Maria Mondino is a tango dancer, teacher, DJ and event organizer, originally from Argentina, based in Berlin for many years already. Thank you, Maria for sharing with us your perspective about different aspects of tango.
Dancing is expressing yourself through the body, expressing your emotions, your state of mind, your processes and your being. In general in connection with the music, but not always, because there are also some dances with no real music, like contact improvisation for example. But the music is there anyway, it is more like an internal music, the rhythm of the body. There is a rhythm, that is not explicit, but it is there.
In tango the music is absolutely fundamental. In my opinion, in my personal vision it is as important as the man and the woman. I always say tango is a couple of three. Man, woman and music. Because we really have to honor the music.
I like everything. But maybe I prefer the traditional tango music, I also like contemporary tango and I like the fusion with electronic music. But the tango that I like the most is this great period in between 1935-1950, the great orchestras. For performing, you can dance on different kinds of music, if you like. Performance is more like an artistic fact. Unless you just do a little demo in the milonga.
But for social dancing, I totally prefer the traditional music. For me, that kind of music is absolutely touching and I really feel the connection, I have a big connection to traditional tango music.
Tanguero or Tanguera
Tanguero or Tanguera – that is a concept, a classification, which is always tricky. I would say that a tanguera or a tanguero is a person that really likes tango in all the levels, not only dancing. Tango as poetry, tango as culture, tango as a way of living, tango as folclore, tango as music and tango as dance. Someone that only likes dancing is a milonguero or a milonguera, at least in my opinion, which is not the real truth, of course.
Tango as a way of living
If you are going to Buenos Aires, and if you know all the people, that are almost every day listening to tango, and going to the milongas. They feel like tangueros they express like tangueros, they talk like tangueros. They know the poetry, they know the authors, they know the orchestras, they know the history and the stories and the tango tales. You can see that this person is like a picture of tango, it is really like a piece of tango. This man at the bar drinking wine and listening to Troilo, he is a tanguero and he really lives like that.
It is funny to hear that there seem to be discussions about the cabeceo. Because what we call cabeceo is something that is naturally happening in human relations. Let me develop this idea: If you want to talk to someone, if you want to initiate a conversation with someone and this person is turning your back to you, you wouldn‘t start talking without facing this person. It’s simple, first you look and then you start talking. It is exactly the same in iango. If I want to dance with you and you are sitting there, not looking at me, I wouldn‘t just touch you from behind and take you to the dancefloor. I need to look at you, more or less feel were you are, your energy level, if you want to dance or not, if you like to dance with me or not. Then there is the gesture, the cabeceo. It is a subtle way of asking. The cabeceo is just a part of life, it is nothing extra or artificial. A cabeceo is not only from men to women, but also from women to men. If I look at a man and say with my eyes: „I want to dance with you“, this is also part of the cabeceo.
Dancing at milongas
Maybe I am a particular type of milonguera. Because I don‘t like to dance a lot at milongas. I like to dance exactly the right tanda with the right man. For me, it is not a matter of dancing a lot, dancing all the tandas, as much as possible. No, not at all. I really choose the music and the partner.
I don’t see how the cabeceo can reduce the times you dance. I wouldn‘t even make a subject about the cabeceo. I mean of course, if we are in a group and we are friends, you can say: „Bailas?“ But if someone is a little far away and you want to dance, you just have to look, it is not so complicated.
Getting „not enough“ dances at a milonga (especially for women)
First of all I would recommend: Not complaining. That will rise their vibes and then they will dance more. This is in general for life, because tango is a metaphor. As you behave in tango, you behave in life. As you are in tango, you are in life. In general. If you are sitting, waiting, complaining, thinking „I am not dancing, I am not dancing“, then you won‘t dance. I never go to a milonga with expectations. Not any kind of expectations: I go to have fun and give myself to anything what happens there. Then things come, it arrives, what has to arrive, like in life. Don’t be like: „I wanna reach something, I have to dance with him…and so on“ It doesn‘t work like that. Men feel that. When a woman is in that state, men don‘t invite her, because this vibe is not attractive.
