Tango Argentino > "The Dinzel System"?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Dave Bailey, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Is that a face under the No. 4 ?
  2. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Los Dinzel NEVER set foot in a milonga, obviously because they are too busy with teaching. I have footage of Rodolfo in the Konex Center when he was asked to present a class to a large group of children from a very poor neighborhood after a concert at Teatro cervantes. He demonstrated the eight-step basic a couple of times and then left the room. His assistants took over. He didn't ask them to walk around the room. He got them totally confused from the start with memorizing a pattern. This is what Los Dinzel do at the University of Tango (evening classes at a grammar school) where anyone can get a certificate to teach after two years in the free program. Maria Plazaola attended his classes, but she doesn't do anything she learned there. The problem with their method is that it isn't useful for social dancing, only performance tango. Their plan is troubling to me as well --to take over the entire school system with their method of tango.

    I have viewed their dancing on YouTube as well. They are invited to teach all over the world because they are famous for being in the cast of Tango Argentino many years ago.

    Fit in to the scene in BsAs? They run their foundation school in Villa Crespo http://www.english.fundaciontango.org.ar/objectives.htm where all the classes are free, as they are at the University of Tango. They ask for donations and volunteers. They are members of the Asociacion de Maestros, Coreografos y Bailarines de Tango Argentino (the elite and closed network of teachers) who control how tango is danced and judged in the city and world campeonatos. They do not advertise in any of the magazines nor show their faces in the milongas. I would hardly say they fit in but rather are the silent old guard that runs the tango machine in BsAs.

    An Argentine friend in BsAs was attending classes at the U of Tango ten years ago. He told me how impressed he was with Dinzel. I was surprised to hear him say that because my friend was the dancer who introduced me to chest-to-chest embrace at La Viruta. At one of the lectures by Dinzel, my friend asked a question -- What do you think about the milonguero style of tango? Dinzel answered, It is new and won't be around for long. I never forgot this because it proved that Dinzel has not been to the milongas. If he went to dance, he would know that the milongueros have been dancing the same way since the 1950s in the downtown confiterias.

    It is scary that there are people with world-wide recognition who have such limited knowledge of the subject in which they are considered experts.
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    I will apologize now for the long post. Rudolfo and Gloria were 2 of my first 4 primary teachers in the early '80s. It was he who gave me the nickname El Criollo (which was given as a great compliment, though I never use it). Here are my thoughts.

    Quite the contrary. He has a very traditional background; very CE; and, always taught very basic movement/lead/follow. He refused to teach me something different. After Tango Argentino, he continued to tell me that what they did in the show was not what we should be doing in the milongas. Even then, he refused to show me the show stuff, saying that it was not real tango.
    IMHO, this is exactly what he meant because it is exactly what he taught.

    Thank you for clearing that up.

    I must speak with them which, I admit, I have not in a long while. Your post is not the Rudy Dinzel of the '80s when I studied. If he has changed, it would be interesting to know why.

    I will agree that teaching very little, then sitting back and letting others follow through while he watches and corrects from a corner seemed to be his growingl MO. However, to say that he/they could not fit in to the tango scene today is very confusing knowing what I know of them.

    This is what I have been saying. This is the Dinzel whom I know.

    FTR, the Dinzels have extensive knowledge of the subject... much more than many of those here.
  4. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member


    Thanks Angel, that made it clear! A teacher will notice his student!

    And, in resonance to a former thread (I will not respond on the question of leading and didactics), teachers are kind of lighthouses along the way. And what really counts is the ability to guide and to give impulses for the next step. And this relies on the patience, and of course on the character (or better personality ? sorry my english is so crude) of that particular person.

  5. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Thanks AngelHi for the personal experience.

    Twenty to thirty years is a long time in anyone's life and people change. He/they have obviously sought and developed a methodology exemplified by their maps for leaders and followers.
    Diagrams often aren't very helpful but confusing even overwhelm with the possibilities.

    Maybe they just aren't teaching now in the they taught you nor what they taught you. It doesn't seem so to me but that's a distant observation from far away.

