No we don’t compete

Whenever I go out and mention I’m a tango dancer, I always get the question “So do you compete”?  That’s understandable…given what’s shown on television.

This is generally a persons first thought or experience with Argentine Tango, at least in the U.S.

Now I’m not here to say that what’s on television is bad. It’s a venue that’s created a lot of  interest in ballroom, latin dance, and tango in general. What they do takes tremendous training and skill.  And I personally LOVE a good show.  But competition tango and tango as a social dance are two different beasts.

Here is a couple that I think of when I want to watch dancers that are skilled and beautiful.

Ok… I know what your thinking. Your thinking “Who is the guy in the pajama bottoms and who are all those people watching”? I suppose I should preface what I say about this video by saying that this is in no way a traditional piece of music. But I’m a fan of using all kinds of music in tango and you can still see the differences, so I’ll go with it. This couple, Chicho and Jauna, are 2 of the most famous tango dancers in the world right now. People take tango trips just to study with them. All those people pounding on the floor are students. So what do I love about this video? What’s different? First of all, this was the 7th piece of the night. They performed six other awesome dances that same night. But what’s really special? Improvisation… They are listening to the music and dancing to it. It’s not choreographed, so there’s a natural give and take between the two. This is the show I want to see. It’s beautiful, and they’re having fun. I just find it more accessible and frankly more appealing. And, I think if I thought some guy was going to spin me above his head like the couple in the first video, I’d have a heart attack or I never would have given it a try in the first place.

Tango doesn’t have to be so serious. It’s fun, inventive, playful, and I could go on with about 20 more adjectives. I’ll just leave it at that. Enjoy!

7 thoughts on “No we don’t compete

  1. tangogringo says:

    Thanks Emily, you put it so well! BTW, the guy in the pyjamas is considered, by many AT dancers today, to be the best AT dancer is the world. Nicholas

  2. Brian Salisbury says:

    I performed with the Tandy Beal dance company a coupla weeks ago. Everything we did on stage was lead, straight social movement. The only choreography was was endings that had to hit the music.

    Comments from the audience… “The ballroom dancers were wonderful!” (Can’t win)

  3. Dm says:

    But what do we say to the friends, or just other respected tangueros, who insist that we should compete “or we become too complacent / stagnant”? Rusty Cline comes to mind. Naomi Hotta. Just like Brian said, it’s mighty unpleasant when the muggles assume that we choreograph the moves, and worse, that we travel to other cities to compete and train our students to win. But isn’t it much worse when the insiders reinforce the same stereotypes?

    • Certainly! I think all we can do is take the good and leave the bad. Don’t throw the baby out with the the bathwater to be a bit cliche, because there are so many that ARE teaching to our needs as social dancers. We can support those that fill our desire to be creators of our own dance and ignore the ones that want to put us into a mold or cookie cutter. That mold, or box is where we become stagnant.

  4. Kristiina says:

    It’s fun to see the difference and as a non-dancer, crazy to see improvisation like that!

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