Archive for the ‘ Male Dancers ’ Category

1913, November 17 – KAISER WILHELM BANS TANGO !

Then Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany forbade his officers to dance the tango while in uniform, describing the dance as “Rinnsteinkind”, (a child of the curbstone)…but tango was all the rage among the high classes especially in Germany…it was fashionable to throw elegant “Tango Tea Parties” but it began to incur the wrath of government and church leaders….Cardinal Amette in Paris declared that “Christians should not in good conscience take part in it.”…Pope Benedict XV complained “An outrageous, indecent, heathen dance, which is an assassination of family and social life”...Despite these bans the tango survived, particularly through the First World War, as people sought distractions from the horrors of war.


Kaiser Wilhelm II had a withered left arm; the result of having been a breech baby and perhaps to compensate he was militaristic and a megalomaniac who was almost never out of military uniform …until relatively recently, historians believed that his ineptness as a statesman was the cause of World War I…The Kaiser’s severest royal critic was also Europe’s most respected royal, Queen Victoria…Eight years later he would have equally disdainful things to say about the premier of “The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse” with Rodolfo Valentino…In a letter to her daughter, Wilhelm’s mother, the British queen described her least favorite grandson as “a hot-headed, conceited, and wrong-headed young man, devoid of all feelings…very unhealthy and unnatural state of mind.”


  • CLICK HERE – to listen to “Micaela” a tango composed in the 1930s by Ludwig Schmidseder who trained as a banker to please his father but secretly took piano lessons…he found himself in Rio De Janeiro washing dishes but eventually formed a musical trio and went on to become a renown composer

1937, November 12 – BIRTH OF HECTOR MAYORAL

Dancer, Choreographer (Scorpio) – In 2009  fictionalized film of this man’s life and career it describes him as “the greatest dancer of all time”…he plays himself in the film, The Man Who Dances,  which is a collage of the different stages in his life…he grew up in a tough Villa Pueyrredon neighborhood and had to leave school early but his salvation was his love of dance….during the day he worked odd jobs but at night he would hang around the milongas where the old milongueros took him under their wing and showed him how to dance…in one of life’s turning moments, one evening at a milonga he struck by a shy girl standing alone and he asked her to dance..


Elsa Maria Borquez was from the mythical neighborhood of La Boca who at the age of 8 had started studying ballet, music and art; she would become his life’s and career partner…their destiny would take them, as dancers in the award-winning “Tango Argentino” and “Forever Tango” all over the world….they have danced and taught people like Lady Di, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Robert Duvall, Frank Sinatra, Placido Domingo, Robert Deniro, Mijail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Liza Minelli, Julio Iglesias, Whoopi Goldberg…As innovators, they have developed a new health alternative therapy, “Cardiorespiratory benefits during the tango dance”, together with professional scientists from the “Fundación Cardiológica Argentina”….Hector says“when you hear the beat of the tango and it travels through your ear annd into your heart, and it becomes your legs, you feel that you are telling the story of your barrio”



Francisco Canaro had the midas touch, everything he touched turned to gold; he was undboutedly the richest man in tango…there was however, one exception, the movie business…in 1934 he and Jaime Yankelvich, the legendary entrepreneur who founded Radio Belgrano created the production company Rio De La  Plata Films…inspite of the fact that it was thrown together and filmed in an old warehouse, “Idolos De La Radio”, their first film, was a great success; it was however the only film to make money…the film allowed people to see for the first time, the voices they knew and loved from the radio programs they heard…the plot was inspired by the fact that the radio station milieu is in fact an intimate one where human drama in all its variety unfolds…it was the same idea that Peruvian writer Maria Vargas Llosa used in his celebrated novel “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” which was published in 1977


