Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tango Mojo Video of the Week - Javier Rodriguez and Virginia Pandolfi


Though Javier Rodriguez, one of my favorite "Rose Vine Tango" artists, has been dancing with his new partner, Noelia Barsi, for quite a few months, as an artistic couple they don't yet grab my attention.  I find Noelia very elegant, with impeccable technique, and active, beautiful adornos.  Yet, at this time, I just don't see much personality in her dancing with Javier.  

So I find myself going back to watch Javier with Virginia Pandolfi, with whom he partnered for over a year after our beloved Andrea Misse' died.

Here are Javier and Virginia performing last year in Cordoba, Argentina.  They're dancing to Osvaldo Pugliese's instrumental "Patetico" (meaning not only "pathetic" in Spanish, but also "soulful", which I believe was the intention in entitling this dramatic piece).


Although this is an impressive performance piece, and not a tango that you could easily adapt to dancing in a milonga, there are dozens of lessons that both my men and women readers can learn from what's going on in this tango.  

I suggest that you study this video for a while.  Then, I would love to hear what's the most meaningful thing that YOU can take away from this piece and put into practice in your own social tango!  (Not what you think is meaningful to me, but what's uniquely valuable to you, such as something you'd like to work on in your tango.) 

So PLEASE COMMENT about this question below!!  

14 comments:

  1. Javier takes the roll of the general choreographer, giving only a simple “frame” to the dance, and accompanying Virginia’s magnificent and professional performance.
    As a leader, I can only keep dreaming of such a tango partner.
    Nothing else.

    Shlomo Laufer
    ISRAEL

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    1. Shlomo, you appreciate Virginia's "magnificance" and so do I. I'm curious: Would you like to have a partner with such a strong personality?

      I wonder that about Javier, too, because he has chosen instead a super-competent partner, whom I see as much more passive.

      Your thoughts?

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    2. The first thing I am looking for, is a follower that has good basic technique. The second thing I like very much, is yes, a follower with a strong personality. It's like if you want to enjoy the conversation, you need a partner that first of all speaks well the language, and secondly, is informative, imaginative, and yes, has a strong personality.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. Just watched 4 videos of Javier and Noelia:
      First of all she is good technically,and has very good musicality and timing.
      Secondly, I disagree that she is too passive.
      I feel that she has a lot of respect to Javier, and I guess he is also her mentor now.
      At this stage, she makes a great effort to adapt and match his dance, with minor adorns of herself, but her personality is definitely present.
      With more experience and time, I think she will do very well.
      One can buy a cake in a store, that will be more or less, what he likes.
      The second option, is to make an effort to prepare the cake exactly as he likes it to be.
      I guess Javier is "preparing the cake".

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    5. Shlomo, it's nice to hear about the kind of partner you seek!

      Regarding Javier and Noelia, I agree with you about her strengths. I think she's a very, very fine dancer. As a woman I was finding her not very interesting. I have seen her dance with less accomplished dancers than Javier, and she was much more expressive.

      Especially in light of what I just said, I think that your analysis of the partnership at this moment is quite astute! Now that I look at them as you describe, I can see how Javier is "preparing the cake exactly as he'd like it to be". (Even her clothes and hair are different now, much more elegant. "Image" is surely part of the recipe.)

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  2. An engaging lead often has graceful qualities of a bird of prey. Javier has the grace of a penguin. His upper half is exaggeratedly stiff and lower half a bit wobbly. He may choose interesting moments to add certain accents to the music. But his control of the floor and jerking movements don't seem stable to me. I am not a fan of that aspect of him. This is why he is smart to consistently choose very strong and distracting followers. The less interesting the lead is in his personality, the more interesting his followers appear. So he does give time for Virginia to respond and interpret and show off. But it's lacking the emotional and conversational give and take that was evident in last week's post of Carlito and Noelia.

    Someone explained before to me that tango is like having a conversation. You can either speak with the person (sharing each other's company and intimate experiences) or you can just speak to her/him (to stroke your ego an brag). Both Javier and Virginia are speaking to each other. However, that doesn't make it uninteresting to watch. It's just something a little more suited for Dancing with the Stars.

    I bet others will disagree though. I'm interested to hear counter arguments and to learn.

    Sincerely,
    Eco

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    1. Eco, thank you for your very thoughtful and well articulated comments. I am one who disagrees with some of what you say, yet you give me some interesting things to consider! But I won't comment further yet, because I too am looking forward to hearing other readers' thoughts!


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    2. Eco, are there any choreographic tangos that you have enjoyed?

      Also, I am wondering what you think of my comment to Stefano below about what both you and he might find missing in the conversation, that Carlitos and Noelia have. Care to comment?

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    3. Can Choreographic Tangos have improvisational elements? I enjoy the most when I cannot tell if it’s choreographed or even planned previously. So there could be several that I enjoy and am unaware whether it is choreographic or not.

