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The Tradition is Transgressive – CTF 2017

The TangoForge Real Impro Hardcore Crew
100% Improvisation . 100% Argentine Tango
Maximum Artistry . Modern Gender Concepts
The Tradition is Transgressive


The Invitation

The core concept of this show was to present Argentine Tango in the cultural context of a hip hop cypher.

A cypher is a regular social event, like a weekly milonga for hip hop dancers. It’s open and inclusive and focused on skills development. Participants may later go on to compete in a battle (a more extraordinary event, like a tango festival), having gained confidence and skill by first performing with the encouraging community of a cypher. At a cypher, dancers enter the circle when they feel inspired by the DJ’s music and ready to perform. They exit after a minute or several, when physically or creatively exhausted. The members of the circle give their attention and enthusiastic vocal cheers to each dancer, and hug, high-five, or congratulate them on completion. The cypher includes different levels of dancers, from beginners to experts, who take the stage in an egalitarian manner, equally encouraged. Girls receive special enthusiasm when they dare to enter this masculine game.

We chose the cypher as a context for tango for several reasons. One is because we wanted to model an atmosphere of encouragement rather than critique as a social tango community. Second because we wanted to show that tango as a dance can be expressed in many other aesthetics than the cliché, including hip hop’s aggressive physical, virtuosic, risk-taking aesthetic. Third because we wanted to connect these two seemingly different and separate cultures both developed in the African diaspora.

The cast for our cypher included professional dancers, our three apprentices, amateur dancers, and students. The least experienced performer, Leon, had been dancing only 6 months. Most of the dancers who performed in the cypher were doing their very first tango performance. In order to ensure their success while maintaining our commitment to improvisation, we did two things:

First we created a story in which each dancer had a character to inhabit. We had OGs (Original Gangstas), YGs (Young Gangstas), good girls, gangsta’s girls, soured friendships, and new business alliances in the offing.This story was the basis of their costumes and the choreography by which they entered and exited the dance floor.

Second, each couple was assigned two elements from which to improvise. They trained toward a 60 second improvisation maximizing the variations of these two elements. This structure was designed to ensure the dances would be improvised but not repetitive or suffering the expectable Mark’s performance brain-freeze.

The Tradition is Transgressive featured: Jessica Phoenix Förster dancing with Vio. Max Power Thomas as the cypher leader/DJ dancing with Roberto. Stefan Brenner, Yoko Onodera, Swan, Annemarie Deser, Fritz Schadow, and Léon Goldammer, made their tango debüts.

Our camera team: Pez, Anders Angebjörn, Andi Hackenberg, Fritz Schadow, and Franz.

Nothing would be possible without the collaboration with DJ/Saxman Michael Rühl, our spectacular stage manager, CJ Yetman, our all-around angel, Mona Isabelle, and the visionary founder of the CTF, Andreas Rochholl.



Please join DJ and SaxMan Michael Rühl and TangoForge in a night which remembers and realizes Argentine Tango as a transgressive cultural action.

As was common in African diasporic practices, tango was carefully fused with surrounding cultures and yet retained an insurgent character which has animated generations of musicians and dancers to break both social codes – and tango’s own.

In Argentina, the diaspora did not survive to nurse its child. In the United States, a different history allowed the slaves’ songs to nurture blues, jazz, and hiphop. Jazz and tango meet periodically as two great arts, great-grandchildren who have all but forgotten the daring which nevertheless still speaks directly to our spirits.

Tonight we draw attention to the constitutive relations between the circle of community and the divine spark of improvisation. To the event in facebook.


24.August 2017
“The Tradition is Transgressive”
Artistic Direction: Vio Starr, TangoForge
Stage Manager: CJ Yetman
1st Assistant Everything: Renou Benteau

Vinyl DJ & Saxophone: Michael Rühl
Crew DJ: Max Thomas
Carlos Libedinsky, #Fueye

Jessica Förster
Roberto L’Ange
Max Thomas
Stefan Brenner
Yoko Onodera
Fritz Schadow
Annemarie Deser
Leon Goldammer

and: Franz, Jaina, Anders, Andi Hackenberg

Fritz Schadow
Anders Angebjörn
Contemporary Tango Festival

Additional footage:
Miles Davis, “So What”
“Rhyme and Reason”, dir. Peter Spirer

Additional VFX by Thomas Conte

Gold by Rose of Fame

All fault for editing to TangoForge

Special thanks to Tangoloft

The Contemporary Tango Festival – Berlin Hauptbahnhof 2017

Free entrance, no registration necessary

The Contemporary Tango Festival is dedicated to the global variety of Tango Argentino and the impact of this dance on all the international musicians, dancers, artists, performers who live and work in Berlin.


Program in Facebook.
Dance the world in Berlin Central Station!
You are also invited just to watch and enjoy the scene as a spectator.

Contemporary Tango Festival (22.-27.08.2017) is produced by Contemporary Opera Berlin, DB Station&Service AG, Werbegemeinschaft der Berliner Bahnhöfe and Kadmos Produktion

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