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Tango On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Alma Guillermoprieto

Tango On Assignment

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From Photographer

Pablo Corral Vega

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Pablo Corral Vega (top) and Pablo Senarega



Field Notes From Author
Alma Guillermoprieto

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    It was an incredible experience to finally learn how to tango. My poor teacher Luis spent weeks with me. I was so heavy in his arms that sometimes I felt he was working with an earthmover. But one night it all clicked into place, and I figured out the posture, the attitude, and what my legs were supposed to do. We were working very late at night, only a couple of people remained in the studio, and they started murmuring, "Yeah that's it, she's getting it."
    I tangoed perfectly for about three minutes, and it was the most intensely pleasurable feeling. It was simply bliss. Tango is an extraordinarily transporting dance, and I can see why people get completely hooked. It isn't just a ballroom dance; it's the real thing.

    Buenos Aires has changed so much under its failing economy. I felt sad to be back and see this proud and legendary city ruined. It used to be so prosperous, and I've always loved it so much. It was shocking to walk back to my hotel at dusk and see armies of the unemployed appear out of nowhere, ready to pick through garbage using supermarket baskets donated by the mayor's office. These shadowy figures emerged from the side streets and, very quietly and systematically, started going through people's trash. Everybody was so devastated by this humiliation that people in wealthy neighborhoods began to sort their garbage to make the pickers' job easier, leaving clothes in one bag, food in another. I saw the pickers having dinner on the remains after a tango session at two or three in the morning.

    One of my best interviews was with Alberto Corona, a man who makes tango shoes. I wasn't expecting the depth of passion he brought to this. It was his life. He told me, "If you let a shoe drop to the floor, it has to fall on its feet, as it were. If it tips over, it's not properly balanced. And then it's very important to check it  on a flat surface; you should be able to fit a pencil just below the tip, so that you can shift the weight to the metatarsal arch as you step."
    Hearing him explain all of that, I understood that tango really is an art form. There's so much involved in it that everybody who participates in it on any level is completely committed. And after all, how could anyone not be passionate about tango?


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