Tango Argentino > Is there a good explanation of Naveira and Salas' tango analysis?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by plugger, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. plugger

    plugger Member

    I regarded tango nuevo as just one of several styles out there until reading online that it is also a way of understanding the dance and its possible variations (given some assumptions as to what constitutes tango.)
    Having majored in math and struggled with tango, I was grabbed by that idea. I want to see their analysis!
    Since then, I have found some Web pages with complicated diagrams showing numerous possible moves but never a book that explains the principles and gives dancers ideas for using this important conceptual effort.
    Has anyone written a good book, or any book at all, explaining what Naveira and Salas determined?
    I know that such a book could be the first dangerous step toward a syllabus, which I doubt any lovers of tango (including those two) would want. But I also feel teased by references to an expansive logical analysis of tango -- which I would LOVE to read -- but can't find in publication anywhere.
  2. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    this is it;


    its a very dry read; but it looks at all the theoretical possibilites of tango steps....
  3. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Oh really?
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    dangerous??? nuevo?? logical analaysis...??? :D
  5. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I'll give this a bit of a go, though I am by no means steeped in Nuevo methodologies (or if I am, I certainly don't know it).

    The main thing I have learned from (good) teachers who dance in what people would be considered Nuevo has been about really tearing things apart and considering options, and also geometric alignments (and the concept as Opendoor put it of all steps being composed of front or back cross and open steps, referring to relative hip alignments between partners.)

    I've had classes with Fabian and his teaching is very geometric. It is very pattern based, but he works through concepts geometrically.

    Other teachers I have had have either emphasized finding connection points at critial areas to other things. For example, I had a class with Sharna Fabiano and Issac Oboka where we did this exercise to find possible combinations of colgadas from different parada situations. In another class with a local teacher, we did similar exercises from other points in the dance to really make people think about how things work and fit together structurally.

    I certainly feel for your need for structure. I have a math degree myself and the structure is interesting, but really, I don't think there's some deep magic structural secret that you can immediately latch on to for a connected understanding of tango. Mostly you just have to be willing to put your mind to it, find a teacher whose methodology works for you. (Some teachers have a more structural approach than others.) Then you have to go put the miles on the dance floor and see how it fits together.

    Actually, if there's one thing you could do that I do think is helpful is if you can find someone who can help you establish good body awareness. I see plenty of engineering/science types here where I am dancing tango, and the people that I think "get it" soonest are those with good body/partner awareness, and that doesn't really have much to do with how smart you are.
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Re: ..regarded tango nuevo as just one of several styles

    Hi plugger, I haven´t got a book at hand to recommend. The cited book of Mauricio Castro may help, though I am a little biased, because a friend of mine who now teaches Tango in BsAs once said, that Castro was the purest student in his Naveira class. But poor dancers sometimes become excellent teachers, and Castro actually has an elaborate and unique syllabus which is selling well in his worldwide franchise company.

    1) I would not call Tango in the follow of Naveira and Salas just Tango Nuevo. I know in parts of the US it is done this way, whereas NeoTango is reserved for the fusion music style. But the proper term for the dance style is Neotango. Tango Nuevo (the dance style) started before Naveirea and evolved from Tango Fantasia.

    2) I fear you reduce what you call logical analysis to a classification of steps. But that is the merest part of Naveira´s and Salas´ work. And the classification of the possible steps only is a by-product of the deconstruction of sequences, they went about. In RetroTango moves were taught in the form of sequences. Look, Pugliese listed in his syllabus more than 900 different moves. That is, what Naveira and Salas were bothered by, and replaced them by only 5 stepping concepts.

    3) The next thing is the unification of the words and the adding of front, back, side, left, and right. Colgadas which actually were fashionably at the end of the last century really date back to the beginning of tango. But there was no umbrella term for that kind of off-axis moves. Now they are outlined as: side- , back- , circular- , and front Colgadas.

    4) A central thing is the restriction of the lead. NeoTango stricktly is lead only by the centre, whereas in RetroTango it is a mixture of centre, arms, hips, head and so on ( "you lead with every part of your body" a VU saint once said). Leading with the centre means, that it is regardless whether you lead in deep embrace, close hold, open embrace, or actually without arms at all. It makes no difference. This clearly is an influence of the concepts of Contact-Improvisation.

    5) Distinctiv for NeoTango is the elimination of rise and fall. Last year I had a rhythm workshop with Chicho (Naveira´s model student and one of the most influential Neodancers, at all). We had to lead and compare caminadas in NeoTango and in RetroTango style (I wrote about it here): Men had to do two steps and to lead women to do three steps at the same time (and vice versa and so on with different odd-even combinations). It only worked with the NeoTango stepping technique.
  7. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member


    On a serious note, I strongly recommend everyone to avoid the term "Tango Nuevo" like the plague. It only causes difficulties.

