perjantai 5. joulukuuta 2014

FACE TO FACE WITH - Lucas Di Giorgio

The official curriculum of Lucas Di Giorgio tells us that he was educated at Ballet Escuela de Tango Argentino and Instituto Universitario Nacional de Artes. He first studied tango with diferent milongueros and teachers, and later also Folklore and Contemporary dance. In relation to his rather young age (b.1981), the list of dance performances, workshops and seminars and many more undertakings  that he has implemented, both at home and abroad, is lengthy.
My partner Rita Marjut´s and my personal view of Lucas is that of a devoted teacher of the deepest essence of tango dancing: connection and musicality. On our previous trip to Buenos Aires we had the fortune to attend a musicality seminar of his, and to enjoy a few private lessons, focusing on connection and on an active follower´s role - and were fascinated. No surprise then, that on our present trip we have resorted to Lucas´ teaching. As a bonus, I had the opportunity to interview Lucas for this blog.
Lucas with two items symbolizing his commitments

As a start, I am interested to know what his original reasons were, to start dancing tango. ”Just for curiosity”, he replies. ”I was 15 years of age. My elder brother was a tango teacher, and I went to his class out of curiosity”.
That sounded quite interesting, so I asked what other possible activities he has started ´out of curiosity´.  Just look at the picture, and you will know the answer: clowning! ”With a friend of mine, we went to a theater, and the performance happened to be by a clown. To assist in the performance, he picked me from the audience. I found the performance, with such a great contact with the public fascinating, so afterward I asked him if there were any courses in clowning. He told that he was teaching in a theater school, not far from my place. Ever since I have attended his classes, and lately also started to perform!”

Having danced tango already for more than 15 years, what still keeps his interest alive? ”Two things. First of all, the permission, in dancing, of being free to make my body ´fly´. And, secondly, teaching. I learn, and I discover new things when teaching”.
He then adds a third element, which all tango lovers should be aware of: ”Not to become exhausted on your ´tango road´, you need to recharge your batteries on other roads of interest”. In addition to clownery, which presently plays a crucial part in Lucas´ life, he cites folklore, contemporary theater, photography, and listening to music as his empowering elements.  And, ”to be a child again, to play - to be genuine!”

When asked from where he adopted his tango skills, he cites three master couples. ”During my first tango year, my brother Pablo Di Giorgio, with his partner Susana Cannataro, taught me important things about the communication with the other person.”
The brother then suggested that his own masters, Ernesto Carmona and Norma Tomassi, should be Lucas´ next teachers. ”From them I learned a lot about using my body with creativity, through many unusual exercises, like dancing in stairs, or without seeing!”
"For many, many of my initial tango lesson years, the teaching did not include step sequences - I actually knew only one or two figures! It was all about the connection, about the embrace, about creativity."
While Lucas was still taking lessons from Ernesto, the master´s former pupil, Marcelo Varela together with Analia Vega, became his new resource. ”With him I did a lot of musicality exercises. We became very good friends, and eventually I partnered with Marcelo for tango lessons & workshops, and arranging milongas.

Lucas cites: ”A good teacher makes you think & doubt!”
When inquired about an ”ideal curriculum ” for anyone´s first 1-2 years of tango, Lucas gives a straightforward answer. ”The main focus of the teaching should be about learning to adapt to the other person, to having a good embrace, to having an good axis, knowing about your body - and listening to music. From the very beginning, you should learn to adapt to different people, in embrace, etc.”
”Exercises, e.g. of dissociation and pivots are, of course, also useful. But only when the pupil has been adapting the fundamentals of embrace, axis, and so on - only then the teacher should say: OK, then let´s see some sequences”. 
”If a teacher has made a clear decision to teach just steps, e.g. because he is teaching coming professionals, or is doing choreographic research, I respect the decision. But there are a lot of teachers who concentrate on teaching steps, and who may have a ´90 % steps curriculum´, because they do not know how to teach the other things.  They may themselves be very good dancers - but you can only teach things that you know how to teach”.

I´m curious to hear which type of tango music Lucas prefers. He tell me that, yes, he likes the traditional music of the 30´s, 40´s and 50´s - but he is more interested in the new tango music. ”I do not mean electrotango, I mean music which preserves the roots, but adds new, more contemporary lyrics, new arrangements, etc. For example performances of Lidia Borda, Hugo Diaz, Esteban Morgado, and Guillermo Fernandez.
So, never mind his ”old”, official curriculum - a ”new”, abbreviated curriculum of Lucas Di Giorgio reads: ”A talented dancer, teacher and clown, who has recovered the childhood heart of his, is open to curiosity, and hails freedom, playfulness and creativity. Who respects the roots of tango, but is open to change”.