In fact “Idolos De La Radio” was the first of its kind and featured the radio stars of the day including Ada Falcon, Ignacio Corsini, Tita Merello, Tito Lusiardo, Dorita Davis and Ernesto Fama…the film also feature the Don Dean and his “Students From Hollywood” orchestra who in that period had recorded the hit “Bailando En Alvear”…Don Dean was originally from Oklahoma and had arrived in Buenos Aires for a performance….he was scheduled to proceed to Brasil but a revolution there delayed his departure…it was in that period that he met the love of his life, married her and remained in Argentina for the rest of his life…the critics loved the dancing of Tito Lusiardo and in fact in launched his career…the film ends gloriously with Ada Falcon and Ignacio Corsini singing “Mentir En Amor Es Pecado” (to lie in love is a sin)…Falcon refused to record it outside of the film but it became instead a hit for Charlo a few months later



He was a Mark Twain like character – cantankerous, tough, misanthropic, effusive and irascible by turns, addicted to profanity; this was Virulazo (Libra)…he did not like Piazzolla, he did not like the Japanese, Venice stank, John Travolta and Michael Jackson were queers; he once told Henry Kissinger to go to hell when he asked him to dance for free….he grew up tough; he began working at the age of eight first as a shoe shine boy outside whore houses…later selling sausage sandwiches to revelers late at night…a common laborer in a clamorous, rank-smelling slaughter-house; what little education he had he learned on the streets…his father was a Basque and his mother Italian but they separated early on and he was unloaded to his grandparents….”everything I am and all that I have accomplished I owe to my grandfather” he would say with tears in his eyes….he learned to dance tango by watching and his first performance was with his mother at the age of 12…he started dancing in cafes of the Mataderos neighborhood for spare change and for something to eat…


Later while dancing at a festival, he came to the attention of the master of ceremonies, the legendary lyricist Celedonio Flores and the singer Carlos Acuna; they encouraged and helped him….the very next day he appeared at the Armonia Cafe for his first professional engagement to great aclaim…in 1952 out of 157 dance couples, he won first place in a dance contest sponsored by the Aquila Chocolate Company…he would be Robert Duvall’s first tango teacher and he would be admired by the likes of Nureyev and Anthony Quinn whom he met in New York where he stayed at a luxurious hotel on 5th Avenue….his beloved dance partner Elvira had actually been his first girlfriend…they separated, he married his first wife Aida at the age of 18…nine years later he and Aida divorced and in stroke of destiny, he re-met Elvira whom he would marry and who would be his beloved dance partner for his whole life…his favorite tango was “Berretin” by Pedro Laurenz and his favorite singer was Carlos Gardel, who he said, moved him to tears each time he heard him sing…”crying”, he said, “is no longer just for women”


1965, October 3 – BIRTH OF ROXANA FONTAN

At the age of nine Roxana Fontan’s father exposed her to Discepolo, Shakespeare, Victor Hugo and Herman Hesse; “this is how I discovered tango” she recalls…perhaps it was this fertile influence that would one day turn Roxana (Libra) into one of the most gifted and versatile and tango singers in history…she is not only a singer, but an actress, a dancer as well as a producer and director…she grew up in a cultured and musical home; her grandfather had been a guitarist with a celebrated tango quartet…Roxana’s first musical heroines were Barbara Streisand and Sarah Vaughn but as a young girl, she dreamt of a career as an opera singer…she devoted herself to studying voice, theater and music but as a practical matter she studied advertising design…she managed to get a job as a graphic designer and she had attained security during times of great uncertainty but animated by the evening folk sessions with her doting grandfather, another voice inside beguiled her…she finally made the courageous decision to leave her secure job and seek her career as a singer…


Her first gigs were in small neighborhood clubs…her heroines were the women who were both singers and actresses like Tita Merello, Virginia Luque and Libertad Lamarque…a break occurred when, still in her teen years, she was invited to sing on the renown program Grande Valores Del Tango…other invitations followed including Juan Carlos Copes’  “Pesada Del Tango”…it is Copes whom she credits for having flowered her ability to act and dance as well…in 1998 she was selected to sing Tita Merello’s signature piece “Se Dice De Mi” in Carlos Saura’s classic film “Tango”…still later she was invited by Miguel Angel Zotto to perform with his renown company Tango x 2…in Japan she received ecstatic reviews from the public and critics alike when she toured there with singer Carlos Morel…after a long career at home and abroad, she released her first solo album, “Se Dice De Mi” acclaimed in particular for her rendition of Horacio Pettorossi’s waltz “Noches De Atenas”….in 2007 she created and directed her own tango show which premiered at the Peter North Symphony Space in New York…consistent with a gentle, sensitive, unassuming nature she is a practising buddhist and a lover and writer of poetry in her own right…along the way she found romance with renown dancer Pablo Garcia