    In fact, I'd say the same about Tango de Salon, Tango Milonguero, Tango Villa Urquiza and pretty much every other label. They're all, in my opinion, worse-than-useless in helping understanding.

    (I say worse-than-useless because they can actually prove detrimental to learning).

    So plugger, I'd rip up your assumptions about style, then start again. What, precisely, do you want to learn?
  8. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    SECRETS; I bet he wants to know the Secrets of Nuevo, but I am sworn to secrecy after all the first Rule of Tango Nuevo Club is......;)
  9. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I thought that was the second rule? :confused:
  10. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i would add that in my view neo/nuevo is not a style but an exploratory approach to learning to dance..rather than being spoonfed steps you find the tools that allow you to discover what you can do and in a way that is personal, intuitive and interpretive.
  11. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    from a good teacher, yes...but I've had not so good instruction from well known teachers who dance in the way that people term "Nuevo" stylistically, and who did just that, teach steps only.

    I've also had teachers who dance what would be termed by many as milonguero teach it in a conceptual way, in terms of linkage and fluidity. With the teaching concept, it's easy to circumvent stylistic concerns, it's mostly down to the teachers themselves and how they approach their teaching.

    As for styling, I guess it doesn't really bother me that I have things divided in to a couple of basic styles. There are things that occur in a more "Nuevo" styling that just don't happen in strict close embrace dancing, or even really in traditional tango salon (the kind that opens and closes during a dance) that do happen and are part of the Nuevo teaching concept and repertoire, like elasticity and rebound in certain movements, usually in open embrace.

    I'm thankful to have a few leaders in my area whose preferences lie in both directions so I can try to be as versatile as I can be. I enjoy both, at different times.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm curious, what do people think of Salas as a teacher? He's going to be in this area next month, thus I'm curious if it's worth trying to change my schedule around to try to take some of his workshops.
  13. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

  14. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    I missed him when he was here last spring, but from what I'd heard from a couple of attendees, he is very good as a teacher. One of the women who commented travels to festivals & takes various workshops & is more oriented toward "traditional" tango salon.
  15. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    It is a Plato and Socrates situation. Naveira and Salas made an analysis, which had not been done before (Remember the quote by Sebastian Arce visiting a famous milonguero to learn how to lead boleos and being told to pull/push the followers's shoulder). They did not publish their analysis though, so the only available writings are by pupils, second-hand sort of.
  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    My take on this approach; is that you find that you can take any step you want
    with any step the follower might make.

    I did a workshop in Cambridge on this; on every 5th Step the follower called the step eg back ocho. so where-ever you were you led her into a back ocho or did one yourself.

    it opens up new possibilities, even in close embrace.

    The Matrix as Castro refers to it, is pretty much a cataloque of all possible combinations
    but ignores the limitations of the embrace ( or assumes an elastic embrace.)

    For me, it has been moderatley useful in that I have danced steps on the dance floor that no-one has ever taught (me) and without having done them before hand, at a practica for instance.
  17. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    Do you have/read both Castro books?
    I wonder it they they have different content? You are learning similar things from both books?
  18. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i will check, I have his DVD's but I think for any of this to be useful you need a degree in autodidactism...;)
  19. plugger

    plugger Member

    Apparently I gave the impression that I consider technical analysis of tango to be dangerous to the dance. Let me correct that. I love the idea of analyzing the possible moves (I like math) and I have nothing against nuevo as a style (I would be taking lessons in it, but right now am trying to become competent in close embrace).
    My curiosity and interest in nuevo, and my appreciation of it from the sidelines, is one of the reasons why I'd like to plow through such a book if it exists. The closest thing I have is Salas' "Tango Fundamentals" DVDs, which aren't an analysis of the dance nor meant to be.
    I do think would be dangerous for tango to have a syllabus IF that eventually comes to be accepted as defining what is and is not tango. I'd think the same about West Coast, Lindy hop, salsa, cumbia and several other dances.
    I admire ballroom and don't think it's harmed by its syllabus, but that's a different world with its own priorities. The result is some beautiful, polished dances. Protecting a heritage is a good thing, but change and creativity are good too. I'd like to keep tango mostly wild.
  20. plugger

    plugger Member

    I'd like to also thank everyone for their helpful and revealing posts. (I thought colgadas were something new!) Will look around for the reference materials mentioned and reply after digesting all this.
    I greatly appreciate efforts to make tango or any dance more rational and clearer to understand. The traditional pedagogy in tango seems to be "do it this way" followed by demonstration and correction. That works too, but it's left to the student to connect the dots. Fortunately, there are now teachers who want you to understand at the same time you learn to dance.

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