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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview Six: DJ Mario Orlando

Mario Orlando is one of the most recognized Tango DJs in Buenos Aires.  This day, I didn’t have an appointment to have an interview with him but he spontaneously accepted by Carlos Matera who is the organizer of Sunderland kindly offering. The time was right after I interviewed Graciela and Carlos Matera, and the night was about to start.  People started to come into the milonga, eating, greeting with people, not much dancers on the dance floor yet.  I wanted to interview a DJ also, so this was a wonderful bonus, and he gave us a very interesting talk.

Q. How long have you been a DJ?

 I have been DJing more or less 30 years.  In here (Sunderland) I’ve been DJing about 10 years.  There is a place I’ve been DJing for more than 15 years.

Q.  When you provide music, how do you decide which music to play?

 The music that I play is adapted by the style of the neighborhood.  Each neighborhood has its own style and steps are different.  What distinguishes the style here (Villa Urquiza) is elegance and steps are long.   There are places like in Center (central area of down town BsAs) that I play faster rhythmic tangos, like D’Arienzo, Biagi, Rodoriguez.   Certain music is not as popular as other clubs.  For example, when I play Rodoriguez in here, they would dance to it, but they are not very happy, because it doesn’t conform the style they dance.  Here what they like is Tanturi, Calo, Troilo, Di Sarli, D’Agositono, I put a lot of Di Sarli here. 

The music that I’m playing now is a new Orchestra with a style of Di Sarli.  It sounds like Di Sarli but it’s a new group by younger people with it’s own personality.  What I try to do is to put some new music so people would get used to slowly.  I keep the tradition but at the same time I do adapt to the new people, new milongueros.  I up date repertoire but keep the night on the tradition.

Q. Do you change music by seasons?

  Not exactly by the seasons, but the season changes the crowds and I change the music by the crowds. For example, in the low season which usually happens in April ~ August, the mood changes in milongas, because there are more locals and not many tourists.  Also there are times when we have more people from Europe, Japan, or the US.  So I change the music by the people and the atmosphere.

Q. Do you find local people and foreigners have different taste in music?

I think foreigners are more open-minded.  Argentineans tend to dance just 5 orchestras, and no more.  That’s all they want to hear. 

When I started traveling abroad to DJ, foreign DJs asked me “you don’t know this music?” It’s not that I don’t know, I have the music but I don’t play it because people wouldn’t dance to it.  With foreigners I need to be more open-minded.

When I play music I always try to put lots of energy into the music and I find foreign DJs don’t have much energy in their music.

Q. How do local people accept music?

I think in tango, there’s always been a great attachment in terms of music.  For example the milongueros in the '30s, they were used to the music of the '30s, so when the music of the '40s came around, they said “No, you can’t dance to it” because it was not familiar to them. But obviously the same thing happened in the '50s.  A lot of orchestras came out in this period, for example, D’Angeles.  People called carousel music.  It was not accepted because they didn’t recognize the music the way they adapt dancing.

Q. In general do DJ people dance tango?

 No, the majority does not dance.  They can’t dance.  But I think that is a big mistake, not being able to dance as a DJ.  I’ve been dancing for 25 years.  I dance and DJ Salsa, too.  I like other styles as well.  I used to DJ Disco, weddings, different kinds of parties and events. 

Q.  What was it like DJing for other events?

It gave me flexibility to be very energetic in my music.   For example, you are in a wedding party with the moment when everybody is eating, I noticed that DJs would put music that are very very relaxing, like elevator music.  The music was too quiet it made people to sleep.  By the time people started to go dancing, they were too relaxed, it was impossible to move and dance.  (Laugh) So what I did was to put the music that people used to dance ten years ago while they were eating. By recognizing the music, people would get into the mood. I had different ways to put people to get up.  This is the way I kept to make people get up and dancing in Tango.

So you need skills to observe people in many different ways.

I think that the DJ is the psychiatrist of the dance floor.  Not of the individuals but of the dance floor.  Once I was invited to give a talk about the anthropology of the dance floor, by a friend of mine who is an anthropologist.  Because in tango, there are different characters.  For example, the people go dancing in the afternoon are different from the people in the evening.  Tango people in the afternoon are the people who have problems, coming from lost in time.  They come to dance to be released, to forget about their troubles.  People who go out in night, they only want to have good time. 

