by Alex Basnett
The neverending discussions of styles in tango often leave me baffled, as the idea that one is to choose one of a small number of predefined styles seems perpendicular to my idea of tango. Which is it going to be? Traditional or modern? We have to remember that tango is a quite modern dance – it always was.
And no book deals better with the issue of style and the clash of modern and traditional than My name is red by Orhan Pamuk, the author was awarded the Nobel price of literature. While the plot is circling around the investigation of a murder, the subject matter of it is more about how the main characters, Turkish miniature painters, are torn between the modern and the traditional. Between East (traditional) and West (modern). Between following tradition, trying to achieve perfection, and developing their own style.
And as you probably know, the ideal in tango (modern) has always been to achieve one’s own style.
I tried to find a good quote, something about the old masters perfecting their drawing until they no longer needed eyesight to paint, so fully immersed in their body and mind was the old arts. Or one of the wonderful parables to illustrate the subtle points about style. The ones I found (it’s been a while since I first read the book) were so long, so you better read the book yourself. Maybe later, we’ll see.