Argentine Tango Blog 2003

My name is Igor Polk. I am dancing Argentine Tango in San Francisco. This is my personal tango site where I express exclusively my IMHO opinions for my own pleasure and pleasure of my friends. And I do not promise to be objective. If you are ready for it, proceed..

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2003 Dec 25

Ruben Milonga

RUBEN's views on modern tango might shock you. They definitely put some people off, but all great people have some sort of strange behavior, forgive Ruben. He is the best close embrace tango teacher and performer I have ever seen. Oh, yes, he knows close embrace or Apilado style. I took all Ruben's lessons during this visit and I have got complements from my partners right away - I dance better. His knowledge is very deep, very systematic. He builds perfect workshops packed with material and great performance. He is able to convey his knowledge in precise structural way. Especially I would recommend his workshops for advanced dancers. Bravo Ruben!

Here is the list of workshops Ruben Milonga gave in December in San Francisco, plus regular lessons :

  • Tango Apilado int/adv (Troilo,Tanturi, Calo, D'Arienzo, D'Agostino )
  • Milonga Apilada 1940's
  • Tango Canyengue. African roots ( Pirincho, Vallasboas, Canaro, Firpo )
  • Tango Apilado. Very advanced.
  • Orillero: the roots of tango nuevo?
  • Milonga Canyengue &/or Candombeada. African roots. ( candombes milongon, milongas candombes ) - this class was especially great!

Here is what I have received from Christy Cote on March 31, 2004: " Special Class of Milonga Condombera with Christy …if you like the upbeat sound of Tango Negro or Toca Tango you'll love this class with great material inspired by Facundo and Kely in Buenos Aires!" Hmm.. I have to check it out. Christy did not take Ruben's class.

2005, March. Ruben was here again. I took his lecture in Monterrey. The amount and quality of material impressed me again as well as others. Great lecture, a must of a tango dancer!

2006, November. I organized a workshop event for Ruben in Palo Alto. Here is the record and pictures.


2003 Nov 14

My favorite direction of tango development.

From my letter to N.

"I just want to add a little comment to your "No one believes that anything can replace tango music. However, if it is to be living art, rather than a historic folk dance, it has to evolve..".

- Since most of the people have very vague idea what old tango is, may be it worth to try to "evolve back"? I have my opinion what attracts people to tango. Old slow sexy style. Old very fast style. Very tight close embrace. Fast rhythmic movements. On one of my lessons to beginners I have shown them Apilado style at the end just to give general impression ( Well, I do mostly dance in this style ). They immediately jumped into it!

That is how tango is perceived by people who do not come to Milongas yet. And that is why we do not see them - they do not see at Milongas what they want. They can not find what they are looking for. They just think what we mostly dance is some sort of snobby hard-to-learn ballroom dance, ballet. I think winning direction for evolvement is "back-in-time". A dance which can be danced at hip-hop and rap parties or at regular night clubs is the best one to popularize tango. And the style has to be developed yet. Closest thing to it is the old tango - orillero style. Of course, I do not refuse and support any development, but I also believe old styles of tango are far from being exhausted.

There is something miserable in "Argentinean folk dance" term. That is chakarera or something. But tango .. to call a dance danced with huge orchestras with violins, pianos, basses playing in the best traditions of classical music a folk dance! Let us never do it. Besides Tango was danced and was extremely popular for decades in the whole world including America, Europe, Russia, countries of all parts of the world. ( sorry N, I am just too expressive, I understand that you meant no harm )"

The letter has not been sent.


2003 Nov 7

What is the best tango music for me as a dancer? Music of time when it was danced by everybody: 1900-1952. This music was written for dancers ---> What Tango Music is Better...

2003 July 7, 22:31.

---> Grand Tango Ball of Tango Fireworks Week. Saturday 5, 2003

Here are who performed:

Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne;
Carlos Copello & Jorgelina Guzzi;
Milena Plebs & Ezequiel Farfaro;
Julio Balmaceda & Corina De La Rosa;
Aurora Lubiz & Jorge Firpo;
Diego Di Falco & Carolina Zokalski;
Gloria & Eduardo Arquimbau;

All the brightest stars...

2003 June 2, 16:53.

---> Tango Etiquette - just the several ideas:

- Who sets intimacy bounders;
- Men must follow;
- Ladies: how to put a guy on the right place.

2006 January 15: My article is too small. It does not cover many important topics. Here is the more complete article by Andrew Allison: ---> Milonga Etiquette.

2003 May 17, 17:30.

---> Tango Nuevo and Argentine Tango. What is the Difference?

In my point of view these are very different. First of all Tango Nuevo is created by Gustavo Naviera and Fabian Salas. They openly proclaim their authorship. The story is there, you can find it on Internet. I like Tango Nuevo. I learn and dance it. It is fun and good exercise. But I do not like when Tango Nuevo is called Argentine Tango. It is not...

We all will benefit from recognizing the fact. What does it mean "recognizing the fact" ?  It means we should learn both dances. They can not be danced at the same floor, they are different!

2003 May 15, 08:58

---> Which San Francisco Tango Teacher is Better?

March 2003

How to dance milonga in confined space.

Easy. Make very short very sharp steps. Lots of cortes and cut ochos (ochos cortados). Let your legs free play in micro-movements. Keep tight close embrace. All movements are led exclusively with body. Woman can make her own steps as soon as it is reflected in body. Bodies dance one dance - legs another one. Oops, it is not that easy now! Shortly, post the square 2x2 feet and let it go. It is paradox, but dance in confined space is easier if music is fast. Slow music demands longer free movements, which is not always possible to do on a small floor.

How to dance on a crowded floor.

