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August 18, 2005

Another Janis Kenyon report on Buenos Aires Tango Championships

Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2005 02:33:49 -0300
Reply-To: Janis Kenyon
Sender: Discussion of Any Aspect of the Argentine Tango
From: Janis Kenyon
Subject: [TANGO-L] III Campeonato Mundial de Tango -- first semifinal round Tango de Salon

They began handing out tickets at La Rural at 10am for the evening program. Those who arrived early were able to obtain number seats for tables around the dance floor. I arrived at 5pm so my seat was on the bleachers with thousands of others. The doors opened at 6:30, which meant that the program wasn't going to begin at 7pm as scheduled. Nothing begins on time in Buenos Aires, but the audience showed their impatience at 7:25 by clapping. Ten minutes later, the program began with Orchestra Erica Di Salvo.

Two-hundred fifty couples danced in the qualifying rounds on two days before different judging panels. That number was cut to 100 for the semi-final rounds. There were ten rounds of ten couples on Tuesday night, and everyone will dance again for another panel of judges on Wednesday night.

The judges were Gabriel Misse (young stage performer), Ines Borquez (stage performer), Claudio Gonzalez (performer and teacher), Carlos Perez (teacher), and Ana Maria Schapira (teacher of milonguero style).

Countries represented in the semi-final round are Colombia, Japan, Spain, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Germany, Hungary, USA, Italia, Uruguay, Australia, and Argentina.

Fabian Peralta and Natacha Poberaj are professional stage dancers. He danced with Solo Tango, and she with Tango X2. They look so out of place in this competition doing their stagey stuff, but there's no doubt that they made it to the semi-finals due to their close association with judges. Someone in the bleachers shouted -- no puede ser -- it can't be -- when they were introduced for the round. Everyone knows they dance on stage. They hardly need the prize money since they work in Europe all the time.

A friend called me as I was leaving for La Rural. She has been a judge during previous competitions, but doesn't want to do it anymore. She told me that for her, judging isn't about who you like, it's about who are the best dancers. She may not like or know someone, but if they are the best dancers of tango de salon, they get her vote. Unfortunately, most of the judges pick their friends, not the best dancers.

Osvaldo Centeno and Elba Biscay danced in Round #8. I didn't know until I heard their names that they had made it to the semi-finals. He has been dancing longer than most of the judges have been alive. Pedro Sanchez is the other milonguero who made it to the semi-finals. It was a pleasure watching both of these milongueros do what they do better than most.

I don't know who was responsible for the selection of music, but he should be required to attend a milonga where Daniel Borelli programs the music to learn what is danceable music. With all the great tangos available, he selected unfamiliar and undanceable music by El Arranque, Color Tango, Orchestra Escuela del Tango, and Cuarteto San Telmo. I felt sorry for the couples in the 7th round who had to dance to unfamiliar and undanceable music. It's nice to be inspired by music you know and love.

The program ended at 11:45pm after the last round of dancers. Most of the audience was gone by 10pm. After the Wednesday night semifinal rounds, 40 couples will be chosen for the final round on Saturday night.

Janis Kenyon
Buenos Aires

Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005
Sender: Discussion of Any Aspect of the Argentine Tango
From: Janis Kenyon
Subject: [TANGO-L] III Campeonato Mundial de Tango -- second semi-final round Tango de Salon To: TANGO-L@MITVMA.MIT.EDU

Once again, ten couples danced in ten rounds for a new panel of five judges: Marta Anton (canyengue teacher), Geraldine Rojas (24--stage performer/teacher), Juan Belsito (77), Julio Balmaceda (40--performer/teacher), Elina Roldan (performer/teacher).

The evaluation criteria stated that couples shall constantly move counterclockwise and avoid remaining in the same position for over two musical measures. If this rule had been observed by the judges, many of the couples wouldn't have made it to the semi-final round. Not only did many dance against the line of dance, there were two rounds when 9 of the 10 couples came to a complete halt for several measures during a Pugliese tango; the only ones who kept dancing were milongueros Osvaldo Centeno and Pedro Sanchez.

