Article extracted from Tango-E-VIta
Walking is one of the most important things in the life. In Japan, the foot is considered to be the Second Heart. To have a strong heart is to have a strong mind, so to walk good also develops the mind. Walking is the basic corporal movement in the Martial arts. In any Martial Art, the crucial factor is the game of legs, to walk with a perfect balance and grace. When the mastery in the skill of walking has been achieved, when you walk as a ninja, a silent, invisible walker, avoiding detection by moving carefully like a tanguero knife-fighter, a lower class samurai, it feels as if you are never touching the floor. In Argentine tango, the body energy-center lies lower than in ballroom tango. A little downwards pressure in the hips, makes the knees bend more and gives a more centered body axes, a sneaking, gliding way of walking. This less royal way of moving is related to knifefighting, which is a fast, fluid and dangerous affair.
The way of walking can also emphasize femininity, accenting a womanlike manner of moving, or masculinity, showing off power and discipline by military marching, so constructing an identity image, or a choreographic dance performance. Thus, between stamping goose steps and high heels wiggling, the act of stepping passes through the most colorful human spectrum. The combination of those 2 opposing concepts of moving, is a part of the magic in Argentinian tango. In the original tango mis en scène, two skillful opponents come together in some sort of a direct confrontation, a struggle, a duelo between the compadron's military step marking and the girl's sexiness. Later on, as the setting changed from the brothel to the dance hall and the salon with its etiquette, a less suspicious dancing behavior was wanted. The struggle however, can still be seen in the tangofigures.
The walking became more and more refined. Walking the music is nearly everything in Argentine tango. Before we figure out what this really means, we step in the dancing arena: The dancefloor is an embodied space in which people influence each other through energetic interaction. Movements make intentions visible. The interactive nature of pair dance gives lots of opportunity for partners to subtly affect each other. By this, an intrige can be triggered on the playground, the space gets a narrative content. An electrifying experience appears, and disappears in the background.
This means that in couple dancing, there is a 3th beat-pattern dimension. Underneath the "quick quick slow"-steps and the living pulse of the music, which you can do alone, isolated from others, in the couple's dance interaction grows a dialogue of rhythm . This can give a surplus pleasure, or frustration. When two people dance together, what they do affects each other in a profound and ongoing way. A dialogue exposes, maybe something of a courtship dance rhythm, the story's absolute bottomline is chemistry. From a gestalt point of view, the electrifying connection is inevitable if the other is an aha-experience. An individual appears, enters in the center of the other, like a bomb.
The intriguing skill is to know how to choose the most effective move at that moment, optimize the energy available at that occurrence, as well as turn the hints offered by the partner into an unique, unusual personal conversation, not a monologue. The leader and follower must involve a degree of flexibility, improvising, that of being able to harmonize and synchronize with the partner. Every gesture is according to the partner’s response. The main goal is the genuine connection moment in dancing.
The level distance depends mostly on the amount of feedback one is getting from the partner and the social web. In this, the woman has more impact and control than the leading man, if she wants. Lack of focused attention is apparent in many dance acts, imitation patterns and postures are inevitably expressed instead. If a dancer doesn't know why he or she is dancing, the movements will have no real meaning and it will show up as a lack of energy or a chaotic, ambivalent quality.
Relaxation, gradual becomming more and more at ease, to be as relaxed as a cat, is the primal goal. A relaxed mind leads to relaxed muscles, which is essential for a good performance. Before making the first step, let the mind enter the body center which lies below the navel, it tranquillises and makes you move from inside out. The impulse to move, comes more from the body than from the mind. The intention, the outcome, is to be highly bodily involved in the moment as it happens, yet also leaving breathing space for the energy to flow, room for being spontaneous, it keeps the muscles relaxed. It refers more to being aware, alert, open, more than it refers to performing a task, a figure which one has in mind. An act of will power makes the muscles tense, which can be seen in the way of stepping.
The way a dancer feels about dancing, his consciousness of the act, makes a tremendous difference in how the interacting is embodied. The line between descriptive storytelling in a tangoshow choreography and a social dance experience is thin. The dancer is generating and expressing a unique emotional experience at the moment of the performance. The more genuine the emotion, the more developed the technique, and the more focused the dancer's intention, the more the dancepartner and the audience will feel what the dancer is experiencing, and the more emotionally satisfying and artistically excellent it will be.
