Why do people give Nuevo Tango a hard time?

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#61
In Greece for example we have folk dances, where you have a specific set o f steps, specific music, specific "embellishments", danced during specific times of the year even. I went all the way up to a professional, and I had a lot of fun doing that but after some time there is no thrill, I got bored...Tango on the other hand has so many styles already to be explored, every one of them slightly different, every one of them unique..
In some ways my journey in tango has been going in the opposite direction - from more improvised and unstructured dancing to being more specific about my adherence to the structure of the dance and the structure of the music (and matching that a stronger preference to music that follows that basic structure). I actually keep recommending to people to learn chacarera exactly for that reason - to experience a very structured dance, with very structured music, and to learn how to be free and improvise and have fun within the form - and also how much the form can be bent without breaking it. (well, that, and because if you visit BA being a decent chacarera dancer is a shortcut to move into the second milonga, where the great social dancers live, that is below the surface of the milonga one sees when being there for the first few times).
In some ways i think there is inherent value in having a form/practice - a haiku is not less creative than freeform, but poses different challenges in expressing the creativity. (and i think it also might offer different joys).

And thinking about this tension between form and freedom made me circle back to

BTW, dancing to recorded tango, all those much loved golden age tunes, implies 100% predictability in all regards. Hmmm.
I am now thinking that "predictbility" is not exactly the right word. A piece of music that i know almost by heart is completely predictable to me, but that does not mean that i know the structure - and if i dance with a follower who also knows that piece by heart but does not know the structure then us both knowing exactly what is going to come next is not going to help us having a great dance except for hitting the major landmarks of the piece (which is somewhat hollow - where i think the fun starts is when we agree on the phrasing, and call response, and can play with that - and that is not neccessarily something we can get just from knowing it by heart - it is the tension between keeping the form dictated by the music, bending it, and (rarely) breaking it).
I think what i am thinking about is more about is that i find a piece enjoyable to dance to that has a good ratio between form and freedom from the form. Form is needed to be able to effectively communicate with the follower, and to give the follower space to dance.
If there is no form the follower is going to be "behind", and their dance is a response to my dance, while if there is a form and the follower has some idea of the gestalt of what i am going to be leading because i am to some extent bound by the structure of the music the space for play opens up, and instead of us responding to each other we jointly respond to the music, and the couple is this joint response.

And in my experience this does not happen with music that either has not enough features, or too many disconnected features. Basically i think music that is enjoyable to dance to is 80% formulaic, 20% surprises, good leading is 80% formulaic, 20% surprises, and good following is 80% formulaic, 20% surprises. (numbers purely made up). If the music is boring/100% formulaic, if the leader is boring/100%formulaic, if the follower is boring/100% formulaic then whats the point? the dance is going to be a carbon copy each of the times it is danced.

I think this tension is happening in a lot of music - e.g. the differences in different performances of classical music - the freedom the performers have - is often too subtle for me to appreciate, and on the other hand i also don't understand the underlying logic and form of free jazz, and that also makes it difficult for me to appreciate what is happening between the musicians. So something that looks to me formulaic, or chaotic, might looks much different to somebody else who has a deeper understanding. And as dancers we have the additional difficulty that to some extent we need to agree with our partner about what structure is there to get a two-way communication going.
 
#62
In some ways my journey in tango has been going in the opposite direction - from more improvised and unstructured dancing to being more specific about my adherence to the structure of the dance and the structure of the music (and matching that a stronger preference to music that follows that basic structure). I actually keep recommending to people to learn chacarera exactly for that reason - to experience a very structured dance, with very structured music, and to learn how to be free and improvise and have fun within the form - and also how much the form can be bent without breaking it. (well, that, and because if you visit BA being a decent chacarera dancer is a shortcut to move into the second milonga, where the great social dancers live, that is below the surface of the milonga one sees when being there for the first few times).
In some ways i think there is inherent value in having a form/practice - a haiku is not less creative than freeform, but poses different challenges in expressing the creativity. (and i think it also might offer different joys).

I don't think about it as a one way street, this way going to improvised/ unstructured and the opposite way going to strictly structured forms
I was doing folk dancing all my child and half my adult life, so when I say I got bored of it, it took me 15 years to get bored of it. And specifically bored of the classes not the dances themselves. Which means that now being in Toronto I really miss going to all the festivals and dancing.
There is a lot of improvisation in structured dances, but they were created in specific social and historical times, carrying with them the rules and views of those times.
For example in certain areas of Greece there are dances that only men dance them...and that was because they were dances that soldiers danced, they were war dances. If you put women in there dancing them you are taking the vital element of creation out of the dance, the reason why it was made!
When men dance it though the element of improvisation may come in, in how they express themselves without though any step evolution...
I agree with you for chacarera, for this exact reason. Especially for someone who never had the opportunity to learn folk dancing, doing chacarera that person will get the opportunity to learn how people thought in the past. How the used dances to express or even free themselves from social taboos or rules and that might help the dancer understand tango better.
Plus chacarera is fun! haha
 

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