Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tangodancing´s rituals

The reference of tangodancing's rituals goes back to the environement in which tangodance is born, the bordello, los prostíbulos. It is about relationships, it tells the story of emigration, the search of an identity. It is gender, race and class struggle. Desire, passion and betrayal. This cultural legacy meets the body through the art of dancing tango. As body and mind are indissociable, dance evokes secret changes and transforms a person.
When the choreographic and aesthetic components refer back to their real life source, which is sensitive physical awareness, true unexpected responses appear in the choreography, evoking a change in the way people normally behave. A gesture has an emotional intention, they are expressing an idea and like words, movements have impact. A passion aims transformation. As a dance has roots, the contact with the power of this embodied danceculture evokes a bodily feeling from within, a true sensation like discovering something very much lost. Everybody experiences it differently, not few of them are being drawn to it. Perhaps for this, today's social dancing culture in milongas follows a strict etiquette, as if to prevent water to boil. Nostalgia has its limits too.

Concerning taboo's, one can argue that something becomes a taboo because ritual expressions have a secret, symbolic meaning. Symbols, shows, have deep impact, they go beyond words, enter the thinking mind in a subconscious way and go straight through the body, into the soul. In a danza prohibida, some can see another reality, as if there is something more real, truely intense. A bounding connection grows between the person and the object of desire, sometimes a preoccupation to the exclusion of all else, such as a bodily longing to become in contact with the symbol, the model, the metaphor, the Illusion.

When a dancer touches a symbolic content during dancing, an extra magic dimention is reached. The movements get more than just one intention, represent more than technique. Mostly this symbolic meaning becomes clear to him, becomes aware, in a sudden, unexpected moment, through the attentive body. Insight can not be forced, it comes as an aha-erlebnis. Things come together and gradually, the dancing changes. The dancers are more involved, more engaged with each other through the music. Performances are becoming more and more cyclic, which means that things are moved from real life, arranged in patterns and performed as dance, and then carried back into real life through embodied knowledge, so creating a cycle. A living act in the moment as it happens.

Concerning contact, the close interaction phenomenon, it is achieved through engaging with many sensory channels simultaneously. Each channel has several methods of sending, receiving and interpreting 'messages'. Perfumes, perspiration, the slippery sweat on the skin, it's salty taste, the smelling of an odor such as a garlic breath, feeling an activated heart rate and saliva secretion, touching hair... all these bodily components are interacting in the act of being together. Yet, perceptions of performance are mostly seen from the point of view of the audience, reducing it to the privileged senses which are sight and hearing, reducing the act of dancing to its elegant and stylish visual image, so creating a split between mind and body. Intensity however, relates to all senses, they are all engaged during dancing. Tango it is a state of sensing something.

Hearing music is more than listening, it is touching all of the senses simultaneously. The bandoneón, originally ment as a small church organ, needs the musician's whole body to express a boundary-transcending sound. A musician is expressing himself through his instrument and connecting awareness to the whole body. He is not unpacking a digital audio format. Dancing on life music feels much different from a mp3 audio file which encodes music into a technological form. We interact through all our senses, the sensing body in movement has much more layers than its visual image, which often generates abstract images.

Contemporary aesthetic values are not preoccupied with sensory dimensions or introspective consciousness, yet senses need to become conscious to make the event real, the desire of bodily expressing the music. Corporality is an important factor that explains the extent to which a sensory experience will appear as being truly sensory. However, an organism that merely reacts to sensory information has no need for consciousness – it simply does what the environment demands. To get a coordinated representation, there must be an internal rather than external trigger for action. The ability to direct attention in a self chosen direction, so as to be state conscious of some things rather than others and to select and combine the representations needed, is the function of a second sense. Unconscious sensory representations like the body position and music changes, become conscious through concentration and focussing of attention.

click here for more on sensory consciousness

The way of being conscious by sensing something, by seeing / sensing that it is, lets say... erotic, implies a personal recognition of the sensation, a bodily sensitive knowledge coming from the sensing experience. In this thinking and imagining is always an illusion involved, a person's perspective and imagination contributes to the illusion. Creativity is a balance of imagination and analysis, it is a multi-sensing process.

