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July 16, 2008

This Is Your Art

I remember a class with Gavito where he stopped the class right in the middle of our practicing some sequence he had shown. He cut the music, and ordered us to stop right there. Then he said something like, "Look, I'm not joking here. You want to be in this class, do the work. Be serious. I'm an artist, and tango is my art. I'm a painter, only I paint with my feet. This, right here, this is a dance floor. When you come onto this floor, whether you like it or not, you are a dancer. You are an artist. This is your art. Act like it. Or don't come onto this floor."

I'm paraphrasing from distant memory ... now about 10 years ago. But I remember the mood in the studio that afternoon, while he was talking. You could hear a pin drop. That guy could lay down some heavy vibes. He got very steamed up sometimes with frustration during teaching. He'd blow his top, then five minutes later he would go around apologizing.

Jeff Allen's interview with Gavito (In "Quickstart to Tango" 1998) quotes Gavito as saying something very similar to what he said in our class that day.

A student would say "We are not dancers". Listen lady, from the moment you step a foot, you are a dancer. That's a dance floor. If you don't feel like that, then get the hell out of here! Because if you want to put your foot there, you are insulting me, if you say your problems. Because that's a dance floor. That is not a shop, a market, a cafe, a restaurant. That's a dance floor. So from the moment you decide to put on a pair of shoes and come and put a foot there YOU ARE A DANCER. I'M GOING TO TREAT YOU LIKE A DANCER!!! And I want the same response. I want you to be a dancer!!

Posted by joegrohens at July 16, 2008 12:51 PM


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