When I heard about the Dinzel book, I thought it was sort of a curious project. Working through all possibilities of tango steps, charting them out in elaborate diagrams with circles and arrows in all directions demonstrating the vast space of choreographic possibilites. I had a look at the book at a friend’s place several years ago, but it felt somehow disconnected to how I experienced the dance. This was rather early in my days of tango though, so maybe I would get more out of it at a later point. (If anyone of you got the book, I would love to have a picture/scan for illustration purposes of this post.) [EDIT: You can see an example of one diagram here. Thanks to Chris for providing another diagram, shown below (click on the image to see the full resolution version):]
I never took lessons with the Dinzel myself, but I heard from friends that they would often do exercises to explore the different possibilities from a given position, sort of like a game. Only after a friend that was going to Gustavo Naveira’s classes with us told us she started taking lessons with his old maestro, did I make the connection. In fact Gustavo also states in an interview by Brian Dunn that he was a student of the Dinzel:
[W]hen I was in my twenties, about 1981, I started studying with Rodolfo Dinzel. I was one of his best students within that course, and he took special notice of me and worked me very very hard.
It is actually a rather interesting interview, so I encourage you to read it all. It also motivates the search for a new approach to learning tango:
> > You know, in my study of tango, often I would encounter a "tango master", and even if you approached them respectfully, they would have an attitude of, "I know everything, you are sh**, don't bother me". This is a typical attitude from an earlier way of looking at tango. So it was often very difficult to learn useful things about tango from them. > >
Fabián Salas elaborates on this in another interesting interview by Keith Elshaw:
> > At one point, I remember that we were very concerned about all these dancers dying - all these milongueros, all these teachers, they were dying. One after the other, three or four in one year. It was catastrophic. So I said, "Gustavo, we are on our own; there is hardly anybody any more and if there is, we can't do much about it because it's hard to talk to these people. We have to start learning from ourselves. We have to start bringing the process along and the only way to do it is getting together. Why don't we join with the people that we consider are good dancers that have something to offer with this idea of, you know, changing - exchanging things? Getting together and practice in a serious way. Analyze." > >
I believe anybody who has been in the tango world for a while can agree that there are some great egos out there, so this is easy to believe.
It seems clear to me that Gustavo inherited the analytical approach of the Dinzel and took it to another level with his collaboration with Fabián Salas and Mariano “Chicho” Frumboli. And watching this clip of the Dinzel couple, I think I can recognize some of the ways or habits of Gustavo Naveira, for instance the way he is turning his foot when he is waiting with no weight on it, where most (?) other dancers use a flat foot.
PS: Unfortunately, youtube has just disabled the sound on this video, making it a lot less interesting to watch.