Showing posts from 2013

Wishing you all a Happy and Safe Festive Season

Another tango year is almost over... and once again we have had some exciting events in Australia for those of us who can't get enough tango music and dancing. Next year promises to bring more events, teachers - and great musicians to our shores on top of the locals putting together events to keep us on our toes! I would like to wish you all a  happy and safe Christmas and New Year  - and hope that you enjoy your family and friends - and just a little tango. THANK YOU!!

Nodding one's head and looking for a partner ... or the cabeceo

Generally Australians don't use eye contact This video is a very clever way to show how the cabeceo operates from a woman's point of view... The cabeceo is the way to ask for a dance in the milongas of Buenos Aires, not so elsewhere. Australians, like North Americans, are slow to use the cabeceo in a milonga - and many - both men and women - say they prefer to ask. When women ask though they spoil the dynamics of the night. However it is understandable why so many do. In Australian milongas there is a drastic shortage of men who dance tango - and the good and popular dancers have their favourites. Which means that women can miss out. This woman is young and pretty and in a local milonga would probably not have to wait long before someone asked her to dance, either verbally or by cabeceo - even if she can't dance very well. However that said, I have seen this actual scenario at milongas in Sydney - and have been cut out of a dance that I thought I was being invited to, i

Sydney's Growing Force in Tango Music

Last night I went to the Sydney Conservatorium of Musics ' 5 Years of Tango' concert which showcased the work of the young musicians from the Conservatorium High School and the Sydney Youth Orchestra. 5 Years ago a very talented and dedicated musician and teacher, Maggie Ferguson, launched a program to introduce tango ensembles to the young musicians of Australia, calling it TangoOz. I went to their first concert and was surprised and delighted to see young people playing tango - though they lacked the passion and understanding of the music that I was used to hearing on recordings. Not so last night! 8 ensembles or orchestras played and the standard was world class. I have been to other concerts at the Con. and I know that the standard is universally high, but last night was Awesome. Carreon Tango, a family group was outstanding. Melody had written her own tango which they performed and the group, with a virtuosic young violinist, was clearly loving every moment of playing

Balance and tango

This is not about getting a balance in your life that includes tango… this can be very hard to do when you are hooked, but about staying balanced while you dance. My dancing days began in the rock 'n' roll era, so I have been balancing on 2 legs for many years. But I have only been dancing tango for 14 years, I came to it after my family had grown, and I fell in love with the music at a WOMAD festival. One of the things I find most difficult about tango is balance - and last night when I danced after midnight, with a young Argentinian half my age I noticed it particularly. His movements were slow and elegant, completely musical, but necessitating that I keep my balance all the time, more difficult to do in a slow tango than in a waltz or milonga. Tango itself is an exercise in balance, so is the yoga I do most days of the week, but still I find that balance is not always intuitive. Our vestibular system has a balance centre inside our ears that detects whether we are upright,

Ruminations on the Sydney tango scene

I'm back in Sydney, but am I back in tango? I'm not sure. Before I went away a community project I had suggested to the tango club here in Sydney was mercilessly scuttled. Together with loss of a major venue and low numbers all round I felt sad about where tango in Sydney was going. Also the major information source for tango information in Sydney was under new management... what would happen there? I thought a few weeks travelling and I would come back refreshed and ready to enjoy the dance and music I find so enthralling, once more. But I haven't - partly I think because my social hub is slowly moving away.  I find the scene is factionalising more and more, numbers are down at some of the big milongas, many of my friends are giving up or cutting back, disillusioned with the factions and looking for something more, and the good dancers seem to be fewer and fewer.  On top of this there are groups splitting off with different notions of tango, creating their own thing, not

Back to tango

How to restart the blog? After 6 weeks holidaying, visiting family and friends and dancing very little tango I have been wondering how to restart this blog. I haven't been to a milonga or a class yet - thanks to jetlag and a certain reluctance to launch myself back into a scene that was not making me happy when I left. Then I saw this video and it made me smile... I hope it does you too. and this one which made me laugh so much I cried... Post by Shareable .

