An expat Californian building a new life via the tango in Buenos Aires since 2003, including information on learning the tango and where to dance it in Buenos Aires.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Passion, Love, Tango--and??

Melina Brufman and Claudio Gonzalez, two dancers from Forever Tango, are opening their show, Tango-Encoded Episodes, accompanied by guitarist and singer Guillermo Fernandez, this weekend in Maryland, U.S.

What makes it different from all of the other gadzillion tango shows is that she dances topless. Despite it all, he says that the couple are "just friends."

Maybe holding the audience's interest for a whole evening with only two dancers and a musician was too difficult otherwise.

You can read all about it in the Washington Post (but without topless photos, sorry.)


Johanna said...

Well, call me a prude, but when the line between sensual and sexual is crossed, it stops being Tango for me.

tangobaby said...

I'm sorry, I just don't get it. What in the world does a naked breast have to do with enjoying such a beautiful dance. If anything, I would think it would distract from their talents as dancers.

Plus, this just perpetuates the image to the public that tango is all about sex when people who truly appreciate know that it is so much more than that.

Oh well. Nudity did a lot for Josephine Baker's career. I'm sure lots of politicians and businessmen in DC will suddenly develop a huge "appreciation" for tango.

Francisco from Seattle said...

Hey Tangocherie,
here in the Northwest we should try topless "Contra Dancing" since it's being loosing popularity lately:)

Anonymous said...

have you at least seen this show before you talk about it??

Anonymous said...

reading how you talk about things you haven't seen, tell a lot about you, guys!

tangocherie said...


Perhaps you didn't notice that no one is talking about the quality of the show, music or dancing--only that Melina performs topless.

One doesn't have to see it to imagine a naked bosom. And there are people who prefer not to, especially in a dance they love.

Argentine tango is cheapened all over the globe in books, articles, movies, and stage shows. This is just one more example.

I saw a stage show here in Buenos Aires a couple of years ago, where the finale was performed by the whole cast with the girls in thongs. Ugly ugly.

Johanna said...

I would be interested in knowing "anon's" relationship to tango, and how dancing it topless adds to the quality of any tango show.

Anonymous said...

you don't even know how she get topless or what for.
you don't know the poetry by alejandra pizarnik, a great argentinian poet, that holds that part of "tango encoded episodes"

That number called "the captives" is nothing about sex.
Again, you can't talk before seing what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

hi, my name is melina brufman, I have read the coments that you did on our show "tango Encoded Episodes" on your blog.

I'm surprised that you sugest that I need to take my top of to keep the audience interested in my work and you disrespect not only my career, but claudio Gonzalez's one and Guillermo Fernandez's as well, who, by the way, is not "just a musician" as you describe.

There's nothing but the great ovation of the audience to confirm that you position is wrong.
But I'm sure you didn't even come to see the show you are talking about.

the 3 of us have already done enaught for the development of argentine tango all around the world. It's ironic how people that do nothing but having a blog dares to ofense us.

Julia Schiptsova said...

Although I appreciate your excitement, attention and involvement, as a producer of the Tango Encoded Episodes play in Washington DC I feel it necessary to stand up for the artists and stop this ridiculos discussion of the article on the show that you have never seen. This past Friday and Saturday nights we welcomed a very versatile and exciting audience of older and younger, male and female, white and black, straight and gay with one element uniting them under the roof of the GW's Lisner Auditorium theater - their love and appreciation for the arts. Two standing ovations as well as multiple overwhelmingly positive feedbacks are well proving the success of the play and the power of true art. I believe it might be a problem of the writers of this blog not being able to separate sensual from sexual and considering a poetic artistic expression "sexual", without even seeing it. Nudity is not necesarily sexual or distructive, as it is accepted to think in most of the United States, it wouldn't even be a subject of discussion in Europe or even in NYC. The "nudity" scene in the Tango Encoded Episodes is one of the most beutiful, artful and intimate parts of the work, accompanied by moving poetry by a famous Argentine writer, describing two people absorbed by the power of love to the point where they begin dissolving within each other. The scene was named as an "untraditional moment" by the Washington Post editor and rightfully so in this puritan country, never mentioning though that this was what made the show different, as it was originally misinterpreted by tangocherie.
By the way, for those ignorant, Guillermo Fernandez is one of the most important and talented singers in the present history of the Argentine Tango who has received multiple awards in the US and all across South America. I suggest that you watch the show to familiarize yourself with the subject of discussion or at least speak with someone who was in the audience on October 12 & 13 before moralizing any further.
Julia Schiptsova

Anonymous said...

I guess you should apologize to them!!

Johanna said...

