Tango Argentino > Is tango a dance for competition?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by jantango, May 30, 2009.

  1. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Tonight in Buenos Aires, the finals of the 7th Campeonato de Baile de la Ciudad (city tango competition) will be held. The qualifying rounds have been held during the entire month at milongas. There were 605 entries in four divisions: Tango Senior (over 40), Tango Adult (18-40), Milonga, and Vals (the last two with no age divisions). Those who qualified, some 140 couples, danced three nights this week in the semifinal rounds. Those who made the cut--58 couples--dance tonight in the finals. The top prize for tango is 10,000 pesos; milonga and vals winners receive 6,000 pesos. Only the winner of tango salon goes to the finals of the Campeonato Mundial de Baile (world tango competition) in August. There are 12 senior couples in the Tango salon finals, but they have to compete for the title with a larger number of dancers under 40. So much for age categories.

    There are a few familiar names of the list of finalists. Raul Capelli is a regular at the milongas. He is in his 60s and placed among the top ten in the city competition in 2005, but then didn't go on to dance in the world competition for which he qualified. He is competing this year with a different partner.

    Bruno Mayo won the city championship in Milonga in 2006 at the age of 20. He is a finalist in tango and vals with a different partner. I won't be surprised if he places high in the top ten. The judges have seen him before.

    Frank Obregon Delci and Jenny Gil Alvarez of Venezuela won the Intercontinental Tango Championship held October 2008 in Buenos Aires which launched their career as teachers and performers. They have moved to Buenos Aires. They are another young, attractive couple who need a title for their resume.

    The tango salon winners are chosen by a panel of judges. They are guaranteed exposure with performances and a future in tango. Young adult couples are favored over seasoned dancers from the milongas. Judges do not disqualify themselves when judging their own students in this competition.

    If a dance contest for tango were held in your city, would you be interested in competing?

    Is tango a dance for competition?
  2. hbboogie1

    hbboogie1 New Member

    Jan, IMO No tango is not a dance for competition. The only people who benefit from it would be the organizers $$$$
    Ballroom has had comps for years and with all the rules it's still subjective judging and they have a Syllabus for all of the dances to help judge. Tango has no rules and no Syllabus so what are they using as a judging standard ?
    I also think my opinion is worthless because it's too late, the Tango comps have begun and nothing I say can change that.
    I wouldn't want to visit BsAs during a tango competition because I understand the milongas are even more crowded with tourists.
  3. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    I asked the question to hear everyone's opinion on the subject. There are competition rules set up by the Association of Teachers, Dancers, and Choreographers of Argentine Tango in BsAs, who are also the judges.

    True, there is no syllabus for tango. Dancers don't know the music until they dance the rounds. They are supposed to know the rules and follow them.

    Contrary to what you have heard, the milongas aren't crowded with tourists during the competition. The competition being held tonight includes people who live in the city of Buenos Aires. The world competition held in late August every year includes couples who represent their country from a pre-championship competition. Although thousands come to attend, they come only to compete or watch the competition and don't have time to dance in the milongas.
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And yet...
    Competition has been part of Tango as danced in Argentina for a long, long time.
    I still have my library copy of "Tango!...", in which I just saw several examples while at the coffee place before getting on line today.

    On the other hand, I myself am not interested in competing.
    I DO, however watch our US Fox network's "So You Think You Can Dance".
  5. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Yes, there were tango contests in Buenos Aires decades ago. It was more of a friendly competition among dancers. I recall that my former partner won a trophy for tango in Club Pedro Echague. These contests were judged by the public, rather than a panel of judges. It's quite another story today in Buenos Aires.
  6. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Syllabus only applies to closed competition, not open, so a lot of professional ballroom has no real syllabus to point too. Not to mention cabaret/theatre arts events. Judging these events (or tango), are the same type of job as judging an ice dance routine, or anything else that has artistic merit.

    Now does that mean I think that I could judge any of them? Heck no. :)
  7. hbboogie1

    hbboogie1 New Member

    competition rules

    Jan, I found the rules and I think we should apply them to milongas and anyone not following the rules are disqualified and asked to leave the
    competition umm I mean the milonga................

