Recently, a friend told me that he never watches tango performance videos. This boggles my mind because, back in the Dark Ages (before the 2006 launch of Youtube), Murat, Michelle, Jennifer, and I would huddle in front of my huge TV in my apartment at 290 East 7th street and watch endlessly the VHS tapes of CITA or videos that I recorded in my journeys down to Buenos Aires. Sometimes, we would allow a visitor to our humble abode if they happened to have a video we didn't have (I am reminded of the incident where I furiously argued with Tioma Maloratsky over "the tango walk". I am sorry Tioma.). Anyway, the videos became like our "treasures": the VHS or DVDs of performances by couples that "no one ever saw". Then, after youtube, things became MUCH easier. I don't understand why a person who supposedly 'loves" tango doesn't watch tango videos on youtube. Anything you want to see, from practically any moment in the last 20 years of tango history is on youtube. There have been instances where newer professionals have come up to me and said "I love what you do. I am a fan!" and I'll reply "Hell no! I love what YOU do! I am a fan!" and then proceed to list 2 or 3 videos of theirs that I saw recently. (I am like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man when it comes to tango videos.) For me, I really am a fan of this art. I love creating it and I love watching what others created. Also, at the end of the day, all the artists influence each other in this "tango world" and part of being a professional is, in addition to working on your dance, keeping up-to-date on what is happening out there.
Anyway, rather than continue to question my friend's committment to tango, I will give him a "starter list" of 20 couples (in no particular order) to watch. (Uffff, I am probably going to have to write a Part 2). To clarify: this is not a list of the "best" tango couples. Either I saw the performance live or I started liking the song after I saw the video or perhaps I was hanging out with a friend and they introduced me to this video, etc. Whatever the case may have been, these are just 20 videos that mean something to me, sort of like when you give someone the gift of a mixtape (gosh, remember those?? I love the gift of a mixtape.) Here goes:
1. Javier Rodriguez y Geraldine Rojas. I personally recorded this video back in 2003 at Porteno y Bailarin Milonga in Buenos Aires. I was standing on a chair near the entrance and there was a man sitting and smoking a cigarette below me. (You can actually see the puffs of smoke during the performance!) There are four performances (Yuyo Brujo, La Cicatriz, Para Dos, and the hard-to-find peformance of the vals "Esquinas Portenas"). These performances changed my life and I think they are worth a watch:
2. Ezequiel Paludi y Sabrina Masso - Patetico. The way Paludi managed the changes in dynamic, his "cool" persona and way of moving, as well as the unique combinations and "changes of front" that he would use made him, in my opinion, one of the smartest dancers in the game. Once you put that together with Sabrina's technical brilliance.....and her huge Grim Reaper tattoo on her shoulder (!).....you ended up with this beautifully intense couple. For me, they were the "dark" to Javier & Geraldine's "light". I haven't seen a couple dance this way since them.....in fact, they don't even dance this way anymore.
3. Carlitos y Noelia - De Antano. I can't watch this video and NOT want to dance. This is pure emotion.
4. Jorge Dispari y La Turca. This man has the smoothest enrosques I have ever seen.
5. Chicho y Juana -Milonguea del Ayer. There are so many great Chicho y Juana videos that it is almost impossible to choose just one. I tried my best in choosing this one.
6. Gavito y Geraldine. Jennifer once asked Gavito "Where do you live?" Without hesitating, he replied "I live......in the tango."
7. Pablo Inza y Sofia Saborido - No Quiero Perderte. I have watched Pablo Inza's videos for a long time. There is footage of him in the old CITA videos where he is the definition of tango salon; really technically proficient and smooth. Then he went into his "tango nuevo" period and that is when, I must admit, I got disinterested. Ironically, that is when I actually met him; when Jennifer and I taught together with him in the Capri Tango Festival on the island of Capri. But then, in the last year or so, he has made me a fan again. The stuff he is coming out with now is coming from a very emotionally energetic place and this video captures what I have mentioned in earlier blog posts as "The Speed of Sadness".
8. Gustavo y Giselle - "La Cumparsita". This was one of those videos we would watch back "in the day" in the East Village. Classic.
9. Mariela Sametband & Guillermo Barrionuevo - La Bruja. This couple makes me smile every time I watch their videos. They are so much fun to watch!
10. Andrea Misse y Javier Rodriguez - I posted this video....but I can't watch this video without feeling sad. The last time I spoke with Andrea Misse was during the 2011 Firenze Tango Festival, during the breaks in between the workshops or during the teacher dinners before the milongas. I was about to be a dad later that year and we spoke about that a bit. I remember her looking at me with those beautiful eyes of hers and she told me (in Spanish) "It's all going to work out." and whereas I might have heard that same sentence from other people many times in my life, when she said it, it was as though time stood still.
11. Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes - "Remembranzas"
12. Lucas Fernandes. No...the video is NOT sped up.
13. Pedro Rusconi. - I remember one night at the milonga in Canning back in 2003. I was in the middle of dancing a beautiful tanda of Pugliese instrumentals ("Emancipacion" specifically). I had no concept of rhythm, musicality, embrace.......I was a mess. I was dancing near Tete's table and just as Emancipacion's variacion starts, he yells "AHORA!" similar to "ATTACK!".........and I had no clue which ahora he was talking about or what to actually do when I found that "ahora" he was talking about! It was a #tangofail for me. But, in time, I discovered what he was talking about and you better believe that I never missed that "ahora" again!
14. Javier Rodriguez and Noelia Hurtado. I must say: I really like when dancers from different partnerships come together and do a one-time performance.
15. Fausto Carpino y Stephanie Fesneau - Many years ago, Jennifer and I taught in Warsaw and we met a young Stephanie Fesneau. I remember thinking then "Damn, this girl is good!". Around that time, we also met Fausto through his sister, Barbara Carpino (of the couple Claudio Forte y Barbara Carpino) and I would admire his smooth dancing on the social floor. Now I hope to meet up with them somewhere in Europe and take one of THEIR workshops!
16. Marko y Maja - Last year I taught in Australia for a month and I stayed with my Turkish brother Onur in Melbourne. After returning from the milongas, we would eat ice cream, talk about economics (seriously), and watch tango videos. One night, he introduced me to this couple and right away I blurted out the "highest compliment in tango": She's crazy!..........I love it.
17. Carla Rossi y Santiago Castro - There are some dancers who you just watch for a few seconds and instantly they give off the vibe of "buena onda". That is the case with Carla y Santiago. They are great dancers and, from the communications I have had with them, as well as reading what they post on FB, it is obvious that they love tango, they love teaching it, and that they are the kind of teachers I would want visiting my community.
18. El Pibe Avellaneda y Geraldine Rojas - In my opinion, this was the precursor to the "Carlitos y Noelia style". In those days (2005), El Pibe would spend alot of time in NYC and I would watch him in the milongas and think to myself "Man, he dances every step and every song so "hard"........I love it!"
19. Pablo Rodriguez y Noelia Hurtado - After years of sharing dance and life together, this young couple decided to separate. Their final performance to the song "Invierno"/"Winter" is incredibly beautiful. You can even see them crying at the end.
20. Esteban Moreno y Claudia Codega - This couple has many videos that are more on the showy/nuevo side but this one....this is the one that I tend to go back to. Esteban was one of my early "tango heroes" because of his elegance and I have watched him dance socially and it is even better in person. In this video, you have a beautiful song (DiSarli/Podesta's "Volver a Vernos"), a beautiful embrace, and a hypnotic cadencia. This is the kind of dance that you imagine you would have after finally being reunited after many years with the one who broke your heart. Another performance where the dancers capture "the speed of sadness".