Dear Julia, Melina, and the various (?) anonymous posters:

As both a director of theatre and a tanguera, I understand your passion for your own work. I have often made directorial choices that receive flack from audiences, including those who had not seen the work. That is the nature of the beast. If you choose to do something provocative, no matter what medium, you must be prepared for the opinions of people who are provoked.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, whether they have seen the work in question in context or not. For example, I do not need to go to a chess match to know that playing it topless - for whatever reason - is absurd. That is my opinion. And the arts are open to opinion; witness Andy Warhol's soup cans. Is that art or soup?

I have seen tango shows where the woman goes topless. It was artistically done, and very tasteful, but it completely negated the experience of what "tango" is for me. If it were part of a play, and the tango was just part of a story that required a sexual expression, that's a different story.

But if you are offering a Tango show, I cannot help but feel dismayed that in the US, everything that is "new" and "innovative" must somehow include nudity. For many of us, Tango is NOT a sexual, but a sensual experience. Nudity, no matter how tasteful, is a sexual choice. And I think that is what is receiving such objection.

Melina, I have reread all the comments here and no one has personally criticized you, nor even suggested that you need to be topless in order to keep you audience's attention. That is your inference.

Noora-Lisa said...

Wow! I think this is the only developed country in the world where the fact of a topless woman in a performance creates such hostility, for people who haven't even seen the context!

So, as someone who saw the show, and someone who sees that nudity can be either sexual or sensual or both, I have to say that the show was beautiful and original, not like anything I’ve ever seen. There was clear excitement in the audience throughout the show, evidenced by standing ovation.


It was a dramatic presentation that used the mediums of acting, dancing (tango and other dance), singing, guitar, poetry, and more, to tell a series of stories. The topless scene was about love, and it communicated through dance and acting and the human body a universal story about love (not sex, as they are two different things) between two people. It was beautiful.

Sorry to people who now have to go explain to 10 more people with preconceived notions about tango that it is not about sex. But let's not sink down to the lowest common denominator of closed-mindedness!

Hats off to Melina, Claudio, Guillermo, and Julia for an amazing show that's getting lots of attention! ;)

Tina said...

I have seen Melina and Claudio in Forever Tango a while back, I enjoyed them a lot, and I was able to meet them and thought they were very sweet people. I'd love to see this show to be honest.

As for a brief moment of toplessness, I saw the preview of it in youtube, and that is one of the scenes it shows, and really it's just fine, very artistic and a little emotional. It looks as though it's to modern dance choreography actually.

Even though I'm quite the Tango traditionalist, these things don't bother me, whether it's sexual or not. Maybe it's a cultural thing (I spend half my time in Italy after all), but I don't even blink and eye when I see a scene like this.
The woman's body is beautiful and life-giving, and if that gets included in a Tango show once in a while, fine. I don't think it's any "less" tango than if she were wearing a dress.

Nudity doesn't have to be a sexual choice.

That said, part of producing any kind of show, particularly with a topless scene, and particularly in the U.S., means accepting that controversy will arise sometimes. Not everybody will like it. So if I were the producer or a dancer in the show, I wouldn't at all be offended by critiques such as the one in this blog.

I respect Cherie as the owner of the blog who is entitled to write as much or as little as she pleases on the topic.

Tango101 said...

My opinion is that without being there in the auditorium, really, the opinion lacks value!

Also, why are we as a society so scared of the beauty of an harmonious and artistic body showed as a "part" of a piece of art?

It was far from being sexual, as a matter of fact, although the audience of course noticed it, it was not the main focus at all.

The dance, the feeling, the intimacy, openness and purity of the moment in this piece is what says more than the breasts, but once again you had to be there to judge, and hopefully appreciate more than without witnessing it!

Melina does not need to be topless to keep the audience attention, on the contrary, people in the audience really appreciated the art so much, that haven't made the distinction on her being with the top of. Both Claudio and Melina are just amazing dancers!

I disagree that a naked body is sexual, the woman's body is as beautiful as Tango is, and you don't have to feel a sexual desire to appreciate it.

There was nothing really offensive about that piece in the performance, it was just a unique piece of art, regardless of the nudity part where the critics got stuck, without even seeing the performance.

Melina and Claudio have a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience, contribution and respect for Tango, dancers of this caliber are barely found in this world.

Also, calling Guillermo Fernandez a "musician" falls short in the description of an eminent figure in the traditional Argentine Tango and culture.

Such comments show that the critic is lacking quite a bit of appreciation and knowledge of the Argentine Tango in the end!

Please go see the piece, and open your minds, nudity is very much censured in US, but is being part of art from the Renaissance era on.

Sad to hear after such a Masterpiece, you can dare to say (even without seeing it), that they needed to get naked to be appreciated or catch the attention of the audience.

