Buenos Aires was agonizing as a popular expression, and it was doomed to die completely with the last few milongueros still alive.

With the exception of a few neighborhood clubs, where a minority of lower class social dancers continued to dance Tango, the dance itself was disappearing because it was being ignored by the younger generation.

The only professional couples worthy of a mention because of their uninterrupted activity through this period were Juan Carlos Copes & Maria Nieves, Nelida & Nelson, and Hector Mayoral & Elsa Maria Borquez. Their full time dedication and efforts made them the only ones who occasionally would appear on the few Tango programs featured on television. Gloria & Eduardo Arquimbau also were dancing on many films and touring through South America very often.

Buenos Aires had a large number of great Tango dancers, but they were limited to attending the milongas, because Tango dancing was not seen as a source of income for any of them. One exception was a couple who had never appeared on TV, but they danced every night at two or three night clubs and other Tango venues for pennies. They were Elvira Santamaria and Jorge Orcaizaguirre, better known as Elvira and Virulazo.

Segovia and Orezzolli had in mind to alter the perception that people had about dancers. They wanted to demonstrate the influence that this dance had in the culture and history of Argentina from 1880 until 1970. This was reflected in the original concept of Tango Argentino, where one could appreciate each couple's unique interpretation of the dance, and their totally different styles as they reflected the changing ways of the Argentine’s society.

They used the same concept to select the musical score of the show. Songs from as early as 1900 found their place next to 1975 Piazzolla sounds. They had an even deeper purpose. They wanted their show to lead the way to elevate the cache of musical spectacles based on the Tango. These shows were very much coveted by producers, but they practically did not exist because dancers were considered decorations for the benefit of highlighting the orchestras.

To the couples already mentioned, true heavyweights in their craft who nobody could have imagined being on the same stage at the same time, Segovia and Orezzolli later brought in folklore dancers Luciano and Monica and Maria and Carlos Rivarola, who were attracted to Tango by the economic possibilities that Tango Argentino promised. The spectacular vedette Cecilia Narova, trained as a classic dancer also joined the company as a soloist.

But before hiring the dancers, Segovia and Orezzolli set out to search for the best orchestras and musicians. They first talked to Astor Piazzolla, who got very enthused with the project because he wanted a stable contract to work outside Argentina. Piazzolla had had it with the local controversy over whether what he was doing was Tango or not. He demanded from Segovia a guaranteed contract right away. Segovia tried to explain that he still did not have all the backing lined up, that the dancers were still not signed, that there was zero support in Argentina for the project and thus he couldn’t commit to an opening date much a less to a venue for such opening. Segovia would not sign an agreement he knew he couldn’t fulfill at the time.

Piazzolla got very angry, something that was considered normal of him, left for the USA, and remained on nonspeaking terms with Segovia and Orezzolli for a long time.

When his anger passed, Piazzolla called Segovia, but he was greeted with the “thanks but no thanks” news that Anibal Troilo had already been signed for the show. However, the major bandoneon ofBuenos Aires never made it to the stage of Tango Argentino, because he passed away in 1982, a year before the show finally premiered in France.

For this reason, and in homage to Anibal Troilo, Tango Argentino started and ended with Quejas de bandoneon, the Juan de Dios Filiberto classic Tango that Troilo made immortal because of the way he made the bandoneon cry.

Segovia and Orezzolli also discussed the possibility of joining the show with Horacio Salgan, but the pianist did not want to commit his orchestra to a full time job and wound up playing on Tango Argentino as a guest pianist along with guitar player Ubaldo de Lio.

Truly, nobody really believed that Segovia and Orezzolli could come through with the show until they finally ran into Jose Libertella, the director of the Sexteto Mayor, who totally lent his support and ended up directing with Luis Stazo the stable orchestra of Tango Argentino, the Sexteto Mayor from start to finish.

Myths and legends

Many things happened during the eleven years of life of the show Tango Argentino. They make up for a very rich and colorful collection of anecdotes. The chemistry produced by this troupe of dancers, the carefully crafted staging, plus the addition of excellent lighting effects, made the show a transgressor of sorts when, in times of full Technicolor productions, it presented a spectacular array of black and white shapes and forms. The quality of the musicians of the Sexteto Mayor was a key ingredient for the explosive cocktail that resulted in a phenomenal success.

The costumes were also mostly black. Segovia, meticulously bought original pieces of lingerie from 1900-1920. The combination of black garments and black lights that enhanced the white tones, was not accidental. Segovia and Orezzolli wanted to synthesize on stage all the implicit dramatic qualities of the Tango, focusing on the man of Buenos Aires, who is rather taciturn, secretly idealistic, but also has a devastating sense of humor which is the other face of the coin of pessimism that the Tango conceals. All the aesthetic and the plot of the musical production, tried to extol, through the Tango dance and the Tango songs, the first wound of exclusion and the collapse of illusions, which Discepolo so well had expressed in his lyrics.