Q. How do you find being a DJ?

There was a milonga that I was DJing for 11 years.  One night I was passing music of Canaro from 1927.  The floor was very packed, because the music was so beautiful.  People were complaining because the floor was so packed they couldn’t move.  There was a woman who was dancing, and when she came around me she says “Take away this music, it’s depressing me.”  I said “Well, I am very sorry about that but I am the DJ not your psychiatrist.”  Obviously they were complaining that they couldn’t dance. (laugh)

This job is very stressful.  I have various friends who stopped working as DJ because  it’s very difficult.  People are never happy, always criticizing you.  You can never please everybody.  It’s very thankless job.

I need to go back to the booth and change the music now.

Thank you so much for your time.


"Mario Orlando is my real name, not an artistic name."

"I work from Tuesday to Sunday DJing.  In Thursday and Friday I have two milongas.  I leave home at 3 in the afternoon and go back home 6 am in the morning."

"There are places that I put non-traditional music too. One of the milongas that I DJ is a gay Milonga (La Marshal).  Obviously it’s not traditional.  In that milonga, I put  music like electronical, Greek music.  It’s called gay milonga but a lot of people go there are not gay."

The following Thursday, I went to El Arranque the afternoon milonga (Central BsAs) and accidentally met him again.  He asked me, “do you find the difference in music?”  Yes, I heard more rhythmic music, a lot of D’Arienzos  J  and the steps were smaller.  He was in a T-Shirt more relaxed atmosphere and it made me more relaxed too. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Interview Five: Sunderland Club "La Milonga del Mundo"

This is an interview with Graciela and Carlos Matera, the organizers of the Sunderland Club "La Milonga del Mundo". Sunderland Club is one of the most important and respected milongas in Buenos Aires, located north of the capital in the neighborhood of Villa Urquiza. This milonga is held every Saturday night. I asked and arranged an appointment for an interview before the trip and Graciela and Carlos kindly agreed to see me and to do the interview. The interview was done one hour before the milonga, on December 12, 2009.

When was this club found?

The Sunderland Club is a social club and it was found 93 years ago. The milonga started in 1940s.

Are you the founder of this milonga?

The founder was a tango lyricist. His name is Mario Battistella.

When did you start organizing this milonga?

We started about 10 years ago. There were many others after we lost Battistella . The name "La Milonga del Mundo" ("the milonga of the world") represents us. And it's been about 10 years now. The name of the milongas has always been Sunderland Club since Battistella, but "El Mundo" means us.

What is the intention behind this name "El Mundo"?

Because all the greatest dancers, like Gavito, Gloria and Eduardo who brought tango to the world they all started from this club.

I hear Sunderland is a different kind of institution, created by this neighborhood, "Villa Urquiza". It is not the same as rest of the milongas. What does it mean?

Because this club created quantity of important dancers, such as; Finito, Petroleo, Portalea Villarrazo, Lampazo. These are the older generation. And for the next generation there are Balamaceda, he's not from Urquiza but he was here to dance, Gavito, Zotto, Rivarola, Maria, Gloria and Eduardo. They all came out from this club.

Did all these dancers' parents danced in this club too?

No, no. Not in every case. There are families like Misse, all the children dance professionally but their parents don't dance tango. Javier Rodriguez comes here to dance but he's parents are not tango dancers.

So this area just happened to create good dancers?

No, because there were many great dancers in other neighborhoods also, but in this neighborhood, Villa Urquiza created the strongest dancers and many of the good ones brought more good ones. It didn't happen accidentally. There was a cause. This was in the golden age of tango. These dancers were identifiable, and created different styles. The styles were based on walking. It happened because of this big space also.

Were there many milongas in this neighborhood back then?

There were many, many others.

And only this milonga remained?

Only this and Sin Rumbo. There are still many more social clubs remaining now, but the milongas didn't remain.

Do you know why, this club remained?

It's a mystery. This place doesn't have any special ambiance, no luxuries, nothing special. Somehow it happened. It's a strange thing that some places put lots of effort to put beautiful floors or curtains, but they don't succeed. It's just a magic that happened here. It's something that we can not explain. We don't even do much publicity. All we do is to put fliers on the table announcing who's performing next week.

