Reasons to Dance

•Wednesday, 25 September 2013 • Leave a Comment

For a cynical, soulful, romantic Bukowski managed often to hit the nail hard and true:

unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

From Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way – 2002.

Advertisements

Poema

•Saturday, 14 September 2013 • 2 Comments

Photograph taken at La Milonga del Quinto Sabado, Nottingham, 31 March 2013.

Poema

Fué un ensueño de dulce amor,
horas de dicha y de querer,
fué el poema de ayer,
que yo soñé,
de dorado color,
vanas quimeras del corazón,
no logrará descifrar jamás,
nido tan fugaz,
fue un ensueño de amor y adoración.

Cuando las flores de tu rosal,
vuelvan mas bellas a florecer,
recordarás mi querer,
y has de saber,
todo mi intenso mal.

De aquel poema embriagador,
ya nada queda entre los dos,
doy mi triste adiós,
sentiras la emoción,
de mi dolor…

A favourite at milongas is Francisco Canaro’s classic 1935 recording of the beautiful tango Poema: music by Mario Malfi, lyrics by Eduardo Bianco. The singer is Roberto Maida.

There are several translations of Bianco’s lyrics on the internet, but translating poetry or lyrics (especially tango lyrics) is fraught with difficulty.  Do you stick to the literal meanings, or do you go deeper and try to convey the feelings and emotions being expressed? And there’s the problem of rhyme and rhythm.

For me, direct translations rarely work as poems or lyrics. Vissarion Belinsky once commented, “To read a work in translation is like kissing a beautiful woman with a handkerchief over her face.” I am grateful to those who take the trouble to translate tango lyrics; they do give a flavour of the original. But to be true to the essence of the song or poem the translator must bring to it much of his own sensibility and that of the language he is translating into. Words and phrases do not mean the same in one language as they do in another.

See also https://tangowords.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/tango-poetry/

So these ramblings are really an excuse to proffer my own painfully produced version (‘version’, not ‘translation’):

Poem

It was a sweet dream of love,
hours of joy and hope.
Yesterday was a golden poem I dreamed,
a vain construction of my heart
that I can never rebuild.
So quickly lost are
our dreams of love.

When the roses in your garden flower again
you may remember my love,
and understand my sadness and my pain.

Of our intoxicating poem
nothing remains,
So accept my last goodbye
and for one moment
remember all the passion and the pain…

[The photograph above was taken at La Milonga del Quinto Sabado, Nottingham, 31 March 2013.]

The Lion and Jill

•Saturday, 20 July 2013 • Leave a Comment

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.”

What we seek is that moment of connection when things move from the physical to the metaphysical, and the dance just speaks. Nothing is forced or staged. Nothing is unnecessary. Perhaps this is true of many things.

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the Lion.

“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as it it were sorry, not as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

[Both quotes — in italics — from C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair]

“Honeyed by Oblivion”

•Saturday, 27 April 2013 • 6 Comments

The quotation heading this post is from George Eliot’s The Spanish Gypsy and refers to kisses, but it could perhaps equally refer to certain tango moments.

I read quite a lot of poetry and dance tango on average three or four times a week. There often seems a close link between the two. Frequently I’m reading a poem and there’s something in the words that chimes with the feelings I get when dancing, particularly those very special tango moments when the music, the partner, the movement and the mood all come together to create that feeling that most dancers seek but is so difficult to describe.

I’ve recently taken to noting those poems or lines which make that connection for me and intend to post them here occasionally. In some cases the writer is not talking about dance, so I’ve taken the liberty of ‘adapting’ their words slightly (with apologies and respect).

Please feel free to add you own.

There are as many nuances and inflections for tango as there are dancers to dance with and tandas in which to enjoy them.

[Above adapted from Tess Gallagher, Portable Kisses.]

You are always new. The last of our dances was ever the sweetest…

[Above adapted from John Keats’ letters to Fanny Brawne.]

Something made of nothing,
tasting very sweet,
A most delicious compound,
with ingredients complete;
But if as on occasion the
heart and mind are sour,
It has no great significance,
and loses half its power.

[Above from Mary E. Buell, The Kiss.]

When age chills the blood, when our pleasures are past —
For years fleet away with the wings of the dove —
The dearest remembrance will still be the last,
Our sweetest memorial the dances we love.

[Above adapted from Byron, The First Kiss of Love.]

Tango is a secret told to the heart instead of to the ear.

[Above adapted from Edmond Rostand, Cyrano De Bergerac.]