To be able to obtain this milieu it was also necessary to have the very important presence of Jean -Luc Don Vito, a talented makeup professional who is capable, with his brushes, of adding or taking twenty years off the facial features of any artist. Last but not least was the sublime contribution of the Sexteto Mayor. Yet, fundamentally, it was the performance of the dancing couples that captivated the public’s imagination, reintroducing a dance where the man once again played his machismo role and the couples embraced each other in an erotic ritual full of an irresistible aesthetic beauty.

The one single factor that sets apart Tango Argentino from any other show of its kind, was Hector Orezzolli’s knack for sensing the most seductive characteristics of each dancer, and Claudio Segovia’s ability to emphasize those traits in each performance. Case in point of singer Elba Beron, who was a declared bisexual and appeared on stage dressed as a man singing the Tango Uno.

Dancer Nélida liked to display her body and her costumes left very little to the imagination.

Virulazo, “played” the role of Virulazo, the butcher, and he loved to hit Elvira on the buttocks at the end of their number. Once in París he dislocated her hip.

Beyond the technique, the pairs seduced because they danced a “credible” Tango, the same kind of Tango that they would dance at the milongas in Argentina when giving an exhibition or participating in a competition. On the stage, the couples competed fiercely with each other trying to be the best, just as in the milongas. Only the competition was taking place on the best stages of the world. This made the public feel that it was possible for them to dance Tango. It was the antithesis of Tango “for export”. It was the authentic Argentine Tango.

The dancers realized, perhaps without knowing it, what all artists dream about, to be authentic salesmen of illusions, only that in this case the illusion was based on the reality. Although the Tango being shown had its quota of exhibition, the public raved about the Argentine Tango and with some of its protagonists. Take Elsa Maria Borquez for example, who with her partner Hector Mayoral managed to transmit a mysterious mixture of eroticism, sensuality and elegance. She was critically acclaimed both in Europe and on Broadway, so when a famous jeweler gave her a diamond necklace as a present, Segovia had to hide it, albeit of incurring the wrath of the other females in the cast, like in the times of the movie star divas and their white telephones.

The original cast that opened in Paris in 1983 was integrated by Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves, Mayoral and Elsa Maria Borquez, and Nélida and Nelson, the only three professional couples that existed in those years, because Tango was not a business. Virulazo and Elvira were milongueros. Luciano, who allegedly invested some money in the production, and Mónica, were folklore dancers as were the Rivarolas who switched to Tango when they heard the casting call for Tango Argentino. Cecilia Narova was a soloist dancer. The personnel was expanded in 1985 to eight couples, with the incorporation of Gloria and Eduardo, and the Dinzels.

This unusual combination of talent and so many different personalities produced a chemistry, that drove audiences crazy when they premiered and later toured around Europe. Tango Argentino toured uninterruptedly the United States and Canada for three years after that until in 1987 when they returned again to Europe. They made their third visit to Paris, working to standing room only and undertaking a tour that included a dozen cities in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, and Japan.

In Japan an episode took place that was covered by all the news services around the world except in Argentina. As it was customary in all the countries where Tango Argentino appeared, on opening night the audiences included outstanding personalities, government officials and chief executives. In Japan, Emperor Hirohito and the Empress broke a thousand year old tradition (because they were considered Gods, they could not be approached by any mortal closer than fifteen yards) when they went to greet Carlos and Ines Borquez in their dressing room, and danced a few steps with them. Stupefied by the scene, the flashes of the press photographers wildly went off.

Shall We Tango or Shall We Cook?

In 1986, the company had its second premiere.

The Tango Argentino show that smashed box office records on Broadway did not have anything to do with the one that had been shown in Paris, and the one that the rest of the world was going to see again. Everything began, when the North American audiences reacted with loud applause to occasional jumps and the exaggerated flying of the legs. Hector Mayoral was the first one to fall for the extra applause and he began to stray off the script. It could be said that this was the birth of Acrobatic Tango, or better yet rebirth, since El Cachafaz used to do it in 1920. Mayoral put Elsa Maria's head against the floor, and his fellow dancers baptized this figure, The Roasted Chicken.

It did not take much for the rest of the dancers to follow suit and the cast entered in the aberrant trend of circus tango, except for Juan Carlos Copes, (paradoxically, since he was the creator and one of the best exponents of the so-called Tango Ballet) who, in a stoic fight with himself, was the one that more energetically fought against the “jumping craze” and managed to stick almost totally to the original choreography. But the rest of the dancers entered in a ferocious competition to see who jumped higher, to the extent that they reached a point when more than dancers, they seemed trapeze artists.

