Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Discover the world through tango-My manifesto...

I have written this post initially in Greek, but as this is the main intro of my blog, explaining my concept, I felt it should exist also in English....

As a person I generally prefer ‘tète-a-tète’… I like sharing a common goal with somebody, particularly when the latter is clear and when defined. I put emphasis on the latter phrase, since according to my opinion when many people gather, the purpose becomes less clear; population dynamics prevail, favoring the more socially charismatic and dominant personalities. On the other hand, when two people interact nobody can be overlooked and communication, as well as mutual understanding is necessary. On the other hand, entering in another person’s reality, you become familiar with his desires and perceptions about aesthetics and life, in other words you encounter new experiences and landscapes you …travel! And this way can offer numerous thrills, as each personality comprises a new planet to be explored.

Apparently, it is not a surprise that I love tango, as it fits perfectly to the above situation, while it carries many additional characteristics… Two people meet while the music starts, implying a mood, a set of emotions, a situation that the dancers have to adopt, live and create. Something like a theatrical play, but this time there is no rehearsal; you don’t know your role, you just have to discover it instantly, along with your partner. And just like a painting or a poem, each tango carries different meanings for each one of us. So, with the start of the dance begins a discussion, with the man saying the first phrase. After, the woman approves, inspires and amends, as both they exchange energy, feelings and ideas, they play, experiment, while they get more familiar to each other. That’s why each tango is potentially a profound acquaintance, a journey into another personality, based in a well defined but so rich and complicated common purpose…

The additional magic comes from the infinite combinations of body-types, moods, as well as perceptions about life, tango as a dance and the music currently playing. All these can transform each tango in a lyrical moment, a relaxing dialogue with a stranger on the street, or a moment of very intense feelings. And this always depends on how each one of us transmits, receives and reflects signals. The extent to which we express ourselves as clearly as possible, without offending or violating the ‘space’ of the others. The more balanced we are in our comportment the less likely becomes to experience negative moments in tango. Good tango dancers usually have class…


The other important property is that tango never lies… When you dance you cannot hide from the others, even if in life you have the habit of hiding from yourself. Tango will reveal hidden truths and desires, it will show you who you are; the more you let this out, the better your relationship is with yourself, the better dancer you’ll be. While in our everyday lives we have our eyes open, staring ‘on the road’, with so many rules and stereotypes ingrained in our minds; in the milonga we close them and we listen, feel and smell. We cannot cheat or be cheated. Tango shows the way… We just let the music dominate us, we open our soul, inviting our partner to join. Whether he (or she) will accept, in what sense and for how long is another issue. That’s why the first tango with a stranger is a test… The rest are as well!

Conclusion… Tango is magic, because it is holistic; tango dancing is a situation so rich that few others (if any) can match. So free and unpredictable, with constant flow and variation of moods. Rich and inexhaustible as it is related to so many varying factors like the music, the dancers, time, space and the interaction of all the above. In addition, while a popular dance, it is so elaborate that it gives you the possibility to share the pleasure of artistic creation with the musicians, rather than just follow. Tango is really creative and free and this characteristic along with the potential of such a direct and varied communication, makes you discover yourself and the others better.

I started dancing tango in 2006 in a small town of 40000 habitants, located in Lesbos Island, of Greece. The people who helped me do the first steps were members of a local tango association and from the first place they gave me the impression that they were subject to a kind of disease. They were giving free tango lessons, obviously motivated by their passion and desire to share it with others, with this being their only return; watching tango get bigger and bigger, spreading the disease... I deeply appreciated this devotion, with regard to those peoples’ character, as well as to the tango as a ‘germ’ itself… After a year I had exactly the same symptoms, dancing alone in the corridors and elevators, driving 100 km away just to get to the milonga and travelling around Europe, following my obsession… It was and always is tango, this way of getting together with people, of expression and communication, which I still consider the most profound and complete so far.

In the past years I was lucky to travel a lot, live in different countries and of course …dance in all of them! Living abroad may bring several hard times, but triggers a process that I personally find magical and very important… It dissolves the ‘myth’, the one we build growing up in a specific environment, comprising of specific codes of communication, attitudes and aesthetics that can usually be useful only in a certain place. Often our behaviour doesn’t express directly us, but is our position towards our environment; being mostly our response to given conditions. When the background changes, we encounter a different ‘myth’ for which we lack the answers and we often don’t have enough time to construct a new response. We have lost our mapAnd when you are lost, the fastest, simplest and only way is the truth. The fundamental truths and principles which are valid everywhere and make communication simpler and more efficient. The sediment… I consider this a very important step of improvement for any personality…

According to a Chinese saying ‘if you haven’t planted a tree, written a poem and been in love, you haven’t actually lived’… I would say that you have really experienced a place when there is a song to always remind you, a person that you’ll never forget and when you have danced tango… The addicts like me will agree that you can get more information in a milonga rather than in a hundred museums, bars and restaurants together. And this is what this blog is mostly all about and what wants to prove to the non believers! Travelling, discovering and experiencing the world through tango… I hope you enjoy my mission as much as I do!

1 comment:

Isabelle said...

As a lot of young dancers, and moreover as a contemporary one since years, I was appealed to the Nuevo tango, the tangofigures, punchy and creative motions (french people have a soul of artist and you knows it!!)…thinking at first appearance that old tangos are for old people.
But the longer I dance, the more I like the old tangos, the more I’m touched by the subtility of the music, the more I’m relating my dancing to the music's rhythm, melody, and mood. I became attuned to the old mixtures...and you were right!!
Modern "mainstream" electro performances often sound heavy and rhythmically dull.The unique musical character comes through more clearly when they are performed with the lighter forces. Greater transparency and greater dynamic contrast lend us, in turn, to greater rhythmic variety which is a difference that is usually pleasant.
Through subtle changes, we are able to express a deeply emotional story. Such a musical story-line is in Francisco Canaro's music, exuberant gestures don't seem to fit in. Maybe that is why Poema is one of my favorite tango.