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August 15, 2004

Taipei Tango Festival 2003

Yes, the title is correct, in case you were wondering… 🙂

I originally intended (in fact started writing way back on 29 Sept 2003) to quickly put together some thoughts of the Taipei Tango Festival immediately after the event, but, as usual, things got in the way. And before you know it, one year has passed! In case you are wondering, yes, the next edition of this Tango Festival is going ahead in September (of 2004) again.

During last year’s festival, three couples of teachers were invited. From what I saw, they all danced in very distinctive styles. Nevertheless, there was one common factor among them: they are all from the relatively younger generations of Argentine dancers. Below, I will try to comment on each of the teachers in turn. Again, these comments are highly subjective and by no means can be considered an authoritative dissection of the qualities of these teachers.

Firstly, there was Guillermo Merlo and Fernanda Ghi, the oldest of the three couples, and who will be visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the end of September 2004. They were entertaining on the dance floor but also very approachable and clear in classes. The fact that they are very fluent in English is a definite plus. Stresses on solid foundations and very dynamic in the movements. For additional information about their style, see the article at Tango Pulse (under “Tango Interviews”) and another article on ToTANGO.

The second couple was Leandro Palou and Andrea Misse, currently based in London. Information on their “pedigree” can be found in this short bio from their older (and somewhat dysfunctional) website. Very enthusiastic dancers/teachers and seem most willing to push or experiment with the limits of conventional movements, e.g. over-turning of the man’s hip. Movements seemed a bit more subtle and require certain degree of flexibility. The hold was slightly leaning more towards the Nuevo style.

The last couple was Javier Rodriguez and Geraldine Rojas (note: link no longer working for obvious reasons), the youngest teachers present at the Festival. They were great dancers to watch for their amazing musicality, intricate movements timed so well with the music and also the explosive figures done with much grace and ease. Incidentally, Geraldine Rojas was in the recent Robert Duval movie the Tango Assassination, notable especial for a very nice dance at the end of the movie with Pablo Veron. However, as teachers, perhaps due to communication problems (they spoke close to zero English) and in a group-class situation, I did not benefit much from their classes. Perhaps they can serve as role models when my skills have improved to a higher level!?

Overall, the conditions for the workshop was good. The studios were reasonably central and the milongas held in very nice places. However, a couple of things I found slightly lacking 1) more assistance to locate reasonably-priced hotels, 2) introduce activities that can encourage more interactions between tangueros and tangueras from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc., 3) more variety in the music for the nightly milongas.

I am sure the Taipei Tango Association has learnt much from last year’s experience and be able to have an even more successful festival this year.

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