Taking a break

I have been dancing and learning tango for over a decade - and I still love it. There is so much to learn, so much music to enjoy and so many interesting people to meet! However I am really looking forward to taking a break for the next few weeks. We have cancelled our milongas and packed our bags for a trip to visit family and new places. I will miss dancing two or three times a week - hopefully it won't take long to get back into it when we return. Recently I have been saddened by the narrow-minded attitude and introspection of some of the tango schools and I hope that in getting away I will be able to shake this sadness and put it into perspective. And you never know I may miss it all so much I start posting while I am away - after all I am packing my tango shoes!

Winners crowned for 2013

I am philosophically opposed to competitions in tango - having been involved in them in Australia almost 10 years ago and seen the underbelly I have many misgivings. But they are an amazing vehicle for launching or reinforcing the careers of the dancers who win... and many like to watch them, so here is a selection from the recent intense couple of weeks and before. For another point of view  go to Irene and Man Yung's Tango Blog The World Tango Cup in Buenos Aires in August. Winners of the Salon Tango - Maximiliano Cristiani and Jesica Arfenoni Campeones Winners of the Stage Tango - Guido Palacios and Florencia Zarate Castilla Fernando Carrasco and Jimena Hoffner Winners of the Milonga - and also the vals and Adult salon tango in the City Dance Championships Hugo ‪M‬astrolorenzo y Fatima Valeria Vitale who did not make it past the semi-final because of a problem with the rules… but who are stunning.

World Tango Championship 2013 in BA drawing to a close

For the last 10 days or so Buenos Aires has been buzzing with the annual World Tango Festival/Championships/World Cup. .. not really sure what to call it as the name appears to change from year to year. However the celebration is the same! A celebration of tango with world class dancers performing for the judges to win the titles of World Tango Champions in the Salon and Stage categories. My lovely tango teacher and friend Belen, posted this video on Facebook of one of the couples in the Stage category... it is delightful

Melbourne Celebrates 100 Years of Tango

Dancing tango in BA in 1913 - notice the same sex couples!!  DANCING AT FITZROY TOWN HALL Tango historian Christine Denniston has described 1913 as the year that tango took the world by storm.  The photo on left was taken in Buenos Aires in that year. Around the world there have been celebrations of 100 years of tango so on Saturday 17 August, Melbourne’s tango schools presented Milonga100. Fitzroy Town Hall Things haven't change a great deal ... here  is a report of the evening based on the article from Melbourne’s Argus newspaper of 22 December 1913 when the Palais de Danse in Fitzroy was first opened. This magnificent dance palace was built by two American brothers, named Phillips in 1913, one year after Luna Park. It only lasted until after the First World War. Dancing was the chief attraction at Fitzroy on Saturday night. The heritage Italianate blue stone town hall was once again turned into a dance palace to celebrate 100 years of Argentine tango in Me

In Sydney this weekend - August 17 and 18

Sebastian Arrua and Karina Colmeiro's recent performance in Adelaide - they are now on their way to Sydney 8. 17-18th August, Sydney at the Glebe Town Hall on August 17th & 18th.  Registration is now open for Sydney, plus there will be a  Milonga with performances on Friday 16th August For more information contact Club de Tango I understand they are visiting Melbourne - or have visited... but I haven't been sent any details so I am none the wiser!  Organisers: please note that I am happy to include information about visiting teachers and maestros on this blog, but I need you to send me the details!! 

Sydney Dance floors are Disappearing!

For about 7 years we have run a milonga once a month on a Saturday night. Over the years we have had to move venues for a number of reasons - and once again we face this dilemma. The venue we have used for the past year at the North Sydney Leagues Club is no more. The club has decided to remove the dance floor and replace it with offices! Our quest for a new venue this time has brought home how few there are and we have been forced to put our Saturday milonga on hold for the time being. Clubs we have used in the past have disappeared because of they have become financially unviable for a number of reasons - or the land they are on is wanted for development. Excellent floors that have disappeared in this way include the Cooks River Motor Boat Club, the Brighton-le-Sands Fishos, North Sydney Anzac Memorial Club, Balmain Leagues Club and RSL clubs in Maroubra, Bronte, Botany, Kensington, Mascot and Clovelly. One of the main problems with tango events in clubs is that our patrons don&#

Crowd funding for a new tango movie

Considering the rich material in the tango community with the dynamics and politics surrounding everything from individual relationships to the running of anything tango from classes to festivals, it is surprising that there are not more dramatisations of the tango world. So I am excited to see that there is a movie in the pipeline that is asking the tango community to help fund it's release and promotion. Titled 'Glorias del Tango" you can check it out here with a trailer - I like the story-line - and if you do too you can donate to the project.

