Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The origins of young-and-beautiful stage tango

Gloria and Eduardo Arquimbau
The first world-class tango couples I know of who started dancing Argentine Tango on stages in other countries as early as the 1950's, while tango went underground in Argentina, were:
- Gloria and Eduardo Arquimbau, who started their performance career with a tour to Japan when Gloria was 14 (her mom went too),
- Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves, and
- Gloria and Rodolfo Dinzel, who started dancing together in 1972.  

These artists are all still alive and well, still performing and teaching, most in their 70's (Copes is about 81, and Gloria Dinzel is surely the youngest). All three couples were in "Tango Argentino", the show that went from Paris to Broadway in 1985. Copes and Nieves broke up long ago and each has become a tango legend in his/her own right, with Copes performing for years with his daughter Johana. You can see Copes in the role of choreographer in Carlos Saura's film "Tango", and Maria Nieves is the wise, funny and still sexy grand dame of tango in Robert Duvall's "Assassination Tango".  

If you look at videos of the original Broadway cast of "Tango Argentino", you'll see that the artists were almost all mature, and some were overweight. (One young couple started their international career with that show - Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs, whom I mention above in my story about "Tango X 2".)

But I want to make you aware of another couple, because I discovered them in my mid-90's research, when Internet was young and I was hungry to find tango information anywhere I could (in books and on video cassettes)!  The dance-couple that so impressed me was Roberto Herrera and Vanina Bilous.  They were lean, athletic and beautiful. They were highly-trained and highly-talented virtuoso dancers, who in 1992 became the dance couple for the renouned orchestra of Osvaldo Pugliese.

While Roberto and Vanina had surely learned from "elders" Arquimbau, Copes/Nieves and Los Dinzels, the young couple established a new model for beauty and elegance onstage.  My earliest Argentine teachers, as well as major tango artists I later brought to my school UmbriaTango in Italy, would tell me about how Roberto and Vanina had been models for them in the emergent phases of their careers. Herrera continues his brilliant worldwide performance and teaching career, while Bilous danced only until the age of 31 and now focuses on her children and teaching at her Studio La Esquina.

Enough history!  Here for your pleasure and fun are Roberto Herrera and Vanina Bilous in a humorous piece, "Mala Junta" (Bad Company).  I believe the orchestra here is Beba Pugliese, daughter of the "maestro" Osvaldo.

You can find videos online of the first three couples I mention in this article, and see the difference in style and image between Herrera/Bilous and the earlier generation.  Can you see how Roberto and Vanina were a transitional couple in stage tango?  They retain some characteristics of the tango of their predecessors - many of my readers will recognize that this video is of an earlier time (1996, I believe), because even classic tango has continued to evolve.

Let me hear from you.  I love hearing your thoughts on my ezine topics!


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  3. I just noticed this old discussion and removed both comments because of inaccurate information we exchanged.