Friday, March 18, 2011

The Romance of the Dance

In the summer of 1975, I was an AFS exchange student to Argentina, where I lived with a wonderful and very kind family for 6 weeks. They were (and are) an amazing family who generously offered me every opportunity to experience and live the Argentine culture. They introduced me to tango music and the dancing that goes with it. My host father even tried to teach tango to me as we listened to tango music in their living room! I never did get the hang of it, but we had so much fun in the process.  (Yep, that's me 36 years ago trying to learn the tango!) 

I returned to Argentina in 2006, and spent an evening with friends at La Cumparsita Tango Bar in Buenos Aires. The tango bar is an intriguing place, dimly lit and mysterious with the strains of classic and romantic tango music filling the air. Small tables lined the dance floor where we sat watching the practiced and talented dancers translate the passion of the music through their dance moves. I have always wanted to experience the flow of the tango firsthand. Foolishly, I believed I could move as fluidly as the dancers just by watching them, and so I was hoping someone would come and ask me to dance, but also fearing the same. While absorbed in the atmosphere, it happened: one of the experienced male dancers asked me to dance! I thought, "Why not give it a try- especially since no one here knows me?" And so I did, following his lead as he moved me across the floor. As you can see in the photo, I had progressed some in style, but still had to stare at what my two left feet were doing instead of gazing intently into my partner's eyes! Trust me, tango is more difficult than it looks!  (even in flat shoes!)

The next morning, I met a professional tango couple in La Boca. Milagros and Omar graciously and passionately modeled their tango poses for my camera in various parts of the area for half the day. It was a magical photo shoot... Even without the music, I was still swept up by the passion of the dance! 

Fast forward to two nights ago, when I attended "Fire and Passion of Tango" at the newly built and opened Palladium Concert Hall in the Center for Performing Arts. (Carmel, Indiana.) The performance featured the talented Argentine dancers of Tango Buenos Aires- 'one of Argentina's great cultural exports.'
We were seated in a box seat on the second level over, and just in front of, the stage where we had an unobstructed view of every precise and passionate dance move. 
Although a perfect vantage for photographing, sadly, cameras were not allowed in the concert hall. But as I watched the show, in my mind's eye, I was composing and snapping images in my head. This is how it has to be: Knowing I will never actively master the tango as well as the Argentines, I will have to be content to forever enjoy it passively through the viewfinder of my camera. 

To see more of my images of the Romance of the Dance, please click HERE 
Featured models are Milagros and Omar-Professional dancers and instructors of tango. Their website can be seen HERE
And, to see a short video clip from the show Tango Buenos Aires "Fire and Passion of Tango," click HERE

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