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Tango Quotes and Sayings

Pick of the best - Stephen Brown:
Tango is a dance in which is it easy to become obsessed with perfection. The taste of heaven that is found within tango may encourage some to seek perfection. Others may bring their own perfectionism to tango. But we should never confuse heaven and perfection. They are very different. The path of perfectionism often leads away from heaven — as we find ourselves accompanied and driven forward by demons that become all too familiar. If we pursue perfection in our practice, we are likely developing the demons that seek to keep us from effective dancing.

In tango, heaven is found through the simple gift of grace. That comes from getting out on the dance floor with the person that happens to be right for the moment, opening one's heart and falling in love again. The times that this happens, one is just happy to be in the arms of another at the end of the tanda.

Pick of the best - Jay Rabe:
Sssh. Don't tell anyone this. This is a secret. Imagine telling a beginner man he has to learn to find the rhythm of the music, watch out for navigational hazards on the dance floor, develop a strategy on the spot for dealing with them choosing from a repertoire of movements he has learned, then lead the woman to move in the intended direction with the intended speed while maintaining the connection, and then... He has to follow the woman's response to his lead to determine the next move (within a millisecond, after all, this is not chess), and take responsibility for whatever goes wrong. And we wonder why there aren't enough men in tango? Yet the surviving men keep trying. It must be that the rewards of tango are greater than its obstacles.

Pick of the best - Hyla Dickinson:
For me and the people with whom I adore to dance, the music is absolutely key, essential, absolutely impossible to separate from the dance itself. It's not just some initial inspiration; the intricacies and interplay within the music itself are the whole lifeblood of the dance. You are not just using the music as a background to your movement, or a structure to embellish on. You are responding to the music, becoming involved in the music, making choices every second about which parts of the music you wish to highlight or play down or even contradict. Sometimes it is as if your feet or your heart or the movement of your body becomes another instrument, adding a little more music. Perhaps another rhythm with the feet, perhaps a deepening of the sweetness of the melody with the way you move your leg or torso...

As a dancer, I am answering and expanding the music into the spatial and visual dimensions. I am also expanding the connection that I have with my partner into the music, and expanding the connection with the music to include my partner.

Pick of the best - Carole McCurdy
After that tanda, I found that every man I danced with that evening had something beautiful to offer, no matter their postural eccentricites or limitations of technique. In fact, their eccentricities and limitations were something to be respected and accorded a value, something that added rich flavor to the dance. If my partner is stiff as a board, well, it means that we begin the tanda by doing the 'stiff as a board' tango, which can offer some very creative moments of shared comedy, playing close to the edge of being off-balance. Whee-ha-ha. Maybe by the end of the tanda our dance will have expanded into something more soft and flexible and grounded, maybe not. The cortina has its own great value, after all.
I left the milonga that night feeling thrilled and humbled. How sorely I had underestimated these 'bad dancers,' how foolishly I had cheated myself out of the deeper pleasures of connecting in the dance. It wan't somebody else's fat ego getting in the way of dancing, it was my own.

Astrid responds: It works both ways. The great advantage (and burden) that women have in dancing the tango is that it enables them to experience a hundred different worlds, by dancing with different men and, if they are sensitive and intuitive enough, for a while becoming that man's creation to certain extent, for better or for worse...
It also works the other way round. One of the best dancers has told me that he dances in a different way with every woman, because she inspires him to do certain moves.
And the total is then always more than just the sum of its parts. Wish that in real life we also had some music to guide us to follow each other's steps...

Pick of the best - Igor Polk:
Tango is danced closely. Sometimes even very close. It certainly looks very intimate. But not necessarily should be. Dancers, especially men, should not abuse the intimacy. A woman is a queen, and should be respected as such. For a man, it is most important to respect and protect, and even follow his partner... Gentlemen, it is not good to drag your partner, even if she is a beginner. YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR PARTNER, EVEN IF SHE DANCES WRONG!!! Yes, leaders must follow. That is the greatest paradox of a good dancer - men are leaders, but they follow women. That is a woman who defines the style of dancing, distance, intimacy, speed, and rhythm. You do not agree? Then you will never be a good dancer with whom every woman would love to dance. This and only this defines who is the best dancer in Argentine Tango.