We were informed who was responsible for the selection of recorded music for the competition. It was the same person who was given the job at last year's competition. Sergio Cortazzo isn't a social dancer accustomed to hearing music in the milongas. He only dances choreography. If any of you reading this are thinking about entering next year's competition, I suggest you become familiar with the recordings of El Arranque, Orquesta La Escuela del Tango and Color Tango. Their music will be used for the competition as long as Sergio is in charge of the selection.

Thirty-eight couples from the semi-finals were announced, and the top two couples from the Campeonato Metropolitano will be included in the finals on Saturday night. Finalists range in age from 20s to late 70s. Twenty-four couples are from Argentina. The others represent Chile (2), Colombia (4), Russia (1), Japan (2), Portugal (1), Germany (1), Italy (2), and the USA (1). Colombia was represented by eight couples. One very young couple from Cali, Colombia had my vote. Oscar and Victoria didn't make it to the finals, but he really danced the music.

Pedro Sanchez and Graciela didn't make the cut, but Osvaldo Vicente Centeno and Elba Biscay did--at least there is ONE milonguero going to the finals. It's easy to see how politics are at work and WHO you know is more important than how you dance. Local teachers like Gerardo Quiroz and Maria Eugenia Cuyas, Carlos Tedeschi and Ana Gregori, Maxi Copello (son of Carlos Copello) know the right people. They all should have lost points for not moving. There is no one more well-connected to the Association and judges than Fabian Peralta and Natacha Poberaj, professional stage dancers who would have had no chance whatsoever of winning in the stage competition, so they entered the salon category.

And now to mention the regulars in the milongas: Carlos Cardoza and Griselda Brunini, Norma Fernandez, and Elsa (she cried) who kept trying and finally made the last cut to the final round. Lito and Lydia Filipini, winners of last year's Campeonato Metropolitano, are pleased to be dancing in the finals again this year.

You wouldn't think a world competition would attract new dancers, but Tim Ferris from NYC had guts to enter after only five months of classes. But he had one of the most experienced stage dancers in Buenos Aires as his partner. They danced in the semi-finals rounds, but if they had made it to the finals, I would have questioned the judging. He happens to be taking private lessons from one of the judges. The rules don't mention anything about a judge withholding an evaluation for conflict of interest. They should.

And last, but not least, I have to mention the couple from Miami -- Richard and Colette. This was a shock, but not really a surprise, that this couple actually made the finals. They can't dance and look more like wanna-be stage performers. They ended every tango as if they were on stage rather than on a social floor. Maybe Zotto put in a good word for them with the judges.

Janis Kenyon Buenos Aires


Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005 02:46:03 -0300
Reply-To: Janis Kenyon
Sender: Discussion of Any Aspect of the Argentine Tango
From: Janis Kenyon
Subject: [TANGO-L] III Campeonato Mundial de Tango -- finals Tango de Salon

10th place -- Kenneth Fraser and Sieglinde Fraser -- Stuttgart, Germany
9th place -- Mariano Olman and Lorena Samantha Coronel, Banfield - Prov. de BsAs.
8th place -- Roberto Carranza Zuccarino and Lorena Valeria Goldestein -- Bs.As.
7th place -- Alberto Bersini and Nicoletta Pregnolato -- Bergamo, Italy
6th place -- Victor Zarzar and Fabiola Vera -- Puerto Montt, Chile
5th place -- Domingo Ramon Musacchio and Marta Orlanda Orso -- Prov. de BsAs
4th place -- Adrian Vallejos and Yanina Erramouspe -- Tandil, Prov. de BsAs.
3rd place -- Fabian Peralta and Natacha Poberaj -- BsAs.
2nd place -- Pedro Vujovich and Graciela Cano -- Bs.As. (winners of Camp. Metropolitano)
1st place -- Sebastian Andres Achaval and Maria Ximena Gallicchio, Azul Prov. de BsAs.


Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005
Sender: Discussion of Any Aspect of the Argentine Tango
From: Janis Kenyon
Subject: [TANGO-L] III Campeonato Mundial de Tango -- Tango de Salon finals To: TANGO-L@MITVMA.MIT.EDU

The ticket office at La Rural opened at 10am on Saturday morning to give out free tickets to the evening event. The city has increased the publicity this year, so there were many who were interested in attending. I could have gone at 4pm for a ticket, but I decided not to arrive so early. I was certain there would be tickets available at 6:30pm for the 8:00pm finals for the Tango de Salon competition. What I didn't realize is that the auditorium at La Rural wouldn't accommodate all those who wanted to attend.

