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Tokyo Tango Journal

 


 
 

The Tokyo Tango Journal

Argentine Tango in Tokyo

 

Tango Links in Tokyo / Weekly Milongas and Practicas

 

The Tokyo Tango Journal was created and published by Mong-Lan.  Read all about the Argentine Tango scene in Tokyo.  The latest issue below!

All Tango Drawings by Mong-Lan are from her book, Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art (the bilingual version, Tango, Tangueando: Poemas & Dibujos). Buy at Amazon.com


Issue 6, Interviews with Japanese tango dancers living in Buenos Aires: Hirai Koji & Naoko (Ana), Namiki Masa & Tsuchiya Yuka, Yamao Hiroshi & Kyoko; Tango drawings & photos by Mong-Lan; Review of Daniel Machado's tango photo exhibition, pdf.

Issue 5, Interview with José María Luna & Laura Mangione of Luna de Tango, poetry and artwork by Mong-Lan, pdf.

Issue 4, Interview with Juan Guida (Zero Hour) and Hugo Paez (Puro Tango), Photos and drawings by Mong-Lan, pdf. 

Issue 3, Interview with Jorge Torres, Tango drawings by Mong-Lan, pdf

Issue 2, Interview with Eduardo Arquimbau and Loredana de Brasil., pdf, Tango Drawings by Mong-Lan

Issue 1, Interview with Carlos Rivarola., Tango Drawings by Mong-Lan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tango Drawings by Mong-Lan

Volume 1, Issue 2,

June, 17, 2006

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Interview with Eduardo Arquimbau and Loredana de Brasil,

Judges of the 3rd Tango Dance Championship in Asia 

 

by Mong-Lan.

 

 

 

First of all, hearty congratulations to the winners of the 3rd Tango Dance Championship in Asia!  The Tokyo Tango Journal knows they will represent Asia—and particularly Japan—well in Buenos Aires in August and wishes them all the best in the competition there!

 

In a dance as nebulous and creative as the tango, how can one begin to judge which pair is better, which dance is the best?  What does a judge look for?  How can one begin to give points to the tango, a dance that is so much based on creativity and improvisation, on the feeling between one and one’s partner? At the finalist level, and especially in Stage Tango, the dancers were extremely skilled and the winners won by sometimes a fraction of a point. 

 

In the Tango Stage Final, everybody danced beautifully, and it was a very close one.  Tanada Akiyoshi & Noriko won at 91.7, just one point more than Lam & Gyu at 90.7 at second place, George & Rita in third place at 90.3, and the Korean contingent Keunhyung & Venus at 90.0 in fourth place.  Winning at this level, where a third of a point counts, seems to have a great deal to do with courting “Lady Luck.”  For certain, with such talented dancers, the individual preferences and tastes of the judges do come into play—just as in the judging of ice skating and gymnastics.

 

In the Tango Salon Final, everybody danced well and in orderly fashion.  Hiro & Miho won at 91.3, Hiroshi and Kyoko in second place at 90.0, Masa & Chieko in third place at 89.3, and Tanada Akiyoshi and Noriko at 88.3 in fourth place.

 

I spoke with two of the judges, Eduardo Arquimbau and Loredana de Brasil, about their reactions to the Asian Championship in general and on their judging in particular.

 

Eduardo Arquimbau, together with Gloria de Arquimbau, have been dancing tango together for over four decades, appearing in shows such as Tango Argentino, the original cast of Forever Tango, and in their Japan tours of Tango, Tango and Corazon de Tango.   Indeed, they are a legendary couple in the world of tango, and they came to Japan this time to be one of the judges of this year’s Asia Championship.

 

ML:  Is this your first time as a judge in the Asia Tango Championship?

 

EA:  Yes, it is.

 

ML:  And, you’ve been a judge many times before?

 

EA:  Yes, many.

 

ML:  What do you think about this competition in general?

 

EA:  Well, it was very well organized.  The Japanese are known to be well organized.  (laughs.)  As for the couples, they were very good.  But within the couples, sometimes, the levels were uneven.  There were instances in which in one couple, the boy was better, had more charisma, or the girl was better, or had more charisma.  So the levels were not so equal.  What I looked for was charisma.  The couple who won in Stage Tango, the girl had more charisma than the boy.  Her charisma lifted the couple.

