Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a team, community and people. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

December 28, 2017

The Elegance of the Milonguero Style

In contrast to some tango styles that remind me of a bustling casino, the milonguero style of tango reminds me of a Zen garden - an oasis of austerity, serenity, peace and natural beauty for quiet contemplation. The style aims at inward experiences, so the look becomes less important. In fact, it is danced in simple and natural steps, very little adornments are used in order to avoid complication and distraction, thus enables the dancers to focus inwardly on the feelings.

That, however, does not reduce its aesthetic value. On the contrary, the style possesses a natural, simple and elegant beauty second to none. The following is an example.

Using cadencia to make the dance elegant
The key element responsible for the elegance of the style is cadencia. The woman leans chest-against-chest on the mans torso, which enables him to use the chest connection as the fixed point to swing her torso, hip and leg as a whole, causing the movement of her body look graceful and elegant. Notice that the woman does not use her thigh to move her leg, but lets the leg follow her torso and hip to swing. Her focus is on the horizontal lilt of the body, not the vertical action of stepping down, and she does not rush to chase the beats, but lets her body take its natural course to swing gracefully with the music. (See Cadencia.)

Using hip rotation to highlight her femininity
In doing so she often needs to swivel her hips so her free leg can take advantage of the inertia to swing in the roughly same direction. Since her torso is attached to his torso in the embrace, she needs to swivel her hips in order to step on his side or around him. She needs to swivel her hips and use the hip to move her leg in walk. (See Women's Walk in Tango.) She needs to swivel her hips when she does front ocho, back ocho, molinete, planeo, boleo... (See Dissociation and Gear Effect.) In short, hip rotation is used all the time in her dance, which highlights the flexibility and beauty of her feminine body. The milonguero style does not emphasize footwork, so she can focus on making the rotation of her hips soft, smooth yet noticeable, adding feminine beauty and elegance to her dance.

Dancing with simple and natural steps
Another element pertinent to the elegance of the style is using simple and natural steps. Some tango styles are known for their fancy footwork and showy figures, which, although may be beautiful in some way, lack naturalness and elegance. The following is an example.

As you can see, impressive may be by some standard, a display like this relies on the intricate figures, exaggerated movements, abrupt turns and hasty actions. It looks busy, garish, farfetched and beat-chasing, but lacks the confidence, serenity, ease, simplicity, naturalness and elegance of the milonguero style, and it does not match the melancholy mood of the music. (See Dancing to Melody - Poema.)

In contrast, the first couple use austere steps to let themselves focus inwardly on quiet contemplation. The man leads by swinging the woman's body. The woman keeps her body tall and straight while swinging it gracefully, allowing its intrinsic, natural beauty manifest itself.

Audrey Hepburn Said, "Elegance is the only beauty that never fades." I am convinced of that.

1 comment:

  1. This is very solid, constructive criticism and practical advice. Demir & Marques are higher skilled dancers than I'll ever be, but the sequence from 2:55-3:05 is almost laughable. The only thing that is missing is the brass pole.
    I hope festival organizers get this message too. I'm really tired of the workshop teacher's gymnastic performances. I don't like to see the women dressed like circus performers. More Audrey Hepburn and less Dancing With the Stars.