Friday, November 20, 2009

Mariano 'Chicho' Frumboli Interview

Chicho Frumboli
Photo by Bengt Jönsson ::

After unsubscribing from Tango-L several to many weeks ago, hell who knows, maybe it was only last week. Anyway, I realized this morning that I had forgotten about it altogether. Imagine that, someone actually "forgetting" that Tango-L even exists. Amusing. To me anyway, pre-coffee.

Going online to look at the recent posts, I discovered this one, from fellow blogger Joe Grohens, sharing an interview with Chicho. Thanks Joe! Check out Joe's blog "The Topic is Tango".

Here is the full interview in Spanish (with English translation) on the Argentine Tango Dance Research Center website. The interview was done in March of 2008 - I can't find the name of the interviewer. The translation to English is by Celi Arias.

The first part of the interview follows.

ATDRC: What were the influences in your life, artistic or personal, that helped you in the development of your style of dancing?

CHICHO FRUMBOLI: My father had a artistic side that was significant. He was a fine arts professor, he studied the guitar, and I believe that this had a lot to do with my own artistic development, and creativity. I also remember that when I was a child my father often listened to Piazzola, and that was my first contact with the tango; with the music more than anything. That’s why before I became a dancer, I was a musician. At the age of 13 I had my first drum set. Ten years later I began to study theatre with the great teacher and actress, Cristina Banegas.

I began my study of tango dancing like most people do by learning the basics and the structures of the dance. But all of this was so technical that it started to feel quite limited to me. I was a milonguero, I came from studying with Tete and Maria, which was a style that took into great consideration the physical connection with the person you found yourself dancing with in the moment. I needed to express with my body something more and it was at this time that I found my first tango teacher, Victoria Vieira, before Tete, and she took me to meet Gustavo Naveira who had developed a structure to the dance that I had never seen before. Gustavo and Fabian Salas had a practice group where they researched these new forms and they invited me to participate. This was all completely new for me, I had to re-learn the dance within that new form by listening and watching. In one month-and-a-half I learned what I hadn’t learned in two years. That's why for me Gustavo Naveira has been the greatest influence in my dancing, and in my early development. Gustavo and Fabian often traveled abroad to teach, while I stayed behind with all of this information, practicing, and waiting for them to return in order to know where to go with all of this new information that was changing my dance. For me, my work with the dance became a very solitary practice. This coincided with my first trip to Europe, where I went to Paris, and I gave workshops in several other cities. I went with the idea of staying one month but ended up staying for 5. During those 5 months, I began to dance occasionally with Lucia Mazer, though I was still dancing with Victoria. When I returned to Buenos Aires, I stayed for 3 months and then returned to Europe because in that moment it was difficult for me to be accepted with this new style of tango that I was dancing, which was not very well received in the world of the traditional tango. When I arrived in Paris they welcomed me with open arms. They wanted to learn that freedom within the dance, and not fall into the same basic structure that everyone was already familiar with in the tango. It was in that moment where I began working more seriously with Lucia Mazer, and we worked for 4 years together in Paris. Those were the most creative years of my career. I began working with Eugenia Parilla after this period, and we worked together both in Buenos Aires and Paris. She arrived right at the moment where I had processed a huge amount of information that I had not been able to give form to yet, and it was together with Eugenia that I had the most artistic moments of my career. In that moment there appeared a different dynamic of the tango that has to do with using the partner in order to facilitate movements. Up until that point, historically there was always a scenario where there was a lead and the woman followed, but today the connection is works differently. There is much more working with the body of the partner and the woman appears much more as a protagonist in the couple than before. We found a new way of showing ourselves, standing out both singularly and together as a couple in this new dynamic, creating new movements, because even the sacada didn’t exist 7 years ago.

ATDRC.: What is the order of priority when you think about the woman’s role?

CHICHO: I don’t think that woman is going t occupy more or less space, if not that the couple takes on more strength and power when it is a couple, with an equality between the two, and today that is really a division of 50/50. This has to do with the way the man is marking in the moment, if she can not feel comfortable dancing, than I cannot dance. If I am only thinking in my own figure, in my step, in my elegance, and I forget completely in my partner and then surely there will be an accident, or a kick or some kind of total disconnection. If I want to take the movement to create a sacada, I have to communicate to my partner in the gentlest way that we are going to do that particular movement. To do it gently I have to be subtle in my marking, I cant mark only with my hands, I have to do a completely corporal marking, or I propose something and she responds but she does it with another proposal and I then follow her. The strongest thing I achieved with Lucia was this kind of connection and balance.

ATDRC: Do you think your way of dancing has changed the tango? And if it did, in what way?

CHICHO: I think that yes in some way my form of dancing has changed the tango, I know this mostly from comments that people make to mean also because of the process I have lived over these past 13 years I have been dancing. I know that there are people who follow the method which I teach because I see them in the milongas, I see movements that were created by me.

ATDRC: Do you believe that Tango Nuevo really exists?

CHICHO: Tango Nuevo does exist, but it has so for a very long time, it’s not from 5 or 10 years back, Copes was dancing a new tango, Miguel Angel Zotto had a new tango, so we can say that there have been periods. Every once and a while there is someone who appears and proposes something new and that is the new tango of the moment. To think that ‘Tango Nuevo’ is something that occurred only 10 years ago is a commercial exploitation that we owe to the festival organizers, I don’t think I am doing ‘Tango Nuevo’, I feel that I am dancing tango. Because today there is a new generation that learned to dance 2,3 or 5 years ago, who only know how to do the new styles, the ganchos, the colgadas, but who are not in contact with everything that came before, and I go to the milongas and I see people that know how to move but that don’t know how to dance, people don’t breathe tango like they did before.

To continue here.

1 comment:

Tangoleader said...

Hi, Alex,

I went to the site that posted this and found it very interesting, especially the interview with Carlos Copes, in which he speaks of doing all the "neuvo" stuff back in the 50's, at what point does new become old?

Thanks for digging this up.