An impromptu bandoneon performance that literally left us with goosebumps!

Last night's casual get together to introduce the cast of 'Tango y Nada Mas' to the Sydney community was treated to a beautiful impromptu performance of tango music, song and dance that left us all reeling. Young Nicholas Macaratesi is a beautiful virtuosic bandoneonist, whose mastery of his instrument gave us a playful medley of tango favourites, accompany the two singers, Claudio Garces and Nayla Danchuck, then  burst into a milonga for the six world class dancers. It took our collective  breath away. Nicholas is very young yet his mastery of his instrument has already had him playing with some of the very best singers in Buenos Aires and recording with the Orquesta Escuela de Tango Emilio Balcarce. The beautiful tenor voice of Claudio Garces has been a feature of Miguel Zotto's 'Tango x 2' as well as being a regular performer on Argentinian TV. And the soaring voice of the very young Nayla Danchuck is surely going to take her places. She sang with a pas

Sydney's First Big Flashmob

It was bit like pulling a tooth trying to get Sydney people interested in doing a Flashmob to publicise tango - hard to understand when tango is just made for Flashmobs! However the Morena Dance Wear folk have managed to pull it off! On Sunday a group of Sydney dancers milled about the Concourse at Chatswood - an amazing new space created by the local council as part of their $300million+ development - to raise awareness of the Tango y Nada Mas Show coming at the end of July. Let's hope this is the first of many of these around Sydney - and that we can pull as a big a crowd as they did in Melbourne! (I was born in Melbourne so...)

De facto TangoAustralia home page

If you have found yourself here when you thought you were going to TangoAustralia - nothing is wrong! (not at your end anyway). You are in the right place. TangoAustralia's home page has been attacked by cyber forces (or whatever) yet again and so we have decided to direct you to this page for the time being!! We use a free content management system to run TangoAustralia and it seems to be getting easier and easier for those with nothing better to do to hack into it! So for the time being this is our Home Page! We are planning to transfer many of the features of TA to this blog... and maybe just take it from there!

Please come and show your support for the Orquesta Escuela de Tango

Trailer for the movie (ours is subtitled) we are showing on Saturday 22 at Norths... see Events: Milonga Si Sos Brujo... This is the message I received from Ignacio Varchausky today: "Thank you so much for supporting the Orquesta Escuela de Tango Emilio Balcarce. This is the most difficult situation we've encountered since 2000, so we all need to speak up and fight for it. It is very moving to get all the love and support from the tango community in BA and around the world, this gives us strength and hope. Spread the word, make people sign the petition, everything helps!" Milonga 'si sus brujo' North Sydney Leagues Club 12 Abbott Street, Cammeray Entry $20 Sat 22 June - Movie starts at 7.40 - we finish at 12.45am. Inquiries -

Long Live Tango Via...please!

About 4 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ignacio Varchausky, the founder of Tango Via, an organisation in BA dedicated to developing and promoting tango and to archiving tango music. He visited Australia a couple of times, working with our young musicians and his dedication was inspiring - as was his music. He also played with the Orquesta El Arranque. I am writing this in the past tense because I am not sure whether he is still there. Sadly I learnt this week that the Argentinian government has decided to cease funding the Orquesta Escuela de Tango Emilio Balcarce, an orchestra that inspires and trains young musicians in the art of playing tango... There is a petition - which I would urge anyone who loves the tango music we all dance to - to sign... And a Facebook page The TangoVia website appears to be off the air! This news report on the Digital Archive was made in 2010. If anyone has any more news I would love you to post a comment. Here is one Youtube video - of many

