Gloria y Rodolfo Dinzel
Scene: Ronnie has again, consented to be my translator. Ronnie and I have just completed El Pulpo’s Festival and had taken several of the Master’s Classes with Gloria and Rodolfo and were excited at the prospect of interviewing them. When Gloria arrives, every head turns because she has remarkable presence. I tell her and Rodolfo replies, “Every day, every hour, every moment she is beautiful”.
Q: Virginia Kelly was a student of yours?
Q: …and so was El Pulpo and Juan and Gimena. What I find interesting is that your students are so different in style, yet all share the trait of individual creativity…. definitely not a rubber-stamp of you.
Rodolfo: Si… I encourage my students to develop their own sense of self… to create something unique. My students, I call them, Dinzelitos. (Ronnie and I start laughing… thinking especially of El Pulpo as a Dinzelito.) We are very open to all styles of tango… the only thing we do not tolerate is the mistreatment of the woman…. like making a woman show her underwear or reveal herself when it has nothing to do with tango. A man has to take care of the woman. I live with a woman and have to respect her in every way.
Gloria: We work with the spiritually and soul of Tango as teachers. We work with this and encourage our students to express their spirits and soul and so of course they will each be different.
Rodolfo: Instead of giving them fish, we teach them to fish and each one fishes in their own way.
Q: Because the two of you are so much a part of Tango’s recent history, I was wondering if you could describe your first years together.
Gloria: We didn’t have a teacher. We learned from our parents, and our families…. through osmosis. There were no teachers. I was originally a classical dancer. We started teaching because there was a need. We then established the basis of tango which other teachers have used as a format.
Q: Did you meet through Tango?
Gloria: Our souls were joined long before we met. (They look at each other with obvious affection) We met on a television show about Tango and Folkloric Dances.
Q: Did you fall in love immediately?
Gloria: No… He had long hair and a big beard. Later, we had rehearsals in a theatre and I saw an attractive guy… his hair and face was shaved so I didn’t realize he was the same person.
Rodolfo: Yes… before I was a hippie.
Gloria: With the politics at that time, the young people were very rebellious. In our era, when they killed Che, the men were rebellious against the politics. So they wore long hair.
I was the first ballerina at the Teatro Colon but I moved into Tango because I am Argentine and Tango is Argentina.
Q: Were you involved in tango during the military oppression?
Rodolfo: Yes… We were working at “El Viejo Almacen”, one of the most important places for Tango at that time. We danced there every night and there was no place to study. So we began to teach Tango so that Tango wasn’t lost.
Gloria: But the military left us alone because people with a lot of money and power came to see the show. In another building, we started teaching. We were very young (1970 and 80′s). We were threatened because we were teaching Tango… anonymous threats but we were young and didn’t care and didn’t want to see Tango lost. Also we thought, “we aren’t doing anything bad”.
Rodolfo: …and our students came from all social levels and cultures… Germans, French, maids, architects… extremely diverse… and they would all get together to go dance Tango at a club.
Gloria: Tango unites and reunites. The group was very heterogeneous and yet together.
Q: Were there many clubs to dance at during this period?
Gloria: There were places where you could go and you might dance some tangos… not Milongas… not totally Tango. What happened is that the show, Tango Argentino, created an explosion in Tango.
Q: Why do you feel the military tried to oppress tango? Why tango? Why were they threatened by it?
Gloria: They didn’t want people to get together in big groups. When they took Peron out in 1955, if you had more than 7 people together, it was considered a political meeting. The guerillas were putting bombs in different places. Also the lyrics of tango are very inflammatory. At the same time, there was an invasion of foreign music.
Rodolfo: No milongas… but the Tango is a dance that fosters liberty and it encourages people to come together and do their own interpretation of the dance… and this is the definition of democracy. My liberty ends in the moment that your liberty starts. So everyone on the dance floor can do their own thing until it interferes with someone else. Therefore a milonga is a great school for democracy and liberty, if you look at it this way, as we mentioned during class. It is my opinion that the military felt the same way. In the history of Argentina, when the military has control, Tango is repressed. When there is democracy, Tango grows and prospers. There is evidence of this in the numbers.
