Tango, The structure of the dance,
the key to it's secrets revealed
Mauricio Castro is a theoretical musician who studied at the prestigious school of Berkley in the United States. Some years ago he started meddling in the world of tango through his dance and teaches tango today. His theoretic forming led him to questioning on how the movements were made and to write them down, this is how "Tango, The structure of the dance, the key to it's secrets revealed" was born. A book, that according to Castro is "the handbook of a beginner dancer".
did the idea of this book come out?
came up when I started giving dance lessons. I saw somebody else dance and
right then I began analyzing what I usually do to make that same movement
work. For someone who is just beginning it is difficult to understand
because his eye is not trained. When you see somebody dance what
captivates is the “flavor” and the “tone” of it, one does not
concentrate on the structure.
seems like you leave the esthetic aside...
I divide the dance so I can make a better study of it. What the tango
missed was precisely what is concerning the structure. A year and a half
ago, what I found very complex was organizing the steps. Traditionally
what were taught were the sequences; a beginner would learn four, an
intermediate would know 50 and an advanced student around 150, this makes
me think that the differences between dancers would depend on the quantity
of sequences he would know. A sequence would be five or ten steps, what
the tangueros usually call “figuras” (figures). Then they are added
among each other. I thought it was a very complex way of organizing the
dance because when one starts the initial sequence one must already have
in mind at least five or six steps that one must follow. That cuts down
the freedom of improvisation. That is why I tried figuring out the way to
organize the steps, so that both the man and the woman, know which are the
possibilities and are conscious on how to combine the steps.
did you think would be the usefulness of the book?
structures, because the language of the book is mental. It would be wrong
if I were to esthetic and movements. I realized that when I tried
explaining the basic steps. One can write three volumes and give them to
someone else to read and that someone is not going to understand it. The
beginning of my work was not this book. What I wrote first is will be
coming out in volumes three and four. It so happened that I showed my
first rough draft to somebody and that person told me that it was way too
advanced. That is how I came up with the basis of this work.
the book written in order so that the readers can learn to dance as they
ask: Can a person become an excellent dancer while only watching videos?
My answer is no. The forming in any art discipline is carried out through
the use of more than one mean, it may even be multi-disciplinary.
My book is a very good reference, its the exact information that one may
transmit through this mean: structural instructions that can be reasoned.
All I wrote in this volume has no contradiction, in any tango style, it
makes sense even in the way it is danced in Finland or the United States
which are both very different from how we dance it.
the reader begins the first chapters he realized that he needs another
person to put into practice what he’s read. Can you say that it is a
book for two?
the beginners and intermediate it is a handbook to be used that way. The
advanced ones can try the steps with their imagination. The first
exercises are an excuse to face a man and a woman, to make them feel
mention Tango Argentino a lot. Is this a varying or is it the traditional?
a specific mode for Argentina, within the same argentine tango there are
different styles that trespass the
boundaries of the esthetic. I particularly though that it wouldn’t be
practical to divide the tango according to the esthetic, for example into
tango de salón, or “canyengue”, that differ in their movements. I
think that it is more useful to divide them into technical elements that
the dancers use because if not there comes an almost philosophical
discussion that takes place when one compares a dancer that does it
“apilado”-with his body tilted backwards-, with another one called
“de salón”. The technical difference is that some share more the axis
than others. As regards the elegance we can discuss for hours without
being able to come to an agreement.
structure that you talk about would be the skeleton of the dance...
guess you had to study and go through all of the styles.
a matter of fact I did not look outside because I did not find in the
exterior something that would work for me. I began creating to be able to
organize my dance in a simple way. My previous experience as a musician
taught me that to be able to improvise one needs to have many simple
resources and easy to handle. That is what I looked for.
Tango does the man always “lead”?
are certain fields of tango where the woman can propose; give the dance a
stop and the man is who has to wait for her.
do you think that the structure of tango was not analyzed before?
is the natural evolution of things. This already happened in contemporary
dance. First came the esthetic movements until someone decided to write
about it. It happens to any popular dance, and even more so to the tango
that has a high level of complexity in certain fields.
would you recommend your book?
would say that it is the easiest way to progress and to learn fast. The
visual method is a basic form but very
instinctive, the evolution in art goes together with the intervention of
the reason. Learning instinctively can take 20 years, just like it
happened to most and best dancers. One needs more memory each time to be
able to hold more sequences. I think that the esthetic part is a posterior
process that takes place after the first five years of study. Besides in
this book one may find tools so that one can create oneself. This is how
one can stop the mixtification, something that some dancers used to have
before having some magical sequences that they would not pass on to
anybody, by any cause. If one knows the structure, the secrets are over.
The book “Tango, The structure of the dance, the key to it’s secrets revealed” can be found on Yenny libraries and in virtual Amazon.com The dancer also has an Internet site where he gives details of the book and where free demonstration videos are shown.