Were you open in the 70's?

No, it was the years during the dictatorship. All the milongas were closed that time. It was reopened in the 80's. I don't remember exactly which year.

Did you dance back then?

Yes! Yes, we did! We had private events more than anything that time. With people who could not stay without dancing, we got together like 20- 30 couples. We ate and danced together every weekend.

Do you have the same DJ all the time?

Yes, we have the same DJ, Mario Orlando for 10 years since we started. Would you like to interview him also?

- Yes, I would love to! Thank you.

What is the most important thing as an organizer?

To meet the people that come. We give the vibe, warmth, make sure they are comfortable as they were at home. Give personal attention, welcoming. Of course provide good music... etc.

As being organizers, what kind of changes do you see over these years. I think tango has been changing and what kind of changes do you see as organizers?

Yes, yes. There are changes. There are, and the changes are made by younger people, the younger generation. There are changes in Tango but I believe here in Urquiza, we are keeping the tradition within the club. We are always going back to the roots of the tango.

The part of the reasons I am doing this, is because I think there are so many foreigners now than before, and I feel the increase of the foreigners is also creating the changes in tango. By us not knowing the codes or not understanding the essence, I'm afraid we are breaking tango into something else. I want to give the message to the foreigners that there are many other things we should know when we are dancing tango. I believe all foreigners wish to dance authentically. It doesn't mean we don't care. We want to know. We are simply ignorant about these matters. I wonder if you could kindly give us how you feel about foreigners' behaviors that seem to be trouble, so we can learn and dance better.

(they looked very much in trouble, being asked difficult question, but they kindly opened up to us and gave us honest feedback)

What I see all the time is, I see people (foreigners) want to learn very much, but they don't pay attention to the sensibility of the dance. All they want to learn is the mechanical part.

To talk about the codes, when they dance on the dance floor, they are not aware of other couples. There's no attention, no care to the other dancers on the dance floor. They go one way, then go to the other way, those dancers are thinking only about themselves. No manner. Passing, crossing other couples, these are rude. Also not having an embrace, to be open, that is a part of the problems causing traffic on the dance floor. Because embrace is the transmission.

When I go to milongas now, I feel I see elder people retired which is the majority, many tourists, and some young Argentinean people who are professionals.

Yes, I know what you mean. Right now actually there are more teachers than students. So many maestros. Most of them are maestros on the dance floor.

Has is always been this way?

Before people were just dancing for their own pleasure. Nobody thought they can make money or become professional by tango.

Before people learned from each other. They tried some figures, while other people were watching, then you try to do it yourself with someone at the corner, it was not something that you pay, or charge money to teach. Men practiced with men. There were practicas which was done only by men, because women were taboo. Women were not accessible back then. Also the difference in the old days, the good women dancers were called good "accompaniment", because the figure of women in relationship were more complicated. Now the women are dancing their parts, not only accompanying men.

Last question. What is your wish for the future of tango?

Our wish for the tango is to grow more and to be known around the world. World means in many different ways. To all kinds of cultures and people. To become more and more popular and be adopted in different cultures, but adopted in the right way, without changing it's nature. Now, there are many places they dance tango, but they are dancing it without understanding the roots and the tradition.

We wish tango to become more popular but with respect and understanding the roots of the tango, and not become something else. Keep dancing in the traditional way.

Thank you very much for your time.

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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interview Three: Jorge Torres (part two)

"And in Argentine Tango, 

the main thing is

 to be an original."

~ interviewed in August 2009

- What is Code?  From the previous interviews, we've been hearing a lot about "Codes".  I thought it meant simply general manners, rules..., but I feel there's more in it.

Yes, that is all included. 

- In Japan, we have different ways of speaking, when you speak to your parents, or to your friends, teachers, younger brother, we have different languages to use.  Is code something similar to that?

 Yes, that is it.  It is the respect.  The only ones that know about the respect are the people who are involved.  Most of the young people now don't know important dancers from before.  So there's no relationship.  Now everybody is from outside.  That's why we say, "they don't have code".  They don't have the code that we used to have before. 

Even in Buenos Ares?

 I'm talking about in Buenos Aires.  There's no more code.  It doesn't exist anymore.  The best way to learn the code is to be with old people.