Seeing colours is sensing something. They make a statement too. White, black and red are born of values that humans tends to assign to several fundmental organic principles. Milk and seeds, which are white, are linked to life, this meaning is symbolically transferred to white. Dark evokes a dimension of decay and demise, these values become attached to black. Black is darkness, the underworld. For Goethe, darkness is a positive force, it has the power to make light visible. Astronomy shows that shining stars and planets are only a little part of the universe, about 95% of the atmosphere is dark energy. The relationship between dark and luminous is a clustering one. Clustering of luminous matters like galaxies, corresponds to dark matter clustering. Concerning the astronomic impact of darkness and stage lighting, Richard Wagner is the first composer ever to darken the audience area during opera performances, thus making a micro cosmos.

Black expresses also elegance and modernity. Black represents wealth, refinement, sophistication and... mystery. It has long been associated with religious cloth. Clothing in tango is mostly black, combined with serious faces and the sad organ-like sound of the bandoneon does make the atmosphere a bit mystic. Black evokes dignity, power and even threat. Black is the symbol of authority and its severity is often used in a persuasion strategy to portray a seriousness. Dark clothing has the practical benefit that transpiration marks are less visible.
The darkness of the black dressed tanguero illuminates the woman's movements. It shines even more if she is in red. As the blood of every living thing is red, it's symbolism is bounded to it. Blood is associated with love, sex, passion and aggressiveness. Red evokes exuberance, speed and action. Red attracts attention. In tango, red is much preferred by women and in bull fighting, red has a psychological effect too.

The feet are often idealised in erotic symbolism. Points of attraction are the size of the foot, curve of the arch and instep, the length and straightness of the toes, the texture and complexion of the skin, contours of the heel and ankle. High heels are considered symbols of playful defiance, the heightened sexuality of el estilo sexy. These shoes became the trademarks of the naughty girl. The height and size of shoes have erotic connotations. Highheels are considered to make even the average bottom look more saucy, round and trim. The calves and ankles appear shapelier and the arches heave from the shoes. According to experts buttocks come outwards by 25%. Effects on the posture have been studied and the change in the body's centre of mass causes the back to curve, breasts to jut forward, the buttocks to hike up and look sexy, turning the length of the leg into an arousal.
All these representations are composing a trance, a person's mind contributes to the illusion. It can be an ilusión like walking on clouds.

Behind a public sphere, is concealed another.

click here for online tangolessons videoclips

There is nothing more "tango" than nylons, seamed fishnets tights. They are just the thing to put on for a special date like tango. Sexy nylons lengthen the leg and are super soft to touch. In tangoshows, the hot seduction of the Forties comes back in seamed pantyhose with a seductive pointed heel. The traditional show themes play on old stereotypes from the red light district, featuring male dancers dressed in faux 1940s tough-guy garb and women in their fetish fashion, outfits like the symbolic fishnet stockings and porte jarretelles, highheels and skirts with a long slit. For some these appearances are outdated clichés but a cliché is more complexe than it seems. These costumes alter an appearance, the clothed body refers to conscious and unconscious uses of disguise. Dressing is a ceremonie, an extremely effective heighten up technique, an act of re-imaging an entity, masking the so-called original, masquerading till a new authentic identity is acting.

Dance involves taking on a role, revealing a character and playing a play, like enacting the power of the prostitute metaphor which is in stark contrast to the ideal of marriage. The prostitute metaphor is first applied in the Hebrew Testament. The marriage and prostitute metaphors continue in the New Testament and are as alive as politics. In Hebrew the meaning of the word fornication, to fornicate or to play the whore, goes further than adultery. It becomes virtually synonymous with engagement in idolatry, the worship of idols, images that are not God. No metaphor, especially as it symbolizes the practice of idolatry, is more powerful than the sensual woman, in all of the captivating sexual imagery it symbolized. An experienced mystery beyond complete understanding. This adoration too can be recognized in tango postures, tango como una entidad metafísica. It seems that all inner feelings can be iconographically displayed in nearly obligatory postures. People have an extraordinary tendency to exaggerate in the same way, so creating cliché's.