Me encanta Demare

I am loving listening to Lucio Demare, the singers and the arrangements of this romantic musician. Together with Homero Manzi, who wrote the lyrics, one of his most well-known pieces is 'Malena' - I also love 'Telon' and 'Din, Dan, Don'... but there is so much more. Here is his orquesta playing 'Malena' with the singer Osvaldo Miranda

Desire to embrace

I don't normally give PR like this, but this trailer touched a cord... I think there are many who would be interested  in the DVD which I just received an email about from Maurice Amaraggi who wrote:   "We are releasing on DVD our new 52 min documentary "Désir d'Abrazo" subtitled in English. pages/Désir-dAbrazo/ 169161456571090 "Every year, thousands of women cross the seas to dance the tango in Buenos Aires. Aged from 50 to 70, they undergo the merciless scrutiny of the Argentine dancers there. What are they seeking in this adventure, and what do they find? "Maurice Amaraggi and Françoise Lerusse followed them for two months and shared their feelings, sometimes of joy, occasionally of disappointment. And, above all, their pleasure in experiencing the long milonga nights, the special warmth of the Argentinians' embraces and the togetherness brought by the dance. Besides," Désir d' abrazo" is al

A time to reminisce

When I went to my first tango class in 2000 milongas in Sydney were a rare occurence. Our teacher, who was exceptional, and who taught many of today's teachers, ran an occasional milonga on a weeknight. But it was about a year into dancing that we discovered there was a milonga on Friday nights at Glebe Town Hall. We gathered our courage and went... but the first few times we simply watched. We were too nervous to get on the floor, and in those days, celebrities like Clive James would occasionally appear, dance and disappear into the night. The milonga at Glebe Town Hall became a fixture run by teachers Peter Waller and Lisa De Lazarri. It grew to be a weekly event, long before there was even one milonga on each Saturday, and it was the scene of many of the highlights of the first years of tango in Sydney. Visiting teachers were a treat, and came once or twice a year - and when they did they usually performed at Glebe. The Tango Championships were first held in 2005 and Glebe wa

New tango stars!

It is always interesting to watch the winning rounds of tango championships/contests/challenges, whatever you call them. For the first time one couple, Jimena Hoeffner and Fernando Carrusco have won tango, vals and milonga in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Championships. So, if like me you are interested in the dancing, rather than the championships, you will find all their performances here . This performance was filmed 3 months ago at Ideal before - you can see the star quality!!

Giving back

Over a decade ago a group of enterprising Queenslanders organised a milonga to raise funds for the children of Argentina. They called their event ' Milonga Para Los Ninos ' and over the years various events have been held around Australia - and the world - to raise money for those who help children who would otherwise live on the streets and in serious poverty. The people behind the charity made sure it met all the rules in Australia for charitable organisations and continue to do their best for the people they support. Their latest venture is a milonga in Adelaide - in fact it seems to have grown into 2 milongas. Igora Designs together with Coriole Wineries are putting on a Gypsy Bread Workshop and Milonga. Now I don't normally plug individual milongas, even my own! but this one promises to be worth buying a ticket to - even it if involves a plane ticket as well. Lucy and Frank from Igora Designs will demonstate how to make their famous Gypsy Bread, then after a sip or

The changing world of the milongas

Here in Sydney milongas come and go - usually from venues rather than actually closing down. Days and dates are guarded jealously by those who organise the milongas and if someone is ready to move on they will usually offer their date or venue to another. If they have lost their venue for one reason or another they will frantically search to find a new one, rarely do events close in Sydney for other reasons. Sadly the same is not the same in Buenos Aires. In 2011 Maipu 444 closed down - this was the venue for a number of famous milongas (El Maipú, La Marshall, Chirulo, Sentimental y Coqueta and Lujos) - some (did they all ?) found new homes, but the venue is gone. Recently Buenos Aires has seen the closing of two famous milonga Villa Malcolm on March 22 (apparently the venue was sadly run down) and Niño Bien on April 4. We also believe that the Tangocool milonga has closed. It is tough in the tango world. I am sure there are those who look at teachers and milonga organisers and think