- When was the most exciting time in tango for you?  "Tango Golden Age"

 Now is the Golden age, because, you know why?  Because I can appreciate tango more.  Now I can say I understand Tango. 

 - And how many years did it take you to understand tango?

 When you are 20, you think you know well, but when you turn 30 you think you know better.  It comes with experience.  It comes with the history of your life.  This is my second time marriage, I've been through many things, now I know what heart ache means.  I have many bruises, and now I know what bruises feel like.  And when I listen to tango lyrics, it says exactly how I am feeling now, and I get so amazed "how do you know exactly how I feel!?" I say to myself "he is talking about me". And at the same time that is happening the same with other people. (laugh)

- So do you think Tango lyrics are very important part to dance tango?

 Yes.  You need to know the lyrics.  Other wise, may be the lyric is singing about the death, and you cannot dance happy jumping and excited.
 When I dance, I improvise the music. Sometimes I dance with piano, dance with violin. I dance along the music too.

- And how do you incorporate it with steps and leading?

 The music naturally brings you there, and you need enough vocabularies to make it happen.  Good leaders can seduce the partners to do things, they need to feel the women, be present, not to be too charged, not to be empty for another person and be able to seduce to do things. And for the followers too, she needs to be present for the leader.
 "Having confidence kills respect"
We have a word in Spanish "confidence", we use like "I have confidence in you". When you have a good friend, you say I have confidence in you.  In tango, "having confidence kills the respect".  When you have a very good friend and you know the person so well you lose the respect to the person.  When you dance with someone you know for a long time, it starts to become a routine, little by little.  You know what this person is going to do so well, you stop paying attention. Some people they dance the same song with same person all the time. Nothing new, nothing fresh. But when you dance with someone new, you need to be alert and really feel the person, and be fully present for the other person. That's why I like to I keep changing partners all the time.  I dance with different people, to keep Argentine Tango fresh and new.

- About older people dancing, you said that when you see them dancing you can see so many things.  Do you see it even when you are watching in internet?  Because I cannot see it.  Do I need to see them in real? Or do you see it even with videos?

 Well, you have to see it in a different way.  You need to try to see who that person is.  You need to think what kind of life they had, what kind of things they went through, you just don't see it in the movement, it's a different way of seeing.

Hmmmm, I don't know what kind of life they had, because I don't know how people live in Argentina generally. Do you think I need to know the basic background to imagine it?

 Hmmmm,  maybe. ......  .....Yes, you need to know.

- Do I need to know what kind of persons they are to understand the dance?

 If you know them, it is of course more interesting.

- And you said young people they are worried about how they look and not dancing honestly....?

 At the end they start to do what they want to do.  But in their mind, the young kids, what do they think?  Do they think about the economy? about the future? No, they don't care. They just want to play. They want to have fun and party everyday. They are not thinking about paying bills, raising kids, so many things that you get later. They don't have different kinds of heart broken experiences.  Everything starts to change when things happens to you in your life.  There may be a young and mature kid, or there maybe an old person but immature.  It depends what kind of life, depending what happened to you in your life, makes the difference.

- And that shows in the dance?
 It's a reflection.

- ...I cannot see that.  I can feel that.  When I dance together.  I can feel that.  That is why I like dancing with old people.  But I don't see it...

 It's ok, don't worry about it.   It's just knowledge.  It takes time, process, study, try to understand, you know?  It's ok.

- We often hear different instructors teaching different styles, and we get confused.  What is exactly, Milonguero, Salon, Fantasia...

 Fantasia is like Carlos Copes.  It's a stage.  Salon is very simple.  It is very elegant, subtle, and simple.  Just to get you an idea, how dizzy people get, here and all over the world.  To dance Salon is just to walk.  Not even cross (5).  That is Tango Salon.  What people dance now is not salon, what people dance now is Tango Pista and they think they are doing Tango Salon.  Usually what people dance in milonga is Pista when they do steps.  Before it was only walking.  Salon is only walks no figures.

- What is Figures? 
 Figure is the steps, combination of steps.

- And what is Tango Pista?
 That is another price.
- Okay. (laugh)

- When I take lessons with the very top world class dancers and say "Milonguero" or "Urquiza" they usually all stop me and say, "don't make things complicated.  This is Argentine Tango".  I feel they don't like us talking about styles. 

