If you make a mistake, make the mistake bravely

What is the process of refereeing tango championship is like

Версия на русском: :   flag

NB. TangoMOSKVA presents N.Barsi’s comment as a referee, whoes opinion is personal. If possible, we will get the opinions of all the judges of the championship.

Please tell me, what are the criteria for estimating pairs at the championship?

I’ll speak for myself, okay? Because each of the referees has his/her own criteria. Of course, I know a little more about the criteria of Aoniken, because we communicate with him. But each judge acted as he saw fit.

For me it’s musicality, individuality («personalidad«). Since many couples copy each other, I do not like it. I expect not so much that the couple will be good in technics, but much more, that it will have its own style. Well, of course, many lacked musicality.

It is also important for the couples to use space properly. And of course, the interaction in a pair is important. I saw many pairs of Pro-Am, where the difference between partners is very large — for example, a guy can dance, but the girl can not. I was very surprised, because I know that in Moscow there are a lot of women who dance well and with good technics. I told my doubts to Aoniken and he said that he thought the same. But I estimate the pair, it’s the pair as a whole, because the pair should be a team. It is immediately evident when people actually dance together, they are of the same level. Here are the criteria.

It was very easy to judge qualifying stage. Because here the level of experience in the dance was very noticeable  — at first the level is very low, then the level is average and then already quite good, with enough experience. In the beginning, the selection process was easy.

It was difficult to choose those, who qualify to the semi-final of tango salon, when we looked at the pairs in the ronda. Ronda is made up of a few pairs, and we estimate their interaction and ability to stay in the ronda. But if eight good couples are dancing, the difference between them is minimal, within this ronda there is already a competition at a high level. And then the next ronda comes out, where it is clearly visible that only three pairs are better, and the rest are not. And it’s much easier to compete with them, and it’s easier for them to reach the semifinals.

I think that it would be better if the rondas were maximally mixed in terms of the level of couples’ experience. Maybe people think that each pair in the ronda is evaluated separately, but this is not so — the pair in the ronda, in interaction, is evaluated.

Do you know that your marks were the lowest?

It’s because I’m so malicious (laughing). I did not know that it would happen, because I did not see what marks the other judges were giving. After each stage, they took away notes with marks, and we could not remember who gave what mark to whom. Of course, we discussed something between each other, but in the end everyone put his and her own assessment.

It was a surprise to me that one pair won the Moscow championship in both categories. I did not think it would be like that, but it happened.

I havn’t known this pair before, I havn’t seen their dance before, but what was noticeable is that they are dancing together, maybe they are dancing something else, not tango, but they are a team. When I am looking at a dancing couple, for me it’s not just a man who goes ahead and a woman who follows his movements and walks back. A pair is an interaction. It was in the winning couple.

What qualities does one need to have in order to win at the World Championship (Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango), in the categories tango de pista and tango escenario?

In my opinion, the victory in the World Championship is very relative. It all depends on the views of those who judge. At the last stages of the competition the difference between the pairs is very small. Judges make their assessments basing on a particular moments, not seeing the assessments of other judges — and so then it is pure mathematics. Everything is summed up and the winner is announced.

It’s not true that only Argentines should win in the World Championship. There are a huge number of people from other countries of a very high level. But the difference is that there is not so much tango there. There is a difference between going to milongas every day, trying the steps and choreography there, and meanwhile, to train in the hall in front of the mirror. And when at the world championship these couples that dance every night, go to the ronda, they largely benefit in comparison to the rest — interacting in pairs, their ideas, their style are better.

What often happens in Europe? There comes a couple of professional Argentines, they take a few hours of lessons, and then this couple leaves. Perhaps, the results of their work will not be in vain, maybe those that they have trained, in fact, will blossom. Or maybe not. It may happen that their students will perform with the choreography imposed by them, not their own, but arisen under the influence. And on the World Championship there are also a lot of pairs that perform with a choreography that has been considerably taken over from someone.

In the final World Championship there are no additional categories, only tango de pista and escenario. At city competitions, of course, they also exist, but they are more of a category in order to have more participants, everyone could try themselves, for many this is a joyful, fascinating event. And on the Worls Champiionship there is only social tango (for the dance floor) — and by the way, it always meant social tango — and stage. In social tango usual dancers, those who have learned to dance at milongas, are dancing on the same level as professional dancers. And here it’s not so easy to draw a line between them, between professionals and social dancers, because someone makes money in tango, and someone also gives lessons, but for their own pleasure. And each pair carries something of their own. Some have been training in the hall for eight hours a day, for others the training was an every night milonga.

There are not many such pairs «from milongas» in Europe and, for example, here in Moscow, who participate in the championship. More of those, who give lessons and train to win. In reality, the ronda in de pista competitions is like a milonga, it’s not a situation when you just dance in a closed embrace in a hall with a teacher. And here’s why I put the ratings lower … because the dancers — por favor! — were very insecure. There was not enough elegance in the step. And this despite the fact that everyone looked wonderful, hairstyles, costumes, shining images, I liked them, but the costume will not make the choreography better. Have you come in a shinig outfit or in a usual dress, like you go to milongas — we do not appreciate the complexity of the dress.

But it is another problem, that many people walked uncertainly, there were many problems with this. Step should be made confidently, you are dancing, not passing an exam. If you make a mistake, make the mistake bravely. Nothing has happened, inside the pair you will manage to solve everything.

Is it important to show that you understand the words of tango that you dance?

Oh sure. I have seen many foreign couples who dance very sad tango with a cheerful smile or vice versa. For this they received lower grades. Of course, if you choose tango «with the text,» you need to understand what it is about. And even more so, if you want to tell the story in your dance, you need to follow the text.

And the last question — how have you become one of the referees of the championship?

This is decided by the organizers of the World Championship. They have a list of teachers who can be referees, they make a call and offer to participate. This demands responsibility and as a rule, no one refuses, although you can always say «no». But the main decision is made by the organizers and founders of the Championship.