29 Aug 2006

Emocións: Claudia Codega / Esteban Moreno

"...It could be seen in her hips and in her mouth; she was made for tango..."

Julio Cortázar
From Monteleone's exhibition "mirada de tango"

The photograph showed 2 pairs of feet delicately touching in mid-walk. One can imagine Claudia & Esteban moving lingeringly over the dance floor to the strains of DiSarli. Podesta's singing blends in with the muted room.

The air is filled with her. Her deep glaze, her lips, her magnificent hips. Her one look is more highly nuanced than any overdone display of sensuality. By her walk alone, she sets the heart alive and beating, sotto voce.

Her tango allure is special, because it is part artistic creation between Claudia and Esteban, and part arising from the essence of the woman that she is.

She is imbued with an aura, a rare screen presence like the silent movie stars of old. The beauty of her performance is that Claudia expresses the unspoken words, those veiled underlying emocións, by the subliminal use of her body language.

For those familiar with eastern cinematography, she is the western equivalent of Maggie Chueng's iconic female form clad in cheongsam, moving in slow suspension in Wong Kar Wai's movie "In the Mood for Love".

Claudia Codega.
Esteban Moreno.

She is an arthouse screen siren gliding in his arms; they were made for tango.

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19 Aug 2006

Claudia & Esteban: mirada de tango by monteleone

Photography exhibition June/July 2003

This was a photo exhibition by Guillermo Monteleone shown in Paris. Photos of tango masters Claudia Codega and Esteban Moreno filled the walls. Some photos appeared posed at landmark locales in Paris while others captured Claudia & Esteban during performance. To capture a moment of beauty in mid-dance is my yardstick of good photography. To forever record an image of the inner essence of the person, the live ambience of the place, the magic of that instance in time.

What enraptured me was the text by renowned Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar and Leopoldo Marechal accompanying the photos of Claudia & Esteban.

The writings were ardent and expressive. The beauty of the words, the emotions evoked, made the heart race and took one’s breath away.

“…la primavera de Buenos Aires y la mujer de mi develo se habían manifestado juntas…”

“…spring in Buenos Aires and the woman of my sleeplessness had manifested themselves together…”

Leopoldo Marechal

“…Verla, no daba sueño…”

“…Seeing her made sleep vanished…”

Jorge Luis Borges

“…ibamos juntos a los bailes, y yo los miraba vivir…”

“…and we would go to dances together, and I would watch them; they were alive…”

Julio Cortázar

This is my favourite because of the sentiments expressed in this verse:

“..al verla fui entendiendo que yo no sabria mirar otra cosa en adelante, porque mi contemplación nacía en ella y en ella se quedaba, sin retorno…”

“…when I looked at her, I gradually understood that I would not be able to look at anything else from then on, for my comtemplation was born in her, and stayed in her, without return…”

Leopoldo Marrechal

“…la abrázo como para siempre…”

“…he embraced her, as if forever…”

Jorge Luis Borges

Postnote: On the topic of great photography, our good friend Johan Khoo, now relocated to Kuala Lumpur, has this wonderful gift.

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22 May 2006

La vida es un tango

How does one explain the intimate and private tango experience?

On the rare occasions when compelled to explain to friends and family what tango means to me, I struggle to find the words to describe how it feels and its significance. At these times, attempts to articulate tango would be overwhelmed by a wave of emotions cancelling out coherent speech. Hence the world of tango, which has taken over my nights and days, remains a mystery to those closest and dearest.

A saying which resonates with me is the description "La vida es un tango". Everything is in the tango. It can lent itself as a mirror to see oneself with clarity if one fears not the discovery. It is the internal and external journey of life's experiences.

Above all, tango is the people of Buenos Aires, its history and culture, the past and future, who are its living and evolving legacy.

Real people, real tango. Perhaps this is the root of my fascination with the social dance floor of Buenos Aires. It matters not the age, it matters not the aesthetics and technique. Danced by people to music steeped with the purity of depth and breadth and height of their whole selves. It is beautiful, because it is real.

Tango of the people - my true inspiration and love of tango.

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15 Jan 2006

Música del Alma

What is tango without tango music? Tango music and tango the dance is an intertwined experience for me. Tango music elicits a deep instinctive response from the inner core that will not be denied.

There are many tango songs that I enjoy dancing to, most of them from the Golden Era up to the Fifties. Among the assortment of much-loved pieces, I find the few songs listed below entrancing and worth a special mention.

Este es el rey
The opening section and refrain of this song is bold and audacious as befitting the title. Trust D’Arienzo to concoct this big, brassy exciting piece!

Ella es así
The milonga by Edgardo Donato is totally wicked and irresistible to dancing feet. Exhilarating!

Siete Palabras
Some songs wait for tango dancers to complete the picture. Such was the case for Siete Palabras by Di Sarli. Maestros Julio Balmaceda & Corina de la Rosa’s performance on the tangoaficionado website clinched it for me. The plucking notes are magic.

Champagne tango
I confess a certain preference for late Di Sarli – rich, deep and emotive. There is something very alluring and sensuous about the soaring melody of this piece. Indeed, the golden notes tingle on the palate like fine champagne. Oh, to have the grace to glide to the Champagne tango!

Tres esquinas
This song by Los Dos Angeles (Angel D’Agnostino & Angel Vargas) always conjures up scenes of the Buenos Aires social dance floor for me, in particular Club Sunderland. Vargas’ singing is a perfect counterpoint to the echoingly nostalgic tune.

Yo no sé que me han hecho tus ojos
Ever since I watched the 2003 tango documentary of the same name (I don't know what your eyes have done to me) directed by Sergio Wolf and Lorena Muñoz *, this vals has embedded itself into my mind. It is sung by late tango singer and diva Ada Falcón with music and lyrics by Francisco Canaro. The documentary traces the life of Ada Falcón, her doomed relationship with Francisco Canaro and her subsequent withdrawal from society at the height of her fame. Ada Falcón was famous for her green eyes.

When I listen to Canaro’s songs, many have a characteristic sweetness, but often it is a bitter-sweetness of heartache and broken love affairs and not the sweetness that you find in pieces, say, by Osvaldo Fresedo.

Even though I am not a particularly lyrics-driven person, the lyrics of “Yo no sé que me han hecho tus ojos” reads like an impassionate love letter, the words in the setting of the haunting tune are unforgettable given the background context. Devastating.

Yo no se que me han hecho tus ojos Translation

Yo no se si es cariño el que siento,
yo no se si sera una pasión,
solo se que al no verte una pena va rondando por mi corazón...
Yo no se que me han hecho tus ojos que al mirarme me matan de amor,
yo no se que me han hecho tus labios que al besar mis labios,
se olvida eldolor...

* Footnote: "Yo no se que me han hecho tus ojos" was awarded the Best Latin America Film Ward

Quejas de Bandoneon
This is the definitive song for me. The signature piece by Anibal Troilo incapacitates me every time I hear it, the experience is so overwhelming that it makes my insides clench tight. The full orchestra sound and powerful bandoneon swells bring to mind a grand passion/story that spans across the years. Its full intensity is interspersed with achingly sweet sections of the bandoneon. Finally, the ending comes and goes without regret.

I first heard the song in the tango documentary “Tango, baile nuestro” by Jorge Zanada. It contains a seminal performance by an old couple to Quejas de Bandoneon which is so fitting I doubt I would ever see another equal to it. I should stop trying to dance to this song, it is completely beyond me to express it.

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Una nota dulce - Enero