So, the UK Tango Festival & Championship which took place this weekend was a wonderful event – very well prepared, wonderful teachers, a beautiful dance floor and great great great dancers. But the most exciting part was definitely the competition. If you read this blog you know we have mixed views about tango competitions, but the competition was actually one of the highlights of the Festival.
First because, well… it’s fun and nice to watch… Secondly because the final result was a good reminder of what tango is about.
Picture from TangoFolly – more pictures on tangofolly.com
“We wish you luck with all our heart, because heart is what matters, and without it there is no tango”
I just loved how Elizabeth – who was our lovely host – reminded the competitors (and all of us) of what tango is about: “We wish you luck with all our heart, because heart is what matters, and without it there is no tango“, she said in Day 2. And I just LOVED IT because it is so true. When you take a step back, all that matters is how we feel and how much of our heart we put in the dancing – no matter how good, it’s not enjoyable to dance with someone who is only about the technique….
And it seems that this is what the jury was looking for anyway.
To be honest, I was in the front row on Day 1 and didn’t even notice Mimi Hirsch and Nikita Gerdt, the couple who won the Salon Competition this year. I was mesmerized by other couples, with beautiful, precise leg work, fancy dresses and (hot bodies) athletic steps. Then, after the competition, someone mentioned ‘Mimi and Nikita, this couple from Germany’, and I couldn’t even remember them (and yet the girl has hot red hair!). And they used the words ‘simplicity’, ‘musicality’ and ‘connection’...
Keeping it simple and connected
So, with a kind of simplicity and humility, a lot of heart and connection, Mimi and Nikita made it to the finals. Even during the finals, they kept the purity of their line of dance. Nothing too fancy, but perfectly musical and connected, with a lot of warmth about them. They were competing with good dancers, with good technique and musicality, so it was a suspenseful final ronda. When they got their award – the 2015 UK Tango Salon Championship winners – it was nice to see that the jury had decided to celebrate purity and connection over technical sequences.
I got to discuss with the jury after the Festival, and they said something interesting: apparently they were also looking for… Couples Who Would Actually Dance, even if it meant taking risks It’s true that it’s easy for us dancers to fall into the trap of going for what we know we do well – elegant walking, beautiful ochos, embellishments we know inside and out.. especially during such a competition.
Mimi and Nikita were really dancing – following the music and accepting to go beyond the comfortable steps.
And to be honest, it’s not that easy…