What not to say on Swedish television

I’ve had media training. I knew to write my talking points (on the train).

Staying on your Talking Points

Then, I broke the most important rule. Don’t say anything other than your talking points –even if it means ignoring the question and repeating yourself– because if you do, that’s what they’ll use.

And that’s exactly how it went down. I delivered my talking points, eloquently. Then I answered other questions. From a 15 minute interview, not one of my talking points made it to the aired show.

Vio’s Talking Points

  • Argentine Tango is a technique for improvised partner dance. It’s the most sophisticated technique that exists for this. We can communicate direction, speed, dynamic, intensity.
  • The experience of concentration required is profound and exhilarating and takes people to the psychological state of Flow.
  • This dance can be used to express any music. The best way to think about it is like French cooking technique. You need to learn and train it, but then you can use it to express a lot of different culinary ideas, to enhance and develop any cuisine. Your national treasure, Magnus Nilsson, studied French cooking and uses that technique to express new ideas about Swedish traditions and ingredients.

Since the people who wrote the press release had advertised my avant-garde approach to tango, I was prepared to speak about what makes my tango different.

  • [How are you different from other tango professionals?] What’s unfortunate is that some people attach this technique to only one genre of music – and that’s a music that many people don’t relate to. I believe people should use tango technique to dance to their own music. You can dance tango in Shanghai and Istanbul, but they are going to play the same old Argentine music as Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and Berlin. That’s like saying the only good food is French food.
  • The other unfortunate thing is that people attach tango to a very specific gender performance. That is helpful for men. It helps them to learn the difference between strength and violence, but when this fantasy goes too far, it leads to some old and painful gender relations. so my work with tango is to take this incredible technique and keep the focus on creativity and expression. After all, this dance was invented by African slaves. It’s a cultural art of liberation. I try to explore the connections with jazz, blues, capoiera, hiphop and other diasporic practices – people drawing on cultural elements to express themselves and find freedom.

Final/aired Cut:

Tango gave me back my humanity because I was able to dance with people who I disagree with politically.

When I started dancing, I was inspired by women in their 90s putting on their high heels and sexy dresses every week.

So… Tango is an opportunity to dance with old ladies and hug a nazi? And you have to wear high heels… What an advertisement!

Getting off your [old] Story

Although story and personalism is hot for promotion now, my number one rule for how to promote tango may run counter to a lot of marketing advice: Stop Talking About Yourself!

Why? Because most of us who have stuck with tango for a long time are not typical. Our stories will not resonate with many others. Telling our own stories has already obviously failed. We need to find aspects of tango which will resonate with a much broader audience.

The personal stories I told (about recovering from the isolation of my academic career and finding some interesting role models for femininity) are beautiful and relevant when sharing my personal history, with friends. But they are NOT good advertisements!

And there are other stories, equally true for me, which would resonate with more people:

  • I’ve been an athlete my whole life and tango is one of the most challenging sports I’ve done because it demands so much muscle control.
  • I love to dance, and it’s so great to be able to dance with a partner with a high level of precision and expressiveness.
  • I like to travel, and tango enables me to meet local people in a safe and meaningful way in any major city of the world.
  • I don’t really like small talk, and tango is a way that I can connect to people without chit-chat.

In January, I had the chance to visit my home, California, and to reflect on some of the stories I’d become stuck in. Sitting at Squaw Valley staring at the mountain where I spent my teenage years, I realized I’d been telling the wrong story. If you’d asked me about my amateur ski racing career last year I would have said “yeah, I wasn’t good enough.” This year I have a new story:

When I was training as a ski racer I learned to keep working through intense physical pain in order to achieve the things I wanted. As a child, all that equipment was heavy, and we had to do a lot of uphill and sideways work in it. I learned to keep going even when it felt impossible to move, and when my muscles were screaming. This perspective on pain has enabled me to continue through many difficult circumstances in my life to manifest my intentions and goals.

No less true than the first story, but a lot more useful.

 

 

We all need more students, more dancers in our milongas, and great partners to dance with for the next few decades…

How can we Popularize Tango?

Marketing is about Who is in the Room with You.
And Why.

 

With Sven Elze, Founder of the very popular Milonga Popular – Berlin, we’ve created a Thinkbook for Organizers, exploring how we can define the Tango Tribe who will resonate with each of us, find new marketing channels, craft resonant messages and images, and create experiences that make students fall in love with Tango from the first session.

Enter your email below for immediate access to the Thinkbook…

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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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