The walk is evrything
Argentine tango dancing is a complicated simple thing. Best is to start a tango just by walking, doing no figures. Match the steps to the music, just listen. The energy and the way a body moves from A to B is the magic, not A and B. Dancing on tangovals is a good way to let your body flow on the rhythm of music, flow like walking on water. The smooth and connected legato of tangovals music, as opposed to the staccato breaks between notes in tango, asks for a more gliding movement of the feet over three-beats, instead of staccato placement, not-connected steps. This valse-gliding is stretching the body-energy over 3 steps, thus making them an unit, like a bandoneón pulsation. The "push-off" is like the jump of a cat, the landing, the last step, is always soft. This technique can also be done on classic tango and milonga music, making a 3 step-connection on 2 beats (or 5 steps on 3 beats), "entre temps" or "contretemps", so creating a traspié. In this milonga, the energy and the steps are more compact, closely united, not stretched and during dancing, the feet always glide over the floor, except in canyengue.
The tango rhythm is based on the 2x4, 2 strong beats on 4:
1 2 3 4
A way to make this 1-2 -mark visible in the act of stepping is ...
on 1 : lifting the knee and the heel of the foot, and slowly starting moving = expanding like a bandoneón.
on 2 : stretching the leg, fast like a clasp-knife, and putting the foot down like a knife-thrust, a thrusting flash, a strong stab to the heart, una puñalada with an Argentinian Facón.
As stabbing happens fast, quick, the duration of the marking moment is extremely much shorter than the earlier lifting of the knee, the extending. That contrast gives a striking tension, a noticeable suspense.
It looks like: ________1_______ ... /2\ ________3_______ ... /4\ etc...
It sounds like La Yumba .... (click here for the pronunciation audio)
And.... it can look like this like (click for movie)
In dancing, as in knife-fighting and boxing, it is nice to know that the flexibility of the body increases when the feet are in a more open \ /-position rather than close together, stiff.
Using two beats to make a triple step, thus stepping on one beat, then on the half-beat and again on the next beat, is a traspié. It is related to what is called syncopation, syncopa: the stressing of a normally unstressed beat, making a syncopated rhythm. It is playing with expectation, making a prediction move, so inducing arousel or stress as in soccer, a foreplay to the payoff. It creates more suspense, eliciting excited anticipation about what is going to happen, the expected unexpected. To obtain this result, the partners have to be involved with each other. The two persons are connected by a dialogue, they participate as in a football drama.
One can also make several traspiés and focus on a "step rhythm"- choreography, thus making a little story inside the story. The 3'th step of a traspié can be closed or open, the feet can be together or not. This way, one can connect the separate traspiés by a sequence, making a serial arrangement in which the traspies follow in a recurrent pattern such as 2 open trapies followed by 2 closed traspies. Doing this, the rhythmic stepping, the music, comes into the focus, less the stepping of a figure. The figure is there, but in the background. Walking the music is the foreground.
The walking human can be imagined as a small steel ball (the center of mass) propelled forward on top of two stiff wires (the legs). With each step forward, one end of a wire is planted on the ground, and the steel ball swings in an arc around the other end, just like an upside-down pendulum. As the ball reaches the end of its arc, the other wire is planted farther forward on the ground, and the process is repeated. To maintain forward movement, the energy of the steel ball needs to be transferred from one pendulum to the other. In normal walking humans, only 65 percent of that energy is actually transferred, the rest is vanished and must be replaced by additional muscle energy. At the height of each step, the normal walking human begins to drop down, losing potential energy without transferring it into kinetic energy, which would generate additional forward speed. African women however, are able to minimize this loss through an almost invisible, tiny alteration of their gait. They transfer at least 80 percent of their forward energy to the next step. Only 20 percent must be replaced by the muscles, leaving plenty of energy in reserve to carry the weight on their heads.
In tango, the across the wooden floor feet-gliding too has to do with improving the economy of walking, it is stretching the flow of energy endlessly, on the rhythm of music. For guiding a forward motion, one can also bend / lean slightly forward so the torso and axis is deviating from a vertical position and directed towards the partner in a more energetic and focused manner. While bending or leaning slightly forward, one can push the buttocks back-ward while keeping their muscles tight. But especially in bending, put the feet in an open \ /-position and keep tight the muscles of the abdomen because they support the lower back. People with weak abdominal muscles tend to suffer from back pain, thus take much time to practice it make sure that the position always feels confortable and relaxed. Then, by bending slightly forward while making a step, the bodyweight is transferring even more into kinetic energy, into the forward movement. This surplus of kinetic energy can give a stronger guiding and stronger marking of the tango's 2x4 stepping-rhythm.
Bending slightly forward is related to the milonguero style... it is danced in a very close embrace with upper body contact, the partners leaning into each other, and using simple walking and turning steps.
