Although this post is going to be about two performances in which Eugenia Parilla is one of the dancers, it will be about Chicho. It will be about two different aspects about Chicho that are close to diametrically different. When we think about Chicho, we think about one of the great innovators of tango nuevo. We most likely think about him in something like this:
Therefore there are many that overlook the fact that all with Chicho is not open embrace. This is also an essential aspect of him:
It is hard to comprehend that one and the same dancer is in command of two styles as different as in these two clips. Much of today’s second clip actually borders to a milonguero style, but with some of the repertoire that is characteristic for much more recent styles of tango. The first clip, which is unfortunately disrupted half-way through the song, is more typical for how we know Chicho. There are complicated sequences in their dance, much work up in the air with the ladies feet, and most importantly they are working with an embrace that is never constant or parallel. In the abrazo they challenge each other by going in and out of it; almost as if there was no upright position but only an infinite series of volcaditas and colgaditas. Those are some of his hallmarks.
Even so, he does indeed dance most often closely embracing the woman, and he does indeed do so most beautifully. I believe that if we do not acknowledge that part of Chicho, then we do not only misunderstand a significant aspect of him as an artist. If we are dancers and try to be influenced from him, and if we only see the dynamic Nuevo dancer, then we run the risk of becoming manipulative with our tango embrace. Our tango runs the risk of looking as if we are driving tractors rather than embracing women. The key to Chicho’s success is his sensitivity; a sensitivity that he could only have found through the classical tango. The classical tango is the foundation that we build our dance upon. It is the meat (or the tofu for vegetarians) that we can season with the Nuevo spices. Too many dancers want to become elaborate directly and they forget that they are dealing with spices. Their courses of musical interpretation then turn into something rather distasteful. They are indeed capable of making the woman perform high-end repertoire but they will stagnate in their development as dancers. They will never be able to look as elegant as Chicho because there is no meat to their dance. If you have practiced a Nuevo tango for years and want to become like Chicho, then you better take lessons from Javier Rodriguez. On the other hand, if you want to be like Javier, you better learn what Chicho has to say – but that is another story for another post.