Rose danced with me today.
Will she dance with me tomorrow?
Let it be as it may,
Rose danced with me today.
But the pleasure gives way
To a savour of sorrow;
Rose danced with me today,
Will she dance with me tomorrow?

[Above adapted from Henry Austin Dobson, A Kiss.]

My love and I for dances play’d,
She would keep stake, I was content,
But when I won she would be paid;
This made me ask her what she meant.
Pray, since I see (quoth she) your wrangling vain,
Take your own tangos: give me mine again.

[Above adapted from William Strode, Sonnett.]

Never do with your arms what you could do better with your whole body.

[Above adapted from Cherry Vanilla, American singer-songwriter.]

Come back often and take hold of me,
sensation that I love come back and take hold of me —
when the body’s memory awakens
and an old longing again moves into the blood…

[Above from C.P. Cavafy, Come Back.]

Tango: Sensual or Sexual

•Tuesday, 5 March 2013 • 15 Comments

Argentine tango is a sensual, emotional dance. But sexual? That seems often to be the perception of those outside the tango scene…

We are sexual as well as sensual beings, and perhaps at times there may be some kind of overlap between these two aspects of sensuality at certain times, in certain dances, with a certain partner, in the same way that there may be in day-to-day contacts or conversations. But this isn’t what tango is about. Perhaps the confusion comes because tango is certainly about passion.

This is a trailer for a documentary entitled Tango and Sex by Junior Cervila:

The film “… explores the sub-text of Tango, and every aspect is colored by sexuality. Tango is not just a dance it is an historical tradition, a social contract between two people, a philosophy. Because sexual expressiveness was forbidden, the early years of Tango bore this stigma. Tango is a social contract with strict rules defined by the very nature of ‘leading’ and ‘following’. These rules provide perspective for understanding both relationship between the sexes and how the individual relates to their own sexuality. How one perceives these roles ranges from sexual repression to total release or sexual freedom. As a philosophy the documentary explores the dance as a sensual metaphor for life…with trust and true intimacy as its highest level.”

I’ve not seen the documentary so I cannot comment further. But, a sensual metaphor for life… I can go with that. And certainly trust and true intimacy are as essential in tango as they are in any real relationship.

Feel free to add your thoughts.

Tango Libre

•Thursday, 27 September 2012 • 3 Comments

Photograph by Peter Forret

In Belgian director Frédéric Fonteyne’s film Tango Libre Mariano ‘Chicho’ Frumboli plays the ringleader of the prison’s tough Argentinean inmates who is asked by the central male character to teach him tango after realising its physical and emotional importance to his free-spirited wife.

I quote from the review in ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/venice-2012-tango-libre-review-366831):

In the stirring scenes that follow, the Argentines after initially refusing begin a spontaneous demonstration of basic tango steps, at first taunted by the guards and fellow inmates and then accompanied by their percussive handclaps. The dance is shown almost as a battle for primacy. As the display segues to regular lessons that swiftly gain in popularity, the prisoners learn that the tango represents seduction and surrender, pain and anger, frailty, grace and freedom – all of which resonate with men facing long periods behind bars….

Incidentally, the same review describes ‘Chicho’ Frumboli as the “renowned Tango Nuevo founder”, which must come as news both to Frumboli himself amd those who believe Astor Piazzolla may have a hand in its development too!

The film received the Special Orizzonti Jury Prize at the 69th Venice International Film Festival.

No news yet on where and when the film can be seen, although the general release date is given as 7 November 2012. (For those in the London area there are previews at the ICA on 14 October, and also at the Rich Mix Centre on 12 October, and at the Curzon Mayfair on 17 October.)

Beauty and Structure

•Sunday, 29 July 2012 • 5 Comments

Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to comment on my previous post on the compás. Martin Wilkinson offered a further example of this:  Ricardo Vidort and Liz Haight, dancing again to Canaro’s Poema.

I have heard people who have considered moving to tango from other dances, or perhaps started to learn and become discouraged, state that for them Argentine tango is too full of rules and restrictions. This seems to me like saying that it isn’t worth learning to write well because there are too many rules of grammar and spelling.

Looking at these three videos I am reminded again that one of the joys, and strengths, of tango is that it can embrace such an enormous range of interpretations of a single piece of music. Every interpretation may have its exponents and detractors, but these examples show that for the best dancers the seemingly strict structure of tango in itself forms the basis for a sensitive expression of a beautiful piece of music.

In any form of creative or interpretative art there can be no beauty without structure?

 
%d bloggers like this: