Archive for the ‘ Male Dancers ’ Category

1921, March 6 – Premiere “Four Horsemen and The Apocalypse”

Julio is beguiled by the seductive girl dancing the tango…with a confident, menacing stare he strides to the center of the dance floor, with gaucho whip in hand and asks the man let him cut in….in a cavalier manner the man simply ignores Julio and continues to dance with the girl…Julio is enraged and shoves the man brusquely away from the girl…the man takes his knife out and lunges at him but Julio adeptly evades the knife and hits the man on the head with the handle of his whip.. the man falls down and Julio takes over the girl to finish with a spectacular tango dance to the enthusiastic applause of the audience...it is precisely this scene from “Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse” which launched the tango craze throughout the world…based on Vasco Ibanez’s classic novel, several studios had tried unsuccessfully to adapt the novel but it was writer June Mathis who finally succeeded…it was she who hired Rodolfo Valentino, an obscure B film struggling actor who had worked as a taxi dancer…the tango scene in fact was not part of the original story but Mathis included to take advantage of Valentino’s dancing skills

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It premiered to great acclaim and had a huge cultural impact; it became the top grossing film of 1921 and the first ever to earn one million dollars at the box office…it turned Rodolfo Valentino into a superstar and launched the tango craze; June Mathis would become one of the first powerful women executives in Hollywood…Valentino was born in Castellaneta, Puglia to an Italian father and a French mother…he spent some idle time in Paris and finally returned to Puglia but unable to get a job he left for the United States and arriving there on December 23, 1913…he ran out of money and for a while he lived on the streets of New York…he eventually moved to Los Angeles where he taught dancing to older high society women…on August 15, 1926 he collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York; he was operated on, for a ruptured appendix; surgery had gone well and a recovery was expected…however, he unexpectedly developed pleuritis in his left lung and fell into a coma..he passed away on August 23, 1926; he was 31 years old…interestingly, the film inspired a young Betty Davis to try acting; in 1999, the American Film Institute rated Davis as number two on the list of the “Greatest Female Stars of All Time”

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1923, February 18 – VALENTINO DANCES AT TRIANON BALLROOM

By the 1920s several dance crazes had swept American, non more than tango….but politically powerful anti vice forces also criticized dance halls and in particular tango  as unhealthy, immoral venues for the seduction of women and the practice of prostitution…hoping to capitalize, Andrew Karzas, invested one million dollars into the construction and promotion of a new dance hall on the South side of Chicago, “The Trianon Ballroom”…the interior was designed to accommodate enormous crowds of up to 3ooo dancer in the main hall and another 3000 in the upper floor…to protect his investment against the moral reformists, Karzas instigated strict rules of conduct which were enforced by six men and women who would evict offenders…a prominent sign read, “we do not allow spooning or petting between the dances” …it is in this atmosphere that Karzas took the courageous act of booking living legend Rodolfo Valentino.

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Valentino danced with his second wife Natacha Rambova to the delight of six thousand delirious fans some of which, it is said, actually fainted…  Natacha Rambova was a costume designer and art director when he met her on the set of the film “Uncharted Seas” in 1921…he married her in Mexicali Mexico but as soon as he returned to California, he was arrested for bigamy as California law required a one year waiting period between marriages…Natacha was a disaster; she was controlling and unsocial causing him many problems personally and professionally; two years later they had a bitter divorce…at the news of  Valentino’s sudden death, 2000 people crammed into the Trianon Ballroom to hear a eulogy from Judge Francis Borelli, president of the Valentino Memorial Association who said of Rodolfo, “he was ever the personification of romance, he was the ideal of love at once Cyrano, Romeo and Don Juan”

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1885, February 14 – BIRTH OF “EL CACHFAZ”

Dancer (Aquarius) – his last words were “Carmencita, I will be waiting for you to drink half a glass of whiskey after the match”, he walked out and a few seconds later he dropped dead from a massive heart attack….starting as a dirt poor boy, El Cachafaz, was to become the greatest tango dancer of his time…he attained fame and glory and earned and spent huge sums on a bohemian life; he died penniless, his friends had to take up a collection to pay the 800 pesos for a simple funeral….reflecting on that day at the city of Mar de Plata at the club “El Rancho Grande”, his partner Carmencita Calderon, who would live to 100, would say, “he was actually pocked-marked and ugly but he was the greatest tango dancer and many women fell in love with him”…El Cachfaz had even  survived the mythical duel with El Pardo Santillan, another great dancer, which El Cachfaz had won and which just barely missed turning into a bloody knife fight as was the custom in those times for men to protect their honor