Tango is a challenge

Sydney has just had a tango competition. Organised privately by one of the organisers of a Tango Festival, the Challenge, as it was known, got off to a quiet start, thanks to the many other tango events that were taking place earlier in the year, but with Carolina Bonaventura and Francisco Forquera as the judges it drew quite a deal of interest and a good crowd over Easter. At least so I am told. I was busy with family and was not able to attend. Some years ago I was involved with the organisation of the Australian heats of the Tango Championship (as the Tango World Cup was once known) at the Sydney Opera House. Bound by many rules and regulations because it was a private franchise operation, it required enormous organisation and I still have mixed feelings about its impact on tango dancing in Australia. I know it nearly squashed my love of the dance and the tango culture. However I was enormously pleased to watch the (very) young couple who won, dance at a milonga on Sunday night when


A very dear friend of mine sent me this... his words 'I think it speaks to tango' ...I agree

The Red Rose and Tangalo

Here is a clip from a recent show "The Red Rose" produced in Sydney by Belen Tango for  "Made in Argentina" Festival. Tangalo is the band - and they are amazing. The production company and the orchestra are the Bright Young Things of the Sydney tango scene - and they are bringing us some very special events. They are performing again in Sydney tonight at Blue Beat (I believe it's sold out) and tomorrow at the Tango Entre Amigos Milonga at Marrickville along with Fabian Rodriguez. The MIA Festival was an unexpected delight - it seemed to materialise out of nowhere for many and the events, workshops and dancers were a breath of fresh air - if you are in Sydney town this weekend, don't miss this orchestra!!

A memorable day

Last time we were in Buenos Aires it was Easter time (last year). This year the cardinals have elected an Argentinian pope.  I do not have a religion but for those who are Roman Catholics and for those who like to make a day,  I include this photo taken outside the new pope's cathedral in BA last year! This was a blow-up figure such as those you see in the front of used car yards in Sydney! Another remarkable thing - I received a text earlier in the day from a friend in Perth (4+ hours away by air for those who don't know) who runs a tango group, saying she had been asked by the local press for a comment on the election of an Argentinian pope - she was perplexed, not least because she is Jewish! So there we have it! And in the meantime Sydney continues to host many tango couples - performances have almost become a little ho-hum and there is so much to choose from that we could almost be in BA. If you want to know more read the TangoAustralia newsletter for March.   And there

Depressed? Tango may be the answer

Recent research by a Sydney psychologist on the effects of tango on depression has just been discovered by the local media and today there are 2 stories on this research. It is fantastic to read such positive news on tango... and the best article appears in The Canberra Times where they interviewed the psychologist, Rosa Pinniger, and her PhD supervisor. The writer reports that " So successful was the tango program that participants have formed close friendships and continued dancing in their groups well beyond the study, with the teacher and dance partners volunteering their time. It has led Ms Pinniger to set up an organisation - the Institute of Tango Therapy..." One point that is clearly made and very important: a regular tango class is unlikely to have the same results - if you are a tango dancer it is pretty obvious that the cabaceo and other elements of social tango would not be suitable to people with depression - these classes were especially tailore

Tango news weekly online

I have just been alerted to this amazing resource... if you are a traveller - and many Aussie dancers are - then you will find this really interesting. And there's lots of Aussie news. The editor of this online newspaper is a great newshound and you will find all sorts of interesting titbits. Subscribe - I have! Mind you it can be difficult to find time to read it all....

So much happening this week... new classes, world class performance...