So I would recommend to relax, go for a drink, be yourself, enjoy yourself, have fun alone and then you will have fun with someone else. I put a lot of emphasize on this point: Not depending from anything to feel good. In tango you can see that sometimes, because it is a couple dance. So, try to be individual, independent and complete by yourself, and then meet someone else… to share.
Not having a fixed dance partner is beautiful, just as beautiful as having a partner. It is the same, just different states. At the moment, I share my dance with a lot of beautiful occasional partners and I enjoy it a lot. I don‘t need and I don‘t want to have a fixed partner. And you don‘t need a partner to go to a deeper level. You always go to a deeper level anyway. If you think, you need a fixed partner to go deeper, you feel like you are in a need. Someone who is radiating carence, will not get much from life and from tango neither. If I think: „I miss a partner, I need a partner, I want a partner and I don‘t have a partner.“ – this is the problem. So stay calm, enjoy, start to feel happy without having a partner, then the partner will come, if you really wish it. Yes, if you really wish it, but not from carence or neediness. More if you are like: „Ok, now I could share with someone.“ It is so nice to be with a partner and it is so nice to be with no partner. Everything is nice, everything has a positive side and a not so positive.
How do you know that he/she is „the right partner“
It is the same like asking: „How do you know that you are in love with someone?“ You feel it, your body and your whole being is saying that. You just know: „This is the partner.“ For me, I feel deeply connected to this person.
But this is my way and there are many other ways. Many colleagues of mine are living that in a totally different way. We work with tango, so we have to choose a partner. In this level I am pure emotion and impulse and not thinking about what is convenient… But there are many ways, and all are valid.
Tango as a tool for personal development
I have studied psychology for some years. I am very interested in the process of the human being evolving in all the levels of consciousness and awareness. Tango is one more tool. In many ways tango can help to unblock your body, because of the dance. It can also help you to connect with another person, to open yourself. Tango can really be a tool for developing a personal process. I saw a lot of people who totally transformed through tango. From a super shy introverted person to an extroverted person, or much more connected to their femininity or masculinity. And then things start to unblock and to change in life also.
The embrace is absolutely healing. The embrace is the most powerful thing one can give to another human being. Absolutely healing. And there are many people who are in need of it. Somehow the embrace is undressing you, making you naked. It is a big issue, a subject for the teachers also, to transmit to the people here, what we feel, when we dance in Buenos Aires with these men who embrace you like they love you forever, with this masculinity, with this feeling of taking care of you, listening to you, treating you like a queen, so many things you can feel in only one embrace. This is so powerful, so so nice.
And of course, it is possible to learn the embrace, to teach it. But it is not easy. That is the point, where other discplines can help a lot. That‘s why we put tantra, contact improvisation and yoga in our festival (Ibiza Tango Love). We believe, that these are bridges to open up yourself in different ways and then connect better to dance tango.
For ten years I was travelling a lot, really, really a lot, all the time. Going to festivals, performing, teaching everywhere, that was the movie of my life. In the last three years I travelled less, I worked less. Now I am still a nomad, because I have some things on Ibiza, some things here in Berlin. Not only real things, also projects, family, friends, networks, and my suitcase is half on Ibiza, half here.
I myself am my home, and tango of course. But I feel Berlin quite like home, too. I came to Berlin first, because we had the chance to work here. Then I realized, that I love Berlin. It is my city. I love the diversity, the openness, multiculturality. Berlin is a big city and at the same time quiet and clean, in my opinion, compared to Buenos Aires. Berlin is interesting, fascinating, also because of the tango scene. The tango scene is super huge here, and it has everything, so diverse. It is not just traditional. As I told you I like everything. Of course I prefer the traditional music for dancing, but I also love alternative tango and here are a lot of these places and events as well. I love it, I simply love it. To me the doors of Berlin opened like wings. Like they said: „Welcome Maria“. So I stayed.
Thank you, Maria!
In our „Berlin Tango Talks“ we talk with people, who have a special connection to tango and to Berlin.