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, fellowship, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us into individuals, but tango unites us into a team, community and species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, 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 affinity, altruism, cooperation, and accommodation. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

February 15, 2024

Ismael Choreography

Ismael Heljalil (1929-2018) was a revered figure within the milonguero community, known for his kind nature and gentle demeanor. Though details about his life remain scarce, his legacy endures through the dance videos he left behind, offering glimpses into his gentle character and profound love for tango. (Please click the link to watch on YouTube.)

What distinguishes Ismael Heljalil from his peers is his distinctive choreography, characterized by a seamless fusion of rock, back steps, and turns. His movements, dominated by a fluid interplay of retreats and rotations, reveal a mastery of the art form. A hallmark of his style is the rock steps with the left leg as the fulcrum to place his right leg behind, culminating in a graceful pivoting to the right.

While this movement can be mirrored with the left leg, Ismael's preference leans towards the right, showcasing his comfort and mastery with his signature spin.

Another notable move involves rocking the right leg back, shifting weight to his left leg while pivoting to the left, and then stepping the right leg forward. As his weight is now on the right leg, he can either continue walking in circles to the left, or step back with his left leg and pivot to the left. No one can alternate right and left turns with backward and forward steps as seamlessly as Ismael does. This remarkable ability hinges on his unparalleled musicality.

In essence, Ismael's dance style is characterized by a continuous rotation anchored in backward motion, skillfully blending elements of rock, back steps, and turns. This unique approach sets him apart, inspiring many to emulate his technique, yet few can truly replicate his finesse. What is difficult to copy is not his footwork, of course, but his comprehension of music, underscoring the depth of skill possessed by the master himself.

"If God could dance, he would dance like Ismael. He masterfully improvises what he feels in the moment. He walks, and oh…how he walks with intimate knowledge of every phrase and nuance of the music from his soul." - Jantango

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