Category Archives: culture

Foto Ruta’s top 5 tips for taking great Tango photography

Any Tango enthusiast who’s tried to take photos in a milonga or Tango show will know what we’re talking about when we say that despite being endlessly photogenic, it’s not easy to take great photos of tango. Unless you’re a skilled photographer, the combination of movement + darkness is a difficult one, and even if you get the technicalities right, taking original photos that don’t look like every other tango tourist’s is a challenge. We asked our friends at Foto Ruta, experts in photography and the brains behind a new and original way to explore Buenos Aires, to give us their top 5 tips for photographing tango.

1.       Learn about the culture of Tango

There’s a lot more to tango than meets the eye. It’s a way of life and culture, that’s crammed full with codes, tradition, music and identity. If you understand the culture you can take photos that are empty of cliché, and instead tell a story. Narrative Tango Tours will help you get to grips with this side of things!

2.       Go behind the scenes

If you can get there, you’ll find that shots behind the scenes will show you the whole story. Behind the sparkling dresses and red lipstick, tango is filled with interesting characters and situations – you’ll get some of your best shots backstage.

3.       Test out different angles

Don’t just sit on the sidelines with all the other spectators, get involved, get in on the action and find the most interesting angles possible to make your photos original and give them a different perspective.

4.       Capture the movement

Tango is about movement…obvio, so be sure to play around with shutter speeds. Capturing the movement of all or a selection of the dancer’s body parts can be really impactful and capture the spirit of the dance.

5.       Go for Emotion

Tango is an emotional, passionate, sometimes sad, almost always assertive dance. The facial expressions, brace of the hand, point of the toe…are all hugely important when capturing tango. Try to focus in on key elements, as well as the whole picture. You should get some interesting shots!

Foto Ruta is a brand new way to see Buenos Aires. For anyway who wants to see the less explored and more genuine side of the city, Foto Ruta offers afternoon explorations of some of Buenos Aires most interesting barrios for only $100AR. Foto Ruta also offers 1 day street photography workshops (Foto Ruta Academia), offering you a chance to explore areas of the city guided by expert photography tuition. To find out more, email hola@foto-ruta.com

8th Annual Cambalache Festival

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December 5th marks the beginning of the 8th annual Cambalache Festival, a seven day extravaganza dedicated to the fusion of tango, theater, and dance. The non-profit festival is dedicated to celebrating, promoting and advancing not only tango, but the fusion of tango with other art forms, including film and other dance styles. There will be music and dance performances, lectures on tango and its evolution, film screenings and much more.

Come out to enjoy some of the festival with Narrative Tango Tours! If you’re in town and want to enjoy the festival with some authentic Buenos Aires tango dancers let us know – we’ll organize everything and provide a guide.

Fully detailed information can be found directly on Cambalache’s website, and our friends at 2xtango put together a fabulous bi-lingual, day to day outline of the complete program of events.

A Love Affair with Tango

I enter the milonga. The lights are dim. The ambiance is mysterious, intriguing, dangerous and sexual. I sit down at table next to the dance floor and as I drink a glass of vinto tinto, I am drawn into the magnetic world of the dancers. I watch as the women seduce the men with the sensual movement of their back, hips, legs and feet, while the men try and control them in a firm, confident embrace. I examine how these two people create a story, a unique relationship while they dance. I become absorbed by their relationship and I realize I need to create one of my own. My love affair with tango began that night before I had even felt the seductive power of the embrace. I felt the butterflies in my stomach and when I left the milonga that night I had a longing desire to return. In the milonga the tables surrounding the dance floor are packed with different groups of people. Visitors who are just in Buenos Aires for a couple of weeks and new to the milonga scene, foreigners who have left their jobs at home and relocated to Buenos Aires for a couple months or a couple of years, Argentine milongueros with normal day jobs, who dance tango as a hobby, and the professionals who attend the milonga to make an appearance and schmooze. There are quite a variety of ages, nationalities and types who are all brought together with a common addiction—tango. In some way, we all crave the comfort and sensuality of the tango embrace. Is it something that is missing in our daily lives? Or do we just choose to indulge in this silent, enticing connection? With such a variety of people one would think that you could find some attractive people to look at or at least to speak to. But unlike in a bar or walking down the street where generally you notice someone based on their looks, in the milonga you are attracted to the best dancers. This attraction is so overpowering that often we find ourselves fantasizing about dancing with that person, we dream of their embrace. We follow that person night after night to various milongas and once we find them we stalk them so they know we are there and will ask us to dance. Once you embrace that special person and close your eyes and begin to dance, sometimes the connection is so powerful that you are transported to another world. In this world the most important thing is the connection, the embrace, the dance, the music, the feeling, the tango. We have fallen in love. But are we in love with the person with whom we share this connection, or are we in love with the tango? The music stops and the lights come up and we are shaken awake out of the surreal existence of the tango embrace. We look around and wonder, was it real? When I leave the milonga will I continue to think about this person, or rather the feeling of their embrace? Often people’s relationships end when they start dancing tango or they fall into relationships with their dance partners. But are these relationships built on true love between two people or rather based on infatuation, sensual connection, or the mysterious, addictive connection and love they find through the tango? I fell in love with tango when I first witnessed it in a milonga in Buenos Aires 6 years ago. Before I even experienced the magnetic embrace, I was fascinated by the music, the clothes, the people, the dance and of course this powerful connection I could see between the two people dancing. I have fallen in and out of relationships with men in the tango world but my love for tango has remained. Sometimes I feel like tango is an addictive, overpowering relationship and sometimes it is even unhealthy. But when I experience wonderful dances I feel as if I’m flying and when I don’t, I feel empty, sad and depressed. If I think about ending my affair with tango I wonder if anything could take its place. The tango seduces me in a way that nothing else can. So my love affair continues, and I embrace it.

