American, Argentine Tango?! What am I talking about? Before anyone comes to my class, practica or milonga, one thing that I need to reveal in the interest of full disclosure; I am an American. I did not grow up in Argentina, and dare I say it, I have never even visited Argentina. So how does that impact my approach to teaching tango?
Well, for one thing, I am not teaching tango culture. Tango is to me, a dance. As a ballet and show dancer, adage work, or partnering, was always my passion and strength and kept me employed for years. As I had studied and worked hard at partnering, I was immediately intrigued by the approach of tango to the movement of two bodies in space. Technically and aesthetically, ballet and tango are a great marriage. Why do I bring this up?
I dance because I love music. Music plays and something happens within me. Whether it is rock music driving me on while I run or rollerblade, or Gregorian chants that calm me down after a stressful day or blues music when I am down. Music speaks to me and tells me how to move to it and guess what; a wide variety of music makes me want to tango. I go to the library and get cd's of music from around the world, and then I listen while walking my wolves. Many are the times I have been in the mountains and forest and find myself dancing to the music I am discovering. If it tells me tango, it gets into my rotation, wherever it comes from. I am particularly fond of American blues for Argentine tango. I believe that they were both born out of hard times and suffering, and make for a perfect blend of music, movement and emotion.
These sentiments are not approved of by Argentine tango purists. Tango is only danced to tango music. Not at my events, whether class, practica or milonga. So be forewarned. If you only like romantic era tango, or nuevo tango or whatever era, you will probably not be happy at my events. I do love much Argentine tango music and use quite a bit of it, along with a variety from Bach to Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Another warning; my milongas are definitely "alternative". Besides a wide variety of non-Argentine music, I also do not observe the tanda structure for a few reasons.
The main reason is because I do not want to be committed to dancing 3 or 4 dances with one woman just because of convention. Most milongas around the US have a disproportionate number of women to men, and I like to circulate around so that more women get to dance. The second reason, I do not like the mood break that is the cortina. When I get into the zone, or am experiencing a "tango moment" there is nothing more disappointing and annoying than to have a cortina come along. Definite buzz killer, tango interruptus. As far as I am concerned, people in the tango world are generally adults and should be able to politely thank a partner for a dance and leave without depending on the cortina to save them. That being said, I do like to group music for a common theme, dance style or feeling.
So now you know a bit about my approach to music and tango and should expect to be dancing tango to a wide variety of nontraditional music in a nontraditional form. An American, Argentine tango experience.