Sunday, January 03, 2016

Happy New Year! A joyful milonga with steps to steal!


December 31, 2015

I hope that 2015 has been a fulfilling year for you, and that you have met or gotten closer to your most important goals.  I also hope that you have followed some surprising trajectories that led you to places, events, relationships, and accomplishments you'd never imagined before!  (I certainly have!)

Today I have a video performance of a joyful milonga for you. I'll bet it makes you smile!

The dancers are a tango couple I have always admired, even though they're not of the "Rose Vine Tango" (Villa Urquiza) style. In this video from about six years ago, Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa dance to the modern milonga "Morena" by Esteban Morgado.

Here's the video:

Notice the wonderfully free creativity to which they treat us, while they still express the traditional milonga that is so deep in their bones!  

Julio grew up with tango.  His parents were the legendary Miguel and Nely Balmaceda, who were important dancers and teachers in Buenos Aires until Miguel's death in 1991. Here are two examples of Miguel and Nely's dancing:

In the second video, notice all the ganchos!  (What became "Milonguero Style", with close embrace and small steps, was only practiced in the city center's crowded milongas.)

But it is told that Miguel and Nely did not allow their students to do any figures for the first two years of study.  Only walking.  I have read that the famous Susana Miller, who coined the name "Milonguero Style" in the 1990's and, together with her then partner Cacho Dante, popularized it abroad, had been a student at the Balmaceda practica. 

Though Julio and Corina's milonga performance in this video is choreographed, or at least partially choreographed, I feel the freshness in it.  (I confess that I'd rather be watching this couple improvise this milonga, and skip the choreography.  Still, I think there are some gems in here.)

If you love milonga, and you lead, I'll bet there are a few steps you can steal from this performance, even if you dance traditionally.
How about practicing one or two of these and adding them to your milonga repertoire?  (For your convenience, I'm posting the video again, right above my list of segments.)

1) 0:18-0:25  Syncopated walk with pauses - only if you have lots of room to walk. I'd say this is an advanced lead, which I'd recommend if your partner is a confident tanguera.

2) 0:28-0:32  Syncopated backward walk (man) in a circle.  I'd make the circle tighter for the dance floor.

3a) 0:52-0:56  Just a syncopated giro, with the woman's molinete.  Followed by . . .

3b) 0:57-1:01  Tight giro with almost all woman's tiny side steps, man's small turning forward steps. Julio walks around Corina, keeping her the center.

4) 1:02-1:04 Small cambio de frente, followed by . . .
1:04-1:11 Julio plays with a crossed system walk in simple time (a few syncopated embellishments without weight changes), changing sides of partner back and forth. At 1:11 he syncopates to change to parallel system.

(Next, we have about 30 seconds with some movements too flashy for the milonga dance floor, though you can probably pick out some things you can use.)

5) 1:35-1:39  Another syncopated giro. (Similar to 3a.)

6) Finally, 1:40-1:48  How would you describe these very cool steps?  "Va y venes" and "reverse va y venes" (right and left) with a "cadencia" (body sway)?  I love this sequence for milonga!  So does the audience.

Notice that only #1 and #4 require space to walk.  The other examples can be easily adapted for a somewhat crowded dance floor.  Just pick one or two and work on them.

Have fun with these!

I wish you health, happiness, prosperity, and many great tandas in the new year!


  1. Concerning item 6, it looks like a form of traspie but with one foot behind the other. I was told that a traspie step (side, front, back) is any series of quick-quick-quick-slow steps. The one he does is very cool but looks like a variant of something I've seen before (Flaco Dany, maybe), except that here he's putting more body language into it and flexing his knees more. This would be fun to practice though.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Robert. #6 is my favorite one, too! Dany Garcia is much older and I know he's been dancing tango since before Julio was born. And Flaco Dany is indeed a master of milonga! I wonder if we can find a video in which Dany is using such cadencia in his body, what you call "body language". He's usually pretty vertical, isn't he? I've danced milonga with both of them - what joy! I'd say Julio, who also has deep roots in tango, is a master of milonga, too.

      I hope you do practice step #6, and let us know how it goes. When you ace it, I hope you'll send me a video!