We have made a conscious decision that when we teach we do not care whether our students are CEOs, councelors or cleaners. At our dance floor, you are a dancer – period. The same should apply to us, and unless you ask you will not get to know what we do besides being dancers (even if you ask we may be reluctant to answer). This blog post is different. We will here openly share one other career we have besides teaching and performing tango.
To us tango is a life-enhancing, all-encompassing experience and activity, and it is an integrated part of almost everything we do. Magnus’ other major career is as a researcher in music, and he hopes to integrate tango into his academic work. This cannot be done fully without it being a joint effort with Anne Marit. Towards the end of November we will travel to Malmö, and for the very first time we will present our theoretical work – based on our practice – at an academic international conference. Its primary theme is musical improvisation and is called (Re)thinking Improvisation. Wish us luck! This is what we will present:
(Un)thinking tango – on the corporeality of dance and musical improvisation
In tango there is no instrument to discipline. Our bodies are the origins, content and vessels of expression. Therefore, our postures and physical condition can never be severed from the expression. We dance our selves as we embody the world. Furthermore, any passionate tango dancer could testify that they dance for the enjoyment of movement. These qualitative aspects of the dance are by all means based on repertoire, but structures are subsidiary as the motivation and meaning of tango. Still, when the dance is scrutinized qua movement it is too often understood in terms of choreographic geometry, and that is most often also how tango is taught.
The presentation will layout how it is possible to get out of one’s mind and let the body not only speak but also think. How is it possible to work with the unique possibilities and limitations of one’s body rather than striving towards an idealistic structure?
We will argue our case with a simple example. Through changing the position of the man’s left and the woman’s right hand, the entire embrace will change and render an altogether different expression. We will first discuss how this minor change can be seen as a corporeal concept with which our dancing bodies can think/discuss/improvise with qualities. We will then show how this emulation of a foreign physicality will not only affect the expression, but it will render new repertoire – repertoire that our bodies have not been conditioned to perform. We will finally argue that our corporeal intelligence is structured non-linearly. Through corporeal trial-and-error the body can far surpass the (discursive) imagination both concerning expression and structural invention.
The presentation will also briefly suggest how musical improvisation could be seen in this light, which we believe can give the musician a powerful tool to expand the possibilities in her improvisations.
Magnus Andersson is an Assistant Professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music, and is heading the Academy’s major area of research in performance: “The co-creative musician”. In 2009 he defended his doctoral dissertation, Elaborating Nothing. John Cage’s Aesthetics of Silence. Originally he studied piano and holds a Master’s degree as a performer. His current research interests are artistic research, creativity, performance studies and tango. He is also a professional tango dancer and teacher, and has worked with Ligaard since 2007.
Anne Marit Ligaard has studied anthropology and library and information science. She currently works as a librarian and as a tango dancer and teacher. She also participates in The Dance Laboratory, a company for differently bodied dancers. Together with Andersson she has published several articles on tango for popular media, and lectured on tango and philosophy and related topics. Since the summer of 2010 she runs the school, TangoTango, together with Andersson.