Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tango Mojo Video of the Week [playlist]

I decided to make today's video(s) relevant to this week's first "Ask Helaine" question!

Normally I post videos to watch, often with my commentary, that are exemplary of Tango Salon style, and in particular in the style of "Rose Vine Tango" - that is, coming from the Villa Urquiza tradition.

Today, since Michael asks in "Ask Helaine" about whether five figures he lists are part of Milonguero Style, which is very different from Tango Salon, I've made a short playlist of two non-professional but excellent milongueros whom I admire very much and with whom I have danced and "gone to heaven".  

In the first two videos in the playlist below, we'll see Osvaldo Centeno "El Oso" (The Bear), performing in 2008 at his favorite milonga in Buenos Aires, "El Beso".   He's dancing in both with the well-known teacher of milonguero style, Ana Maria Schapira.  Osvaldo is not famous outside of Buenos Aires, but he's been dancing tango for 50 years and is highly esteemed by his peers.  Perhaps you can see why!  

My friend Janis Kenyon ("Jantango"), has been living in Buenos Aires many years and her blog "Tango Chamuyo" is dedicated to honoring the city's great milongueros who are not international celebrities.  On the Youtube page of Osvaldo and Ana Maria's first tango, Janis wrote 5 years ago:  "This was Osvaldo's first time dancing for an audience. At least the world can see this incredible milonguero at 71 on video."

The third and final video in the playlist is with my dear friend Juan Topalian, about whom I have written before, and even posted this video.  (I actually discovered this lovely video on Youtube last year thanks to Jantango's blog!)

Please note in all 3 videos which of the figures that Michael asks about yesterday's first Ask Helaine" are present in the improvisations.  To refresh your memory, the figures he lists are:  Colgada, Gancho, Enganche (leg wrap), Boleo, and Calesita. 

After you've watched the videos, I would love to hear what you discovered, and what you like about these two men's interpretations, how they're different from each other, how Milonguero Style, as you observe it here, differs from Tango Salon . . . in short, please share your thoughts in the comments section below the videos!

Note: Usually I choose higher quality videos, but I thought this was worth asking your patience with the darkness of the first two videos.  With Osvaldo's light trousers and Ana Maria's bare arms and legs, it is not difficult to watch them, especially if you click on the icon on the lower right to enlarge the video to full screen!

Have fun and let us know below what you think!


  1. I"d like to have such feeling the rythm as Osvaldo have. Very precize,very accurate in quite song. Using a lot of figures in the right time gives great satisfaction to him and his partners. Is it possible to learn dance as he do it?.

    1. Thanks for your observations! Osvaldo has been dancing for 50 years, but if you set your intention to achieve the qualities you admire about him, you should be able to do it too!

  2. Lovely. I first saw the Juan Topalian video about a year ago and have always loved it. Stately, measured, balanced, wonderful feeling for the music. It's just about everything I admire in this dance. For me, this is tango. His partner (wife?) is superlative. I love the way she steps and uses her legs. There's so much to learn from here. Much enjoyed the other two videos as well. It's too bad we have no historical record of tango's development over the years and it's leading practitioners. Today, there are plenty of videos, but they're videos of performance tango and competitions. Thanks for posting, Helaine. Robert

    1. Thanks for your observations and your appreciation, Robert!

  3. the selection of 4 Pieces with Sebastian and Maria dancing in London.
    The 3rd song was Llorar por una Mujer, and ...aha!...I caught a second where she made a move I've been trying to identify and have asked at least 2 tangueras we know, but from my description they didn't know what i meant.
    In the video cip at the time of 1:09, Maria is coming around in a molinete and her right foot comes up, leg bending from the knee and arcing in the air before coming down to the floor to continue to the next step. What is this movement? Is it an embellishment with a name? Where else is it used? I've seen it on the floor at times. Please help me unpuzzle this at last! thanks, and besitos - Lillie

  4. Lillie's comment and question belong under my April 6 blog post, Video of the Week and commentary. I've asked my team to move her comment to that post. Meanwhile, Lillie, to answer your question, the gesture Maria Ines makes at 1:09 is indeed an embellishment. It's just kind of a "flip of the foot" that is actually common and quite easy to do during any back ocho. While you're pivoting backward on your left, bring your right toe up and back down in an arc, before taking the back step with your right after the left pivot. Does this make it clearer?