Milonga for my loves

La Nación – July 12 2013


SOCIAL TANGO: The show created by Agustina Videla, with visual and æsthetic contributions from Nora Lezano, opens today at the Teatro de la Ribera in tango’s authentic heartlands in the La Boca district

Agustina Videla, who choreographs and directs the show, together with Nora Lezano, recounts that the leitmotiv of the work sprang from her travels as a teacher. “It was a very powerful experience to discover over an extended period of time how people’s lives changed when they entered the world of tango. There are lots of cases where you can see how their lives are changed by learning to dance and finding an outlet within the space of the milonga, a happier meeting place than they find in their day-to-day routine. That was what I wanted to express through this show,” says the dancer, who is making her debut at the emblematic theater in La Boca.

For the visual artist Nora Lezano – known for her photographs of the world of rock music and for her recent theatrical experiments based on texts by Alejandra Pizarnik and Olga Orozco – this was also an initiation in many ways. “The first time I stepped into the La Ideal milonga, I was bowled over. I fell in love with that world: those faces, the dance codes, and all the characters inhabiting that world, in which you find people from different social classes, of all ages and all nationalities,” recounts the photographer, excited by this journey she embarked on when she was invited to bring her original æsthetic gaze to bear on the show.

The employees of the Teatro de la Ribera go about their usual business somewhat lethargically, today being just another day of the year. Once the rehearsal has finished, the lights in the foyer are switched off. The semidarkness heightens the electric atmosphere, the prelude to tonight’s première, which marks the beginning of this journey of initiation for the two young directors.

For the dancer Agustina Videla, this is the first time while working as a choreographer that she has headed a dance company. “For this show I aimed for fusion. I really liked the idea of incorporating elements of contemporary and neoclassical dance. I tried to take the components of group choreography and transfer them to the essence of the dance, because I didn’t want to lose either the tango walk or the embrace. In that sense, we were well supported by Mayra Galante, and we put together a work team with a contemporary dancer and an acting coach, who for the last four months have been training a group of dancers, to achieve an æsthetic unity. We didn’t want them to be separate tango couples, we wanted it to look like a company.”

For Nora Lezano, it is her debut directing shorts, which are projected during the show and serve as an introduction to each scene, featuring real people from the milongas. “Visually we decided on a black and white æsthetic to give the shorts and photos a certain timelessness. I felt that would bring it all together. I also wanted to work with the minimum because that’s how I operate with my photos. For me, the idea is to always leave in the essential elements, whether it’s a portrait or a dance, because if you take away the embellishment, what’s left is what needs to be there: the essence of tango,” observes Lezano.

What tango universe did you want to show?
Agustina Videla: We wanted to do a show that talked about contemporary tango and about how it is experienced today in Buenos Aires. A show that included a lot of diversity and was a long way from the clichés that are usually portrayed, because there is a preconception that tango on stage has to be spectacular. We wanted to tell a simple, clear story that is moving without having to impress anybody and that doesn’t betray the values of social tango, what people experience when they dance in the milongas.

Nora Lezano: We were aiming for æsthetic austerity to tell a story that can reach even my friends, who aren’t they kind of people who go to the milonga and can be prejudiced, through an idea that has a different æsthetic stamp. We made use of all the disciplines – photography, video, dance, and music – while keeping it austere, only the minimum of each thing appears, only what needs to be there. So it can reach those who are tangueros and those who aren’t. It doesn’t matter whether you dance tango or not. You can be just a voyeur, as in my case, but what was important for us was to show the current reality of tango, and the current reality of tango is found in the milonga, not in those acrobatic shows.

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