Maybe the ones that need to learn to be appreciative of real beauty and art are the people who judge without seeing, and close minded ones who automatically assume that nudity is always offensive. It's like they got stuck in shallow judgment and extreme fear of the natural state of the human being.

The show was an AMAZING piece of art, if nudity is something that scares "some" people, we could have more important topics to discuss!

Is there a reason for such fear? We could go on to another topic another more exciting blog.....

Way to go Cherie! You managed to be offensive and ugly and you haven't even taken your top off...!

Anonymous said...

Hey if you saw the show maybe you would have had a better understanding of why it may have been appropriate to be partially nude. I thought the show was about different expressions and feelings expressed in the form of tango, hence the title "tango encoded episodes". I did not think that that tango scene was inappropriate when I saw the show--In fact I thought it was totally appropriate in the context of the show. If you saw the show, you wouldn't focus on that one episode. Instead you would have been impressed with the various beautiful tango dances. I saw the show and I wasn't obsessed with that scene. It was a great show, and that scene only enhanced it in my opinion. It was actually my favorite tango dance. Chess players can be topless, it's not absurd, it depends on context.

Anonymous said...

Dear commentators, as an artist and architect with some thierty years of education in art history etc. I am very disturbed to see some of the comments posted here against Melina's right to her artistic expression. I saw the show and I saw people's reaction. I saw people coming to tears when they saw such immense expression of beauty and pure art. Melina should be congradulated and appreciated for her talent and we should pay tribute to her courage for daring to express herself in the light of such narrow minded and bigetted community. I would suggest that those who find nudity as something to be ashamed of should perhaps move to Iran or Afghanestan where such expressions are forbidden but seriousely we live in the usa a country dedicated to liberty and freedom of the individual. Further more have you guys been to the Vatican or other churches where nudity is depicted as an expression of spirituality. Please get off your arrogance and study art a bit or at least have the dignity to see Melina's performance before you pass on any unjustified judgement and if you don't have the courage to see a nude woman on stage then keep your silence for it befits you better.

Anonymous said...

it's ok that you don't like human bodies, you don't need to go, but don't offense the artist.

Just change that horrible line about "holding the audience's interest for a whole evening with only two dancers and a musician was too difficult otherwise"

that's just malicious.

Johanna said...

Tango101, you would do well to heed your own words and truly read the comments preceding your defense of this show and your criticism of others, especially the host of this blog.

1. No one has criticized the show.
2. No one has criticized the musician.
3. No one has criticized Melina.
4. No one has suggested she needs to dance topless to keep the audience's attention.
5. No one suggested they are not world-class talent.
6. No one is disrespecting anyone on that stage.

All of these points were raised by Julia and Melina and anonymous posters, and you are perpetuating a conflict here by assigning blame unfairly.

The objections that are voiced here are quite specifically to the concept of pairing nudity with tango. PERIOD.

It is likewise unfair to suggest that one must see something before you can have a real opinion. I am certain that everyone knows their own personal taste better than anyone else. There are people who will not go see a Schwartzenneger movie because they are "violent". Or listen to Country & Western music because it's "stupid". I do not need to see tango danced nude - no matter how tasteful or artistic or creative or original it may be - in order to know that it is not what I consider tango.

Also, I clearly stated that if this number was part of a play or something other than a "tango" show, it would be ok for me, as long as it is not being sold as "tango". But now I am confused as to whether or not it is a Tango show or not, since, according to the Washington Post, the creators describe their efforts as "a new type of tango -- one that combined theater, poetry and song as well as several styles of dance and even elements of circus". So is it or is it not tango?

I have nothing against nudity (myself having appeared practically nude in a play). I just prefer it to not be during tango. I went to see Zoomanity. That was a nude circus. And I enjoyed that very much.

Anonymous said...

oh johanna!!!! whay don't you just read what tangocherie wrote on the original post before you defend her so much?
because she was rude...

Anonymous said...

and you insisist calling "musician" to the great Guillermo Fernandez... why don't you just google him?

Liza said...

being irked by the artists' nudity in the show speaks more about ourselves than the artists. these strong reactions, strong enough to have a blog about them, put us right up against our deep-seeded views of life, morals, and cultural hang-ups. come to think of it, that's how Iraq got started. it's our mind, not anything else that sets the limit on what is tango and what is not.

perhaps we could shift our perspective a bit, and instead try to approach things with curiosity and understanding of what the artists were conveying to us, respecting thier choice of nudity as one tool of expression. judgement closes doors, curisoty opens them. with this attitude, some of you could have probably enjoyed the show more

n a n c y said...

If nudity was 'not an important part' of the show, then why did the flyer for the Miami performance make a point of it? When my tanguero friends and I saw the flyer, we decided to pass on yet' another cheesey Hollywood tango show'.