Putting your foot straight forward in stepping, forward in a motion that starts from the knees, not connecting it with the upper body, is a more mannish walk, the military machine directed toward the front. Putting your foot in a curve, not straight forward but in the line of your other foot, not as extreme as a catwalk, changes the direction of motion as if rotating on an axis, and makes the hips turn. This motion starts from the body below the waist and above the thigh, the body is thus going into the step, it is stepping from the hips. Putting down your foot a bit turned to the side out, through turning the hips and the leg while stepping, makes the shoulders turn in a natural way. The turning of the hips also makes the step larger which has an elegant effect, especially in the woman's backwards stepping. The weight of the hips exert a force which optimizes the use of energy. If one keeps the hips rigid, one must use additional muscle force, which is the purpose of an army parade.
Does one uses the turning of the hips while dancing tango? Many Argentines are proud of their behinds, which is a result of dancing daily. "Each country has a special taste regarding its women," says Dr Jose Juri, Argentina's plastic surgeon star. "For example, in the United States, the most important thing is good breasts. In Argentina we prefer a good buttock. The derrière has a special attraction for most men, and the Chicas argentinas know this perfectly well." The "Carne de Identidad" (a play on the Spanish words for identity card, carnet de identidad, and flesh, carne) exhibition draws crowds in El Capital Federal.
Presumably, our perception of the dance is more rigid due to sublimation. The character of tango changed dramatical successfully in Paris in the 1930's, where the dance was combined with the proud torso of ballroom dances, and given a staccato action, the popular image we know. It moved the visual emphasis to the torso and head, putting appearance above the intimate connection of the dancecouple, more on performing to an audience. As the music was reshaped, simplified in a nearly militaristic, staccato action, much of the musical nuances vanished. This way, without subtle differences, it was adapted to a more mechanical way of stepping, more predictable and faster to learn, to imitate. Stress too, influences walking habits and social relations.
Music has nuances and an organic cadence. It grows, changes and becomes more itself. When letting the body flow on the rhythm of music, a perfect, personal tempo grows which is not the same as the mechanic time-pitch of a metronome. It's a different way of walking. The music rhythm works as a heartbeat of energetic waves. It has tension, charge, discharge and relaxation, like the beat of the body.
Movement is living motion and immobility is not the absence of movement, it hides overlapped movements and the agitation which they cause, cancels each other out. This symmetrical heartbeat of building and demolition is made from knots, embraces, the movement of stillness... These centres will be able to act as points of departure on which will be built a new, progressive cycle. The secret of tango Argentino is in this moment of improvisation, that opening that triggers inspiration. It happens between step and step. It is to make the impossible thing possible: to dance silence. So, a step is more than a step, it is a comprehension process.
Walking meditation is important in the correct understanding of the act of going. The practice of mindfulness meditation can be compared to boiling water. If one wants to boil water, one puts the water in a kettle, puts the kettle on a stove, and then turns the heat on. But if the heat is turned off, even for an instant, the water will not boil, even though the heat is turned on again later. If one continues to turn the heat on and off again, the water will never boil. In the same way, one cannot gain an impelling force or strength in the mind, and so one cannot attain concentration, full sensitive attention.
Before yogis begin practicing walking meditation, they may have thought that a step is just one movement. After meditation on that movement, they observe that there are at least four movements, and if they go deeper, they will understand that even one of these four movements consists of millions of tiny movements. By our ordinary perception, we are not able to see-through that mind and matter is just a vibration of particles and energy is constantly changing, hidden by the illusion of continuity, it is an optical effect like a movie.
The act of stepping
The four stepping stages in Zen are:
lifting the foot,
and pressing the ground.
Buddha said :"A monk applies clear comprehension in going forward and in going back." Clear comprehension means the correct understanding of what one observes. Thus the Buddha was instructing meditators to apply mindfulness, concentration, and clear comprehension while walking, while "going forward and back." At first yogis may find it difficult to slow down, but as they are instructed to pay explicit attention to all of the movements involved, and as they actually pay closer and closer attention, they will automatically slow down. Although yogis pay close attention and slow down, they may not see all of the movements and stages clearly. The stages may not yet be well-defined in the mind, and they may seem to constitute only one continuous movement. As concentration grows stronger, the four stages will be easier to distinguish.