Pick of the best - SallyCat:
Please, just for me, forget the steps... Hold me, feel the music, and give me your soul. Then I can give you mine.

Pick of the best - La Nuit Blanche:
When the tango took hold of me, it was as if I had found the ultimate lover. No single experience can be as fascinating as this dance. No single work of art is so replete with all the joy and sorrow and longing and tragi-comedy of the human race, as is a tango danced between a man and a woman. It is labyrinthine, yet so simple. Each lasts just a few moments, yet it is eternal. There is a purity amidst all its complexities. The more one searches for the meaning behind its mystery, the ever more elusive is the tango... And yet, it is what it is, and we can see it, hear it, feel it, breathe it, live it, in the pleasure of its immediacy. Those of us it holds in its power - we want to shape our whole lives around it, its cadences, its sweat, its subtle messages and surging desires. The tango changes us forever. It changed me forever. Never have I been so intensely in love. Never had I felt so intensely alive. It helps me forget. And it helps me remember sweetly.

Pick of the best - Ricardo Vidort:
To be a milonguero, first of all you have your own style of dancing. It means that you have a unique feeling for the music, rhythm, cadence and embrace. When you have all this, the music invades your body and mind and then, only then, the chemistry begins that really makes you transmit to your partner as if both were talking, whispering, sliding on the floor with sacadas, corridas, turns, dancing only one for the other, not for the people. In that moment, when both are listening to the magic of the music, the skin of one in the skin of the other, the smell, the touch produces the miracle of something like a mantra, and the ying and the yang is there!!! We are dancing tango!!!

Pick of the best - Anastasia Demaggio:
In tango, the relationship between lead and follower, man and woman, is so intense and all consuming, that there is simply no time for small talk. The last man I danced with, I know more intricately in many ways than his lover: I know that he perspires in a tiny spot above his brow; that when the dance slows and our connection is tight, his breathing almost stops; that when my leg sweeps his, he arches his neck imperceptibly upwards; that when another couple got too close he subconsciously enclosed me in a protective embrace; and that his hand rested so delicately on the flesh of my back. Yet all I know about him are his name and his country of origin. Small talk is a luxury not afforded to us tango addicts.

Pick of the best - Bailado por koolricky:
I'm working in a hospital in Buenos Aires. Everytime there is a ward round we go to the intensive care unit to check how our patients are doing. On the way out, in a bay almost hidden by a corridor I always listen to fuzzy sounds of tango. The other day I ventured to see who was there. I saw a man, in his 70s, intubated and sound asleep, a small radio tuned into 92.5FM pouring tango and nothing else. I asked the nurse who this man was. She told me that he had been in coma for some time now and that his family had brought him the little radio so that he would be listening tango while he was sleeping. They said that if he was listening to tango, he would probably be dancing all the time in his dreams.

Pick of the best - John Vaina:
To be a great lead, do not love the woman you dance with; rather, listen to the music and love it! Beautiful tango is a process of transference - your love for the music will be transferred to the follower, and she will be enchanted.

Pick of the best - Caroline Polack:
For me, when I think of the best leaders I've danced with, I've noticed a commonality between all of them which is an apparent lack of ego or bravado. Instead of thinking about themselves, they just surrender to the music and to the pleasure of having a woman in their arms, no matter if she's experienced or not. They are the kind who would never let a woman feel incompetent or humiliated but instead as though it's been a sublime privilege to share this wonderful thing called tango with them. The worst leaders are the ones who don't pay attention to a woman's skill level and instead try to guide her into doing moves that are obviously beyond her knowledge of the choreography, thus shaming and humiliating her. They are the worst because they are only focusing on themselves instead of making it a wonderful experience for them both. In other words, they didn't surrender to the experience but to their own egos with complete disregard for the women's.

Pick of the best - Camille Cusumano:
For reasons that escape me, many techies are drawn to tango. I often marveled at the way they’d analyze it and deconstruct it, oftentimes lamenting how difficult and technical a dance tango is. Being left-handed, or right-brain dominant, I didn’t see its difficulty as technical at all. I saw it as child’s play, a returning to an innocence we all have. You subtract your adult, or conditioned, Self and there you have it. Tango is ever-present. From the start, I felt it as a place of numinous presence more so than with any other dance. To relegate it to words is to defile it.

