The ascent of Argentine Tango in the foothills of the Rockies traced a crystal course from Argentina, New York, and California. The convergence of styles from the influence of such bedrock masters of the art as Pablo Nievas and Robin Thomas, with unique touches from breakthrough American dancers such as Graham & Horton has created a western Tango which bedazzles and redefines, while staying true to its' roots.
The ease and wide openess of the western sensibility was evident at Tango Colorado, the largest Argentine Tango Dance Community in Colorado, offering authentic Argentine Tango lessons, and parties in Denver and Boulder, as well as performances throughout the US and abroad.
While adhering to the five basic steps of Argentine Tango as taught by Robin Thomas in New York, an emphasis was placed on the freedom within these movements, rather than a a stifling rigor.
After watching a beginners' class on one side of the room, and an intermediate class on the other, I interviewed the dance instructors to find out what made the Argentine Tango different from other ballroom dances, to them.
Nick Jones, partner Diana Cruz:
(Nick, with the au courant casual jaw fuzz look, was light on his feet and with his patter. He told jokes as he coaxed his willing intermediate students.)
Although I follow the Robin Thomas school in NY of 5 steps to dance the all night milonga, I have my own way of seeing things. There are steps with content, and steps to connect…like an oreo cookie. There are steps for changing direction, and steps to shuffle…and pauses.
It is better to use an impassioned pause than a million rock steps, if you don't know what you're doing. Ladies..enjoy the pause and being in the man's arms. If you do it really well, you can trick people into thinking you know what you're doing!
Women - listen to the beat…if you can't hear it…count in your head!
The woman uses the man as a pole and he keeps facing her..if you open it up…she's going to do something else which you don't know.
Men…stick your leg where you want it to go….follow your body weight..if you don't know what step to do, then you can improvise and make it valid.
Structure comes from musicality…you need technique to dance to the music and feel the music.
The man suggests direction and space. The woman half follows incredibly specifically…but half finds her freedom and improvises. Everything the woman does, affects the man.
In Argentine Tango, there is no set choreography for performances….you practice together with your partner, many steps and combinations.
It's a language. The steps are the vocabulary and grammer, but the dance is the expression!
This is what makes Argentine Tango unique.
My parents forced me to study dance at 16, and I have been all over the world performing and teaching…in Agentina, Paris, Australia, New York, etc….It is important to find the right partner to be with.
(So slim she practically vanished sideways, Diana was as gracefull as a swan and as stacatto clear as a flamengo. She demonstrated, more than speaking, emanating approval with her deep liquid almond eyes.)
I am Nick's Partner. I studied Ballet and Contemporary Dance, and Pilates for many years. All of this helped enable me to do the Tango. I have been doing Argentine Tango for the last 2 years. Argentine Tango is very technical and hard…like learning a new language.
The movement stems from the spine and moves through the pelvis to resolve in the foot….organically. The movement is a tool to get from one place to another…whether in a line…or circles forward.
What makes Argentine Tango different and special from all the other dances is that there are an infinite number of steps possible.
You practice with your partner to discover all the variations…it is endless.
(Nina is a wonderful force of nature to be reckoned with…her gorgeous, flaming red hair, her deep Russian voice, her impeccable demonstration…and her sharp sense of irony…she shows her emotions with color and flair, and strength.)
I started doing Argentine Tango in 1995. I lived in Argentina…in Buenos Aires…to soak up the culture of the dance.
I studied Ballet and Modern after Argentine Tango…most people do it the other way round. I taught in Denver in 1997, when interest in the Argentine Tango began. I went back to Argentina from 1998 - 2000, enriching my experience in the Tango.
The important thing about Argentine Tango is the embrace…and communication. It is elastic…in and out closely….if you open the arms too much you lose the musicality and timing. The technique adds quality to your individual style.
The man creates the dance to please the woman. The lady makes all the moves. She finishes his movements…and makes them beautiful!
You look at the woman, and if she's dancing beautifully, it means the man is dancing very well.
Musicality is important. If the man leads the woman well, her feet will work.
What makes Argentine Tango unique from other ballroom dances is a person can dance the same tango, with the same person, 1000 times, and it will be 1000 different dance experiences.
It is also different because of its' complexity, freedom of interpretation, and very complicated counterpoint music.
It's a dance for older people….with richer experiences, and creates space for feeling. In other ballroom dances, they dictate how you should feel. But Tango expresses how you really do feel.
Grecia (Gregory) Nisnevich: Nina's Partner
(Grecia teaches with great concentration, and a quiet sense of encouragement. He moves smoothly and emphasizes the musicality of the dance.)
Grecia is a classical musician with many recordings. He came to Argentine Tango through music. He and Nina began dancing together 8 years ago…they met at Tango Colorado in Denver.
He studied dance previously with the master Pablo Nievas.
Grecia transmutes the quality of music to dance. He translates the guitar sound to movement…with the same quality and sensation as his instruments.
The woman, to Grecia, is his guitar…she makes the music…the man merely brings it out.
What makes Argentine Tango different in Denver from N.Y., L.A., Paris, Buenes Aries? Why the Rockies of course…majestic, awesome, yet inviting. Add a few days in Denver to your next deep snow ski trip to Vail, for superb show sizzle in the vale.