Sunday, October 15, 2006

Longing Resistance

The struggle between longing and resistance is in the scene above. She is looking and he is looking away. She is longing for a close embrace, he won't get up. Now, she shifts her position. Should there be a reason for it ? For turning it into a duel? Apparently, a passion has to have a dark, dangerous side. Strong inner feelings and compelling drama are needed to make it intense realistic. Drama appeals to fantasy and imagination. In movies, sex that has no dramatic context carries little or no erotic input. It is well known that eroticism draws its powerful pleasure from fascination with the hidden, the mysterious, the suggestive. To get the desired reaction, curiosity must be turned on. Thus, seducing tricks come in, they make people get up. Seduction is about the imaginary and the creative use of weakness. It is about wetting the right appetite.

Who is the most weak in the game of seduction? The seducer obviously thinks he is the active party but in fact is in bondage to the seducee, in slavery. The genuine seducer has to devote all his attentions to the seduction for a period to accomplish the seduction, and in the process, is effectively enslaved by the seducee until the seduction is successful. In pictures, melting away in a seductive embrace after a lot of suspense, is such a successful happy end.

Choose Me

On stage, passions are acted out dramatically. Off stage, the drama is behind the curtain. Beyond the romantic "hold me", is the competitive "choose me". In the tango dance hall settings, people invite each other by making eye-contact and an approving nod of the head, cabeceo la cabeza. In the Buenosairian boliches de tango, single men are sitting on one side, single women at the opposite side, and the couples are left and right of them. As the cortina starts, which is a short time interval between a set of tangos, everyone returns to the tables and is making and avoiding eye contact, selecting each other and forming new dance couples. When being the most looked at, you can look around and choose someone by giving the approving nod. Being the most chosen or looked at, can give an overwhelming feeling of being the most wanted. When not being the chosen one and watching romantic scenarios that don't include you, can whip up a jealousy which heats up the rivalry.

Close Embrace

Some say that what we desire is the desire of the other, that seduction is about wanting to be desired. As we soften in the embrace of the other, especially the one we have seduced into giving in, our active desire is to be desired. It is a reason why the close embrace dance hold in tango Estilo Milonguero has such a great impact. The close embrace symbolizes the "hold me" more strongly than an open dance hold. It dramatically increases the feeling of being desirable.

The close embrace or Apilado in tango is also a musical embrace. The encounter in an abrazo is a living moment, less a rigid freeze posture. The close embrace has an open side, between the bodies is a significant angle. It is a diagonal position, a triangle. Inside that opening grows the dance dialogue, on the embodied space between the dancers. The dancers don't really melt together as in a slow, there is no "transcendence" between the contradictions, they come out as in a duel. When the potential space is polluted, that is, dominated too strongly by one side, there is no creativity, no play, no space for experience. As a dancer is more than an organism that merely reacts to sensory information, he has to have some space to make a musical interpretation. Thus, also the music can be too dominant, having to much overstatements. To get a personal touch, there must be an internal rather than external trigger for action. What does the music creates in me now? For this, the narrative line must carry the minimum, not the maximum is necessary for the effect.

The point is that the music and the dancers make a triangle. It is as if the music comes into the opening of the close embrace. It's a sensual trio and each party has his own narrative line. The gestures of the dancers are contrasts of character within a musical composition, it comes all through in the sound. What they show is not a set of visual stimuli with the mechanic time-pitch of a metronome, they are experiencing the emotional content of the sound. The gestures arise naturally from the music and their soul. It is making itself up as it goes along, it is organic, like a living animal.

Living Music

Music can touch people in a magical way. The rhythmic sensibilities in the music of Juan D'Arienzo and Rodolfo Biagi create a distinctive style which gives shiverings. Rodolfo Biagi was the pianist in D'Arienzo's orchestra in 1935, he created the immensely influential "electric" stacatto rhythm that gives an energy kick. Biagi refined and purified it even sharper in his own orchestra, giving it the character of elegant spanking. It's a very sharp stacatto that electrifies the dancers. It's the Golden Age of Tango, the music is made for dancing. Astor Piazzolla's melodic story line is more complex. When I first heard Piazzolla's music, it had this extraordinary effect on me, I got goose-pimples. Shiverings and goose flesh, they are uncontrollable reactions brought on by cold or fear or by sudden excitement. Strangely, these sensations seem to have something in common, like life and death. Not everybody has the same sensetivity, not every music has such a magic.

The magical touching effect of music seems to be related to the narrative content, which is above the rhythmic structure. The rhythm makes people move, it is more carnal, the content makes people dream, which is more romantic, idealistic or hypnotic. It makes a difference on the dancefloor. Dancing both worlds, the dreamy content on the 2x4 rhythm staccato, is the ultimate tango.

Baroque music too, has a lot of staccato and... a lot of baroque can be recognized in tango. The baroque artist wishes to create constant sensation of movement, using structures intended to deceive the eye. Baroque illusionism subverts realistic representation. Barock rocks the spectator, touchingly and affectingly shocking the public. Dynamism is el ideal artístico del Barroco. The barok leaves the classic serenity and wants to express a world in movement and agitation of the senses. Baroque is the time of the feeling. Personages appear in very dynamic positions, with very expressive faces and gestures as in tangoshows and TV shows like "So You Think You Can Dance". The content is all about the illusion of infinity in a tightly contained, mortal space.

Teasing Passion

Seduction is like playing, it's spontaneous and the outcome is open. It is a creative experience where subjects meet, it is not wholly the domain of either participant. It's an open play. Only in playing one is able to be creative and only in being creative one discovers oneself. The seduction is, inside the body. Like, seductively exposing vulnerability. An internal impulse draws you to something you desire to do. For acts of desire, some distance is needed to doing what it takes to actualize them. Duelists, they too create an embodi
ed space, between each other and inside themselves.