Q: Just to clarify… if more than 7 people were considered a political meeting, what about the clubs where you danced?
Rodolfo: Every once in a while, there would be a dance. We went to underground milongas.
Q: Your book with all the diagrams of all the possible moves, gave me the impression that you were a technician… and then your classes gave me the impression that the intimacy of the dance is most important to you…. the communication between the two dancers. I found it to be an interesting blend. The book was about looking at the trees and your classes were about the forest. It is unusual to meet someone who combines both.
Rodolfo: and we only did one little leaf of the tree.
Q: … but the veins and the molecules..
Rodolfo: but tango is much more than that. It’s like scratching the shell of the egg. I still hadn’t described the inside of the egg in that book. It is just the beginning. A student brought me the manuscript with the diagrams and I reviewed it, but Tango is so much more.
Q: The exercises that you gave us in the master class were remarkable. (the exercise emphasized intense interplay between the follower and leader) My husband dances in the way that you had us dance in the final exercise.
Rodolfo: They’re not exercises… it’s dancing. The least able tango dancers resort to the figures. In recent years, we have been teaching people with disabilities to dance… and they dance. People with cancer… with Parkinson’s… psychotic… it changed their lives… not cured, but it made the quality of their life better…. and that’s when we break through the shell of the egg. We do it for free. We do it for and through the Tango.
Q: Could you describe your dance style?
Gloria: Other people can define our style, but I feel the dance… I’m part of it..sensual not sexual..we fall in love again…. perpetual romance. It makes me become eternal… time stops… it is eternity in the dance….and I dance a lot with my eyes closed.
Rodolfo: Everything she said..we are always improvising.. we never repeat anything. Tango is about here and now and it is always changing. We hear the music and respond. We can’t explain our style.
Q: You seem to be a well balanced couple… not the same but balanced. How are you similar and how are you different from one another?
Gloria: It’s like giving a definition of love … of tango …. I love him. He’s the only one that makes me feel good.
Rodolfo: We are together 34 years and we’ve worked a lot
Gloria: …and we fought a lot in very difficult times. We have gone through times when we have been hungry but our path has always been to teach. The show, Argentino Tango, changed everything…. but I always knew that something would happen to breath life into Tango… sooner or later… something would happen to make tango universal. He is a tiger and I am a cat
Rodolfo: A very sweet cat. Oil and vinegar don’t mix but they make a salad very rich. She’s the oil and I’m the vinegar.
Gloria: It hasn’t always been easy but we’ve gotten through the difficult times. If we were dancing, sometimes we would forgot after we got home what we were fighting about.
Rodolfo: The most important thing has always been the two of us. We can be teachers, parents, but we always knew what was most important… each other.
Gloria: What is the search for each person in the couple? and our search was to be a couple. We have only been apart 10 days in 34 years.
Rodolfo: The last five days we were apart, I traveled to Miami to meet about a contract and I was caught in the Katrina Hurricane. I was signing papers to choreograph a tango show that will open there in June. They are building the location now. We will do the casting down here and fly back to Miami in April and May for the opening and then will come back here.
Q: Where do you teach now?
Rodolfo: At the University of Tango. Gloria is the Artistic Director and I direct the curriculum with the Dinzel method at Agrelo 3231. We have 900 students full time and 900 part time. The students receive a certificate as a teacher of Tango and one of our goals is that Tango be taught in all the schools in Buenos Aires. I am currently working on an agreement with the Ministry of Education to have Tango in all the public schools as part of the curriculum …. then the private schools will follow.
Q: the Dinzel method?….
Rodolfo:….is a pedagogical organization of all the elements of Tango.