As tangueros continue to practice this "TangoZen" daily, they will realize that with every walking movement, there is also the "noting, observing" mind, the awareness of the movement. There is the lifting movement and also the mind that is aware of that lifting. In the next moment, there is the moving forward movement and also the mind that is aware of the movement. Moreover, meditating individuals will realize that both the movement and the awareness arise and disappear in that moment. At one moment there is the lifting of the foot and the awareness of the lifting, and at the next moment there is the movement forward and the awareness of that movement, and so on. These can be understood as a pair, mind and matter, which arise and disappear at every moment. Thus yogis advance to the perception of the pairwise occurrence of mind and matter at every moment of observation.
A psychology that tangueras will discover is the role of intention in effecting each movement. They will realize that they lift their foot because they want to, move the foot forward because they want to, put it down because they want to, press the foot against the ground because they want to. That is, they realize that an intention precedes every movement. After the intention to lift, lifting occurs. They come to understand the conditionality of all of these occurrences, that these movements never occur by themselves, without conditions. There is a cause, social context or condition for every movement, and that condition is the intention preceding each movement. Kamma means intentional activity or doing, it is a choice to do it. When dancers understand the conditionality of all movements, then they will understand that they are created by an intention, maybe like showing off the weapons of seduction. One will understand that intention is the condition for the movement to occur, and how it appears. Thus the relationship of conditioning and conditioned, of cause and effect, becomes a transparent scenery. This scenario is revealing in dancing. Lack of focused attention can show up as a lack of energy, no soul, like the water that will never boil, no connection. If you don't know what you are doing, your movements and guiding will have no clear intention.
For imitation only ?
It is about expression, sensitivity. In this, knowledge is crucial, especially self-knowledge. Regarding imitation, it is mediated by a goal representation, a model. When information is limited, imitation seems to be the only option. As the effect of information is greater as the uncertainty is larger, one can intensify the uncertainty, so increasing the impact of the model. Such imitation directed perspective puts restrictions on the learning process, as if small mistakes have large consequences. It is, spreading information that allows for imitation only. A network of this type leads people to imitate each other. As this dance develops, it is shaped more by its environment than by the individuals themselves. Self-knowledge however, is felt inside.
The joy of learning tangodancing is that these things become clear when the time is ready. Tango has many layers, each similar to, but also different from the layer above and the layer below. First, movement imitations are expressed, which is great fun. What people know best is imitation and there are many causes why people start imitating, most of them are unconsious. Imitation is a rare, uniquely human ability, which may be fundamental to what is distinctive about human learning, intelligence, rationality, and culture. It has important consequences for our understanding of ourselves both individually and socially. Imitation has pervasive influence in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. As in life, imitation in tango is a starting point, what is needed is adding your own voice to the texture of "as if"-imitations. Later, a more profound insight appears in the game, a more profound dance comes into being or existence, more and more "profundis". Then it looks as if there is something more going on than just dancing, something that generates tension, suspense, arousal... a thing as it is in itself, incapable of being known but only from the nature of experience, as if passion is solitude. The greatest dancers are not so much revered for technical excellence, but for the distinctiveness of their unique personal style, character they put in a movement. If you take time to know what you are feeling when you are dancing, you make more than dancesteps, you create a dance.
When walkers comprehend that mind and matter arise and disappear, they understand that mind and matter are temporary, related to time, mortal. They understand that mind and matter are unsatisfactory because they are always oppressed by constant arising and disappearing, and that there is no self or soul within that can order them to be permanent. Things just arise and disappear according to natural law. By comprehending this, milongueros comprehend the third characteristic of conditioned phenomena, the characteristic of anatta, the characteristic that things have no self. One of the meanings of anatta is no mastery. So the obvious tangostory is... impermanence, suffering, and the no-self nature of things.
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Leading step by step
In tangodancing, the feet of the dancer are not bound to a schematic designed plan, even tangovals has no clear repetetive pattern like the Viennese waltz. The dancer is free to decide what he will do on the music he hears. This is a new orientation of couple dancing. As most dances have a rational-pattern which can be predicted by the follower, the ballast of previous perceptions about strict rules has to be thrown overboard and replaced by a real communication contact, creating a direct non-verbal dialogue. This requires permanent attention and body connection.
It means that the concept of leading and following in tango is radically different then in predictable dances. The lady follows by "feeling" her partner's chest-changes. Inside the energetic circle of the close embrace-hold, she's aware of his movements which must be clear and simple, giving one step-direction at the time, and the leader should go about it with a quiet and relaxed manner. Inside this dance-hold which is a spiral, the partners feel the circular movements. In a spiritual way, these continuous movements echo the helical patterns found in nature. The movement power is generated from the lower abdomen and legs. Upper body strength and muscle-tonus can extent the elastic guiding, especially when the tanguera is doing a boleo. There is no pushing or pulling by the man and he also must listen and respond to the way the tangolady moves. She has the abilities and capacities to sabotage, to delay and to dislocate the effect of leading. This gives the man a dynamic dimension of uncertainty, which is a good test for his frustration level, and an addictive thing for both.