Pick of the best - Chris Corby:
It's not about fancy repertoire, flourishes and embellishments... At the core it's about starting, stepping and pausing with the music. All the rest is icing on the cake.

Pick of the best - Anonymous:
Beginners want to dance like intermediates; intermediates want to dance like advanced dancers; advanced dancers want to dance like the greats; but the greats always go back to basics.

Ilona Glinarsky:
Love is TANGO and TANGO is love! Yes, it is a dance, yet so much more then just any dance. It is an ongoing conversation between two souls, two hearts and two bodies. It is a sacred dance we enter in with one another, where both 'masculine' and 'feminine' feel fully expressed and honored.

Naomi Hotta:
Warning: tango contains highly addictive ingredients, such as pain, pleasure, passion, excitement, connection, freedom, torment, and bliss. In seven out of ten cases it takes over a person's life.

Margaret Putnam:
Tango is the Everest of social dance. Impossible. Demanding. Intricate. And therefore irresistible.

Martha Graham:
Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.

Ria Sharon:
Let me tell you about tango... it is the best metaphor for the perfect, functional relationship ever! Both the leader and the follower are strong, in different ways. As the follower, my focus is on my partner's chest. I'm responding to the energy and the intention he projects with that part of his body. His focus is behind me, steering me safely around traffic in the line of dance. I have to surrender to him and trust that he is making the right choices, because he can see what I cannot. My job is just to take the next step. Quite literally, I put my head in his heart.

Gisela Kirberg Mamone:
The tango is an embrace in movement. A man and a woman enter a dialogue through their bodies, guided by music which has an almost somber quality of yearning. Of a passion that can that can never be fulfilled. Of a sweet sadness. Two strangers become one for the duration of the dance. Two opposites come together briefly to create the fantasy of a harmonious whole.

Juan D'Arienzo:
In my point of view, tango is, above all, rhythm, nerve, strength and character. Early tango, that of the Old Guard, had all that, and we must try not to ever lose it.

Juan D'Arienzo:
My major pride is to have contributed to that renaissance of our popular music.

Juan D'Arienzo:
If there is no beat there is no tango.

Juan D'Arienzo:
Today's life is another thing. Everything's changed. There is no comparison. Night life, for me, has disappeared. We were beginning to live only at four in the morning. And now at one, after the time people go out of the cinema, there's not a soul in the streets. It's terrible, that's the truth.

Life is like Tango... sad, sensual, sexy, violent and quiet.

Enrique Santos Discépoloo:
Tango is a sad thought that is danced.

Robert Duvall:
The beginning and the end of the tango is the walk.

Ms. Heartbreak Tango:
Tango can save your life, and it will break your heart.

From the movie The Tango Lesson:
How did you choose the tango?” ... I didn’t. The tango chose me.

Dana Frigoli and Pablo Villarraza:
Students must obligate their teachers to continue learning – the teachers must continue to learn.

There is no open or close embrace, there is only tango.

Marilyn Cole Lownes:
We dance tango because we have secrets.

Jorge Luis Borges:
The tango is a direct expression of something that poets have often tried to state in words: the belief that a fight may be a celebration.

Jorge Luis Borges:
The tango can be debated, and we have debates over it, but it still encloses, as does all that which is truthful, a secret.

Jorge Luis Borges:
Without the streets or dusks of Buenos Aires, a tango cannot be written.

Leopoldo Marechal:
The Tango is the natural pulse of Buenos Aires.

El Flaco Dany Garcia:
The music goes in my ears, is filtered through my heart, and comes out through my feet.

Maria Nieves:
Listen to the different orchestras. You have to begin by loving tango, to let it go into your veins, until it arrives to your heart. And then seek a good teacher. Go to the milongas and dance with different people. Even if you are dating somebody, you have to dance with different women and he has to dance with different men. This way you learn to dance.

Maria Nieves:
Nobody really taught me tango. I learnt by watching. But today I believe young people should find a good teacher to have a base and then the best they can do is to go dancing. Step on someone’s feet, and have your feet stepped on. Dance with everybody and not simply with one partner.