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Ovidio Jose Banquet “El Cachafaz” was born in Barracas al Sur but grew up in the legendary Abasto neighborhood in Buenos Aires…apparently he was quite mischievous as a boy and one day he took undue liberties with a girl and when the girl’s father complained, his father is said to have shouted, “mi hijo es un cachafaz” (“my son is a rascal”); the name would remain with him for the rest of his life…he began dancing as a young boy on the sidewalks to the organists who played for spare change…at the age of 19 he won an important dance contest at the El Parisien Club which had been organized by the prominent Baron de Marchis…it is de Marchi who would introduce him to the high society ladies who would help his career and pay him huge sums for private lessons…in 1919 he went to Paris to perform at the famous “Club Garron” with the Manuel Pizzaro orchestra but he missed his life in Buenos Aires especially the Cafe Corrientes to where he assiduously went everyday at six in the afternoon to drink with a tight group of friends including Carlos Gardel…his life inspired composer Miguel Bucino to write “Bailarin Compadrito” in 1929…he danced with Carmencita Calderon in the renown film “Tango” in 1933

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1998, February 12 – PREMIERE OF SAURA’S “TANGO”

Mario is devastated, his wife has left him for another man and to make matter worse, he has to see them together every day as they are dancers in the tango film he is making…the financier of the film, a powerful and dangerous man, asks him to give a part to his lover, a young, beautiful dancer…Mario eventually falls in love with her and the two begin an affair together risking both their lives; in the mean time, the making of the tango film goes on….it is roughly a remake of the mythical Moglia Barth “Tango” of 1933…it won a nomination for an academy award and has won awards in film festivals all over the world, primarily for the dancing and the cinematography which was created by academy award-winning Vittorio Storaro who also did “Last Tango In Paris”…”Tango”, one of the best tango films of all time was directed by renown Spanish director Carlos Saura, famous his combination of passion and dance in films like  “Carmen” and “Flamenco”…Janet Maslin, the New York Times critic was to write of the film, “Tango offers transfixingly beautiful glimpses of the dance and all the wide range of emotions it can conjure”

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One of the most exciting scenes in the film occurs when mythical tanguero Juan Carlos Copes dances with his daughter Joanna Copes…Copes is one of the last remaining of the great, authentic, tangueros of the golden era who has done everything in tango for 50 years…he began dancing as a young boy in the bars and clubs of Buenos Aires; his hero was Gene Kelly …but he had decided on a career as an electronic engineer when at the age of 20 he happened to win a tango contest in which 300 couples were competing…it launched a career which would take him all over the world…”Tango” includes a clip from the 1955 classic “Mercado De Abasto” in which Tita Merello sings her great hit “Se Dice De Mi”…Juan Carlos Copes got to meet his hero Gene Kelly who summoned him to his house in his waning days … “tango”, Copes  says, “is the only dance that allows imagination and creativity to form in three minutes and to become a history of love and of hate”.

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1951, January 10 – PREMIERE, “CON LA MUSICA EN EL ALMA”

Francisco Canaro had the midas touch, he made money in everything he touched with one exception, film making…he was to say, “sound movies left me completely silent” “Con La Musica en El Alma” was his last film and it was in theory successful but not for Canaro, he had to sue his production partners to recoup his 400, 000 peso investment…not that he needed the money; he was undoubtably the richest man in tango history…a common saying to refer to some one of means was, “he is rich like Canaro”….after this attempt, he sold what was left of his Rio Plata Production Company…the film was based on the musical by the same name, written by Homero Manzi, which had been produced two years earlier…it was staged at the Teatro Casino and was headlined by legendary child actor Andres Poggio  “Toscanito”,  and singer Alberto Arenas;

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It was also the early start of actor Alberto Dalbes who would have a long and fruitful career in Argentinean films…Francisco Canaro, as well as providing the music, also had a small role…the play had a highly successful six month run and was then moved to the Teatro Artigas in Montevideo, Canaro’s home town…the success of the play inspired Canaro to convert it into a film which premiered at the Normandie Theater…Toscanito and Alberto Arenas reappear in the film with the addition of beloved comedic dancer Tito Luisardo who appeared in over 40 films to the delight of his legion of fans…the film was directed by Spanish film director Luis Bayon Herrera who found success in Argentina and remained there for the rest of his life…several notable tangos were featured like “Mataderos”; “Boliche de barrio”; “Sentimiento Gaucho” and Canaro’s intriguing Tango Fantasia in F…when Canaro died of a strange and rare bone growth disorder his immense fortune was apportioned between his French wife and his daughters born of his affair with a young, seductive chorus  girl he had met through one of his musicals

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1992, December 23 – PREMIERE OF “SCENT OF A WOMAN”

In the explosive scene when blinded Colonel Frank Slade, with loaded gun in hand, wants to commit suicide, he screams to Charlie “what life, I got no life, I am in the dark here, don’t you understand…give me one reason not to”; Charlie answers “I’ll give you two, you dance the tango and drive a Ferrari better than anyone”...somehow, it is the recollection of that electrifying  tango dance that mysteriously snaps him out of his suicidal spiral and begins his road to recovery…of the mythical earlier scene when Colonel Slade asks Donna to dance the tango at the elegant Oak  Room in New York one critic was to say, “it is, along with Rodolfo Valentino’s dance in the Four Horsemen and The Apocalypse (1921), is one of the two most memorable tango scenes in all movie history”…starring Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar and directed by Martin Brest, “Scent of a Woman” is actually a remake of the 1974 Italian comedy “Profumo Di Donna” which itself was nominated for two academy awards; it in turn is based on a short story  written by Giovanni Arpino called  “Il Buio e Il Miele” (Darkness and Honey)…