    That's a bit unfair. The problem here is that people with the sort of in depth knowledge that the Dinzels and others have just aren't sharing it with us. But that's another topic altogether.
  6. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Thanks for that, but... I still don't understand, what is the Dinzel System? In brief? Can anybody explain it to me, beyond the information we've gleaned so far?
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    You think its scary in Tango ?.. not even close to that of Salsa
  8. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    From my very limited exposure to the Dinzel System, it seems to be based on the 8-ct basic, so it is only useful to the extent that you think the 8-ct basic is. I see no difference between count-1 and count-3, since the couple is still in parallel with the same feet free, so it seems to me that the same options would be available on both counts. Ditto for count-7, etc.
  9. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    For those of us whose Spanish is limited to "Hola" and a few tango terms, would you care to translate?

    I know absolutely nothing of these people or their system. But from what I'm reading here, I wonder if they have switched their focus in order to train dancers to be better able to make a living rather than train them for social dancing?

    The opportunities these days for show dancing and teaching foreigners is at an all time high wouldn't you say? Therefore, they may have decided that they would rather focus their energy on helping dancers take advantage of the growing popularity of tango to make a living in tango.

    As I recall, showy tango was always referred to as "Tango for Export" in BA. Perhaps now that the actual PEOPLE are getting exported so often, there is a demand for schools that train dancers to become world renowned performers and teachers. In the 80's there was more demand for social skills. Now there's probably, more demand for showy skills, even from locals.
  10. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Whatever the reason they have devised a system, the very antithesis of tango it seems to me. Systems are what supermarkets and businesses in general run on so everyone is doing the same thing. The more efficient the systems the greater the potential economy of scale.

    The only conclusion I can reach from what we've heard so far is they're now aiming at a mass market. Thankfully only a minute proportion of their currently claimed 1800 pupils will ever make it to a milonga. There they'd probably get a rude awakening that what they've been taught isn't social tango, certainly not suitable in close proximity with other dancers.

    Judging from AngelHi's experience once they did concentrate on social tango but now they appear to have forsaken the old mantra, quality not quantity. Perhaps it is just pure commercialism, we all have to earn a living.

    But for me commercialism and tango don't necessarily go well together.
  11. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    I feel that there is a lot of Dinzel bashing around here based mainly on assumptions. The picture seems to be from this article: http://www.tangokultur.info/dinzel.htm and is an excerpt form the a book by the Dinzels. I don’t recall the book, although have seen it lying around some milonga somewhere. However, the article states, that this is an example for write down a sequence of tango steps and that this can be done in different levels of complexity. As this book was written before the advert of cheap digital cameras, the problem of tango notation was still quite hot back in 1997. So maybe the dinzel system does not look like the London subway. The best way to find out, will be to ask Señor Dinzel himself. Why not send him a letter or an email?

    I had to smile about his evaluation of Tango Milonguero style, as it seems to be a matter of perspective. Even in the 50’s dancing close together was not always and anywhere considered good taste and during the dictatorship stage/fantasy Tango was the only open visible form of the dance Therefore the fact that Tango was danced close together in the open public was still a little bit new back in 1990.

    On the other hand, the Milonguero style is a very complex style based on years of almost daily dancing. It will live as long as there are Milongueros. Unfortunately, those keeper of the grail will not life forever and many have past away already. I don’t know if another generation of Milongueros is growing in Buenos Aires, but they surly won’t grow in Europe. Stage Tango seems to have an infinite life, as the hunger for entertainment doesn’t fade away. It’s a little bit like fencing. A hundred years ago there were still gentlemen prepared to use the steel to defend their honor or gain an advantage in life. Today most fencing happens on TV and doesn’t resemble it’s origins any more. While I think duels are forgotten for good, the loss of the Milonguero style would be a real pity.
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I'd agree with that.