Miguel Zotto:
However an excellent dancer you are as a man, even if you are able to dance with every woman, when you dance with a woman who can’t follow you have more responsibility. You must dance perfectly, which means you can’t relax, you can’t think about your posture, and you can’t rattle off a fine step: what is the use of being able to do everything if the woman can’t follow you?

Miguel Zotto:
Tango is improvised. It is improvised all the way. There are no combinations. In tango you can’t be preoccupied with steps. You need to express your feelings while listening to the music.

Miguel Zotto:
The most important talent a milonguero must have is the ability to make the woman shine. It means nothing to execute a lot of steps with the woman just following you. The tango is just any action in real life. Tango is about the character in each one of us.

Miguel Zotto:
Tango is a social dance, a dance of the people. What would be the point of having lessons with teachers if we all taught the same? That is the charm of tango: with each person you find a different character and style.

Miguel Zotto:
Tango is about feeling and sensitivity, otherwise you are just doing gymnastics. You can do all the steps but it has to have the feeling and sensitivity of authentic tango.

Miguel Zotto:
Tango is like writing a letter, it has a beginning, periods, commas, stops and an end. If you are doing figures and giros all the time, people don’t see anything and that is why there is the walk - the invention of the people. In this dance of the people, which is what tango is, all the famous couples have used the walk, and they use it constantly. The tango is on the ground, it is caressing the floor. It is the ball of the foot supporting the weight of the body, right on the axis and each person on his/her own axis. If you make pupils walk at the beginning, they get bored and want to learn steps and more steps - to show off at the dance hall. So you need to have the luck of meeting a teacher who tells you: No. Look. You must walk. First walk.

Ricardo Vidort:
When you dance tango, you must give everything. If you can't do that, don't dance.

Marshall Pugh:
Dancing with abandon, turning a tango into a fertility rite.

Chuck Fishman [Early Edition]:
We enter this world alone. We leave it pretty much the same way. And in-between, a dance we call life. Problem is it takes two to Tango. So we look for signs; something to help us to find our perfect partners. A smile, a wave. But we have to be careful; because while some signs can be misinterpreted, others can be missed completely... Some dances you sit out. Others you change partners. The important thing is... you never stop dancing.

Silvan Shalom:
We believe that we should come to an agreement with the Palestinians. But we need two to tango.

Dan Boccia:
The tango trance. Seek it, and it will elude you. Talk about it in too much detail and it will haunt you evily. Live for it, and you will die many deaths. Treasure it, but don't hold onto it. Dance with love and freedom and it will embrace you. Be vulnerable, and feel it's power.

Other music exists to heal wounds; but the tango when sung and played is for the purpose of opening them, for the purpose of sticking you finger in the wound and to tear them until they bleed.

Carlos Gavito:
When you dance with a partner you are close and the dance is very suggestive, but it is not personal... Close is what the music inspires you to become. The embrace looks personal, but what we are actually embracing is the music.

Robin Thomas:
Tango is not a race: there is no finish line.

Carlos Gavito:
A good dancer is one who listens to the music... We dance the music not the steps. Anyone who aspires to dance never thinks about what he is going to do. What he cares about is that he follows the music. You see, we are painters. We paint the music with our feet.

Carlos Gavito:
I think those who say that you can’t tango if you are not Argentine are mistaken. Tango was an immigrant music... so it does not have a nationality. It’s only passport is feeling.

Carlos Gavito:
The secret of tango is in this moment of improvisation that happens between step and step. It is to make the impossible thing possible: to dance silence. This is essential to learn in tango dance, the real dance, that of the silence, of following the melody.

Eduardo Arquimba:
When someone begins he can be dazzled by things that are external; the things of tango are internal... A dancer arrives at the roots of tango when he falls in love...

Eduardo Arquimba:
People talk about styles of tango, but there is only one tango. It accommodates itself to every place and every era.

Pablo Veron:
A good tango dancer is someone who has rhythm and who has a good musical ear. He also has respect for the woman; to know what to do at the right time with the right partner. He adapts himself to the woman. He makes her feel that she is the best dancer. He dances for her.

