Sunday, March 16, 2008

Seduced by Tango :: Documentary Film in production

Brought to us by Oleh in his post on Tango-L...
They stole my idea! That's what I get for thinking a thought and letting it float around there in metaphysical space for months on end.

I had pretty much this same idea a year or so ago - I was going to do a one man production - very low budget documentary - traveling around to festivals and soliciting volunteers - dancers/couples to talk about tango - and optionally have them dance to their favorite song (or two). I got stuck on the crux of what exactly about tango I would have them talk about - "how did they first get into it?" - "why is it so addictive?" - "their best tango secret/story?".

I still have never arrived at what the theme of the film would be - because I wanted it to be different. I wanted to try to capture the uncaptureable on film - "The Perfection of the Perfect Connection" - and beyond.

Jorge Luis Borges said it best..."The tango can be debated, and we have debates over it, but it still encloses, as does all which is truthful, a secret." It is that secret of tango that I ponder. It is the "fundamental truth of the universe" aspect of tango that intrigues me. The one that everyone experiences, everyone feels, but no one can verbalize. If you can't teach a feeling, then how can you explain it? How can you document it on film? That's my conundrum.

The last time I thought of it, I was going to just start doing interviews and let the theme evolve. I even went so far as to start asking around about production/funding help when I was back in Aspen last December. I ended up with one or two names.

Oh, well. You snooze, you lose. Good idea, Alex, m' boy, but lacking in the execution. It's all good though. Perhaps someday I will still create my own documentary.

It appears that they are off to a good start - with Robert Duvall as the host. I'm not so sure about this casting decision - "Starring Pablo Veron". I'm not sure he is the best representative for "what social tango is all about" - which appears to be what the film is themed around. I suppose it may have been the commercial considerations driving that decision.

It has been picked up (apparently) by PBS. It's in pre-production. They are asking for everyone who is interested to provide an interview video and a dancing video - uploaded to YouTube and then uploaded to the producers.

The website says that chosen dancers will go to Buenos Aires - expenses paid - for one week in early 2009 for filming. That's a good sign. It won't all be filmed here in the U.S.

The one demerit from me is this, they are saying it's okay to do your dance video "to any music". This means they will get every yahoo out there in nuevo and ballroom land submitting videos. They should/could have narrowed their focus, and reduced the number of video submissions they will have to review, by narrowing the focus of the music to "Golden Age tango, vals, or milonga, from a recognized orchestra, from the 1920's through the 1950's...." I personally believe that this is the music that more properly represents "social" tango.

But, my guess is they will also touch on nuevo tango in the PBS special, and possibly tango fusion/collision with modern dance, if/when someone submits that.

I like their idea to have people videotape and submit their own videos. They don't have to move an inch in this initial phase - and then they can pick and choose a shorter list of those they want to interview and film dancing on "film".

One problem with this is that they might miss some really good dancers, really good representatives of "social" tango, and some really interesting characters who may not care to submit on their own. A woman I once danced with comes to mind. She is an astrophysicist - double PhD's in Particle Physics and Plasma Physics - entering the French astronaut program - and a dream to dance with. My connection with her was "out of this world", "interstellar". Some of you may know her. Perhaps it as it should be.

Anyway, Here is the website ::

Check it out.

Postscript...from the website...

About Seduced by Tango
is a feature-length documentary hosted by Robert Duvall and intended for PBS broadcast -- follows acclaimed Tango artist Pablo Veron as he works with non-professional dancers from around the world. Each of these dancers is from a different culture, each has a different story to tell. Although their differences might be profound, Tango is what unites them as they work together toward a common goal: to perform tango at a milonga in Buenos aires,the birthplace of Tango. Along the way, we will come to understand the dramatic history of Tango as dance, music, and a metaphor for human connection.

??? I should have read more before I wrote my post. Based on this description, it's not quite the documentary that I was thinking. It sounds like they are selecting "social" dancers from around the world and having Pablo prep/choreograph them for a non-social performance. I don't get it. Do you? ???

So never mind, they didn't steal my idea after all. It's still out there floating around.

I'm sure there will be lots more to post on this subject in the coming months.


Tassili said...

Oh, how I wish I would be more advanced to participate in this project! Oh well...
It IS transforming my life in so many ways that I am bewildered by what is happening.

ModernTanguera said...

I hope that you do follow through with your idea - it sounds significantly more interesting than Seduced By Tango. I, for one, would rather discuss my social dancing than try to move into the performance sphere! But more than that, I love to hear what other people have to say about tango and its place in their lives.