Tango is in connection. It does not matter what you dance, it only matters how you dance. So, dancing at very crowded place like CafeFino, make small steps and restrained moves. Keep yourself closer to the edge of the floor. Keep progressing rotational movement around the floor. We have to do it in tango. Progress forward until somebody is in front of you, then you can make figures on that spot. Do not take space in the center of the floor! Use this space for "emergency" moves only. Gentlemen, keep ladies on outside of the floor where it is safer. Work out corners. Move into a corner, then move out. Learn to dance "in line".

Gentlemen: When you have to step back make the step very small and careful - somebody may be leading a lady on the same spot. Ladies as well as gentlemen, hold the embrace. It is most important to have strong connection.

With practice, it is possible to dance all familiar figures: ganchos, boleos, sacadas keeping feet on the floor! It is not widely taught, but it is the way. Do not put your legs up! Move your legs carefully, as if you expect somebody else's foot to be on your way. Then if you touch something unfamiliar - consider it as a touch of your partner - just a touch and move away. We are all partners on the crowded dancing floor. Most of all kicks is done with feet up. So, keep it down, it is that easy! I have learned it the hard way, and still learning :)

Imagine, somewhere in Paris or in San Francisco or in Tokyo you meet a wonderful person. You step into any cafe and dance Argentine Tango. Does not matter what music, what floor, how much space. Everybody including your partner are astonished! This may be a dance of a lifetime you were waiting for. This is The Real Tango.

Close embrace tango position.

Look at one close embrace tango position on the picture of Marta e Manolo. This is the perfect, ideal close embrace position. Look - the centers of gravity are projected to the floor outside of feet - between dancers. It means that if a dancer is removed, his/her partner would fall down. Yep. That is the way it supposed to be. Maintain common balance! Do not be on your own! Look at arms, heads, legs, feet. Less flashy than positions of Forever Tango professional show dancers, but much more pleasant and convenient. And real. Good for dancing till sunrise!

2003 March 26, 01:43

Read Sharna Fabiano article. So many right things is said about lead and follow. Read it. Just want to add that a good dancer is able to dance in slightly different subtle ways changing in any tanda, so that his partner feels differently. She reveals you how.

Another guy - Fabian Salas. This guy thinks that he invented tango. No more, no less. At least in "modern" meaning. Seriously. He is smart, he is good, but ... Sorry. Well, as probably with most great scientists, and tango is science in some way, he thinks that the only thing which is right is his.

Rotational Tango and Linear Tango

Fabian teaches that the basic tango element is a turn. Everything is variation of a turn. Great idea! But there is an opposite idea. Basic element of tango is straight walk. 6 types of them ( multiplied by 4 directions. ) And this axiom is exactly as true as his. Engineers and scientists are used to this: two concepts describing the same thing. It is like a coin when you look at it from both sides. Turns and straight walks gradually can transform to each other. Each of the concepts has unique features and limitations. Practicing it helps to understand another one and the whole theory. Since straight steps is easier to do - it is easier for beginners. Oh, yes, I do remember this time! I was looking for tango, and found numerous turns. Turns, turns ... Besides, concept of straight steps has a true, old, proven tango flavor. It is more suitable for close embrace than concept of turns. So, please, Fabian, and his friends, do not say that you are only who is right. You are misleading those beginners, for whom you feel so keenly! And you said yourself that people in Argentina do not dance in this way. Why?

2003 February 18, 20:26

These are Argentine tango styles known to me:

  • Candombe - a black dance
  • Canyengue - a street dance
  • Orillero - a gaucho dance
  • Salon of 20-50 - an upper class dance (Tango Liso?)
  • Apilado - a heart dance
  • Show - a flashy dance
  • Modern Salon - a tango-teacher's dance.
  • Nuevo - a rotation dance
  • Jaimes Friedgen - "dynamic tango" dance and Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa "Colgada"-dance. Emerging styles.

But I am talking here about other styles. Styles in relation to physical structure of connection.

Under "Close Embrace" many tango dancers understand dancing when chests are in touch. I have danced extensively and found out that there are several very distinctive types of this dancing. It is clear to me that there are 6 of them. 5 of them have something in common which another one does not have. And this something makes the 5 styles feel completely different from the Open Embrace dancing, while the one feels almost the same. This something is the lead with body. It means that the main points of contact through which lead is transmitted and accepted are there. Advanced dancing may use more points. I do not talk about them here.

Style are differentiated by body positions. Anyone is free to mix styles during a dance and even mix them with open embrace. But to say "I know this style of close embrace" one must be able to dance the whole dance in the same position. No. The whole milonga. If a movement can not be done in the same body position, it does not belong to the style. Instead of changing positions, or even going into open embrace, change your technique. Each style defines its own technique.

So here they are ...

---> Six Close Embrace styles


2003 February 12, 13:50

---> It Is Wrong to Look at Your Partners Chest!

Do not do it !

2003 February 12, 4:20 am.

Today I am publishing a page ---> Gloria & Eduardo are Teaching Argentine Tango. Check it out. This new page is about what they say, but I also want to share my own thoughts on the subject. Here it is.

Lead in open embrace. Part 1

I put a question mark on the validity and usefulness of "Steady Framework" term. This is not important and leads beginners away form the path to sensual and sensitive dancing.

What is most important is the following. In open embrace, "the device for lead and follow" is just two points in space created by two points of contact. It could be just two fingers meeting two fingers of a follower, the opposite side...

This approach makes a woman a perfectly tuned instrument...

Read the whole article about ---> First Understanding of Sensitive Lead in Open Embrace.

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My name is Igor Polk. I dance tango in San Francisco.
Argentin Tango, Argentinian Tango, Tango Argentino

Copyright©2003 Igor Polk
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