      Here is one possible choreographic performance that I enjoy:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnKSvq4AIz8

      In their choreography (no apparent improvised elements) there is still a playful exchange. Mariana is like a girl playing on a playground, Diego being the playground. He has complete control over the floor and moves with a sort of grace that appears contradictory to stereotypical preconceptions of his larger figure. It goes against type. They are fun to watch overall. But normally I don’t enjoy performances where they play this much to the audience.

      Then there’s Carlos Gavito’s stage performances. But perhaps it’s unfair to compare anyone to him since he comes from a different era and not alive anymore. He was a master and embodied the music like no one else. Most of his videos on youtube were while he was fighting with cancer. It’s inspiring to watch him. That’s the extent of stage tango I enjoy. But my favorite of Gavito’s was when he danced (improvised probably?) with Javiar’s former partner (and wife?) Geraldine Rojas:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDhXTW2FlN8

      Now this brings me to your question about the “sexual” dialogue between Carlitos and Noelia. There is a similar dialogue going on between Gavito and Geraldine. I don’t see it as sexual in either case. It’s sensual. Sexual chemistry is a byproduct of that and their communication with the music and the moment.

      There is a quote from Bruce Lee that seems to be heavily influenced by Zen philosophy, “Art reaches it’s greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make.” I don’t see Javiar an artist in that respect. I do find a few of his performances enjoyable with different partners. But he is a performer before being an artist or lover of the music. He plays to the audience even before playing to his partner. The music and partner for him appear to be more vehicles to get applause.

      Thanks, Helaine, for posing questions that require a lot of thought to answer.

      Eco

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    4. Can Choreographic Tangos have improvisational elements? I enjoy the most when I cannot tell if it’s choreographed or even planned previously. So there could be several that I enjoy and am unaware whether it is choreographic or not.

      Here is one possible choreographic performance that I enjoy:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnKSvq4AIz8

      In their choreography (no apparent improvised elements) there is still a playful exchange. Mariana is like a girl playing on a playground, Diego being the playground. He has complete control over the floor and moves with a sort of grace that appears contradictory to stereotypical preconceptions of his larger figure. It goes against type. They are fun to watch overall. But normally I don’t enjoy performances where they play this much to the audience.

      Then there’s Carlos Gavito’s stage performances. But perhaps it’s unfair to compare anyone to him since he comes from a different era and not alive anymore. He was a master and embodied the music like no one else. Most of his videos on youtube were while he was fighting with cancer. It’s inspiring to watch him. That’s the extent of stage tango I enjoy. But my favorite of Gavito’s was when he danced (improvised probably?) with Javiar’s former partner (and wife?) Geraldine Rojas:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDhXTW2FlN8

      Now this brings me to your question about the “sexual” dialogue between Carlitos and Noelia. There is a similar dialogue going on between Gavito and Geraldine. I don’t see it as sexual in either case. It’s sensual. Sexual chemistry is a byproduct of that and their communication with the music and the moment.

      There is a quote from Bruce Lee that seems to be heavily influenced by Zen philosophy, “Art reaches it’s greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make.” I don’t see Javiar an artist in that respect. I do find a few of his performances enjoyable with different partners. But he is a performer before being an artist or lover of the music. He plays to the audience even before playing to his partner. The music and partner for him appear to be more vehicles to get applause.

      Thanks, Helaine, for posing questions that require a lot of thought to answer.

      Eco

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  3. When I watch a tango video, generally I take care to find some intriguing musical step, move or invention.
    In this video, even if superlative, I found nothing. It's a perfect (perhaps a small fluff at 2:16) typical stage tango for professional and trained dancers; moreover danced in "tango nuevo style" (always in open embrace, apart her fake milonguero embrace at the start), adequate for this Pugliese's music but not for a crowded milonga.
    I prefer Javier in his salon tango.
    I'm afraid that after Geraldine he has lost his "warm" feeling with the partner. He is always precise, elegant, musical but...cold (a penguin!). Here he seems as the supporting male dancer of the classic ballet. And the poor energetic Virginia has to dance tango alone.
    He is looking for an other Geraldine...
    Ciao.
    Stefano

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    1. Ciao Stefano!
      I understand what you mean about preferring Javier's salon tango. But, "vive la difference" . . . I find this piece highly artistic. There's no need to debate this - two tango lovers can like different things.

      I disagree about your "tango nuevo" discussion. While this piece is loaded with choreographic elements and stage-tango embellishments, it is structurally based in tango salon. There are no tango nuevo elements (such as off-axis moments and breaking the frontality of the embrace - where partners' upper bodies are not looking into the embrace).

      From my point of view, there is a very strong *artistic* dialog going on between Javier and Virginia, which is what I personally like about this piece. What I suspect that both you and Eco above are missing is . . . a sexual dialog, which we witness with Carlitos and Noelia H. in the previous post. I would never say about Javier on the dance floor "What makes him such a lover?". What do you think?

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