Pablo Verón:
A good dancer you recognize by the way he walks, not by acrobatic figures.

Anibal Troilo:
El tango te espera (tango waits for you).

Anibal Troilo (on Juan D'Arienzo):
Laugh if you will... but without him, we’d all be out of work.

Fabián Salas:
Last night we were watching this competition, and I was just telling... how difficult it is to put together something that has some meaning; that is not a bunch of steps just (claps) put like that. And that's what it looked like. Most of the people did not know how to dance. And the ones that knew how to dance, lost. And that's a problem... They want flash and trash, you know?

Fabián Salas:
Now, people - because they've been taught that way - before they move they do too many things. Instead of relaxing and just let the movement take you; and then correcting a few things here and there; they think too much... And if you start thinking like that, the last thing you can do is walk... which is what you want.

Fabián Salas:
And they keep teaching the same bull 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 for years and years - and it's still that way. You have people talking to you about 'Number 5,' - there is no number 5! There is no number 2, there is no number 7... I mean, that's a structure that is old, that doesn't have anything to do with anything. The basic step is not the basic step ... it's been proven to us that it is not that way. I mean, none of the teachers use it anymore in their own dancing. But when they go to teach: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. And that's - that's a problem. Because the teaching cast, the teaching people are not instructing well.

Fabián Salas (about absolute beginner classes):
And to begin with, having people apart - it's a mistake. It's a big mistake and teachers don't realize it yet, but what you have to teach people is to walk with another person in front, not to walk by themselves - they already know that. I don't see why they have to learn something by themselves. It's like, you want to learn to play piano and I give you a trumpet. It doesn't help you.

Tango is about the road, not the destination.

Hector Falcon:
In tango you can lie, but you can't in milonga - because of the tempo.

Jaiver Rodriguez and Stella Misse:
Javier: When a man walks nicely, the woman dies in his embrace.
Stella: When a man walks badly, the woman wants to die.

Faith Green:
Dance is unspoken communication and can be even more profound than language. The simple act of standing shares a glimpse of what we have to give, what we exude to define our presence, what we let go of to be receptive. The tango embrace is a representation of who we are and what we communicate in every moment.

Bob Barnes:
Tango is classical music you can dance to.

Pedro Rusconi:
Tango can be danced in a thousand different ways, but lets step on the ground first, because that is where the energy comes from. Therefore this is where we ought to dance to the music. Without the music there is no dance, no tango, no teacher, no student. A true teacher can only transmit the teaching the music has left him.

Bridget Michlig:
Oh, how I wish I had only to travel 100 miles for tango... Here, I'd have to go some 400 miles for a practica. On a wednesday evening. In a town smaller than my own. No tango here for miles and miles and miles. And so we cry.

Osvaldo Natucci:
What we need are more people with sensitivity and fewer exhibitionists.

Robert Duvall:
The money part is one of the most difficult things. Coppola always said I should do a tango movie. If it hadn't been for him, I don't know where we would have gotten the money.

Kelly Posadas:
You know what we call dancers who do a big finish on the last note? Tourists.

Squeaky Frobisher:
Tango is great for people who don't get enough opportunities to get rejected in everyday life.

Para bailar con vos hay que secar numero, pero la espera vale la pena - To dance with you I have to line up, but the wait is worth the prize.

I may be too weird, but I think a 50ish, plump, fully dressed non-blonde who can express herself in the dance is much sexier than a skinny young scantily clad bit of blonde fluff who can't move her own self.

...I know as much as anyone that knowing tango steps is not to know dancing...

Yo-Yo Ma:
The tango is really a combination of many cultures, though it eventually became the national music of Argentina.

Caroline Polack:
I'd rather dance the most simple of tangos with the man who has the best sense of musicality than dance the most complex of steps with a man who doesn't have the spirit of tango.

Alberto Pajesz:
What worries? I am just here to dance! Tango is one of the great wonders of Argentina.

Tango is a a four legged animal with two beating hearts.

It is not possible to allow the dance to proceed without relinquishing conscious control and surrendering to the inner life of that creative moment.

Osvaldo Pugliese:
I don't look myself as an artist, but as a hard-worker musician. And to be honest, a soft hard-worker, as a hard-worker is someone at the factories and harbours. But I always say that I look myself as one of them.

