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July 16, 2009

What do Americans Look for in Tango? (from Nito & Elba interview)

.: El Tangauta :. July 2009 No. 177 has a wonderful interview with Nito and Elba.

I became transfixed when I read the interviewer's question "What do Americans look for in tango?", and then Nito's reply.

CARLOS BEVILACQUA (Interviewer): Later you worked a lot in the United States, what do the Americans look for in tango?

NITO:The embrace, the relationship and the friendship. I think that the American has a very solitary life, product of that extreme respect with which they treat each other. They barely greet their neighbors, they would never say to you "You are really fat!" or "how skinny you are!” At best they ask you what you do for a living. With tango the community appears, friends, relationships, conversations.

ELBA:I am completely in agreement.

N:The curious thing is that in spite of the fact that they first fall in love with stage tango, once they begin to practice social tango they forget completely about ganchos and kicks. Now, when they come to Buenos Aires, they go to a dinner-show but afterwards they go straight to a milonga.

It is interesting to see how Nito perceives the Norte Americano personality and how it relates to tango dancing. I can't argue with him about the initial fascination with stage dancing transforming to social tango. Except, sometimes that transition to social tango takes a long time.... like I sometimes wonder when it will ever happen. Ha ha. :-)

But I think he is definitely on the money when he talks about the real value (for Americans and for anyone) of the tango as "embrace, relationship, friendship."

Nito Garcia is a gifted dancer, a kind and sympathetic person, and I think, a very observant and serious teacher. (Elba too, of course.) I think anything he says should be listened to thoughtfully.

That is why, as I read the current interview, I was thinking about Nito's comments in another interview back in 1998 at Stanford Tango Week, which was published in El Firulete Unabashed Tango talk

Listen to this, American tango dancers:

To wrap it up, why don't each of you give the American men some advice to become better dancers?

Listen to a lot of Tango. Lots of Tango. I don't even like to practice without music. These are habits, of course. You have to listen and listen. Us, we travel a lot; it happens that I arrive at an airport. They come to pick me up. We get in the car and the man who immediately plays Tangos always dances well. The times when somebody picked me up and played salsa or some other kind of music, by coincidence they never danced well. I don't know why, but in my case I would like them to listen to a lot of Tango.

Posted by joegrohens at July 16, 2009 03:54 PM


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