And why can't you bailarinas read? Cherie's Blog has been going for many years - it was not created to attack you or your performance. And she does have some standing in the Buenos Aires tango community, should you care to investigate.

Or is all of this just a stereotypical example of the well-known Argentine Hysteria?

tangocherie said...


Haven't all you Anonymous/Connected to-the-Show-people who are calling me names for saying that Guillermo Fernandez is "a musician," ever heard that there is no such thing as bad publicity?

You should be grateful; I probably sold lots of tickets for you.

And here in Argentina, being "a musician" is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

bad news for you:
a. you are not argentinian.
b. you are not so important to sell tickets for anybody. Not here, not in buenos aires.

you have to lern some respect before you pretend talk about tango.

Julia said...

To answer Nancy's question, why nudity was mentioned on the flyer - just for your information, in case you didn't know, in the United States it is required by law and these were mandatory instructions from the theater, including the wording. If it were our choice, the nudity scene wouldn't have been mention as it by no means represents the essence of the show nor it is used as advertisement. Evedintly, there is a lot of judgement without existing knowledge on this blog. It is easy to say things and critisize, until you actully try to produce a show and go through the whole process.

Julia Schiptsova

Julia said...

By the way, I'm not even an Argentine, I'm Russian, so you can hardly assign the "Argentine Hysteria" to me and I think it's best not to mention nationalities or generalize, it's not very nice and there are lots of things that can be said about Americans as well, there is really no need.

Julia Schiptsova

n a n c y said...

Hmm.....who started the nationality bashing, Julia? As for the policies in Miami: perhaps you are unaware that the arbiters of culture and taste in Miami are the Cubans and the other hispanics who predominate. Sort of cultural 'cousins' to the Argentines. So it is those puritanical 'Americans' who think folks need to be 'warned' about nudity when considering a public performance. If you had stuck with the original choreography and costuming ( per your website), none of this would be an issue.

And I am wondering why no newspaper or magazine of any note has chosen to review this performance. The only link, outside of ticket sales, is to this very Blog. Thus, you have been hoist by thine own petard. Do you really believe that only Pure Argentines are capable of having artistic opinions about tango?

PS: Janet Jackson did it first.

Julia said...

And why exactly are we talking about Miami and the Cubans? The theater where the Tango Encoded Episodes took place is in Washington DC only, I'm not sure where Miami has come from...
And this whole blog has started because of an article in the Washington Post(if it can be considered a source of "any note", of course), the author of which has actually seen and loved the show even though she is not an Argentine...

Open Embrace said...

I saw the show and I am not connected whatsoever to the organizers. I thought that the nudity part was very elegant and anything but sexual; it presented both dancers as equal partners! Both were moving so dynamically all over the stage, topless yet wearing the same type pants. It was a genius display of symmetry that completely disregarded gender, unless of course the only thing you were paying attention to was her (or his for that matter) breasts. I think that the women who are complaining about it, just like critics of topless beaches, are very jealous because their breasts have wilted down so much it became like a tomato that stayed in the fridge for a very long time...

tango diva said...

My breasts are plenty perky thank you. Now, tell me why I should give my money to the producers and performers of this show who have decided I am not capable of making a cultural evaluation of anything? The trailer was enough for me.

The Post 'article' was not a review. Surely, you do know the difference? It was a listing of events. Let's keep this going. It is the only 'publicity' these folks are getting.

gabriel r. said...


Te lo digo en "argento" ya que decís vivir en Argentina.

1) No le mientas al norteamericano al decir que Guillermo Fernandez es "músico" o "musician". Es cantante, tanguero, y un artista grosso. Tampoco le mientas a la gente al decir que "And here in Argentina, being "a musician" is a good thing" ¿que tiene que ver eso en la discusión? En Argentina también es "a good thing" ser futbolista. Pero Guillermo Fernandez no es futbolista...

2) En varias ocasiones dijiste que:
2a) Maybe holding the audience's interest for a whole evening with only two dancers and a musician was too difficult otherwise.
2b) Argentine tango is cheapened all over the globe in books, articles, movies, and stage shows. This is just one more example.
Podrías al menos tener la dignidad de pedir perdón, reconocer el error y seguir. Pero tu orgullo no te lo permite: porque no viste un show, opinaste sin saber, boqueaste de más, se te fue todo de mambo y ahora no sabés como hacer para pedir perdón sin quedar como una boluda.

3) Ni Melina, ni Claudio ni Guillermo necesitan rebajarse a la "mala publicidad" como medio para obtener "publicidad". Lo demuestran con cada proyecto malo que rechazan.

Finalmente, querida... si andás por la milonga porteña, te recomendaría que borres la foto de tu blog. Te estás quemando.

Saludos, y espero que publiques el comentario. Si quieres luego te los traduzco.

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