    Unfortunately, I still don't have an answer to my original question, as to what this system is. Considering these guys have been teaching for decades, and seem to be teaching thousands of people at a time, it seems incredible that I can't get an answer to this simple questions :(

    I'm not sure it's worth it - you wouldn't get an impression from a student, you'd just get a packaged version of a marketing spiel.
  13. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    Well, there is their book: Tango, an Anxious Quest for Freedom . Maybe you can find a used copy for cheap. I glanced through the German version once, but I can recall little. I was occupied getting the steps at hand done back then and cared little for Tango theory. If the books reflects their teaching system I can’t tell.
  14. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    OK, Guys, forgive another long post, but this one might be good.
    And, so I did. He was a wee busy, and I was traveling, so we didn't have a lot of time for cordials, reminiscing, etc., but we had a few moments. Hopefully, they will, certainly not clear the subject but, shed a little light on a few questions.
    First off, Zoops, it means "the native" more or less. He said that I had such an interest in the culture, the language, the people, and their lives, as well as the tango, that I was not like the typical outsider. He was also impressed with how I learned, so he called me El Criollo. I remember that when I told him it was because I had studied a lot of ballroom prior to, you can imagine the scowls and dejections that it brought. :)
    He said that it was taken incorrectly, and that what he was referring to was the, then, and perhaps still (my words), attempt by several teachers and students to define and label a Milonguero Style. He said that, to them [the argentines] true tango was not defined by a style; that it was inborn, and was all milonguero because they were all milongueros, and no matter how well others learned the tango, they [outsiders] could never be milongueros, and that which they were trying to create would not last, but would eventually fall to the shadows of true tango.
    I asked, flat out, "What is the system?" After a brief chastising for not having the book, this was, of course paraphrased in part, the reply.

    The cover and first chapter of the book define tango as being a totally improvised conversation between partners about the music. He stressed the need for the partners to be both present in the conversation, but that the man had to lead, and the lady had to respond correctly much like when 2 persons are speaking in a verbal conversation. He said that if one speaks and one listens then responds, it will be a better conversation than if both persons are trying to talk at the same time. Further, that if the man says something, and the lady replies with a remark that is off topic, or irrelevant, then the conversation will discourse in a direction other than that which was intended. sometimes, the lead can bring the conversation back (by fixing the error, I guess), and sometimes the intention is lost, and the dance loses its connection... the conversation becomes an argument.

    He said that the first chapters define "the system", which basically diagrams that the dance is divided into 3 parts: the beginning, the middle, the ending, and it has become custom to call this salida (coming from the term "salir a bailar" meaning to leave the sitting area to dance... accept the invitation from the man, etc), caminar... the walk, resolucion... the ending. He says that the so-called 8CB is a perfect instrument to demonstrate this because it employs all of the basic movements. (Note that I agree w/ some of what he said, but not necessarily all... ) The basic premise to the system is that there are 4 possibilities of movement per step, and that the leader needs to know where he is going in order to implement the proper movement for the next chosen 1 of 4 to be carried out. This is what he refers to as systematic.

    Based on this concept, each possible direction has a systematic precede and follow that will enable a specified intention or result. In one sense, this could become contradictory to the ideology that AT is improvisational, yet, in another sense, like in a verbal conversation, one's direction might change according to another's reply, but the point of the conversation remains.

    I do not know whether or not I agree with his "system", but I am now intrigued to get the book (which I guess is unavailable in the US). At the risk of sounding pompous, I believe that it is probably not very good for a newbie, beginner, or average learner, but I probably know enough to use it as a cross reference guide to learning/teaching if desired.

    In closing, I also spoke with another argentine about Rudy and Gloria, and their declining reputation/s in the tango world. Here is that brief.

    Rudy and Gloria were basically folkloric dancers, who knew little real [authentic] tango, when they were approached to be a part of Tango Argentino in the late 70s/early 80s. The producers of the show wanted old [authentic] portenos to be in the show, but weren't finding many because tango, though performed in shows and danced in local competitions, was just not the fantasia that they were going to create, and we now crave with wide eyes and flying feet. After TA (the show), the Dinzels began teaching, not necessarily show tango, but the new tango concepts in favor of the more traditional. Of course, these concepts were/are not seen in the milongas, and this is why they, the Dinzels, do not frequent them. This is probably a mistake on their part since the milongas are an integral part of what tango is.

