Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of connection, love, unity, beauty, harmony and humanity, 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 people and species. 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, 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 other 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 man's torso, and the man uses the connection as the fixed point to swing her torso, which brings the sway of her hip and leg in a chain reaction, causing the movement of her body to look elegant and graceful. Notice that the woman does not use her thigh to move her leg, but lets the leg follow the body to sway. Her focus is on the horizontal lilt of the body instead of the vertical action of stepping down, and she does not rush to chase the beats. Rather, she lets her body take its natural course to swing gracefully in accordance with the tempo and mood of the melody.

Using the hips to highlight her femininity

In doing so she often needs to swivel her hips so she can take advantage of the inertia of the body to sway her free leg. (See Cadencia and the Flow of Tango.) Since she dances around the man, she also needs to swivel her hips in order to step on his side. She needs to swivel her hips in her walk in order to use the hip to move the leg. (See Women's Walk in Tango.) She needs to swivel her hips when she does front ocho and back ocho, and when she turns around him in molinete... (See Dissociation and Gear Effect.) In short, hip rotation is used all the time in the woman's dance, which highlights the beauty of her supple and pliable body. The style does not emphasize the footwork, so she is able to pay attention to the hip movement, controls it to make the swivel gentle, subtle yet noticeable. She does not over turn the hips, but turns them only to a degree necessary to let it look graceful and elegant.

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 movements and flashy figures, which, although may be beautiful in some way, lack naturalness and elegance. The following is an example.

As you can see, impressive maybe by some standard, a display like this relies on fancy footwork, intricate movements, exaggerated steps, 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 so that they can concentrate 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.