The longer and the more one dances, the more your technique improves, the smoother your dancing tends become. You get to know the steps you are doing better, so you embodie them more completely, at faster tempos, with less then no thought, adding embellishments, going inside and beyond the so-called official dance figures and play together, which is the true meaning of social dancing.
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Although continuity is an illusion, a connection has always interruptions, energy is a reality. Dancing is a good way to let your body flow on the energetic rhythm of the music. So, physically reaching a fluent stream of energy, continuously flowing and graceful in shape, even knowing that it is an illusion, is true tango.
Consequently, Argentinean tango dancing is an event, a performing art. Something happens in people, like a catalysing development, they behave in a particular way. An event is something that happens in an unique, limited duration of time. For a moment, and disappears. People have a need for expressing strong emotions, passions, illusions.
Perhaps relationships too are based on the illusion of continuity, and tangueros make it tango. Buddhists do not waste precious time figuring out the past and future drama's, but tangueros do. Despite the modern single-gender doctrine, the man/woman-energy conflict stays. It is as if organic chemistry cannot be otherwise, as if the universe began with an explosion. It is a constraining force of physical determinants on all aspects of life. Enrique Santos Discépolo's phrase - El tango es un pensamiento triste que se baila -, refers to the strength, the living impact, the power of tangomusic, transforming a dark thought into a elevating movement, as a life source.
The Art of Walking
Expressive body movement is one of the numerous ways to give form to the unconscious. It is also known that dancing can bring back lost qualities. Walking contributes to health, transforms the mind, body and breathing. Neuro-physical healing processes are triggered by music. All this step by step. And, concerning the performing arts, the way a dancer feels about dancing and his awareness of the act of stepping, makes a tremendous difference in how the dance relation bodily exists.
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. Communication however, is achieved through engaging with many sensory channels simultaneously. Each channel has several methods of sending, receiving and interpreting 'messages'. Performance intensity relates to all senses, they are all engaged during performances.
Visual channels only perceive visual phenomena, it is as making a split between mind and body. Moreover, it is not always certain that visual images are understood in terms of a real exchange between the performer and the viewer. Movements have symbolic significances, which have become choreographic and aesthetic components in their own right, without necessarily referring directly back to their real life sources. Maybe a visual design is attractive because one has no idea what it means. So when an audience 'watches' a performance, what is it looking at, exactly?
In a cyclic performance, 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. The key is body knowledge. In communication, feelings are explored and experienced by the own body. If one knows it, one can recognize it.
The erotic nature of tango has been perceived by many, but not so its violent temperament. It is true that both are modes or manifestations of the same impulse (Borges, Historia del tango).
Some force is part of the play. In the beginnings of tango, a man’s superior skill at dancing was counted as a determining factor in his popularity, a measure of his machismo. At that time, there was a shortage of the opposite sex and much competition. The immigration wave did the city population swell with lonely men, 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, it was a scandelizing act for a woman. The fact that it was danced by prostitutes broke dancing habits. In this way, their provoking behaviour anticipated an emancipation.
As the phenomenal wage difference between Argentina and European countries attracted a swelling flow of overseas male immigrants, the economic pressure grew too. The labor market before the 1930's was a "spot-market", such as the meat industry. The "factory labour chief" chose among workers at the door to the frigorifique, the slaughterhouses, where many men waited in line for "…you, you, and you ". In these conditions, one must make a strong macho impression, showing strength and power greater than average. The intention is to hit the goal and score. Being elected.
For winning, as in futbol, politics and knife fighting, one must use the weak points of the other. As in football, the aim to beat the other is in the match incarnated. In seduction also. Eroticism draws its powerful pleasure from fascination with the hidden, the mysterious, the suggestive. It adds turbulent sensations to anyone's daily life. A perfect storm is a real temptation.
Strange Couple Dance
Tango is in a way, a deviant form of pair dance. In its origins it shows fighting, solitary individuals rather than harmonious couples, the image one tends to associate with couple dancing.