Passion is in some way, a duel between Eros and Thanatos, sex drive and refusal, a conflict between the instincts of life and death. It is a recognition of sexual passion as a power in itself, something both animal and spiritual. It is an inner duel. Inner liveliness is needed to give the dance a soul. The magic of the dance figures is inside that emotional space, in their sensitivity and weakness beyond the image. To dance it that way, some severity of introspection is needed. Significant interior feelings make the exterior appearance meaningful. From this, the composition derives its sense of motion as a whole. It is like Auguste Rodin's sculptures.

Contest Images

When is seduction is seen as a conquering technique then it's another way of dancing. It is like sitting on someone's skin and trying to conquer every territory. This macho image of tango with it's falling women, is related to image of the compadrito. An arrogant type with short coat, tight trousers, hat, silk white shawl and...the knife. With it's coldness and cruelty, the symbol of masculinity above all. That angry young man is unmarried, dancing, en-amored and seductively dangerous. The compadrito becomes the compadron's empty alter ego, exposing the vanity of the viril based on imitation and intimidation. Drawing attention, conquering, winning is his passion.

If the purpose of the game is to win, then the cheater is the only true player. The French social theorist Jean Baudrillard talking about seduction: If seduction had an objective, then the seducer would be its ideal figure. But neither seduction nor the game can be thus characterized, and there is a good chance that what determines the cheater's actions, his cynical ways to win at all costs, is his hatred of the game, his rejection of the seduction proper to the game--just as there is a good chance that the seducer's behaviour is determined by his fear of being seduced, and of having to face the risk of a challenge to his own truth, his own vulnerability behind his cold sensuality. Seduction used as a strategy is a mask.

The mask of cold sensuality is powerful. Evil is erotic. It creates suspense. An exciting, daring tension. Those who keep on watching it, beg for attention and destruction, as being bound with the bondage of craving. Here the most obvious connection, conquering leads to the eroticism of power. It cannot be otherwise than theatricalized.

There is much power in the popular image of tango, like "El Tango de Roxanne" which seems to have the required feeling of tension. In today's gigantism, things must be blown up to incredibly proportions to get attention. Baz Luhrmann got his inspiration for Moulin Rouge from seeing Bollywood films. Some surrounding are more serious. When spectators are sacralizing, fetishing it, then it's another process. Aesthetic perception can be a mask too. It is characterized by a mixture of opposite feelings or attitudes towards the nature of a forbidden dance.

illusion Collusion

Social dance has an ambivalent relation with social reality. It seems that some things have to remain hidden, some things must be seen. The drive behind the need of being seen and admired, the chemistry of looks and it's sensations, is complex. One might say that obsessive behaviour and compulsive movement is a symptom of human culture, a key drive in the evolution to modern society. In search for the pleasure in passion, it's interesting to explore the tension between bodily sensations and the body as representation. According to Baudrillard, true, passionate seduction shows a witty deviation, it is never linear and it's vulnerable. It is made of dream elements. To remain open to dreams is what then can be said, and to put such signs into dance. It's all inside the music, in the way the dancing couple experience it, moment by moment.

Moment Aliveness

The act of teasing can be such a way of creating living moments, and there is much teasing in a "Danza ritual del fuego". There is nothing more "Tango Argentino" than sexy nylons, seamed fishnets tights, high heels and silk stockings. The traditional tangoshow themes play on old stereotypes from the red light district. Dressing in such symbolic fashion is a ceremonie, an extremely effective heighten up technique. The act of dressing up and preparing is important for making a desirable impression in a dance hall setting. A spaghetti-strap top is tensing the focus. A stretchy, restricting but not too restrictive corset is deliciously feminine. Apart from the delicate illusions of the clothing, the teasing itself is mostly done as part of a tango figure.

Figure-thinking is more a goal-directed activity of controlling than playing. Teasing as a decoration is no living moment in itself, the figure-thinking is pressing the time. Music however, creates living moments inside a structured composition. For this, the role of teasing can be as a moment of think switching. A counterpoint that stretches time. A gesture has an emotional intention, it is expressing an idea and like words, movements have impact. Fruit must be tasted. The magic of tangodancing is that the dancers are free to decide what they will do on the music they hear. As most couple dances have a rational-pattern which can be predicted by the follower, this is a new orientation of pair dancing. The ballast of previous perceptions about strict rules has to be thrown overboard and replaced by a real communication contact and commitment, creating a direct non-verbal dialogue


The biological drive behind playful teasing is curiosity. Experiences of curiosity drive up our dopamine levels and make us feel extremely alive. The value of teasing lies more in the fact that curious confusing situations need creative responses, less in the "sensation seeking" behavior. Curiosity can create a creating process, a process which has an intrinsic motivation. The activity is rewarding in itself, and not because the activity is a means to something else (with an extrinsic reward). People gain pleasure and satisfaction from the sheer sense of being able to do something personal. While we all tend at times to identify ourselves in term of groups that are important to us, especially when the relevant reference group is being celebrated, we know nevertheless that there is more to our identities than those group identifications. Instead of distorting experiences to make the appearance fit the tightly targeted preconceptions, the possibility exists of creating a playfulness in which the tango figures move forward in becoming a new dance dialogue. Conflicts and gaps give rise to an effort to produce a newly perceived order of things. Curiosity and creativity play an important part in artmaking. A portion of art-making comes from the unconscious; that is, not on the conscious or premeditated level. When tasting this open mechanism as a living, ongoing event, the result may well be a surprise, which can be a wonderful thrill or a dramatic disaster. The wonder of a new creation, even in oneself, is enjoyed in part because the result is a surprise.
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with each other and the music.

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