Tango and Flamenco

Igor Polk, 2005 January 5

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Long awaited "Flamenco", a film by Carlos Saura is on my table now. Strangely, Tower Records .com did not have it, but I have found it in a local bookstore easily. Now I know where Tango legs grow from! Here is an idea: Tango is Flamenco danced in embrace. The movie is a masterpiece where the best flamenco singers and dancers (a lot of them) perform. It is made by masters like a photographer Vittorio Storaro (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor).

What strikes me is that how little they need to be able so deeply reach the soul. From the moment the first singer comes on the stage and with every step, move, sound further it holds my attention and heart. This is not about how many taps in a second one can do. All this, dancing, singing, gathering, a way of living, is a cultural phenomena. It is created, supported, grown not by directors but by people. This is not staged, this is lived through. Tango is very much like this. At least it was like this. No, it is like this. Look at our tango dancers - they are addicted. There are few of them, but they do it with heart. Tango is life for them. I am tango, tango is me. It looks like Tango is a dangerous thing. It offers the real world of human relations in contrast to fake world of books, ads, media, TV, actors acting like politicians and politicians whose best strategy is acting like clowns. We obsessed with Tango but TV programs require very little attention. They work on subconscious level hiding hypnotic messages in combination of familiar words, images, and seemingly illogical sequences. "Think like this.. Do like this.. Do not do that.." Architects of human minds, they sneak in every word making it a lie. Not in Tango.

What? Does not tango music dictate us what to do? Does not a man lead the steps and a woman follows? Dancing Tango as a couple, we become an instrument complementing music of sounds. We play music of movements, feelings, and pose. We became an equal part of the orchestra and the whole crowd. An equal part. We play solo! The man lead the step, the woman reacts, but lead is not a step. We, men step in accordance with lady's reaction to the lead. Reacting she leads us. This is an equal game. We are the Dancers...

As I found, Flamenco originated from "Greek psalms, Mozarabic dirges, Persian melodies, Gregorian chants, Castillian ballads, Jewish laments, African rhythms", and gypsy (they came from India) dances and music. Tango developed upon Spanish culture, spiced by Italian melodies, German Waltz, African rhythms again, may be American Indian influence, who knows, and a lot of seduction and sorrow. What a remarkable thing, history repeats itself. Yet Flamenco is 1000 years old, Tango - 100. Let us see what happens next.

This is the place to buy the "Flamenco" DVD - from New Yorker Films. Discuss Flamenco and Tango

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My name is Igor Polk. I dance Argentine tango in San Francisco.

Copyright©2003-2006 Igor Polk
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