Solitary or individuality was incarnated in tango. Buenos Aires was the place of exile for European poor men and the marginalized old inhabitants. Brothels were an encounter place for artists, musicians and poets with criminals - malandras, police and prostitutas. The sacred center in such a mafioso framework with social violence is honor. A man of honor needs defending his honour by obliging to duel, he has to stand strong always. The tango of the compadron had a military mark, it was a ballet-like reproduction of two men locked in mortal combat and they broke the pavement when stepping... el taco militar, - taconear, tacón de zapato: marking with shoe heel, to stamp with one's heels.
Throughout time, the compadron was replaced by another prototype: the compadrito, a type valentón, arrogante, with striking arrogance. Unlike the gaucho or compadrone, the little compadrito never failed to draw attention. That angry young man was unmarried, dancing, en-amored and singing. The compadrito became the compadron's empty alter ego in the vanity of the viril. Dressed in the same typical short coat, tight trousers, silk neckchief with "fungi"-hat and above all... the knife, the symbol of masculinity. The compadrito's pride however, was pretense... he only fought to see if the other was better: cuál era más guapo y nada más. For him, being the specialist of imitation and intimidation, caminando el tango was a way to be the most beautiful. As he walked the tango, he caressed the floors and performed astonishing legwork with "viveza criolla", Creole vividness which is humorous too. Humour is a virtue, it prevents paralyzing sacralization.
Later on, that all was gradually replaced by another tango world. In 1917, Carlos Gardel sang "Mi Noche Triste". That song marked a significant change. Up to that time, tango had been the happy, gay and playful music of the Arrabales, -expressing the joys and aspirations of the compadritos, the working class or unemployed plebs, not to mention the hombres y mujeres in the local brothels where love was sold in hourly increments. But the new Argentinos -los Immigrantes, longing for sentimental songs connecting them with a faraway past, found the Tango of the outskirts, -of the compadrito, no longer completely satisfying. "Mi Noche Triste" struck a sensitive nerve. It marked the birth of the Sentimental Tango. The music and the lyrics became nostalgic, melodramatic and sad.
Erotism can be a joy and a source of income, especially in the poor Buenosairean suburban surroundings. In the brothel, the imported Francesita produced money and she seeked a rich man to get an honorable living. A great part of the tango letters speaks of women who leave a man, often poor, by another man, in general of high class, and el guapo takes revenge by killing the woman, se venga con la muerte de la traidora. El guapo was a solitaire by conviction. In his relations with woman, he never mixed feelings because he did not want that a love or the family, made him hesitate in the middle of a confrontation. He knew that his life could finish in any moment or end in jail. El guapo incarnates anger and prestige, kept up by his fighting skills and the submission of the woman, who belongs to him like object and that, quite often, is reason for duels. These men never turned down a fight and were highly regarded, feared and respected. Because of their displays of demasiado masculino skills with the flacón dagger, they practically ruled and served their neighborhoods and the neighborhoods returned the protection with respect. The gauchesca literature offers a lot of brave examples, examples in which Argentineans can identify themselves more easyly than in military heroes. All of them present solitary individuals in a hard world... el tigre es el guapo elegante y ágil que mantiene la muerte a mano.
Donjuanismo gives a further description of seductive conquering. Don juanismo is a passion of the spirit, it goes beyond the instinct. It is a conquest, not a Casanova flirt. Beauty that fascinates Don Giovanni, reflects his proper death. Because of this dark confrontation, he can not rest. He is in bondage by it. It is necessary for him to keep on conquering, not to be motionless, not being conquered. Don Juan uses diverse strategies to win its adversaries and in his superior skill, women see in him a seductive devil. Unlike Casanova who only wants love, DonJuan's intention has an objective in the long run, a transformation of the seduced person and then, the exclusion.
A Duel among a Couple of the Same Sex
One can say that tangodancing is macho + Das Ewig-Weibliche. Yet tango, men often dance together. This may seems strange, contradictory, odd. The image of the male dancer has always carried machismo stereotyping. Dancing is about several emotions and feelings, which men are not all supposed to show. Dance however, is technique too. Los muchachos invented the tango dancetechnique, including the female part. In fact, a tanguero has to know the woman's movements from inside out to be capable to guide a tanguera. A reference is Antonio Todaro. He had a special fondness for dancing as follower and as an innovator, he had fun expanding the follower's part. He is also famous for his skilled Tango Doble Frente / double front (tango al reves - inversed/reversed) in which the woman has her back to the man and the man embraces her around the waist, so both dancers face the front/public, it is a very historical style of tango invented by the popular milongueros of the 1940s. All steps that one dances in the regular, or "derecho" position, can be danced al reves. Men created ballet too, yet dancing is now seen as a female art in which masculine dancers assist the women. Men's contemporary role seems to be more restyled into guiding the woman.