This is a busy week for TangoAustralia. On Wednesday we begin running classes with Leonel Colque as teacher. Regular classes are a new experience for us, but we felt that if we wanted to take TA up a rung we neeeded a world class teacher on board... we hope that we will have new people coming to tango, as well as regulars brushing up on their technique. You can read more on the website. Then on Friday we are giving a milonga for the Made in Argentina Festival. Leading performers are Laura Melo and Ricardo Barrios, from Argentina. Currently on the judging panel for the Tango World Cup (originally called the Tango Championships) this couple have just arrived in Australia to take part in this new Festival - and a show at one of our leading theatre restaurants. Here are the details of the milong a. This Festival has been organised by Belen Silva, a beautiful young Argentinian who recently made Sydney her home. Watch Laura and Ricardo here - and if you are in Sydney please join us on

Another dimension to tango

Yesteday I was privileged to be invited to watch a tango class with a difference. This class is attended by women who are blind - or almost blind - and who have been dancing tango for about 2 years. Dressed for a milonga they twirled and ocho(ed) around the floor for almost an hour with sighted partners. The women were aged from their early 70s to their late 80s - and they told me how much they loved tango, the dance, the music, the need to be aware. These women have found an activity that helps them with their confidence and balance and gives them a social outlet that they would hate to lose. Not much different to the benefits we all feel who dance tango! But how wonderful to see the dance reach another dimension and provide such enjoyment in an unexpected way.

Ups and downs of the tanguera

Many is the conversation I have had with women about waiting to be asked for a dance. Many are the women who have said to me that they feel like 'giving up' tango because the frustrations of going to a milonga and not being asked to dance by anyone - let alone someone they would really like to dance with - are too great and surely there are better ways to spend one's time! And many are the times I have said that over the years I have learnt to take the bad with the good and to enjoy the company and conversation of others at milongas when dancing is not an option. Those who know me will know that I have a partner of many years - and they will also know that he likes to dance with other women and will frequently spend the whole night on the other side of the room or on the dance floor. Yes I do have the option of asking him to dance with me when I am feeling like a wallflower, but I don't do it very often. Recently I have had some amazing nights of tango and some reall

Hot night, Tango Tranzas and a Festival milonga

Last night was the Milonga and Show at the Petersham Town Hall.  This is a grand old art deco  town hall opened just before World War II, that still has the big wooden floor ideal for dancing and the huge ceiling with the big windows on each side that should open to let a cross breeze through. Built in the days before air-con this was not unusual... but for some reason the ability to open these windows appears to have been taken away and last night's milonga was steamy to put it mildly!! However that doesn't take away from the fact that it was a Special Night of Tango, organised beautifully by the team at the Sydney Tango Festival , and featuring a fabulous tango show. Every little detail appeared to have been thought of, from the crisp white table cloths and the magnificent flowers on the table by Teresa (one of the organisers), to the bottles of Italian mineral water on every table, the delicious supper which was devoured by the hungry horde and the many ushers and helper

17 visiting teachers/performers in next few months!

I have counted 17 visiting tango teachers/performers coming to our shores over the next 3 1/2 months!! Wow... In January there's Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa with Rodrigo Palacios and Agustina Berenstein - Sydney and Sven Elze and Aja Fenn in Canberra... In February there's Ricardo Barrios and Laura Melo visiting Sydney; Cecilia Gonzalez and Ney Melo with Michelle Marsidi y Joachim Dietikers visiting Melbourne,  and these dancers are variously going to Darwin, Hobart  and Adelaide afterwards... I n March there's  Roberto Montenegro and Lam Yuriko visit Sydney; Michelle and Joachim and Cecilia touring and Carolina Bonaventura and Francisco Forquera in Sydney... And inApril - Demian Garcia and Fatima Vitale in Adelaide and Hosanna Heinrich touring with  Anibal Montenegro … Check out the details in the TangoAustralia newsletter

The haphazard DJ

Recently I have attended milongas where there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the music that is being played.  It is almost as if the DJ stuck a pin in the playlist and decided what would come next. I like to organise my playlist before the milonga and I also like to balance the music and give those who love to dance to milonga and vals more than one chance to enjoy. Everyone does not do this, and some it seems don't have any idea of what they are going to play and 'wing it'. Maybe they think that the DJ who 'reads' the floor does a better job and caters to the dancers more, but unless they really are 'reading' the floor and not socialising and dancing as well as DJing it seems it is a real hit and miss affair. DJs who concentrate on their djing - and there are those in Sydney who do and who put the music together as the night goes on - really do try to match the mood of night with their dancers, though sometimes this can mean they don't play