 

ML:  And the couple who won in Salon Tango?

 

EA:  They were very much a couple, pretty much equal.  They were number 13.  And they won.  Usually 13 is an unlucky number, but in this case, it was a lucky number!

 

ML:  When judging, do you look more at women or men, or both?

 

EA:  I look at both.  In tango, the couple should be one person, should dance as if one person is dancing.  But, as I said before, there were cases in which the boy’s skill in dancing was lower or the girl’s level was lower.  What I want to see is the couple, both equal, dancing as if they were one person.  

     The other judges mentioned that in previous years, there was one couple that stood out from the rest.  But this year, they were very similar.  No one really stood out.  It was very close, so it was very difficult to judge.  In Stage Tango, it was the charisma of the girl that led the couple to win, that made her stand out.  You really needed luck to win, because it was so close.  In Salon Tango, number 13 was the lucky one.

 

ML:  Thanks so much for your time!

 

EA:  Your welcome.

 

 

I had a few minutes to speak with Loredana de Brasil after the competition.  Also a judge in this competition, she is the partner of Sergio Cortazzo.  Both of them danced beautifully to wild applause in the performances after the competition. 

 

ML:  How many times have you been to Japan?

 

LdB:  This is my sixth time.  I’ve been involved with shows such as Latina, Alma de Tango, dancing for orchestras such as Orchestra Carlos Lasserli, Orchestra Dragone, etc.

 

ML:  Is this your first time to judge a competition?

 

LdB:  Yes, it is.

 

ML:  Tell me, what were the categories you had to consider when giving points to each couple?

 

LdB:  Well, the embrace, that they don’t separate.  Their dress, costume.  That they conserve the style of tango.  For Tango Salon, I look at the circulation of the pairs.  Musicality.  For Stage Tango, I look at composition, choreography, that they conserve the style of tango, costume, musicality, posture and much more.  There’s much more. 

 

ML:  When judging, do you look more at the man or the woman?

 

LdB:  I look at the couple, always.  Well, in this competition, I thought that the women had more attitude, more passion.  The men were more reserved, more timid.  Perhaps because the women were more extroverted, more emotional, that I looked at them more. 

I thought the level of dancing here was very good.  Japan has always been one of the  countries in the world that has a lot of interest in tango, and I’m very happy about this.

 

ML:  Tell me your thoughts about having women as judges.

 

LdB:  It’s very necessary to have women as judges because we make up 50% of the couple.  What we see and think count!

 

 

These interviews were conducted in Spanish and literally translated into English by Mong-Lan.  Born in Vietnam,

Mong-Lan is a writer, poet, painter, photographer, avid Argentine tango dancer, and publisher/creator of the

The Tokyo Tango Journal.

 

 


 

   Tango Drawings by Mong-Lan, from her book, Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art. Buy at Amazon.

 
 

 
   
   
   

 

 

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. 

 

 

ML: When and why did you first come to Japan?

 

CR:  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. 

 

ML:  About how many times in total have you come to Japan?

 

CR:  Almost always, I travel to Japan twice each year----for the last  22 years now.   To teach or sometimes for a show. 

 

ML:  How long do you stay when you go to Japan?

 

CR:  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.

 

ML:  So this time, when are you coming?
 

CR:  I arrive in Tokyo on May 23, then I go to Yokohama, also Hachioji, Tachikawa and Nagoya. 

 

ML:  Over these years you have been coming to Japan, what changes have you observed in the tango world in Tokyo and in Japan?

 

CR:  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.

 

ML:  What do you think about the skill level of the Japanese dancers, getting better?

 

CR:  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.

 

ML:  Let me ask you, would you be brave enough to compare the skill level of Japanese women and men?

 

CR:  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. 

 

ML:  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.

 

CR:  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 dancing tango. 

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. 

 

ML:  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?

 

CR:  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.

 

ML:  Thank you so much for your time.

 

CR:  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:  tangos@t.vodafone.ne.jp

 

 



Background drawing of tango dancers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Mong-Lan.

   

Copyright © 2001-2012  by Mong-Lan. All rights reserved.  Website created by Mong-Lan. Please respect the fact that all artwork and writing (except where indicated) and poetry on this website are copyrighted by Mong-Lan. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, without her written permission.