I left home at 6:00pm, taking a bus that would stop in front of La Rural. I saw two buses coming, but missed the first one by a few seconds, but my timing was perfect. The second bus was empty except for three people I know who were on their way to the same place. They were seated in the rear of the bus, so I didn't immediately notice that it was Osvaldo Centeno with his daughter Cynthia and his grandson Nicolas on their way to La Rural. I was glad to have time for a visit with them and to talk with Osvaldo about the competition. I had the opportunity to ask Osvaldo why he entered. He told me that he wasn't interested in competing, but Elba Biscay asked him. They have danced together since they were teenagers. It was a new experience for both of them, and he enjoyed it. He was smartly dressed in a gray pinstripe suit and black suede shoes. He admitted to me that he was a bit nervous about dancing before such a large audience. Osvaldo was among a handful of couples in the competition who frequent the milongas, but none of them comes close to his 55 years in tango.

The bus arrived at La Rural around 6:30pm. I noticed that the ticket booth was closed, so we began asking about tickets. We were told that no more were available. People were lined up at 7am and all had been given out by noon. My heart sank. I couldn't believe that I was going to miss the finals. Osvaldo had a ticket for Cynthia near the floor, but she had to check if Nicolas could be able to enter with her. I went inside to tell Osvaldo there were no more tickets. He calmly turned and walked away. When he returned, he handed me a ticket. I was ecstatic. I went outside and got in line. Later, the daughter of one of the competitors told me they were at the beginning of the line and invited me to join them there. Good things kept coming my way, and I was grateful. Finally, at 7:30pm people were permitted to enter and find seats on the bleachers. We were among the first 50 to enter, so I went to the area where I had been seated for the semifinals. I had told a friend where to find me if she decided to attend. The line to enter stretched along Santa Fe. I was glad I didn't have to make my way to the end. This event was the hottest ticket in town.

The show began at 8:35pm with Anibal Arias (83) guitarrist and Osvaldo Montes, bandoneonista. I have had the pleasure of hearing this duo in the more intimate setting of La Casa del Tango. The large audience at La Rural wasn't attentive during their flawless performance.

Between competition rounds, the Portena Jazz Band and Orquesta El Arranque took the stage. The band played toe-tapping standards that got the audience onto the dance floor. People wanted to dance tango, but the orchestra's arrangements are not danceable. Their singer is outstanding in his phrasing and breath control, and commands the stage like a new Raul Beron for the 21st Century.

Maria Nieves, who turns 70 on September 6, was the star of the program. Many were there to see her perform with Junior. She is attractive with her short red hair and long slender legs. She executed every move to the amazement of the audience. The audience thanked her with a standing ovation and demanded another. Maria had her fellow dancers from Tango Argentina in the front row tables--Gloria & Eduardo Arquimbau, Carlos & Maria Rivarola, Carlos Borquez--so she was giving them winks and smiles during her performance. Maria is performing on stage five nights a week in the show Tanguera in Teatro Liceo.

My friend managed to find me inside. She arrived at 7pm and learned there were no more tickets, but she wasn't ready to give up. She waited patiently for someone to show up with a ticket for her. And finally, a man arrived with two tickets, and gave one to her. She told me that there lots of angry people outside who wanted to enter, but weren't allowed to do so without a ticket. Earlier she told a security guard that I was waiting inside for her, and he even tried to find me. A few minutes later, with ticket in hand she entered and people seated in front of me pointed her out to me when they realized she was trying to get my attention. I was busy filming and didn't notice her. She was able to find me among the thousands. She had never seen Maria Nieves dance before and was thrilled to see her perform. I'm glad she didn't miss it.

There were five rounds of 8 couples in the finals of the Tango de Salon. Later, there were two more rounds of ten couples for the last evaluation before the results were announced. The 20 couples lined up on stage as Fernando Bravo announced the top ten. The champions from Azul danced an emotional winning performance on stage to Quejas de Bandoneon.