    They are looked upon, today, as basically lesser educated in the traditional ways of the tango of the old guard than many, and frowned upon for not being more a part of the dance as the portenos know/do it. The infamous book/system, though true to the dance in many ways, is largely, not necessarily majoritively, not well liked because it uses the marketed 8CB as a base, and is far too systematic for a dance that it highly regarded for its lead/follow and improvisation (sounds like the argument for most BR syllabi, doesn't it?).

    So, at least, now, I understand what Jan is speaking about when she refers to the Dinzels, yet I am glad to know both sides of the story. Sorry again for the long post.
  15. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    if one speaks and one listens

    Could it be this, what happens from 1:56 on ? (and the people applaud)


  16. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    I doubt it - that's a rehearsed performance not social tango.

    You can't see the conversation from the outside but the partners feel it. And despite what many people seem to think, it's a conversation within the embrace as the two partners' bodies talk silently to each other.

    And while on this topic, thanks to Angel HI for contacting the Dinzels and her interesting lengthy post. Broadly I suspect that I'd agree with most that Angel HI agrees and agree with her disagreements too. Especially as I had to unlearn the Basic8.

    Not sure that we yet really know what the Dinzel System is but I doubt it matters. The charts/stepmaps are still on the website photographs though.

    JanTango's assessment wasn't contradicted either.
  17. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    Angel HI,
    thank you for your effort. I think this concept is rather confusing and not helpful for dancing at a milonga. There is very little I would agree with and that explains why I don’t recall anything of that book. I wonder why his students stay with this system. Usually, I don’t learn Tango to put it on a shelf but to dance it - may it be in a Milonga or on a stage.
  18. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Actually, I think I kind of see what they're talking about/trying to get at with the "system." Some people, myself included, have an innate urge/need to break things down and get them written down and arrange things logically before trying to move on from there. It's not that improvisation can't or won't ever happen, it's just a way of developing understanding. It strikes me that the book and the system is just such a thing.

    As I understand it, the system seems rather logical to me. At any point, from any step, you have options. I don't know if he's defining that as fwd, back, left, right...or walk, pivot, pause, weight change...or some other way. But it makes sense that in order to execute your desired movement you have to have preceded it with something that sets it up. I suppose it could be as simple as, "I want to lead a cross, so it would be helpful for me to get outside partner and I need to get my partner to be ____." Ladies, I'm sure we've all danced with That Guy who doesn't stop to think about what has to happen before he leads his desired move, which means he never sets anything up nicely...it ain't pretty. This is how I've read Angel's explanation, at least.

    Also, it seems like they're trying to come up with a list/schematic of logical precedes and follows for various steps/move. *shrug* A daunting task, and not one that I'd like to see used on beginners (what ballroom technique book!), but useful I guess if one is inclined to think that way. Certainly there can be no harm...don't like it, don't read it.

  19. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    But why else should they applaud then, if it would be a rehearsed show element? The clow is (for me) that Geraldine thwarts Santo Gavito, and the audience got it.
  20. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    The problem is that there are so many options. There are more than 4 directions you can go, How about 46° 56' 20'' left to the LOD? (In stage tango there is even up and down). You can begin a step with a straight walk, or a pivot. If you combine that with the alignment of the partners to each other and the possibility of different timing (one remaining standing e.g.), your system is a rather complex mess. I won't mention opening up the embrace, dancing doble frente or playing with a free leg. Just in this moment some Nuevo people are probably looking for an undiscovered possibility.

    Dancing at a Milonga most dancers will use only a handful of those possibilities. That's because social dancing is not about how many moves you have, but how you can adapt your moves to the music, partner and dancing crowd - at least in my eyes. Therefore, I think your own approach is way more helpful. What do I want to achieve and how do I get there.

    Many people enjoy flashy movements, rehearsed or not.

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