Posts Tagged ‘ 10 best tango dancers ’

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 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


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”


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, in the eyes of many, the greatest tango dancer of his time…he attained fame and glory and earned and spent huge sums on a bohemian life…and yet 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


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…he danced with the legendary Sofia Bozan in “Carnavales De Antano” in 1940…his life inspired composer Miguel Bucino to write “Bailarin Compadrito” in 1929…he danced with Carmencita Calderon in the renown film “Tango” in 1933


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”


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


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”


1926, August 23 – VALENTINO DEAD AT 31 !!!

Valentino did not like doctors and although his dear friend June Mathis urged him to see one for the stomach pains that ocassionally gripped him, he refused; “it’s your bad American food” he like to kid….on August 15, 1926 while staying at the Embassador Hotel in New York, as part of a promotional tour for his new film “Son Of Sheik”, he was suddenly seized by a high fever, vomiting and severe abdominal pains….he was rushed to the “Polyclinic Hospital” where he was operated on for a perforated ulcer…in recovery everything seem to be going well and in fact in a press conference, doctors gave a sunny prognosis…however, on the fifth day Valentino was suddenly seized with severe stabbing pain in the chest…doctors soon realized that a severe  infection had spread to the lungs and that he would not recover….as was the custom at the time, the knowledge of his impending death was withheld from him…speaking in gasps, he even said that he could no longer feel the incision which unfortunately was a symptom of the advance state of infection…in his frequent telegrams to Paris, to Natasha Rambova whom he had divorced the year earlier, he spoke of plans for the future and their reconciliation…a few hours later he had slipped into a coma  and died…


What had been the cause of his perforated ulcer which interestingly had also taken the lives of James Joyce and Rudyard Kipling…one possible answer was the fact that he smoked two packs of cigaretts per day; another one might have been the boxing match he had engaged in a few days earlier to assert his manhood after the Chicago Tribune, in a famous article, suggested that he was gay…apparently sugery was delayed for a few hours as surgeons were paralyzed by his celebrity status…outside, the police had cirlced the hospital to contain the throngs of women who had come to be near Valentino…that delay of a few hours may have worsen the infection to the point of no hope…his death plunged America into a nation of mourners…women wept with unashamed tears; two killed themselves that day…at his funeral services in New York, an estimated crowd of 100,000 gathered outside…when his body was brought back to Hollywood, thousands of fans stood in railroad stations across the country just to see the train as it sped past…in Los Angeles, an estimated 80,000 mourners crowded in and around the cemetery grounds…five years earlier Valentino’s performance in “The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypese” had been a major reason for the world-wide tango boom