 Yes, it doesn't mean anything.  Look, every barrio has a style and every person has his own style. It's not only one specific style.  If you put 20 couples in the same club, let's say from Urquiza.  They are all going to look not the same.  They will all going to look different.  Other wise, they are all copies.  They are not originals.
 And in Argentine Tango, the main thing is to be an original.  Other wise they are copies.  It is important to be honest with your own style.

- How can we dance original?

 This is like when a baby learning a language.  At the beginning a baby starts say things.  You don't' know what a baby is saying.  A baby starts with making noises that nobody understands. Then a baby start to say Mama, Papa, start to learn something what we teach them. After it starts learning words, "mama", "papa", "this", "that", then we start to teach a fraise "mama, I love you".  But a baby still doesn't know what that means.  Baby is just repeating a fraise.  First it repeats words, then starts to say a fraise.  After that baby starts to learn how to mix things. With this word, with that word. That means there is a transformation.  Later on the baby is not going to say only what the mother taught.  Now the baby starts to say what he wants to say.

- So for tango you need to start from copying. 

 Yes, so you learn words first then the fraises and then the final point is to say what ever you would like to say.  And after you get your own way of saying, then you are developing your own style. 

- So it's ok to copy at the beginning. 

 Yes, you need to copy, you need to learn.  It is ok. And gradually you start to have the style. 

 But there is a problem with our teachers.  We have to give you education to make you to be who you are.  But it's completely different now.  Most of the teachers they teach you to be like them.  So they create copies.  That is Very bad.  Because instructors are like "no, this is my student, because he dances like this", that is horrible.  They are killing your life.  They don't want to kill your life but that's what they are doing. 
 We have to be more educators than teachers.  Teachers show you how to do things but don't give you education, knowledge, or don't give the power do decide.  The educators have to give you tools, tools to make everything possible.  But here, because we have so many teachers all over. Teachers that they really don't know exactly what they suppose to do, which is happening in every country, everywhere.  They just learn two things, and start teaching. And they start killing all these future good dancers.  They don't give the tools, or they teach in the wrong way, or in the wrong order.

- There are people dancing Tango steps, but the feeling, attitude is not Argentine Tango. Or sometimes dancing the movement wrong and say, "this is my Style".  What makes the dance Tango and not Tango? When is it not Tango any more?  For us foreigners, it is very difficult to distinguish if the movement is Argentine Tango or not.

 You need to learn.
Now people have Internet.  Longtime ago, when we were learning there were no Internet. So we didn't have any information.  The only information we had was to be with people, taking classes with everybody, to see them dance, to have an idea. But now even when we are in the end of the world, we just click the internet and we can see millions of things.  Now you are able to get information, even you don't know anything about tango.  It's more difficult now to say I don't know anything about tango.  You need to watch.  Now there are so many interviews, like yours. I think there are a lot of things, information out there.  The real people talking to give you ideas and helping people to clarify.  I think it's easier than before.  But, people have to want to learn who are the good teachers and if they know or not.

- That is the hard part for us, to know who are the good teachers.

 I always tell the students, doesn't matter who is the teacher, if he is teaching you, you need to ask why, "why I have to do this?", "why I don't' have to do that?"  If he has the answers, the right answers for each questions, then he is a good teacher.    If they say, "no, just do like that because it's like that".  Don't go any more. That is wrong.  Means that person doesn't know.  We have to give answers like when your son or your daughter asks you for questions.  We have to have answers.  Because you are an example for them.  If I don't give them right answers may be they go to their mom.  If the mom doesn't know the answer, may be they will go to somebody else.  We have to make things possible.  We have to learn to make it possible.

So it's up to that person if he's willing to learn more or not? 

 It depends on that person how much he is hungry for the knowledge.  That makes you feel proud of you later because you really searched.  For your own knowledge.  I tell my students, it's not so important how much I can teach you, but it is more important how much you can learn from me.  That is how much you are open to learn.  That's what happened from my teacher.  I still go and talk to him when I am in Argentina.  It doesn't have to be only about dancing.  You talk about life.

 Jorge Torres
Un hombre que baila (A man who dances)

Interviewed August 2009

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