This is a series of interview with the pioneers of Argentine Tango. I asked simple questions: What makes a dance beautiful? How could we become good dancers? What was tango like in the old days? I have the answers here, and I would like to share with you. Kumi

Friday, December 4, 2009

Interview Four: Carlos and Rosa Perez

Carlos and Rosa Perez are dancers who have maintained the style of the traditional tango rooted from the 50's.  They have been teaching at the Club Sunderland and the teachers of the world Champions, including the 2009 Salon Champion, Kyoko and Hiroshi Yamano.

Buenos Aires, October 2009

Dear Kumi

After returning from Austria, Denmark, Germany, London and Italy and now getting ready to leave for Canada. I fulfill my promise to answer your questions. I am not too fond of writing, I prefer to have a conversation about these themes. The "Gab" is more to my liking but because the distance between us is far, and out of respect to yourself and the readers of “El Cuartito de los Milongueros" here goes:

I began dancing in 1952. I learned mostly by practicing among fellows that were much older than I from 10 to 15 years my seniors. Very well known milongueros from that time.  Later one would dance in the dozens old neighborhood/barrio clubs that were around in old Buenos Aires at that time, where the music of the tango was queen and the majority of the public chose it.

Rosa started years later, in her home, practicing with her older brothers whom where the ones that later took her out dancing one Saturday.
We stopped dancing around the year 1964, when we were wedded. In that instance it wasn't well looked at to dedicate ourselves to tango as a way of life and we decided to place all our energies in forming our family.

Around this time there were only few places where to go dancing, there weren't that many venues available and they were frequented by older more advanced dancers. The younger community of dancers danced jazz, American boogie, (Swing Dance) and studied a lot of Tap.  Later came a style of Swing dance from Italy that wasn’t as popular but was the precursor to Rock-n-Roll* that set fire to our Argentine youth (still danced today in Argentina as well).

We began dancing professionally again in 1994 (because socially in family get together we always continued to dance).  It just so happened that one day I went to visit the person that showed me my first steps of tango, Jose "Lampazo" Vazquez a great dancer and teacher. He held us dear because we were once neighbors during my youth and my first teacher. In that chance meeting was born the club "Sin Rumbo" and my relationship was very warm as it has always have been with the maestro and friend.

Later on and suggested by him, we began going to the classes as a pastime for enjoyment. But shortly after, Jose began feeling ill and having health issues and asked us to replace him in his classes. This is how we reunited with the Tango dance.

A few years passed and we suffered the lose this great dancer and friend, Jose "Lampazo" and so we took over the classes he was teaching in "Sunderland" in Villa Urquiza" by the request of the Directive Commission of the Club.

This is how we started again our dedication to the teaching of tango dance.  It was just by coincidence that we had the luck of maintaining the roots in the tango traditional.  It had already been almost 30years that we haven’t danced nor were contaminated in the milongas during that time. All of our moves responded to the decade of the 50's and that was a great attraction to the youth (and not so young) to ask for more classes with great enthusiasm.

How many years do you dance with Rosa? My entire life, from the time we were very young we have been sharing life and the tango.  We came to the tango during the 50's with the passion and happiness that was of that era and with our own youthfulness.

Not one of the old "Milongueros" had any expectations, never thought of having any economic income with tango. With this I would like to say that in that era that no one got to travel because of tango. We danced it for the love of the music and as a form of conquest.

Dancing for us was a form of connecting with a girl and then the conquest. This is the reason we began to push ourselves to dance better each time and immerse our presence.

The first time we traveled because of tango was to Paris.  We gave classes for a period of two months. Later on came an avalanche of trips and performances: Challiot Theater of Paris, Parco de la Musica Rome, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, theaters in Tokyo, just to name a few. We also were filmed in a few movies and documentaries for Television.

As I have been told by my elders, tango had its greatest height in the 40's and 50's.
In the 1940's the turn was created by Petroleo and el Negro Mansini two of the greatest Milongueros of that era, also known as the "Canyengue" era. 
With the pass of time that same tango was danced more delicate and elegantly. A lot of emphasis was given to the elegance in Salon style tango.
One would dance at house parties (without cortes or quebradas, very respectfully) in neighborhood/barrio clubs, generally on Saturdays or Sundays would be frequented by neighborhood girls always accompanied by a mother or older brother, because arriving alone was frowned upon.
Obviously there existed other types of dance salons, were men and women of the night would be and people with no jobs.
The music that was listened to during my time in the 50's was music that was played by live orchestras. Di Sarli, D'Arienzo, Pugliese , Canaro , Troilo, Calo, and many more.
The classic neighborhoods/barrios were one would dance would be Saavedra, Urquiza, Villa Pueyrredon, Villa Devoto, Villa Real, Paternal, Villa Mitre and other all around the capital. South of the capital they would dance a different style much more brisk what they call Tango Orillero.

