April 12, 2010
On Sunday the BBC’s One Show came to the Waldorf to make a film about the tango teas Simply Dancing Partners has restored to the hotel. I was interviewed by the very attractive Des Coleman, who asked me about the history of Tango and how it came to Europe.
Des was particularly interested in the fact that the tango tradition started in the Brothels of Buenos Aires and was originally danced by gauchos from the fields who came into town to dance with prostitutes. Later it became more universally accepted by richer families, whose young men used to visit the so-called “Academia de Danse” which were, in fact, illegal brothels. Many of these young men were sent to Europe to further their education, and brought the dance to London and Paris. The prim and proper society world decided the dance in its native form was too risqué, and a more polite version was created.
Although the Argentine Tango in became very popular, another version – the Ballroom Tango - was created using very similar music but with a different frame. The main difference is that the Argentine Tango requires the couple to lean towards each other in a close embrace. In the Ballroom Tango the couple have contact at their hips, but the upper parts of their bodies lean upwards and outwards. The nature of the Ballroom Tango is angry and staccato, whereas the Argentine Tango is very sensual, with an emphasis on intertwining of the couple’s legs.
Des had a brief Tango lesson with our lovely teacher Anessa Duncan and was then filmed practising his moves. The crew also shot a professional display by Marek and Olivera Szotkowski. There were several dancers at the event who enthusiastically took to the floor for each of the Tango interludes. We also had a fabulous Latin Dance display from Amy Bennett and Gunnar Gunnarsson, who compete for the UK.
The crew filmed me dancing a Ballroom Tango with the fabulous Oleg Storozhuk, and told me I was a natural for TV! I also danced with other members of our wonderful partner team: Rafal Lautenbach, Carl Jansen, Maxim Pitirimov and Jay Samya, who proved once again how much pleasure they can add to the dancing experience. This is one of the very few public events where women are able to go along knowing that they are guaranteed to be able to dance with professional partners and won’t have to just watch from the sidelines.
I invited Diana Morgan Hill, who recently came second in BBC’s Dancing on Wheels, to join me at the event. In my view she should have won, as I said in a recent blog praising her achievements, which led her to get in touch with me. Diana has accepted her new role as ambassador for disabled dancers and told me that dancing has transformed her life. As someone who has full use of their legs but nevertheless spent 35 years in a dance-free zone, I totally understand that. For me, filming with the BBC was a chance to celebrate three years of Simply Dancing Partners and the incredible joy it has brought into my life and hopefully the lives of others.