Janis Kenyon Buenos Aires

Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 00:32:29 -0300
Reply-To: Janis Kenyon
Sender: Discussion of Any Aspect of the Argentine Tango
From: Janis Kenyon
Subject: [TANGO-L] III Campeonato Mundial de Tango -- Tango de Salon music and judging

The orchestra recordings selected for the Tango de Salon finals:

1) Fresedo - Vida Mia; Lomuto; Pugliese
2) Di Sarli - Bahia Blanca; Canaro; Pugliese - Arrabal
3) Di Sarli; D'Arienzo; Sexteto Major - Danzarin
4) Di Sarli - Viviani; Troilo - Milongueando en los 40; Pugliese - Emancipacion
5) Di Sarli - Amanacer; D'Arienzo; Pugliese
6) Demare; Troilo -- Cachirulo; Gobbi --- (final elimination rounds)

Much of the same music was used during the semifinals rounds. Danzarin is the tango that Juan Carlos Copes danced with Maria Nieves in Tango Argentino. It's great music for the stage. During the long rhythmic pauses in the Pugliese recordings, the dancers looked like statues. They were permitted two musical measures without moving, but several looked as if they didn't know what to do and waited as many as 8 measures before progressing. What about Tanturi, Calo, etc.? I would like to see the person responsible for the music selection improvise with his partner before a large audience to an unfamiliar tango. I thought we dance because the music inspires us. How can this happen if we've never heard it before? Gobbi?

I made predictions on who the judges would be and who would finish in the top ten. I was right about three of the judges: Jorge Firpo, Corina de la Rosa, and Carlos Borquez. That's because Corina's husband Julio judged the semifinals, so it was her turn to judge the finals; he did last year. Ines Borquez judged a semifinal round, so it was her husband's turn in the finals. The other judges were Roberto Herrera, Juan Manuel Fernandez, Maria Rivarola (husband Carlos judged a qualifying round), and Natalia Hills. Everyone is a member of the Associacion de Maestros, Bailarines y Coreografos de Tango Argentino and most of them are on the staff of Escuela Argentina de Tango. All of the judges, except Juan Manuel, have had stage careers. Why are they the experts who judge tango de salon? Any what was so important to talk about with one another while there was an orchestra playing on stage?

I predicted that couples from Colombia; Stuttgart, Germany; Italy; and Portugal would be in the top ten. There were many good dancers from Colombia, but not one of them placed. A couple from Stuttgart placed 4th in the finals of 2004, and their friends placed 10th this year. Portugal didn't place, but couple #27 from Italy did. They begin and end their dancing as if they are doing an exhibition. I would be surprised if they never studied with Gavito and Maria. The audience gave them the longest round of applause of any of the top ten couples. Their investment paid off.

The couples who placed 5th and 9th in the Campeonato Metropolitano didn't place among the last 20 couples in the finals. The couple who placed 4th in the Campeonato Metropolitano didn't place in the top ten; she is a psychologist who learned tango five years ago and has been teaching two years. She and her partner shouldn't have placed in any dance competition. The couple who placed 10th in the Campeonato Metropolitano were among the last 20 couples, but have to learn to dance the music. There was another teaching couple among the final 20 couples, and if they or the other teaching couple had made the final ten, I would say that the future of tango is doomed.

The couple who placed third in the finals were on my list of predictions, but not because they are good dancers. I decided to film them during the finals as evidence that they don't know how to dance tango de salon. They have no musicality. They danced more in one spot on the floor than they did around it. The pauses were challenging. The two-measure rule didn't mean anything to them; they did their thing, meaning no-thing for as long as 8 measures. When the tempo picked up, he did lots of fast turns in one place--you know, the way to end a choreography on stage. Her ex- dance partner happened to be judging the finals. They were guaranteed to place. I had no doubt about it the moment I saw the judges sit down.

Osvaldo Centeno told me something very interesting while we were on our way by bus to La Rural. One of the judges approached him after the semifinals and said he'd like to know how Osvaldo does his turn to the left. I yelled with laughter because there was no one on the bus. Osvaldo merely smiled at me. I replied--he wants to learn your turn so he can earn thousands of dollars teaching it to foreigners.

I have one word for this competition -- trampa.

Janis Kenyon Buenos Aires

Posted by joegrohens at August 18, 2005 02:34 AM


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