Historical Background on the "Milonga" Workshop with
During the "Golden Age" of the 1930s and '40s, milonga,
as both music and dance, played a distinctive role in tango culture,
and in helping create the overall shape of a evening of dancing.
For example: Despite its faster tempo, milonga
typically offered dancers a welcome chance to "relax" from
the more challenging and intricate demands of tango: Milonga
provided a predictable even beat that invited a simpler dance vocabulary,
a straightforward connection between partners, and plenty of energy
and motion qualities which magnified its lighter, "happier"
As tango began to re-emerge in Argentina in the mid-1980s, older dancers
brought this "Golden Age" approach back onto the dance floors
of Buenos Aires, reviving milonga as a playful and easy-going
interlude within the greater evening of dancing something that
even newer dancers could find enjoyable and readily accessible.
But just as in earlier time periods, tango was once again on the move
with innovative and progressive dancers creating new shapes +
relationships, and pushing the boundaries of the form.
As the 1990s dawned, milonga specialists like Tomi O'Connell,
Daniel "El Flaco" García, and Omar Vega, among others,
increasingly began to experiment with traspie literally,
"stumble foot" injecting rapid double-time steps and
syncopations into milonga's more traditional single-time
interpretation, and exponentially increasing its potential and complexity.
Inspired by this creativity, other open-minded dancers picked up on
the new possibilities, and milonga traspie grew more widespread,
gradually becoming something we see on dance floors all over the world.
As a result, today's milonga can seem especially daunting
to newer dancers, while at the same time offering unique challenges,
opportunities and rewards to more experienced dancers.
More about Daniel's Approach in "Milonga: The Traditional
Daniel was "on the ground" in Argentina both before and after
this transformation of milonga something which
gives him an exceptional insight into milonga's recent
(and ongoing) evolution.
By taking a closer look at how and why these shifts occurred, Daniel's
workshop in Ojai will explore this crucial "hinge" period
in tango history. And by considering both the traditional social roots
of milonga in single time, as well as its far more complex
and dynamic present-day incarnations, Daniel will give newer + experienced
dancers alike a chance to better understand + access just what it is
we do when milonga music starts to play ...
"Milonga: The Traditional Perspective
and What You Need to Know Before You Traspie"
is the nearest most of us will ever come to teleporting ourselves back
to Buenos Aires circa 1990 and spending a year among milonga's
classic practitioners and traspie innovators ... don't
More About Milonga the Music and the Dance:
The syncopated, up-tempo 2/4 beat of milonga is the rhythmic
foundation of all tango music, and it dominated the sound during the
19th Century when the many overlapping threads of modern tango were
first coming together.
Through the related forms of candombe and habernera,
historians now trace the driving beat of milonga directly
to West Africa in the areas of present-day Congo and Angola
where this distinctive rhythm is more than 1,000 years old. In these
cultures, the syncopated pulse of milonga still means
what it always has, quite literally: "Get up, and dance!"
In our own culture, the challenge for dancers is to match the vocabulary
and movements of tango to the pace and energy of this music to create
the style of dancing we call milonga.
Of course, in addition to a particular kind of music and the dancing
that it inspires, the word "milonga" also refers
to a gathering of dancers who come together to enjoy tango. So it's
entirely possible to "Dance a milonga to a milonga at a milonga"
quite a wonderful thing.
Daniel's connection with the dance began back in 1986 when he first
traveled to Buenos Aires and discovered tango just as it was beginning
to re-emerge following years of neglect and political repression in
Argentina. Already an accomplished dancer in several other forms, Daniel
found there were few if any "tango classes" available at the
time, and the newly revived tango scene was dominated mostly by social
dancers who had learned their tango informally, "on the street"
in the 1940s and '50s, during tango's "Golden Age."
pictured with Anne Marie Duquette
Daniel attended countless milongas, meeting and befriending numerous
older dancers as he steeped himself in tango's culture and history.
His interest and enthusiasm gradually led to opportunities to study
with dozens of notable dancers-turned-teachers including Miguel
& Nelly Balmeceda, Antonio Todaro, Juan Bruno, Mingo & Esther
Pugliese, Rodolfo & Maria Cieri, Eduardo Arquimbau, Pupi Castello,
Tomi O'Connell, Pedro 'Tete' Rusconi & Sylvia Ceriani, and Maria
Villalobos as well as with gifted contemporary dancers like Gustavo
Naveira, Olga Besio, Miguel Zotto and Graciela Gonzalez who were actively
creating and pursuing their own influential investigations of tango.
As his understanding and experience with tango grew, Daniel was eager
to share his discoveries with fellow dancers in North America. He founded
the seminal "Bridge to the Tango" and began
to organize and host tours to Buenos Aires so that others could benefit
from the connections and opportunities he had encountered and pioneered
in Argentina. "Bridge to the Tango" also began to import and
sell tango music to dancers in the U.S., and Daniel took the initiative
to produce more than 80 instructional videos on tango including
many which document the artistry and insights of key dancers from the
1940s and '50s who are sadly no longer with us.
In between his many trips to Buenos Aires in the 1990s, Daniel traveled
widely throughout Europe and North America, and with the help
of world-class partners like Rebecca Shulman, Florencia Taccetti, Mariela
Franganillo and others he introduced thousands of newcomers and
experienced social dancers alike to the pleasures and challenges of
Daniel's deep background with and understanding of other types of
dance made him unusually adept at bridging the "cultural divide"
between this quintessentially South American art form and his non-Argentine
student dancers. As a result, Daniel helped seed and inspire many of
our most important and influential tango communities in the U.S.
indeed, in 2009, it would be difficult to find an active tango dancer
in North America who wasn't able to trace their own tango
roots directly back to the early investigations, inspiration, efforts
and enthusiasm of Daniel Trenner.
A long-time anchor of the tango and dance communities in New England
and the Northeast, Daniel has recently begun to travel and teach again.
And, after more than 20 years of experience with tango, he now finds
himself in the role once occupied by his own early teachers and mentors:
A vital bridge to the history and practice of tango over the years
not only to the late 1980s and '90s when Daniel first caught
the wave and helped create tango's modern emergence as a thriving international
art form, but further back, to the tango of 1940s and '50s, when many
of the older milongueros that Daniel befriended and studied with took
their first steps onto the dance floors of Buenos Aires.
Please join us in Ojai on May 18th to welcome Daniel Trenner
back to Southern California, and treat yourself a rare view of tango
past and present, through the unique eyes of this Modern Master.