    Evaluation Criteria

    Once a couple is formed, the partners must not separate as long as the music is playing. This means that the embrace, which is considered the tango dance position, must not be broken. For the position to be considered correct, the body of one of the members must be constantly held by the other by means of the embrace. In certain figures this may be flexible, but this should not continue throughout the entire piece. All movements must be performed within the space allowed by the couple’s embrace. The Jury will evaluate the couple’s musicality and walking style as fundamental to the qualification. Within these guidelines, contestants may perform any figure commonly used, including barridas (sweeps), sacadas al piso (close to the floor), enrosques (twists), etc.

    Ganchos (leaps), saltos (jumps), trepadas (climbs) and any other typical choreographic stage tango possibility shall be completely excluded.

    Couples, as in a real dancehall, shall constantly move anti-clockwise and try to avoid remaining in the same place for too long, obstructing the normal circulation of dancers around the dance floor. No contestant may raise his/her legs above the knee line.
  8. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    We have that in Seattle. Social Tango Dance Competition. All social styles of AT, and all for fun.

    No, I would watch to see the spectacle, but would not be interested to compete.
  9. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    are hot dogs a food for competition?

    A dance contest for tango is held in my city

    No. I'm not interested in competition.

    Personally, I don't approach tango, which nourishes my heart, as a competition. Nor do I approach eating, which nourishes my belly, as a competition - but here in New York City we also have a famous competitive eating contest! The Nathan's hot dog eating contest in Coney Island.

    so I guess just about anything, including tango, can be done for competition.
  10. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Campeonato de Baile de la Ciudad

    I stand corrected about Tango Senior and Tango Adult categories having to compete in the finals together. That means each first place tango couple wins 10,000 pesos. The city continues increasing the prize money. The first competition had a prize of 600 pesos for each of three couples in three zones within the city.

    Those I mentioned in my earlier post:

    Raul Capelli -- placed second in the Tango Senior category.

    Frank Obregon and Jenny Gill placed 3rd in Tango Adult; 2nd in Milonga; and 4th in Vals. They were in it to win, but had more competition than they had in the Intercontinental Championship which was very small.

    Bruno Mayo placed 8th in Tango Adult (he's 23 years old); and 10th in Vals.

  11. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    A tango dance contest is held in my city. I would not be interested in competing, but many people are. The USA Tango Championship in New York City July 23, 24. Information at www celebratetango dot com (I can't post live links so fill in the dots).
  12. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Your post has much merit. Firstly, like Steve mentioned, AT has been danced in competition forever. As jan noted, however, things do change over time.

    Secondly, ETP, you are correct, of course, yet it is a shame that even in the "open", BR is still looked upon in terms of prescribed choero. I have always said that Jack/Jills are the only real comps. There is not much competitino in dancing something that one has practiced 10 times a day for the past 6 months to perform with the same partner. One should be able to do it in one's sleep after that. go to the comp; dance a totally unknown amalgamation with a totally unfamiliar partner, and see "...how well you dance..." That's competition.

    Lastly, just as a note, I remember when cabaret was theatre arts and theare arts was cabaret. True cabaret has no lifts and crap in it. Somewhere alogn the line these lines got crossed. Now, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other, really.
  13. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

  14. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Yes. Any dance can be taken to a competitive level. It's a great buzz to train hard and then to see all that hard work awarded, if only with an applause by a captivated audience.
    LivingstonSeagull likes this.
  15. hbboogie1

    hbboogie1 New Member


    I was watching "So You Think You Can Dance" the other night and observed something very reveling. Every contestant that danced "their own style" was laughed at poked fun at and kicked off the show. The one's that were chosen to advance danced their own choero but to a prescribed style hip hop, jazz,tap or whatever. It was clear that those that danced well worked very hard and put in many hours of practice. It was also very clear that those that did their own thing didn't work very hard at perfecting their own style of dance. Naturally I relate everything to tango and thought to myself, self this reminds me of a milonga. It's clear that those who dance well are putting a lot of work into learning traditional tango and those who do their own thing...well you get the picture.
  16. pascal

    pascal Member

    If I had a chance to win then why not. One year we had a comp in Paris to select our couple for the BsAs contest but it was a one-shot, it has not become a recurrent comp here.