In the black and white construction of prostitute and marriage metaphors, the prostitute is seen as a dangerously appealing threat, as having magical powers to evoke and provoke a sexual chemistry and stretching it to the limit. As a petite allumeuse, she seduces men with her sexing up tricks– through the clothing she wears, through her physical and social charms, and through her cosmetics and perfumes. A profile that looks like La Tanguera Ideal: Française, Parisienne... femme expérimentée et mystérieuse devant laquelle même les hommes les plus riches et les plus experts devenaient des provinciaux. Men watch her with glist

From the metaphor point of view, the sexuality of the prostitute embodies the evil nature of female sexuality, and a woman's potential to hold a disturbing power over a man in the sexual domain. A danger. The prostitute is viewed as a temptress, a She Devil, a mind-bomber who torns the weak sinner through her unconventional weapons. In this sexed up version, a hughe masculine urge to react and make it sexed down is inevitable and seems right. The dance of sexual interplay between man and prostitute is marked by tolerance of violence, a fight which can be recognized in tangofigures.

more visual material on this topic of boiling of revenge on the sound of a desire.

Surroundings have distinctive vibrations which can evoke or suppress things. Between 1853 and 1930 Argentina got 6.000.000 immigrants. As 70% of the immigrants were masculine, a demographic imbalance was produced between "Damas y Caballeros". European prostitutes were imported, Franchuchas and there was also a women-traffic from Warsaw, from the ghetto de Varsovie et les villages juifs de la Pologne. The immigration wave did the Buenos Aires city population rate swell with lonely portègnes, resuling in a demographic sex ratio population of 1 male to 0,6 female in 1914. Approximately 30.000 garotas were working in 2000 brothels. As tango was related to the brothels and the fact that it was danced between men and prostitutes in a marginal lower class area, broke rules and dancing habits. Couple dance got a more violent temperament, something of a struggle in a sublimated form, so captivating our Moulin Rouge imagination.
ening eyes, as if intoxicated and bewitched, and become tormented as in a true tango.

With the appearance of the tango in the milonga danceclubs and family houses, the tanguero public transformed. From 1940, the tango had to express something more than the marginality of the bordelles and cabarets louche. A mythical past was constructed and there was invented an idyllic suburb, a mystique composition filled with heroic knife-fighters, cuchilleros. An arrabal idílico that, to Borges' suspicion, perhaps did not exist...

For any social climbing bouregoisie, image is everything, thus proper etiquette is essential. A social climbing bourgeoisie supports mistresses, who are basically courtesans, they are at the top of the prostitutional hierarchy.
An important social meeting place is the salon. It is for the city elite and for the ambitious, certainly not for Les Misérables. It is a cultural institution dating back to the first half of the 17th century in Paris. The salón is a setting, providing the opportunity for building important relationships. It is also great policy, a school for showing newcomers and visitors "this is how we do it here". Etiquette is primordial. The salon culture is distinguished from the all-male circles like the literary cercle, and the society of cabarets, cafés and brothels, due to the dominance of women. These women, known as salonnières, run and organize the salons. The salon hostess has considerable interpersonal influence, as in a chique restaurant, she is in control of the invitations and the seat arrangement at the table. She introduces aspiring young men to influential persons and thus start careers. Surroundings have distinctive vibrations which can evoke or suppress enthusiasm.

A lot of baroque can be seen in tango, especially in the shows. Spectators mostly "witness" classic beauty, as if it's harmony is in another world, on stage is made no effort to seduce the audience. Baroque however, contrasts openly with the ideal of harmony that the Renaissance advocated. The baroque artist wishes to create constant sensation of movement. Barock rocks the spectator, touchingly and affectingly shocking the public. Dynamism is el ideal artístico del Barroco. The barok leaves the classic serenity symbol 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. The time spirit in which it grew was that of a changing society. The misery in the field dragged to many farmers towards the cities, where they hoped to improve their quality of life, but they ended mostly in delinquency. For the baroque bourgeois who desires for sky and land like a compadrito, the only compatible attitude is duplicity, double-dealing, acting in bad faith, deception by pretending. Thus, the spectacle has the intention to act on the viewers.

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