Couple Dance Partnership
When there is magic in couple dancing, it's key is self-knowledge. It's about expressing emotions, sensitivity. To communicate in a dance, when the feeling it is not explored and experienced by the own body, is very difficult. Guiding and following are one. This recognition is truly seductive. So, a dancer should try to to be able to reach his emotional resources, his basic emotions. There are degrees of willingness and unwillingness. We know feelings of happiness, sadness and anger. Resistance and yearning. Different situations express different feelings, sentiments and reactions. Our emotional memory is stored in many places in the body, not just the brain. Our mind is not just in the brain, it is also in the body. Emotion creates the bridge between mind and body. Strong emotions make us to remember things. And... some impulses keep the emotion down. It takes energy from our bodies to keep the emotion unexpressed. These suppressed emotions are locked up and lodged in the lower body. An emotion is not fully expressed until it reaches consciousness. When an emotion moves up, it can be expressed, made explicit aware. In that realization process, a person is expressing the mystery of mind-body communication. This introspection makes him more able to move from inside out, like an artist, reaching some non-competitive, eternal beauty.
Art vs. Sport
Coupledancing is a growing non-verbal communication. Couple dance is about sensitivity, mutual understanding and partnership. Leading and following is a mutual conversation. It is also a challenge. Modern western men may find it uncanny to step out the corner and to lead "the direction" in a self-confident, dominant or socalled macho manner. For years, the man's dancing role is directed into something like "An Officer and a Gentleman", which is in some way the classical dance picture. In traditional ballets, the male dancer was secondary to the ballerina. His job was primarily to lift the ballerina and support her balance without drawing attention to himself. Breaking with tradition, Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993) reinvented the role of the male in ballet. As a dancer he started early and conscientiously developing the possibilities available to male dancers, proving that a principal dancer can be just as gracefully subtle and expressive as a ballerina without any loss of virility. One of the secrets of Nurejev’s success comes from the fact that he did more than was necessary in everything he undertook. Rudolf Nureyev made a great contribution to the reappraisal of male ballet and, by working with contemporary choreographers, went far beyond the "classical / modern" divisions. He was always attracted to difficulty: How could I dance if I didn’t force myself to do things that I can’t do? Rudolf Nureyev personified the school of life for a dancer: enrich yourself, open up your mind, look all around, take it all in, and put yourself in the position of understanding and interpreting the choreography, not just performing it. Nurejev danced with impressive athletic power and gained prominence for the male dancer at least equal to that of the ballerina.
Onstage, the phenomenal Fonteyn-Nureyev partnership set a standard for ballet that is still alive today. Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev transformed the pas de deux (dance for two), which is the centerpiece of traditional 19th century ballets. Instead of dancing the pas de deux as a cool, technical display in which the ballerina was the focal point, they created an intimate and intense drama in which the danseur (the principal male dancer) and the ballerina contributed equally. When Fonteyn and Noureev performed, there was electricity between them, both had the gift of translating emotion into movement - the very basis of their art. The tension arising from the 20 year gap in their ages, their opposing temperaments and their totally diverse backgrounds seemed to generate an electricity in the atmosphere whenever they appeared together, and Fonteyn - far from being overshadowed - seemed rejuvenated, even her technique seemed to improve. Margot Fonteyn could make you cry just watching her. How to put something so visual, so potent with theatrical moment that even film cannot capture it, into plain words? How to explain why it is that when, to a particular strain of music, an ordinary mortal steps forward on one leg, raises the other behind her and lifts her arms above her head, the angels hold their breath? Meredith Daneman locates Fonteyn’s extraordinary on-stage appeal in the woman’s personal qualities - her moral as much as physical virtues. Fonteyn’s dark, exotic looks came from her mother’s side of the family. Her father, Felix Hookham, was a lower-middle-class Englishman; her mother the illegitimate daughter of a rich Brazilian businessman, Antonio Goncalvez Fontes, and an Irishwoman, Evelyn Acheson. When Daneman met members of the Fontes clan in Brazil, she understood how Latin family pride had made it unthinkable that a young dancer, Peggy Hookham, a remote relative, should adopt their name as a stage pseudonym. She altered it instead to Fonteyn. The English style of dancing was formed on and by Fonteyn, moulded by Frederick Ashton, the choreographer who made the most of her talents. Ashton’s early roles for Fonteyn show her as a sensual being: the seductive Creole girl in Rio Grande, Tiresias the sexual experimenter. Then he froze her in perpetual purity: Chloe, Ondine, Sylvia, in his postwar ballets, are maidens beyond reproach. Not until Rudolf Nureyev burst onto the scene was Fonteyn able to be anything other than virginal.