    It seems so, given the number of comps in BsAs. Metropolitan, world championship, salon championship, stage championship...
    Outside BsAs, comps don't seem to be popular. Maybe in BsAs they only like the show/stage/competitive tango, while everywhere else in the world we're more interested in social tango. What you BsAs people could add to your comps would be, besides the three-minute free program, a short one-minute technical program more centered on the syllabus, and which would be the same for all the couples.
  17. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I don't really see why not - and i don't see that competition in itself is a bad thing. I have friends who have their homebrewed beers judged at state fairs, and others who regularly send their poetry and writing to contests. And this certainly not diluted their art, or their skills.

    The problem with competions is that the judges have the power to change what they are judging over time. Like modern foil fencing has become a completely different sport after electronic scoring got introduced, or how red wines are more bombastic and big nowadays, because these are the qualities that the critics reward.

    Like the rule cited above: "No legs over knee height" - this is an excellent rule if in the competitors get the message that the judges don't care about high leg moves, and that other things will win the competition. If on the other hand they learn that judges would love high leg moves, and that they win competions, and that the rule is just a technical stumbling block, then a lot of very dedicated and talented people will spend a lot of time on inventing and perfecting "just-below-the-knee" moves, and these moves will show up in their social dance, and in their teaching, and in a few years they will become part of the standard vocabulary of the dance.

    But this is not just a problem of competition - the same thing happens in every stage show, everytime when a teacher does a performance at a milonga and the whole audience oohs and ahhs at the lightening fast quadruple pattern of death - we humans are in the end simple creatures - if we get rewarded for something, we will do more of it. Somebody on some blog (sorry, don't remember which one - if somebody knows, please post the reference) wrote "dance the tango that you want to see at your milonga" or something very similar. In the same vein i think we have to try to make an effort to see and reward the tango we want to dance in other people. If the competitions reward the tango that we like to see we will see more, and better versions of it. If we go to workshops where the things we like are taught we will get more workshops like that. If we pay teachers who teach this, there will be more teachers. This is one of the reasons i don't like the whole "true tango is learned on the dancefloor" idea - this means that per definition we force teachers to dance "non-true" tango to survive, and they will teach this to the next generations of beginners.

  18. hbboogie1

    hbboogie1 New Member

    Gosh Gssh you said a mouthful and I agree that the tango in the USA is learned mostly in group classes one hour before the milonga starts and (as I've said in the past) They are teaching mostly show tango because that's what draws a crowd $$$$$$$ What I've witnessed is the instructor that teaches more technique and less show tango isn't asked back. #1 he doesn't draw a crowd because they want to learn the show stuff with the lifts and high kicks. #2 the organizers don't make as much $$$$$
    So the bottom line is we will never ever have BsAs style milongas here in the U.S. It doesn't mean our milongas aren't any fun it just means their different from a milonga in BsAs. Truth be known I've danced tango in many country's including BsAs and in my opinion all of them stink in one way or another. We can find fault in anything the secret is to try and remain positive be happy and enjoy the dance.
  19. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    You have hit the nail on the head why tango in the USA isn't for social dancers but rather about performing choreography on the social floor. Flash draws more cash. It has become a business more than teaching dance.

    True, the dances in the USA will never resemble the milongas in BsAs. The emphasis is on having "fun" in most countries, whereas it's more about dancing for the pleasure of it in BsAs. I feel there is a big difference.

    Registration is officially open for the Campeonato Mundial de Tango which will be held August 23-31 in Buenos Aires. Those who pass the qualifying round go on to the semifinals. If they make the cut, they dance in the finals of tango salon and/or tango stage. There are no age divisions nor amateur and professional categories. The top prize is $15,000 AP.
  20. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Come to Seattle sometime and check out La Garua, and Sur.

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