Daniel w Rebecca Shulman performing in Amsterdam in 1995. (click on the itangocafe link at left to buy the video)
This is the opening performance of V103, from the most popular series that we ever sold at The Tango Catalogue, which was North America’s first, and for a long time only, tango store. Before I sold it in 2002 the catalog had grown from a single page in a tour brochure, 1993, to 64 color pages, with 650 products, and a customer base of 14k dancers, mostly in the US, but also from around the world. We were the first store outside of Argentina to specialize in tango video and music, the first place many of you were able to find traditional tango dance music, the first company to lead dance tours to Buenos Aires, and the fist company to make and distribute tango dance lessons on video. We also for a time were the place to find all of tango’s movies in the same place. This was a feat as many of the most important films, like Tango Bar with Raul Julia, were no longer available. Alas, now in 2010 these movies are much harder to obtain.
As many of you know I sold the catalog under duress. In 2000, my last full issue came out on Nov. 1st. The Bush Gore election was hung a few weeks later, and the retail season was a disaster. I laid off employees, stripped the operation down to bare bones, the catalog went from 64 to 32 pages, color to newsprint, and we mailed only to our real customers. The streamlined version came out early, Sept. 1, 2001. For the second year we suffered disaster a week later, our season going down with the towers, and then the anthrax scare. We never knew how many people even received the catalog, but by that time we were broke. Read the rest of this entry »
If you have taken class with me in any of the last ten years or so, I have probably told my analogy of the Magician and the Magician’s lady. Just the title itself is enough to clue in the most fearsome blockhead to the inequity of gender roles, and the impoverished language we have to describe them.
But Magic is the art of misdirection, and here the Magician accomplishes that feat with grace and style. She does so by surrendering her name. Clever woman. But in doing so participates in a mythology that, while graceful in its essence, is part of the underpinnings of a mismanaged world, where gender imbalance has resulted in a male dominant industrialization of just about everything, while female “nurturialization” lies fallow just when we need it the most. Read the rest of this entry »
Juan Bruno was “El Pibe de Ciudadela” (The Kid from Ciudadela). He died in 2004 at the age of 79 . (dates are approx.) He was my closest friend among the dancers of the older generation. I bonded with him because he was such a gentleman, having real respect for the woman in the dance. And he was loyal to the tradition of men learning by dancing with each other. We spent hours and hours practicing together, comparing notes on tango, and refining ideas for teaching people who did not grow up with tango, and needed more than steps. With Juan I refined my tango translation skills.
In 1995 Juan came to the United States with me for the first time, and I think he had a lasting impact on the development of tango community here. He was a working class guy, and one with a lot of class. He danced with everyone, was extraordinarily gracious, and told endless fabulous stories of the Tango’s Golden Age. Read the rest of this entry »
It has been a pleasure getting going this morning. A lengthy pleasure. My morning ritual, when I can get to it all, includes enjoying waking up, stretching, meditating, showering or bathing, and then a trip to the Pilates machines downstairs. At that point if I have any time left before “work”, by which I mean the responsibilities of my day, I contemplate being here, that is at my creative writing projects. Most of the time I never make it. But today is different. And i think I know why.
I have been less than reliable over the years because there is just so much to download. It is now 23 years since my first visit to Buenos Aires. I know that Tango is a big part of what I have to download, but it is best put in perspective by understanding how well I was fatefully prepared for what i would learn about tango, because it is deceptive to think about tango as only a music and a dance, is is a culture, and a community of music and dance. I was prepared in part by a career of ten years in Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, and Improvisational dance that preceded my experience of tango in Argentina. And in part by my experience of growing up in American alternative communities, from summer camp as a kid, to communes, and alternative dance community as an adult. Read the rest of this entry »
In the 1980s when social tango was re-emerging in Buenos Aires among the returning milongueros, young people only came to the tango because they were interested in performing it. They came from one of two worlds, folkloric dancing (tango for schools or big folk performances) and tango for export (tourist oriented stage shows, and for the select few: Broadway!).
These young people included a class of women who had never really been a part of tango before, trained modern and ballet dancers, and they revolutionized the decorative part of the follower. Read the rest of this entry »
Once upon a time I was an American dancer, North American that is. After beginnings, 1975, in West African with Percy Borde, and Modern with Bill T. Jones (six of us in class at the old American Dance Asylum in Binghamton NY) I found my way in Jazz and Tap with Brenda Bufalino and later with Leon Collins. While working for Brenda as an administrator and grants writer for her company, I also discovered Contact Improvisation, and later the co-operative dance movement. Many of these experiences involved dancing with, and learning from elders in dance, something which was, unknown to me at the time, preparing me for my experience of the Tango’s Milongueros. Especially my experience with the Jazz Hoofers, principally Leon, Honi Coles, Carnell Lyons, Buster Brown, and Chuck Green. Learning from seniors requires a special kind of attitude, humble and patient. The pay off is the learning that is so multilayered, dance and life experiences woven together in the fabric of the teaching.
In 1985, having finished my Masters in Dance at Lesley, I left for Europe touring my tap and jazz song and dance solo, and teaching Jazz and Improvisation in community and institutional settings. I was in Berlin teaching at the Tanzfabrik when I met two lovely Argentine women who had convinced me that they understood my English in class, but whom I later discovered had bluffed their way though my class. Zoraida and I flirted in our mutual minimal Italian, and discovered that we would both be in Barcelona a few weeks later. Indeed we met again there, but only after the most cosmic of “accidents”. We proceeded to have an amazing love affair that led us to meet again and again in various cities. Eventually it led to her invitation to come to Buenos Aires, which I did in the winter of 86-87. Zoraida Fontclara had graduated from the State School of Modern Dance at the San Martin Theatre, and she convinced the director of the school, Ana Itelman, one of the principal movers of modern dance in Argentina, to invite me to teach at the school, a relationship with the dance world that lasted even beyond Ana’s death in 1989. Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to the newest iteration of danieltrenner.com
It has been a long time coming!
In 2001 I went on a forced leave of absence that I expected to last three years, and ended up lasting seven. The catalyst was that I was the victim of random gang violence, while on tour in the SF Bay Area. The physical, emotional, and spiritual recoveries were lengthy. I just needed to stop and turn inward.
I regret that the crisis resulted in chaos for my personal and business networking. I had been to more than 100 cities during my travels and maintained contacts in most of them, and real connections with many important people in my life. I did circulate a message after the attack, and many people reached out to me, for which I am grateful, but many more folks may never have even known what happened, and simply felt abandoned by me. For this I am sorry. A medical emergency and the follow up recovery meant that I fell out of touch with everyone. The recovery of my network, as it was, seems unlikely, especially as now I am already building a new one. But I am now making an attempt to reach everyone that I can and alert you all that I am returning to work, traveling to teach again, and maintaining a beautiful new home in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA, where I teach locally, and receive guests for intensive private study. Read the rest of this entry »