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September 14, 2007

Review of Gustavo Naveira in San Francisco

The Greatest Maestro of Tango in The World

Terence Clarke, writing in the September 12, 2007 issue of Blog Critics, describes the teaching and impact of Gustavo Naveira following on his workshops in San Francisco this summer.

A class from Gustavo and Giselle Anne begins simply enough. He is not a tall man, in his forties with very dark hair, who dresses for the classes simply in a pair of slacks, a sport shirt and shoes. Seeing him walk across the street, you would not suspect that you were watching a volcanic arbiter of great dance and a noted historian of the genre.


When she and Gustavo first walk onto the dance floor to address waiting students, those who are unfamiliar with them will not be prepared for what they are about to see ... and to learn. Gustavo will begin with something like, "Well, today we are going to think about 'ganchos'," the widely-known move in which one partner's leg encounters that of the other partner in a kind of hooking motion. It's an invasion by one partner of the other person's space that, when done properly, provides an electrifying moment of conflict, engagement, and resolution. It at first appears, if not impossible, at least rather risky, and to be sure there are simple ganchos as well as very complicated ones.

Gustavo will survey the circle of students, holding his hands out, his shoulders hunched, a questioning look in his eyes. "Now what do you suppose a gancho really is?" he will ask, and therein begins a long, thoughtful, and conscientious discussion and demonstration of a move in tango that defines the very form itself.

He and Giselle Anne will demonstrate the various concepts of the 'gancho' upon which they've based their ideas, and the demonstrations become more and more complicated as the session moves along. What is heart-stopping is the beauty of what they have to show and the organization of thought that Gustavo brings to his teaching. They have ruminated deeply about these moves and interactions, and this is especially clear in the interplay between showing the thing to their students, helping the students do it, and then talking about it. The dance sequence takes just a moment. But the practicing and the talking may take all day, with many, many more illustrations, in which the gancho changes from something we students have seen and maybe can do in some elementary way into a living, breathing personification of the entire history of tango ... and all the possibilities that exist in it for people of ability and adventuresome creativity.

Posted by joegrohens at September 14, 2007 02:26 AM