Dear Readers: As a former dancer, I am always thrilled to be able to talk to real professionals who have tons of grace and style. So, this week, Silvio is giving me an early Christmas gift: We well be talking to two of the best Tango artists — Georgina Vargas and Oscar Mandagaran (Click HERE for the program; 7 pm PST/9 pm CT – Thursday, Nov. 29).
Georgina and Oscar formed “Tango de Buenos Aires”, and not only perform but give lessons as well. While they reside in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we are privileged to be talking to them to learn about this wonderful Latin American dance style.
What exactly is Tango? A “Tango Fundamentals” primer explains – Argentine Tango is an improvisational dance based on the four building blocks of walking, turning, stopping and embellishments. The dance is like a puzzle of two bodies and four feet. Each dance is entirely improvised, unique and gets put together differently each time you dance. No two couples dance the same way to any tango song. Women and men bring their own unique interpretation of the music and their own styles and embellishments to the dance which makes each dance an exciting and unpredictable experience. Even though dancers follow certain conventions, they never quite know how someone will construct a dance, add an embellishment or interpret the music. The surprises possible within the dance are what make the dance so addicting. It really does take two to tango, because the dance isn’t just about the man leading and the woman following. Both partners have important things to contribute—like all good conversations
A little on their background:
OSCAR MANDAGARAN, 1989 runner-up at the Malambo Argentino National Festival of the Malambo de Laborde (Cordoba). Born in Posadas, Misiones. He started his professional career as an Argentine Folk Dancer in 1983, at first in Posadas, and later at the age of eighteen in Buenos Aires. There, in 1990, he joined the cast of the National Ballet Folklorico directed by Norma Viola and Santiago Ayala, “El Chucaro”. He traveled all over Argentina, as well as other South American countries like Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Paraguay with that company between 1990 and 1996. During that same time studied at the Instituto Nacional de Danzas Folkloricas Argentinas, earning the following titles: National Professor of Dance, Performer of Latin American Dances, and Arqueology and Anthropology Technician. Between 1990 and 1997, Oscar was also a cast member of some of the best shows, such as “Tango de Buenos Aires”, “Tango Mio”, “La Ventana”, “Senor Tango”, “Entre Borges Y Piazzolla, and he also played a part in Carlos Saura’s film “TANGO”.In 1997, he joined the cast of Luis Bravo’s “FOREVER TANGO”, doing his debut on Broadway. With this show he performed in the theatres of the most important cities of the world like Japan, Korea, England, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico and the United States. He also debuted at the “Teatro Colon” in Buenos Aires with this troop. He remains with the company until 2003, while at the same time performing with Luis Bravo’s show “MALAMBO”, doing his debut in the city of San Francisco, California. Concurrent with his journey as a tango dancer, he developed his career as Maestro and Choreographer of Tango, teaching in the city of Buenos Aires and abroad. His own personal style of dancing is highly appreciated among other Tango professionals and milongueros . Oscar is able to transmit all of his energy and passion for the Tango to his students. He shares with great precision all his secrets of the dance with them, including all the aspects of his technique, his musicality, his embrace and his essence.
Throughout his entire career as a Maestro of Tango, he has traveled over the entire world teaching workshops, and taking his extraordinary passion and energy, which characterize him, to every corner of the world.
GEORGINA VARGAS, milonguera, dancer and Tango singer, was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. She was grew up along the dual borders of the Rios de la Plata. She began her studies as a ballet and contemporary dancer, while later in her adolescence , she was introduced to the Tango through the milongas of the nights of Buenos Aires. From 1999 to 2005 she lived and taught in Rome, Italy, where she established her School of Tango. It was in this city that she developed her activities as a dancer and teacher in Europe and Japan. As Tango Singer in 2006 she recorded her first CD “Por Aquellos Tangos” and since 2000 she was in many Tango Shows in Argentina and all around the world like “Sabor a Tango”, “Boulevar Tango”, “Por Siempre Tango” ecc… Her passion as a stage dancer and Tango singer comes from her intense vocation as a teacher. Throughout her career she developed a very precise women’s technique program, through which every woman may easily show off her femininity in her stiletto heels.
For OSCAR and GEORGINA, one magic night like so many of the magical nights in the city of Buenos Aires, the tango provided an encounter for them on the dance floor at a milonga “bien portena” at “Nino Bien”. Every since then they have traveled the world over together enjoying their profound feeling and delightful style charged with poetry.
Their rapid union as a tango partnership with a well defined style, allowed them to expand their talent as dancers, teachers and choreographers in different parts of the world. They try to transmit their love of the Tango in its pure form and profound essence through their dancing, their teaching and their artistic generosity. With their great sensitivity and magnetism, this couple stirs in everyone who sees them a flood if emotions. Today they are recognized as one of the best tango couples on an international level, as is demonstrated by their extensive tours throughout the United States, Italy and Japan, as well as being special guests of the best Tango show in Buenos Aires – the Esquina Carlos Gardel”.
Here is a beautiful example of their work:
As a historian, I was interested in the origins of Tango. It seems it was derived from a competition for love among immigrants pouring into Argentina in the early 1900’s.
There were really only two practical ways for a man to get close to a woman under these circumstances. One was to visit a prostitute and the other was to dance. With so much competition from other men on the dance floor, if a man wanted a woman to dance with him, it was necessary for him to be a good dancer, and being a good dancer only meant one thing. It didn’t matter if he knew lots of fancy steps, or if the other men thought he was a good dancer. The only thing that mattered was that the woman in his arms had a good time when she danced with him – because with so many other men to choose from, if she didn’t enjoy dancing with him she wouldn’t do it again, and neither would her friends.
This meant that it was necessary for the men to practice together in order to be good enough to dance with the women. It is important to remember that this was a time before recorded music was available. The only kind of music was live music, and there would have been very little of it. So if a group of men heard music playing they would jump at the chance to dance to it. In the brothels there would be live music and other men waiting. So it seems to me quite obvious that the clients of the brothels would have danced together while they waited, making the most of the opportunity to practice, not because they wanted to dance with a prostitute, but because they wanted to be able to dance well when they got the opportunity to dance with a woman who was not a prostitute.