A Night of Beautiful Tango, Kuala Lumpur
A Night of Beautiful Tango
I finally had the opportunity recently to watch Argentine Tango! Eversince I heard about the Argentine tango dance, I was curious, but never had the opportunity to watch or try the dance. When Michelle and Karen from Te Amo, Tango offered Caught In The Spotlight the chance to witness tango in the flesh, of course we said yes! Held on Saturday, 18th November 2017, the dinner and dance was at Royal Lake Club, which has never failed to impress when it comes to hosting an event. The night was a grand affair, with the honour of the Argentine ambassador, Manuel Balaguer Salas gracing the event.
(Left to Right) Argentine ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency Manuel Balaguer Salas, flanked by star dancer Javier Rodriguez, addressing the crowd. / Te AmoTango instructor Michelle Ng, with the emcee Gupson Pierre. / The lamb, which tasted as good as it looks!
WHAT IS ARGENTINE TANGO?
Not to be confused with Ballroom Tango, the Argentine Tango is a sensual dance where the man leads the lady through an embrace.
The main difference is that Ballroom Tango (also sometimes known as International Tango) has an 8-count basic, and the moves are usually quite sharp and staccato. There are a lot of broad movements with sways and dips, and the dancers move around the room in a large anti-clockwise fashion.
Argentine Tango on the other hand is far more sensual, with no basic step, and it is a totally improvisational dance. Dancers usually stay locked in an embrace, with a lot of movements generally below the waist. It is not necessary for the dancers to move around the room, and sometimes dancers can stay in one spot for a long time.
I was also told that the ladies’ shoes are quite different. Unlike other dance shoes that usually have suede soles, the ladies’ shoes have frictionless soles to allow the ladies to glide easily together with the men.
What is there to say about the performances that night? Everything good! The event hosted a number of performances, most of them Argentinian Tango, of course. There were two student performances, dancing to routines choreographed by Te Amo, Tango’s lead instructor, Christopher Wibowo. Some of them were beginner dancers, and as any beginner can testify, it can be quite scary to perform in front of a crowd. But the dancers did an excellent job, doing justice to the training instructors, with the Beginners trained by Huongyi and Karen Lim and Intermediate by Christopher Wibowo and Michelle Ng.
The opening performance by three men and four ladies. It was an interesting performance where the dancers changed partners, and one solo lady would skirt the outside There was also a performance by the highly skilled couple, Son Cubano by Jacintha and Zam, who had also performed in the World Bachata Festival the weekend before. Some of the key tricks that this couple use are not the usual lifts and throws, but instead they showed off amazing balancing skills. They look deceptively simple, but trust me – try them yourself and you’ll appreciate how much practice and effort this lovely couple have put into perfecting their technique!
The focus of the evening were of course on Argentinian Tango! We had the honour of watching three outstanding couples who demonstrated to us what Argentinian Tango really looked like. Christopher Wibowo from Jakarta with Michelle Ng from Kuala Lumpur, who have been dancing together for more than 7 years, are dedicated tango dancers. It is always a thing of beauty to watch specialists dance as their technique is so pure! We also had the honour of special guests from Hong Kong, Felipe Hsieh and Sandra Mok. Another beautiful couple, they simply glided across the dance floor. Honestly, I was amazed at how Sandra was able to dance so well in her shoes (I am too used to my own latin shoes with the heel caps!).
And of course – the highlight of the evening were none other than the Javier Rodriguez and his partner, Moira Castellano! They were so amazing on the floor that we called for two encores, and this beautiful couple graciously complied.
Felipe Hsieh leading Sandra into one of the leg flicks that is distinctively Argentine Tango
Karen of Te Amo, Tango told me later that the couple had danced unrehearsed routines. Having a sense of the audience for the night itself, Javier then chose the opening music just before the performance. Since this was Javier & Moira’s first time ever in Malaysia, they didn’t know what to expect. When they first arrived at the scene, they felt the sincere warmth from the Malaysian audience. Moira indicated to Javier they should choose a song which they both must love very much in order to let their love flow visibly through the art of Argentine Tango to be witnessed and felt by the audience. It was Javier’s fantastic lead and Moira’s beautiful follow that we witnessed. It was difficult to believe, because they were so in sync with each other and with the music, and they looked so flawless on the floor. That’s why these two are professionals! The ultimate of Argentine tango dance by Javier and Moira, is to showcase 2 bodies dancing as one, and as one with the floor and music. I had the opportunity to record their dances. Do watch them and have your breath taken away, just like mine was!
Felipe and Sandra, introduced the Argentinian Folk dance – Chacarera to the crowd and encourage everyone to participate in the folk dance. Similarly, the opening routine as performed earlier by the Beginner students kicked off the night with Chacarera pace. It was a truly lovely evening, which even included some social dancing.
(up) During intermission, Felipe and Sandra led the men and women in the Chacacera / (down) The guests are getting into the fun of dancing!
Javier and Moira in an Argentina Tango close hold. Photo courtesy of James1394