Thanks to Netflix, recently my wife and I enjoyed watching "Our Last Tango," a documentary of sorts about the passionate relationship between two highly talented Tango dancers, Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes.
I say of sorts, because the film bounces back and forth between footage of Maria and Juan in the present day (the movie was released in 2016) when they were 80 and 83, respectively, videos of them performing when younger, and reenactments of memorable moments in their relationship by four skilled Tango dancers -- two for their early years together, and two for their later years.
It's a creative way to tell their story.
Maria is more compelling than Juan as she speaks about how they met and fell in love, as well as hate. Maria makes clear that her constant lifelong love was for Tango, though she also loved Juan when she wasn't hating him. Their relationship was complicated, though also simple in a way, since both Maria and Juan weren't shy about expressing how they felt.
Which is the mark of artists.
Crazily, my wife and I took Argentine Tango lessons some years back, even though our partner dancing experience up to that point had been very minimal, just some West Coast Swing classes, if I recall correctly.
I soon learned from our instructors that Argentine Tango is akin to a Ph.D. level form of dance. And we were first-graders, basically.
Still, we enjoyed the classes. Except when we didn't. I learned quite a bit about leading and following, which stood me in good stead when Laurel and I took a series of ballroom dancing classes -- American Tango, Salsa, Waltz, West Coast Swing, Nightclub Two Step, Rhumba, and others.
Dancing really is addictive, something that comes across strongly in "Our Last Tango."
The thing with Argentine Tango, insofar as I understand it, is that it is almost completely led and followed. Meaning, you can't count on patterns to get you through a dance. Ideally there has to be a strong, intimate connection between the leader and follower, even if you have just met.
Here's some of the blog posts I've written about Argentine Tango.
Tango, where men lead and women follow
Dancing through life the Argentine Tango way
Tango, a three minute love affair
l jump back into Argentine Tango, again a beginner
In Tango, as in marriage, the man is always wrong
Laurel and I no longer are dancing mainly due to foot and leg problems. But maybe one day we'll put our dancing shoes back on. I was impressed by how fit Maria and Juan look in the movie, given their over-80 ages. They've continued dancing, and obviously quite well, which is a testament to the ability of dance to keep us mentally and physically fit.
After watching "Our Last Tango" I"m going to experiment with doing my Tai Chi, a passion for the past sixteen years, to Tango music. My intuition is that there is something to the notion of Tai Chi Tango. And I can do it myself, no partner required.
And having become a 71 year-old TikTok addict, I've started to learn some Shuffle moves, a simple dance that I've enjoyed seeing in numerous TikTok videos, demonstrated, not surprisingly, by much younger people. Twenty Shuffle variations are shown in this YouTube video, I've more-or-less learned the first.
Here's the trailer for "Our Last Tango," which I note from Rotten Tomatoes only made $99,928 in its release in theaters. Which shows that movie profits don't equate to entertainment value.