Martin y Maurizio: elevating revelations…

I was thrilled by the opportunity to see Martin & Maurizio again. Their beautiful dancing has earned them a significant place in history. They are the first and only gay couple (and the first male-male couple) to be respected in the world class tango circuit.

Thomas Rieser invited them to perform in celebration of the 11th birthday of Nou Tango Berlin.

The first thing I saw when they entered the dance floor was love. Without resort to cliché gestures, they show their love with their eyes and anticipation.

In the second song I saw relationship. They talked to each other, reprimanded one another, delighted in surprises. This is a couple who’ve been relating to each other and to themselves through this dance and partnership for years. Tonights dance was not the first or the last dance. It is for them a process, and they let us see this. They don’t aim for perfection, they show us one dance of thousands, each unique. They let their relationship show through the dance, rather than hiding everything beneath tango serio, or a stage smile.

The slippery floor disrupted their choreography and some of the best moments of the performance were when they hit a fault and had to improvise. Here you could see their experience as artists and their trust in one another. And here I started also to see what for me was the revelation of the evening.

They did not dance with any ambiguity of roles. But they also did not dance with deference. Whoever was the revel took what he needed, set his limits, fixed his own problems. This is part of why I like to mark men. I don’t remember who slipped while taking off into a jump, but he fixed it, rather than depending on the mark to fix it.

I think there are three distinct points here. One is about gender, and escaping the femininity-dependency/masculinity-control addictions. Second there is the matter of muscle and either having equal power or allowing the revel to use muscle to participate. Third is the matter of knowing both roles, and therefore having the presence and awareness to resolve problems smoothly.

The last thing I saw –and a second revelation– was about how role flexibility affects a couple’s artistry. Every couple’s dance should change over the years. At the moment many couples have changed in the direction of slavish service to the fad of “social tango”. Martin & Maurizio have the possibility to develop their artistry by exploring new ways to inhabit the roles, and new relations between them.

martinmaurizioWhile most couples are stuck with a single gender performance, a gay role-changing couple can explore gender performance and its relationship to their dance with far more subtlety and interest. And it’s not so crude as drag. Martin and Maurizio always dress as two elegant men and they wear men’s shoes. It’s in the physical expression, how they move, how they touch, how they look at each other, how they define and play with power.

And it is in this last point that any other way to revel pales in comparison. The revel’s power these guys show is not about the power to disobey, or rebel (a common mishearing of my word ‘revel’), It’s something else. I think it’s about limits. When a woman dances with a man who overpowers here and has all the authority, she races and stumbles to obey. When she cannot, she looks ungraceful. When the partners’ strength and authority in the dance is equal, the revel has limits. Martin and Maurizio showed us those limits, with their eyebrows. “I’m sorry I can’t, I slipped.”… “That mark was late so I didn’t make what you wanted.”… “I can’t do it that way, but I can do it this way.”

The idea that tango is a conversation of interpretation is ridiculous. No good conversation is about constant reinterpretation. What serious and good conversations are about is intelligently, creatively, and compassionately responding to the real limitations of our selves, our relationships, and our world. It was a performance, but it was very real.

Queer Tango

What's TangoForge? Who's Vio?Vio is part of the international movement to Queer Argentine Tango by encouraging gender complexity and exploration and creating space for GLBT people to enjoy tango. She is the founder of of Queer Tango Boston and Queer Tango Wellington. Her students now run their own weekly practicas and classes as community organizations. Vio is committed to building and supporting Queer Tango everywhere and, through her school TangoForge, to liberatory teaching methods. She is the co-author of Aleph Bravo Tango, a novel about Argentine Tango which, among other things, encourages readers to imagine a Queerer Tango. The novel was published in 2009 and is available on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Global Queer Tango Connections


Power is the courage, confidence, and competence to make things happen. I want to create in a way that’s incomparable and define my own compensation package. You too?

Syntax of Power is a raw, potent, and spare revelation of how I got to where I am and how I take on the struggle every day.

This book is not about tango, it’s about everything else.

It’s about stepping into the darkness of change, learning how to take care of yourself, and making things happen.

Dyv stands for Duro y Vio. We were inspired by a 2007 conference at Harvard University about tango as a transnational culture. Also we wanted to create something that would help people to imagine a queerer tango. We forbid ourselves to use the word ‘passion’ and instead tried to articulate the experience more precisely.

Argentine Tango is more than an elaborate and difficult dance, it is an international culture of intimacy, desire, and dignity. No mere romance or memoir, the intricately woven stories evoke tango’s true mysteries … the elation, the frustration, the compulsion…

We published the book in 2009. Dancers asked “how did you know what I was feeling?”

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

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