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Scent of A Woman garnered Al Pacino his first Oscar for Best Actor; the film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director…the film tells the story of a preparatory school student who takes the job as an assistant to an irascible, blind, alcoholic  army colonel Frank Slade to earn the money for plane fare home…Colonel Slade’s plan is to live a period of one great last hurrah before killing himself…the tango scene so captured the imagination of the public that it is undoubtably, one of the major reason for the rebirth of the tango and its modern-day boom……tango’s power to change a man is also seen in Robert Duval’s “Assassination Tango” (2003)…when Slade asks Donna to tango and she is hesitant for she has never learned it, he says to her…“no mistakes in the tango Donna, it’s not like life; that’s what makes the tango so great, if you make a mistake and you get all tangled up, just tango on”

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2008, November 22 – PREMIERE OF “TANGO ADAMOR”

Stage Show – Premiering at the Wilshire Theater in Beverly Hills, the inspiration for Tango Adamor came from an autistic boy named Adam and through a fairy tale,“Dance into Unity Through the Heart of Tango” written by Elena Alexandra and Svetlana David, it explores how Adam can be helped to emerge to the light of communication through the soul of Tango…in the story, two characters “Truth” and “Light” live in the land of “Unity” and are happy; the one exception is “Snake” who feels ugly and who lives apart and doubts the existence of Unity…Truth and Light courageously become separated as they enter the “Land of Separation” to undergo a saga of discovery…eventually through tango, through dance they are able to be reunited and even bring Snake into Unity and happiness where she becomes a tango dancer.

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Artistic Director and Choreographer, Miriam Larici was born in the neighborhood of Matheu in Buenos Aires Argentina. Introduced to the world of dance at the age of five, she trained in classical ballet, jazz, flamenco, acrobatic and tango. …some of her extensive credits include having been a principle with Forever Tango, various Broadway shows, performances with renown orchestras, conducted seminars all over the world and with current partner Leonardo Barrionuevo, the gold medal winner in NBC’s , Super Stars of Dance in 2009…acclaimed dancer Leslie Caron has said of them, “If I had to choose from among the tango dancers of the world, these two would be my choice”...all net proceeds from the show were donated to the treatment of children with autism

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1916, November 13 – LATIMER LOSES EYE TO TANGO !

That night Brent Latimer had taken the long train ride from Greenville to Ashville North Carolina to attend a tango dance which he had read about in the newspaper…once there he was quite smitten by a fashionable young lady and finally found the nerve to ask her to dance…he was totally immersed into the magic of the moment, when suddenly, during a turn, the quill in the girl’s hat somehow entered behind his glasses and pierced his right eye…he was rushed to the hospital but unfortunately nothing could be done and he lost sight completely in that eye…Tango was all the rage then and had been popularized primarily by the mythical dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle who made close dancing chic in America with their success on broadway and with their best seller “Modern Dancing” published in 1914…

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On a trip to Paris performing the latest American dances, the Castles were the rage of Parisian society and it is there that they discovered Tango…their success was widely reported in the United States, preparing their way for a triumphant return to New York in 1912 and their introduction of this new dance to American society eventually even popularizing an innovative hands free tango step…Irene was the daughter of a prominent New York physician and Veron was an aspiring actor from Norwich England…their marriage was not approved by Irene’s father but together they would attain fame and fortune….he died at the age of 30 as a decorated pilot in World War I; she would marry three other times but would pay tribute to him in her memoir “My Husband”

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5TE74e9vAg to see a clip of Vernon and Irene Castle dancing including an instant when they dance the tango…the later part of the clip shows a section from the the 1939 film “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle” starring Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers

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..

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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, “Cardio respiratory 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”

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1933, November 9 – PREMIERE OF FILM “DANCING”

The dismal failure of this film almost destroyed production company Argentina Sono Film…it was the second of a trilogy of films, the first being “Tango” and the third being “Riachuelo” produced in quick succession…the idea of director Luis Moglia Barth had been that combining resources in the making of three films would reduce cost and risk; in fact “Dancing” resulted in the loss of two key money men and almost destroyed the company…company owner Alberto Mentasti had to sell his personal assets and cut costs drastically to go ahead with the third film “Riachuela” which was a huge critical and financial success…”Dancing”, based on a play by Alejandro Berrutti, premiered at the Teatro Porteno in Buenos Aires; no surviving copies of the film have been found

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The film however was notable for two reasons…First, It was Tito Lusiardo’s first film and it would launch his success as a dancer and comedic actor…Tito Lusiardo started as a stage hand and was to become one of a handful of true friends of Carlos Gardel…Secondly, it was the first film of  singer Carlos Varela and in which he sings  “Desde pebeta”…Carlos Varela, from a struggling family of 10 children, had to quit school to work at a variety of menial jobs before he was discovered by orchestra leader Roberto Firpo…Luis Moglia Barth (April 12, 1903 – June 18, 1984, Aries), an early pioneer in Argentina’s nascent  film industry, did over 30 films  often screenwriting his owns films

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