Catwalk Reflections (scroll for clips)
In today's high-pressure environment and uni-sex morality which makes no distinction between male and female structures, leading and following as mutual conversation and natural walking on the rhythm of music is a challenge. Modern women have gotten a more mannish walk, they have learned to carry the responsibility, to be independ and not to be led. It is difficult to leave the responsibility for guidance and creativity to the other species. It can be seen as submissiveness. The apparent passivity of the woman can become a force which leads the man to total dependence, thus reversing the initial positions. Yet, in order to make a dance possible, the garota is not submissive, she is sensible. Many men find it very uncanny to step out the corner, face a cool look and to lead "the direction" in a self-confident, dominant or socalled macho manner. Yet again, it is about a state of high sensitivity, mutual understanding. These misconceptions or psychological barriers are deep grounded in modern society's war roots. These environment tensions, pressures, have great impact upon the nervous system and are much more difficult to "beat" then the dancefigures.
Plastic surgeons and a century of catwalks illustrate that body profiles have intentions too, if one thinks so. Since the First World War, the period in which tango became a worldwide phenomenon, much changed of what we assume to be the personal self. The 1914-18 War was so shockingly brutal, that a new sense of personal identity was born. The masses started to reject the concept of privilege as the reason for a better life. Women stopped wearing excessive jewellery and extravagant, luxury clothes. Dress rules for both sexes were relaxed in theatres and other venues. Girls began to take part in voluntary work which ultimately broadened their horizons and changed their outlook forever. As females mixed with other classes, social barriers were eaten away. The relaxed dress rules meant that they all began to look similar. The effect of war on styles was that military braiding, belts with buckles and shorter skirts were seen everywhere. Clothes got shorter during the First World War out of practical necessity.
After the war when women's dress became more mannish, each year seemed to get more in contradiction with the feminine woman beneath, more and more different from the "self". Female clothes became looser and more shapeless in fit. The bust was suppressed, the waist disappeared, the shoulders became broader and hair shorter and shorter. The "Modern Woman" was highly competitive, sporty, emancipated as well as beautiful, and narrow boyish hips were preferred. This new silhouette emphasised a flattened chest. Womanly curves were eliminated as the line became more simplified. The slender flat chested tanned body and face of a 15 year old became the sexually desired profile for the young girls of the revolutionary Années Folles. Health and beauty clubs helped women reshape their body profiles, so to become what the desired other desires. It was a difficult time for the previous fashion designers whose style of dressing became as passé as their rounded figures and older faces. More youthful women who could party all night and carry the boyish fashions well were the new sexy ideal. Big busted girls turned to bandaging their over-developed breasts flat, many adopted a bra that could be laced at both sides and pulled and pulled in to flatten the chest. As long as they looked boyish they looked fashionable.
The 1920's also saw a universal fashion for short hair a more radical move beyond the standard styles of the war era, which shocked some older citizens as a purifying selection, since hair had always been viewed as a woman's personal crowning glory. Once shoes began to be mass manufactured in the 1920s, footwear became an essential fashion accessory. Now it was truly visible beneath shorter dresses it needed to be selected with more care and heels were over 2 inches high. During this Post First War Epoque, there was an increased use of cosmetics such as cheek color, eye shadow and lipstick for glossy lips. It was trendy to perform erotic rites of make up in public.
The Second World War redifined the gender roles even more. As the army men were at the front, the women were needed for the economy. As war and disaster cleaned-up the old habits of mind, the female participation in the work force pushed the post-war economic production. First there was the booming ecomonomy. The consequence was a kind of overactivity, being highly competitive, getting more and more lean and mean. Then, anorexia management arrived, evoking continuous stretches to get extreme compatibility, becomming nearly non-self, alien bodies. As women have been stimulated throughout the striving ages to keep their bodies square and linear while walking, it strucks them now how unbelievably empowering it is to do tangosteps in a relaxed, conscious way. It draws attention to what basically feels natural, often very necessary to improve the self-perception, which is influenced by the media's anorectic thin woman with huge 'boobs' presentations, frequently resulting in feelings of inadequacy, lack of self-confidence, distortion of body image and a total lack of well-being.
Feeling the movement from within, gives people an experience that is strongly connected with "feeling alive". It brings a kind of sensuality in them that might have been fighting to get through before, as if it was not allowed. Through this bodywork and even new retro clothing, one can have the experience of finding a renewed sense.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Article extracted from Tango-E-VIta