Vol 1, Issue 1, May 20, 2006
“Interview with Carlos Rivarola in
Buenos Aires” by Mong-Lan.
I had the pleasure of interviewing
Carlos Rivarola while in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in early April 2006. As
is widely recognized
internationally and in Argentina,
Rivarola is a master tango dancer, teacher, and choreographer.
Rivarola’s professional accomplishments
in the world of Argentine tango are far too numerous and varied to attempt
even to summarize. But, included would certainly be having toured with his
wife Maria in several major tango productions in
Europe, North America, South America and
Asia over the last 20 years and having danced in or choreographed such films
as “Tango Bar” and “Naked Tango” as well as Carlos Saura’s famous “Tango.”
Of particular interest to us here in
Japan is his love of teaching and promoting tango internationally and
furthering the tango
as an art form.
When and why did you first come to Japan?
My first time in Japan was in 1984, just for a show for the Mariano Mores
orchestra. I was with my wife, Maria, and
we danced the first time with the tango
ballet in Japan. We were here about 3 months, touring Japan.
About how many times in total have you come to Japan?
Almost always, I travel to Japan twice each year----for the last 22 years
now. To teach or sometimes for a show.
How long do you stay when you go to Japan?
I stay around one month, sometimes two months, depends. If we have a show,
sometimes two months and a half. If only to give
lessons, I stay for one month.
So this time, when are you coming?
I arrive in Tokyo on May 23, then
I go to Yokohama,
also Hachioji, Tachikawa and Nagoya.
Over these years you have been coming to Japan, what changes have you
observed in the tango world in Tokyo and in Japan?
Well, there are many milongas in Japan right now. (laughs) And not just in
Tokyo, also Osaka, there are people coming to dance
tango. I remember in the beginning in 1984, there were no Japanese dancing
tango, and just around 1988, more people started to dance. I think it was
because of the show in 1986 with Myra Pivari, a Japanese singer. I did a
show with all Japanese people: dancers, musicians and singer. A very nice
show. And in 1986, it was the first time I saw Japanese people begin to
dance tango. Right now there are many milongas in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Yokohama.
What do you think about the skill level of the Japanese dancers, getting
Right now, it is very good. Some people feel differently. This is normal,
people have to feel differently. But, in 2005, the second prize in the
tango championship, stage tango, was a Japanese couple from Osaka. That is
a good sign.
Let me ask you, would you be brave enough to compare the skill level of
Japanese women and men?
Women are better. Yes. Always. (laughs). They are better, I don’t know
why. (laughs). But the thing is, women have a more
natural ability for dance, women spend
more time dancing, they sacrifice more. And, men are working a lot, so it
is difficult for them to find time to practice tango. The ladies, I feel,
are dancing very very well. Of course, for men, it is more difficult
leading, and so that is why also some men refuse the tango. Because they
have to sacrifice and suffer something. Many don’t like to lead. Because
the tango takes a long time to understand, to dance, to enjoy, to lead, many
things. I think, the ladies are more passionate.
As you know in the last few years an increasing number of Japanese have come
to Buenos Aires, for short visits and longer periods of up to one year.
And, generally speaking, how important or helpful do you think it is for
Japanese or foreign tango dancers to be able to come to visit Buenos Aires.
Of course, it is very important. It is lucky for them if they can take time
to spend a long time here in
Buenos Aires. Because not only
do you learn steps, you can feel, you can have conversations with Argentine
people. Someone can live with a girl friend or
boyfriend or just a friend, or with a
family in a place. And, when you have contact with tango people, they give
you something. That
has been my experience. I learn a lot
by talking, just watching, just having a café, drinking wine with tango
people. I love this very
much because they talk about stories.
And also, how they move, how they sit, how they dress. It is a very
important feeling that
foreign people can catch. Because, I
watch, and I see that not many people understand really what they are doing
Many people dance, move, with tango
music, but to really understand, few people understand. If they come here,
a long time, maybe
ten months, they may keep the feeling of
the life of the argentine people.
Although a tragedy for Argentina as a country, the reality is that the drop
in the value of the peso has encouraged the
internationalization of the tango. What
changes have you noted in the tango world in the last few years?
Well, in the last few years, we have here many tourists learning tango,
visiting the city. Of course, for business, it is very good
for us. Really, tango people, our jobs
are more interesting outside of Argentina. Our jobs are better outside.
Here, the economy is
not good. And as for the tango people,
we don’t have good wages here, because not many producers do tango shows
here in the
theatres or the television. Tango
shows are going outside. Japan has 5 or 6 tango shows a year, with 15, 20
people. And Europe
and America. Here it is difficult to
have shows in the theatres. Of course, people are coming, they buy dresses,
shoes. For these
kinds of businesses, it is very good.
For dancers, it is good, of course, it is not so bad, but we have to travel
around the world to
have a better status of life.
Thank you so much for your time.
My pleasure. See you in Japan!
For lessons with Carlos Rivarola, check this website: http://www2.rocketbbs.com/622/tango.html
or contact Kazumi at 090-3340-2468 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background drawing of tango dancers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by