Osvaldo Pugliese:
I set up the Orchestra in 1939. I had had my supporters by that time and they used to follow me and scream during my shows. I used like it, but said to myself: be humble Osvaldo, don't be arrogant.

Cacho Dante:
Thirty years ago, the tango wasn't a trapeze act. It didn't have choreographies, and the woman was not just a follower, she was to whom the tango was dedicated... The guys at that time had already surpassed the stage of steps. They had already passed through the filter: When they didn't really know how to dance, they did 20 steps; when the knew a bit more, they did 10; and when they really knew what they were doing, they danced five… but with real quality.

Cacho Dante:
The tango is a feeling that is danced. That's why it is not choreographed, though it can have sequences, like all feelings. You can dance love, rage, happiness, pleasure, every mood. The tango is not a dance to demonstrate ability but rather an interpretation of feeling. It is not just moving your feet and posturing. The tango is Argentine, but it belongs to all those who understand its feelings and its codes.

Cacho Dante:
Guys, to dance tango, you must listen to the heart of the woman.

Miguel Angel Pla:
The Tango is the ultimate communication between two people. It begins with an embrace, an initial sharing of affection, yet stresses individual balance... The mastering of one's individual balance is what allows two bodies to dance as one, along with a technique that is clean and uncluttered, a form that is pure, a line that is classical and an elegance that is sublime.

Robert Farris Thompson:
At its best the ocho becomes a bouquet of motion, tossed like eight roses, at the feet of the partner... Ocho is a womanist original, set in motion by men. It is call-and-response on the dance floor. Women's legs are never more beautiful, never more their own, than when sheened in this step.

When you dance tango with someone, you don’t need to know their entire history in order to get a glimpse of their more ‘raw’ self, their human warmth or lack thereof, their ability to listen and participate in a dialogue, their ability to enjoy the music, open themselves emotionally and show their vulnerable side. It’s harder to hide our ‘raw self’ if we are not able to use words to conceal.

Now and then a tanguera comes along and captures my Soul with her sensual movement, flowery fragrance, cuddly embrace, radiant aliveness and childlike playfulness.

Guillermina Quiroga [on women]:
You must certainly follow the rules of tango. Follow the technique you learn and follow the man's lead, but try to move like yourself. The form of movement should be absolutely personal with its own dynamics and its own expression. It is also important for a woman learning tango to learn to perceive the man - to be able to follow him in every way: in each pause, in each breath. Let yourself be led, and let yourself be filled with the music to be able to interpret it.

Guillermina Quiroga:
The wealth of a tango couple resides in that they both contribute to the choreographic creation. The improvision, the emotion that each feels which is materialized in steps. It is ideal when both partners contribute what they feel to the music.

Horacio Godoy:
I think there always has to be an evolving development of any art form, because society is changing. First one has to cultivate the roots so that later you can give it your own evolution criteria, which is what sometimes doesn't happen because they start off directly with what is new tango. That's why people often aren't aware of what is a milonga-style or salon-style tango, or canyengue, the same as they don't have any idea if it's D'Agostino playing or Pugliese or D'Arienzo. The essence is lost if one doesn't have the basic grounding, and then it turns into something hollow, empty, going beyond the development they want to make.

I beleve a lot of the time we are looking and wanting to discover something. Perhaps a moment where the world becomes lucid, the sublime touch of another that we are not alone, that breakthrough and aha experience. Perhaps it is that we simply step at the same moment with another human being or hear the other's heart beat. It is equally true that at times we are looking for the Hey there, wanna see my etchings.

I believe that Tango has the potential to bring out the best in each of us, at least while in the embrace. We surrender our egos; leave prickly personality traits at the table; and cease to be CEOs, taxi drivers, engineers, unemployed. We replace all our externals with a purity of spirit, a generosity of kindness, splendid caring. And when these elements flow freely between partners, it is... the joy.

Tango is not a dance, it’s a feeling. And how do you teach a feeling?

She may be horizontally desirable in life, but she’s vertically challenging in tango...

I come to tango to relax – the music carries me and makes a dance for me. With other music, I have to make a dance myself.

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