Segovia and Orezzolli had to stop the presentations for four months of rehearsals (sprinkled with shouts and threats), to get the couples to go back to dancing with their feet “on the floor”, since the act had to return to Paris. The Tango Argentino that had dazzled the European audiences did not have anything to do with the one that they had shown in the USA. In Europe they danced with the feet stuck to the floor, so to return to the roots, they called on Antonio Todaro and Lampazo, who had already consulted for the company in 1983, and were at the time giving classes in Europe.

Perpetuating a myth

Many couples passed through Tango Argentino, and many myths and legends have been perpetuated ever since. Like the one that says that Juan Carlos Copes was the creator of Tango Argentino.

It would be very unfair to deny the preponderant merit and role that Juan Carlos Copes had in the diffusion of Tango around the world, since he was the first to travel to the USA in 1973 producing Tango shows, paving the way for many dancers and also Tango Argentino. This cost him the mortgage of his house, since the money that he made abroad, was reinvested in the production of shows in Buenos Aires (without any support as usual) and customarily lost it there, because in the birthplace of Tango, the market was almost nonexistent. In spite of his the economic loses, he continued doing it until 1983, when he joined Tango Argentino.

In all myth, there is a portion of truth. Segovia, admired and continues admiring Juan Carlos Copes, because of his intuitive choreographic originality. On this subject he said, In the beginning of the show, Copes requested to be the choreographic director. I said to him that I was open to his ideas, and that I did not have any problem to show his name as choreographer on the programs, but I would be the one that would make the decisions and would have the last word, so I was the Director of Choreography. This was the initial agreement, until the original couples first (Mayoral and Elsa Maria, Gloria and Eduardo, Virulazo and Elvira and Nélida and Nelson, all with a very strong and defined personality), and all the rest later, began to create their own choreography. Elsa Maria said very fittingly, can you imagine Virulazo, an ex-butcher who exploited that image on stage, dancing a choreography created by Dinzel? Copes contributed with precise things pertaining to the Tango Ballet.

Everything was cool, until 1986, when Tango Argentino was nominated twice for the Tony Awards. One of the nominations was for Best Choreography.

All the couples showed their claws, since in fact, the Award belonged to all of them. It was decided then, that the choreography would appear as of that moment, as creations of each couple. In spite of the unanimous decision, Copes showed up by himself to receive the nomination. There was a struggle and Copes was red carded for four months. But the myth was already born and to this day he continues giving himself credit for the creation of Tango Argentino. Was it a misunderstanding or another example of native street sagacity? Well, to corroborate this fable, he has used as proof of his claims, its appearance in some programs of 1987, as Segovia’s Adviser of Choreography, whereas the rest of the dancers appeared as choreographers since the choreography belonged to each one of them. Said Claudio Segovia, Copes had requested to have his name in the program that way so he could raise his cachet when he returned to Buenos Aires during tour breaks. Segovia acceded, without imagining for a moment that the “title” would be used to continue perpetuating the myth. When Segovia was asked why he put up with all that, he smiled and said, his talent more than compensated for all that pettiness.

The Superiority of the Brilliantine

This is the headline of a review that Jann Parry of the Sunday Observer wrote in May of 1991, the day after Tango Argentino opened at the Aldwich Theatre in London. But also it seems to be the real reason for the abrupt departure of the Dinzels from Tango Argentino.

In most human groups, the irritating ego of its members always creates conflicts. Much more when the members of that group are artists.

The Dinzels, like Luciano and Monica and Nélida and Nelson were folklore dancing professionals that had learned to dance Tango when they found out that Segovia and Orezzolli were looking for Tango dancers for a show. At the company meetings, there was an unwritten rule that said that the women were “invisible” and silent (what else is new?). Gloria Dinzel broke the code interrupting the meetings to complain loudly, always creating a very conflicting climate. Because of their abrasive soberbia (an obnoxious brand of arrogance) and Gloria’s extremely superstitious nature, the Dinzels became the target of practical jokes. The rest of the troupe began taking small retaliating actions. As they fell for the pranks, the “ jokes “ increased. The proverbial drop that broke the glass fell one day when the Dinzels discovered, when putting on their dance shoes, that they were full of gomina (in fact it was a very strong American gel and their feet got stuck to their shoes). In the middle of an attack of nerves, they left the company fifteen minutes before the curtain time, swearing to never return, accusing their associates of having put the “brilliantine “ in their shoes with malice and treachery. When confronted with this incident, those who were there say that the Dinzels’s claims could never be verified, since the mentioned shoes, were next to the mirror, and anybody can do a traspie (or have a bottle of gomina fall in) in their life. (Ed. Note: the author makes reference to a proverb sung in the lyrics of a popular tango that says, “un tropezon cualquiera da en la vida,” which philosophically advises people to take life’s adversities with a grain of salt. The joke still goes on).