Some dance halls and dancers that I remember are some of the ones that danced "50's style"(please forgive me if I forget to mention someone, I am a man getting on in my years and there are a few things that escape me)
Salon Agusteo, El Palermo located on Oro and Santa Fe, La Argentina, Alumni in Urquiza, Sin Rumbo, Viento Norte, Estudiantes de Villa Devoto, Moran, Glorias Argentinas, Floresta Junior, La Emiliana, Mitre, Sunderland, Pinocho, 17 de Octubre, California, Penacho Azul, Juventud de Belgrano, Excursionista, Chacarita Juniors, Villa Sahores and many more.  Milongueros I must name Jose Vazquez "Lampazo", Osvaldo Mosi "El Nene", Mingo Canonigo, Gerardo Portalea, Eduardo Pereja, Maita, Gallego Villarrazo, Frasquito, Petroleo, el Jorobado Victor, Negro Luis, Tomas Luis, Luis Lemos “Milonguita”, Juan Carlos Copes, Rogelio “El Tio”  and many more that I do not recall their names but were as great a dancers as the best in town.
In the 50's the Tango was one of the alternatives a youth had for his enjoyment, just as much as looking for girl, because back then that was no easy task.

The Tango was danced with a lot of feeling/emotion. The lyrics of the songs were things that happened to each of us in daily life, the street lights, the cobble stone streets, the love for the mother, love for the girl, a Buenos Aires lost in time.
We all respected the codes inside the dance, we all stayed in the line of dance, even if they weren’t the great milongueros. at the same time the majority heard the music with the same critic, even though the floor was packed one could enjoy. It was rare to see couples colliding, it was actually frown upon.

The lowest point for our tango was during the 60's. In those times there were rarely any places to go dancing, the vast majority had closed.
The actual tango itself has evolved a lot I reckon.  Because of other popular dances it has added elements such as movements from other dances, for instance the contemporary classic and others. Some to me seem very pretty and others I think deviate from its essence. Of course one must understand that things change and the young people always need to create something new.. that is all fine.
According to tango historians tango has its origins in afro influences where Candombe then el milongon and la milonga, the tango orillero, canyengue, salon style and lastly tango fantasia from the 50's I believe were the beginnings of Stage Tango.

For us, Tango meant something very special, always it was and in this chapter of our lives gives us permission to move to its rhythm of its music, embrace one another and turn back time enjoying its melody.
It allows us to meet people from different regions of the world, transmitting our traditional tango to the young of all ages and classes and besides being able to travel around the world where they cheer us with affection and respect that we have sown the seeds during all these years. It maintains us active and happy.
We have lived moments of intense happiness when we saw our students win in distinct world competitions and more so see them grow as dancers and persons traveling the world taking our popular music with a little bit of us with them.  This is beautiful!

If anyone were to ask me what one needs to be a good tango dancer I would say that they have to begin by learning the roots of this dance because in another way they could be good dancers but not good tango dancers, or else it becomes a dance that is done on tango music.
To achieve BEING A GOOD TANGO DANCER, one needs to fall in love with this music, a lot of consistency, dedication and be well guided by someone that knows what is Tango.
And on top of all that you have to keep in mind a popular saying "lo que natura no da, Salamanca no presta"**.. that is to say some have a special gift to overcome and some will never have it, just like with everything in this life.


*Rock-n-Roll- Swing dance in double time

**lo que natura no da, salamanca no presta - What nature doesn't give you, Salamanca(a city) wont lend.


Nicole said...

It is not so hard to learn, we just have to devote more time! Although it can be extremely elaborate, the basic tango step is an 8-part choreography in which feet alternate, much like walking. Each partner in the dance has a different set of steps, which mirror the steps of the other dancer. When I travelled to Argentina, I stayed in an apartment in buenos aires and asked for a teacher to come to plac and teach me. I couldn´t believe how simple she made it seem!

Bodies of Tango said...

Salamanca was the city that hosted one of the oldest universities in the world. It equates with knowledge of academic nature. Thus, "what nature does not provide, will not be gained by dedication alone" (of the academic nature).

Post a Comment

Milonguero's Room. Design by Wpthemedesigner. Converted To Blogger Template By Anshul Tested by Blogger Templates.