The topic of “Race” is still a topic which awakens deep passions….Robert Farris Thompson’s, “The Art History of Love” in which he makes a strong argument for the African roots of tango, even precipitated a heated battle of critics over the subject…in startling acrimony, reviewer Anthony Howel says of Thompson’s book “this irrelevant and dishonest book…the author makes irresponsible claims and insists in implying that white folk stole tango from the blacks” a counteraccusation, reviewer Christopher Everett defends Thompson and in a point by point rebuttal…”Tango, The Art History of Tango” is in fact a thoughtful, well documented and well written book…the number of people of African descent in Argentina went from 34% in 1810 to 2% in 1887 and their disappearance is a subject of controversy and a source of racist humor among the residents of Buenos Aires…reportedly, when the great Josephine Baker visited Argentina in the 1950s, she asked the bi-racial minister of public health Ramon Carillo, “Where are the Negroes ?”, Carillo responded laughing, “there are only two, you and I”…nevertheless, Thompson, renown Yale Africanist and art historian, demonstrates how their presence can be clearly traced through the tango culture…


He asserts that the word “tango” comes from the Ki-Kongo word which means “moving in time to a beat”…he explores tango’s relationship to cakewalk, ragtime, cubanhabanera and even rossini’s opera and he observes that the custom of dancing tango while moving in a counter-clockwise direction may have been influenced by the African myth that moving in a counter-clockwise direction means long life…he mentions that renown dancer Juan Carlos Copes was taught by Afro-Argentine Carlos “El Negro” Anzuate…he cites renown Afro-Argentine tango greats like Celedonio Esteban Flores, the black poet of tango, Rosendo Mendizabal composer of the immortal “El Enterriano” and Oscar Aleman one of the greatest entertainers which Argentina has ever produced…one reviewer said of the book, “Thompson mines working class origins and its emotions of defiance, freedom, self-control, humor, love and redemtion”


1896, September 13 – BIRTH OF TITO LUSIARDO

The centennial, celebrated with great splendor on May 25, 1910, was a time of great hope in Argentina…the country was thriving and historians saw a great nation in the making…in Europe it was common to refer to a man of means as “he is rich like Argentinean”…Spain considered it important enough to send its beloved Princess Isabela De Borbon y Borbon whose ill-fated and epileptic husband Count Cayetano had committed suicide 40 years earlier…during the grand ceremonial procession, one of the boys carrying the train of the dress of the princess was 14-year-old Tito Lusiardo…it was an exhilarating experience for a boy who had grown up in the tenements of Buenos Aires…indeed it was from an early age that Tito’s exuberance and captivating personality began to open doors for him…eventually his extraordinary capacity as an actor and tango dancer would make him a legend…


Along the way, he would become one of only a handful of intimate friends of Carlos Gardel…in fact when Tito finally died after a long, storybook career at the age of 86, as per his death-bed request, on his funeral car hung the portrait of Carlos Gardel…he began learning his craft as a stage hand at the Teatro Nacional….at the age of 22 he got his first break when he was included in the play “El Cabaret” for which he had to borrow a tuxedo…critics began to notice him in Alberto Vaccarezza’s “Tu Cuna Fue Un Conventillo” (which was also the place where celebrated singer Nina Miranda began to make her mark) but it was his performance in Ivo Pelay’s “De Gabino a Gardel” which cemented his career…throughout his career he played essentially the same character, the loveable rogue who danced tango…his dancing partners included Tita Merello, Olinda Bozan and Beba Bidart…he would star in over 40 films including classics like “Idolos De La Radio”, “Dancing” and “Con La Musica En El Alma” but he is best remembered for his performance in two Gardel films “El Dia Que Me Quieras” in which he sang the waltz “Suerte Negra”and “Tango Bar”