Video

NTT Promotional Teaser Video

Fall in love with the TANGO in Buenos Aires. Let Narrative Tango Tours be your guide.

Get to know our full list of tango services/packages and who we are on our website (www.narrativetangotours.com), connect on Facebook (facebook.com/NarrativeTangoTours), and follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/narrativetango) to stay fully up to date on all things tango in Buenos Aires and around the world.

We put this video (and photo shoot) together one lazy weekend afternoon in San Telmo with a brilliant photographer and videographer team of Jocelyn Mandryck and Guillermo Bia. We’ve worked together with both of them on numerous projects, and each has always proven to be a success.

Enjoy!

International Festival of Buenos Aires: September 24th – October 8th, 2011

ImageSeptember 24th marked the beginning of FIBA (the Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires), an extravaganza of all kinds of art that happens in Buenos Aires every two years. Organized by the Ministry of Culture, it offers performances, master classes, special talks and much more. To boot, many of the activities are free, and the majority are available for your veiwing pleasure at a very reasonable price.

See a day to day agenda of the FIBA activities on the BA’s festival page here. Tickets for all shows are available from 11am to 7pm the Casa de la Cultura – Avenida de Mayo 575.

*photo compliments of Buenos Aires Ciudad.

The Tango Mundial 2011

Every year in Buenos Aires, in the middle of their damp winter, towards the end of July, tango loving tourists flock to Buenos Aires to participate in or watch the Mundial del Tango or the Tango World Championship and festival.  The tango festival consists of special free milongas with live orchestras, performances by tango orchestras and dancers throughout Buenos Aires, master classes by famous dancers, lectures on tango and of course the Tango World championship in salon and stage tango.

I participated in the competition in 2007 in tango salon.  The whole experience seemed like the Olympics, but for tango.  Dancers from around the world study for years to go to Buenos Aires to participate in the competition.  In the dressing rooms you hear various languages spoken: Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, German, English, etc.  The dancers arrive a couple of weeks (sometimes months) before the competition to indulge in the last few private classes they can take from the Argentine masters, to buy their dresses, suits, shoes and to perfect their dance in the Argentine milongas and/or practice studios.

Although the Tango World Championship, especially in tango salon is known to be very difficult to win unless you are Argentine, many dancers have had more hope since 2008 when the Japanese couple won, Hiroshi and Kyoko Yamao.  This year however, unlike any previous year no sole Argentine couple qualified within the top 5 in tango salon (Cristian Andres Lopez, who finished 5th is Argentine, but dances with his Japanese wife).  The Colombian couple, Diego Julian Benavidez Hernandez and Natasha Agudelo Arboleda (pictured above) took 1st place after a dance off with the Venezuelan couple, John Erban and Clarissa Sanchez who came in 2nd.  3rd place was given to an American couple, Brian Nguyen and Yuliana Basmajyan (the first time an American couple made it to the top 5).  4th place was given to Mauro Zompa and Sara Masi from Italy and in 5th came a “Japanese” couple, Cristian Andrez Lopez and Naoko Tsutsumizaki.

Tango Salon Final: dance off between the Colombian and the Venezuelan Couple

Stage Tango Champions 2011

Many Argentines, unhappy about the results, criticized the judges for not choosing fairly.  Many believe that tango born in the Rio de la Plata region between Argentina and Uruguay cannot truly be danced by a couple with another nationality.  Other nationalities imitate the tango but because Argentine tango is not just about the steps, it is about the music, the Argentine culture, the history, the people, imitating Argentine tango is difficult unless you have a very intimate relationship with it.  Yet, it seems that in the past few years with the influx of foreign tango dancers in Buenos Aires, coupled with the numerous tango dancers who travel the world teaching, the intimate secrets of tango are being revealed and passed along to people from other countries.

Many tango connoisseurs also criticize the Mundial because they question whether tango, especially tango salon, is a dance that should be judged.  Every year, couples from around the world try to imitate the previous years’ champions.  They try and replicate their embrace, their walk, their musicality and even their steps.  Tango salon was originally an improvisational dance, which allowed each couple to explore their own musicality, steps and embrace.  Tango salon was supposed to be enjoyed by the two people dancing together.  The connection between the two people is what was important.  It was not to be danced for the public.  Stage tango is different because it is made for the stage, for the audience, it is a spectacle.  Therefore, it is a dance than can be judged.  Has the Mundial changed how dancers dance tango salon?  Can the passion and the connection between the couple still be seen when it is danced for a competition or does it become a sport?

Please feel free to comment on our posts.  We would love to hear your opinions as well.

Also, if you would like to see true Argentine tango salon danced, join us for an NTT Milonga Outing.  Or if you are more interested in the spectacle contact us for tickets to some of the best tango shows in Buenos Aires!

*Photos courtesy of the Festivales de Buenos Aires Facebook Page