Jul 172015

I have been waiting to write a general TangoForge update until I knew the story. I still don’t know it, and it’s more complicated than I anticipated. But I have a part of it ready for you.

It’s summer in Europe and I decided to get out of Berlin and see what’s there. So I went to Prague for Tango Alchemie festival, which promised all sorts of magic. It delivered to me just one spark, Mariano Otero, who inspired me to dance both roles with very much creativity and power. Those  have been the watchwords since Roberto and I started working together.

Homer Ladas was also in Prague and gave me a benediction:

Vio, your job is to keep the door open.

In Prague faced up to the fact that, covetousness aside, I will never be one of those girls. Not for any of the easy excuses I can use to beat myself up… That I’m not pretty enough, not skinny-sexy enough, or not a good enough dancer. But because I have too much power as a dancer. I’m too big in the scope of my tango ambitions and creativity to fit in those slippers

But this was not at first a happy recognition… I realized that if I was to feel good about this reality, I needed a manifesto. So far I have iterated and refined a pedagogy, and find myself somewhat adrift in milongas, not that interested in dancing with most people. I need a manifesto about dancing. What am I doing when I dance? And why am I not dancing?

Instead of following the tango of 4 easy steps to Poreč where they would presumably watch and ignore Chicho’s genius, I went to Rome to spend time with DJ Elio Astor. He had blown my mind at the NeoTangoRave, demonstrating a way to DJ so far beyond what most people are doing. Among other bold statements, Elio is courageous enough to say “this milonga is boring”, where I always blame myself. The point he emphasizes is tango’s unique capacity to express a range of emotions and to evoke experiences. When we limit ourselves to one music, and one dynamic of motion, we throw away these possibilities, for ourselves, and for the world.

Elio’s uses the concept ‘neotango’. His manifesto Is this: “NeoTango invites Argentine Tango to become contemporary by applying its biomechanics of connection and improvisation to the experiences and emotions of the world heritage of music.” (Read the full interview with DJ Elio Astor.)

Elio took me to swim in the Mediterranean for the first time. I was totally surprised because I thought Rome was too far from the sea. When he said we were going swimming I was anticipating a river or canal, Berlin-style.

Somehow it was easy in the grit of the salt and sand and grandeur of The Mediterranean to ask and answer the question. “What kind of dancing are we creating?” It’s not about fusion. It’s not about freedom, or even creativity. What I do is rigorous and dangerous. It requires training. It is not taking some tango and doing whatever…

It is Extreme Tango, Tango Extremo. By which we mean an extreme sport. We are going to the limits of the capacity of the language, of our bodies. It requires training. It is high-risk. It is not easy. It is not unconditionally social. I can’t trust anyone with this body. I give my heart and muscles fully in every dance. Not everyone is able to receive this.

Social tango is about safety and sweetness. I am so over safe. That is not how I am living my life. My gift can be transformative for the right beginner and I can feel when my motion sets a mark free. But many experienced dancers throw away the unique opportunity of my body, concerned only about their static dignity.

I read recently that to make good art you have to risk looking foolish. Dancing this way means risking mistakes, risking looking undignified, even risking falling on the dance floor.

So I wrote my manifesto: “Tango Extremo seeks the maximum improvisation possibiltiies of Argentine Tango. It depends on intense training, precise technique, a partner you can rely on, absolute trust, safety precautions, ethics, and the willingness to fail and fall as we reach to the unknown edge of this dance.” Link to the updated and descriptive version of the TangoForge Manifesto for Dancing.

Elio and I immediately went into strategic mode. How can we share this possibility with those who want it? How can we build a community?

Vio: “If you are right that electrotango failed because of the DJing, then to save neotango you need to train DJs.”

Elio: “Ok, but I need more dancers. You have to build a tango school, and it has to be global.”

So… we will travel, but you need to meet us, and one another!

You can sign up to receive notifications of Elio’s DJ workshops at the bottom of this post.

I had two days in very hot Rome, time to make a plan. I found the right cafe, in the Piazza Consolazione. Ready?

We’ve now taught The Anatomy Tour seven times in five countries, to rave reviews. It will be the base for creating a global tango school. The model of the Anatomy Tour Weekends will be developed slightly. Friday night will be an inexpensive open practica with a small demonstration of our pedagogy and dancing to show new people what we do. Saturday will be the Biomechanical Toolbox from the Anatomy Tour (connection, intention, transfer, and power), Sunday will be Mastering the Maximum Repertoire, various improvisational topics. Students can register for Saturday and Sunday separately, but biomechanics is a prerequisite for improvisation.

Experienced students will be encouraged to complete their training to become TangoForge Smiths. They will be free to use their own perspective to construct the Sunday lesson, maintaining the Saturday Biomechanics Toolbox as a schoolwide-standard-training. Updates to the biomechanics will be shared systematically through the school and of course the KnowledgeBase will always be the go-to for the teachers.

A schedule of upcoming scheduled weekends will be available to all would-be Smiths so you can join at will.

Sign up here to globalize Extremely good technique for Extreme tango:


I'd love to dance with you

photo Ilsa Hellman

I want you to know that you're not alone....

... neither in your dreams for tango nor in your frustrations.

My deepest desire is the same as all my students and friends ... those who have yet to start dancing and those who dance a lot.

It's partnership.

One thing I've learned on this quest, we need to:

Stop Waiting for Partners, and start
Building them

I've written a 10-step action guide. Are you ready to find the Partners you want?

 17 July 2015