Many of us will have watched Leonardo Fandango dance his authentic style of tango and thought if just a bit of his technique rubs off on me I will be happy. So we asked Leo to share some of his thoughts about tango with us.
Tango Fuzz: Tell us about the first time you came to dance in the UK.
Leo: It was in 2001 and in this time the scene in Tango was very exciting. There weren’t many milongas but the ones that existed were very good.
Tango Fuzz: Where were you brought up?
Leo: I was brought up in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires. Avellaneda is where Tango was born. The most important port in the beginning of Buenos Aires was La Boca, the people who worked in La Boca, lived in Avellaneda. In many lyrics of Tango you can hear the name of Baracas al Sur, this was the first name of Avellaneda. In this town were born many famous and good dancers, eg, Carlos Gavito, Pepito Avellaneda, Luis Grondona and many more.
Tango Fuzz: How old were you when you first started tango dancing?
Leo: I was maybe 7 or 8 years old and I danced only the Followers part for many years.
Tango Fuzz: What’s been the highlight of your dancing career so far?
Leo: There have been many highlights but recently, establishing the London Argentine Tango School with its own methodology and structure. Also, we have now started our 3 year Diploma course for Teaching the next generation of Teachers in our style. This make me proud because many times I say Tango is a family culture and then I can honour my father to continue with his ideas about this beautiful Art.
Tango Fuzz: You have your own distinctive style of dancing. Can you tell us more about it?
Leo: My style can be the Orillero but my father taught me more styles of Argentine Tango than this, Milonguero, Salon and Fantasia. I believe in the art form of improvisational Tango and that Tango is like a language. This is my distinctive style, I only dance improvisation and that includes performances.
Tango Fuzz: What does it take to be a good tango teacher?
Leo: A good Tango Teacher has to have very sharp observation, has to have humility and not be arrogant or have a large ego. You have to be patient and you have to be really strong in the knowledge. Explanations have to be simple and don’t treat the students like they are inferior because Tango is in everybody. The only thing the Teachers do is to make you aware.
Tango Fuzz: How do you keep fit? Do you do yoga?
Leo: I do my breathing in Yoga but my best exercise is to do some Tai Chai. The body is the temple of Tango. It’s very important to be healthy and don’t put too much stress and always have some enjoyment and practice with friends.
Tango Fuzz: What’s your favourite tango band/composer?
Leo: My favourite Tango Band is Juan D’arienzo in all the ages and my best composer is Homero Manzi.
Tango Fuzz: What is your favourite Argentine meal?
Leo: My favourite Argentine meal could be BBQ or locro.
Tango Fuzz: In your opinion which European countries have the most active tango scene?
Leo: I don’t know many European countries but when I have been abroad the Italians have impressed me. When I have been in France the people there also dance well. In Germany I have been in a few milongas and I didn’t like it very much. In the UK, there’s a few places where I can feel comfortable but I think the organisers have to be a little more strong, and if they say, we are going to dance Argentine Tango, then dance Argentine Tango not a watered down or Anglicised version of Argentine Tango. Don’t try to change the nature of Tango, it has it’s own heritage and guidelines which were popularised years ago and this should be respected. Tango the dance however is an evolution, it’s alive like a language because it’s an expression of contemporary people and therefore this will always evolve.
Leo Fandango and his dancing partner, Tracey Tyzack-King, run Tango Fandango which operates a full programme of teaching and milongas in South London, Surrey and Oxfordshire as well as occasional milongas at the London Waldorf Hotel (http://www.tango-fandango.co.uk/)
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