The rest of the cast had to cover their absence the best they could and they saved the situation ironically because of the “great professionalism and training” they had. The next day, when Segovia asked the Dinzels to return until suitable replacements could be found, Miguel Angel Zotto, who had studied with Rodolfo Dinzel and had been brought to the show by him, headed a mutiny, supported by Eduardo Arquimbau and Virulazo, and threatened to leave the show if a vote in favor for the return of the Dinzels would prevail.

Carlos Borquez, who considered the attitude of the Dinzels terrible, but thought Zotto’s behavior to be excessive and treasonous since he had been brought in by Dinzel, abstained. The rest lowered their thumbs and the Dinzels were history.

Rock and Roll Compadrito

Speaking of Miguel Angel Zotto, he took care of creating another myth that many obsequious people love to repeat. That is that Miguel Angel Zotto was a milonguero, when in fact, he was an excellent dancer of rock and roll, that occasionally danced a tanguito in the clubs in his neighborhood. He came to Tango Argentino "sold" to Segovia and Orezzolli as a Tango dancer by Rodolfo Dinzel, since he had given him some classes. Zotto did not have the most remote idea of how to create a choreography and he only knew how to make some figures of Tango. The ones that removed las papas del horno, that is saved his day, according to Claudio Segovia, was his partner, Milena Plebs, who at the time was his wife, a graduate of the Theater Colon’s Dance Company, and Virulazo, who befriended Miguel Angel Zotto, and taught him and helped him a lot.

There was an excessive use of grandstanding showy attitudes by artists who being applauded on the most important stages of the world, gave more importance to the approval of their perceived adversaries. The rivals were no other than the members of that same fauna formed by the habitues at the milongas. It makes one wonder if it is part of an Argentino identity or is it something inherited from the compadritos, the bullies that (as Jose Gobello likes to say) none of those who are alive, have never seen or known.

The arrival of Zotto and Borquez brought about a major change in a code that until then had been “untouchable”, that no Tango couple ever passed their own choreography to someone else. Virulazo and Mayoral became the "padrinos" of Zotto and Borquez respectively, and turned them into their fighting cocks by transmitting to them their yeites (the closely guarded secrets of every dancer) and converting them into staunch enemies,

When the Dinzels left, they were replaced by Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs. When Mayoral and Elsa Maria also left, they were followed by Carlos and Ines Borquez. Mayoral and Elsa Maria had passed them their choreography of La Yumba. But only because Segovia wanted a pair that danced it just like Mayoral and Elsa Maria did. Carlos is Elsa Maria's brother.

Carlos Borquez, held three months, dancing something that he did not feel, until he could not take it anymore, and spoke with Segovia about it. Segovia agreed to see Borquez’s version of La Yumba, and was fascinated. The choreography received international critical acclaim.

From this point on, Tango dancers began copying other dancers’s choreography.

Climbing Towards Fame

This is literally what Pablo Verón, of The Tango Lesson fame used to do. Veron had joined Tango Argentino in 1989, in Paris. In addition to dancing Tango, he had another passion, mountain climbing. To practice, Pablo Verón climbed the walls from his dressing room two floors to the stage, and entered through a window. Evidently, these climbing practices worked to his benefit, since after his passage from Tango Argentino, he reached international fame when he was signed by Sally Potter for the co-starring role in her film The Tango Lesson. That contributed to add new followers from among those that still had not been seduced by the Tango, and to elevate Pablo Verón, dancer and climber, to stardom.

Dance a Tango Jean Luc...

Jean-Luc Don Vito, the talented makeup artist of Tango Argentino, was born in France where he studied both the sciences and the arts. Jean-Luc, not only used his capacity to characterize everybody and turn them into whoever they wanted to be with his brushes, he also amused himself and amused the whole company with his occurrences, appearing, for example, every day disguised like some different famous personage, like Madonna or Lady Di. He alone was in charge of everything, from wardrobe to the hairstyles of the couples. Much of the impact of Tango Argentino is owed to his genius.

And such a genius he was, that one day in 1989, in Germany at the Fibel Theater, he appeared dressed as Cecilia Narova, in her role as Milonguita, a character of one of the vignettes who dances with the prototype of the Argentino macho, played by Juan Carlos Copes. When the moment arrived for the scene, the solo dancer who partnered Juan Carlos Copes, was Jean-Luc instead of Cecilia. He did it so well, that neither Copes, Segovia nor the public found out. These were “ private pranks “, and this anecdote can be verified, because Carlos Borquez filmed Jean-Luc, while he was being disguised and when he entered the stage.

Judit Lentijo

Judit Lentijo researches the cultural and social aspects of the Tango. She is enrolled at the Licel Superior del Tango of the Academia Nacional del Tango. She dedicates her first work to the Academia, with a special appreciation to Ricardo Horvath, who impressed upon her an undeniable passion for the truth.

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