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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Inside Perspectives
Argentine Tangos
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Paris, OT (France)
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An Interview with Pascale Coquigny and Luis Bruni

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 18, 2002
Paris, OT (France)

About the Author:

Pascale Coquigny and Luis Bruni

pascale@ik.ca


By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Pascale Coquigny and Luis Bruni are world-renowned Argentine Tango performers and Tango instructors, who reside in Paris. They conduct engaging and professional Tango workshops in Paris, in the United States, and abroad. Pascale Coquigny and Luis Bruni are the subjects of this inside perspective.

November 18, 2002, with Pascale Coquigny and Luis Bruni, by email, from Paris, France.


REZ — Pascale, tell me about your background, growing up in Paris.

PC — I grew up in a very small town North of Paris. There was always music and dancing in the house. Sunday mornings, when my sisters and I wanted to sleep, my dad would put on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony full blast! The whole family loves dancing. I took different types of classes from ballet to African dancing, whenever I had the chance. When I finished school, I left France to live abroad. The interesting thing is that I never thought I would be back, 18 years later. It was Tango that brought me back.


Luis Bruni and Pascale Coquigny
Photo courtesy of Luis Bruni and Pascale Coquigny

REZ — How did you develop as a dancer?

PC — When I moved to Buenos Aires, I told all my friends I did not want to meet any Argentinean guy and even less a dancer. Ten days later I met Luis, and, thanks to him, I met Graciela Gonzalez, Pupy Castelo, Tete, Martha Anton, Manolo, el Pibe Palermo and many other great dancers. But really Luis was the one who really taught me most. His passion does not have limits. Living with him is like bathing in tango 24 hours a day! There is so much to learn. He always involves me in his research with old masters, sharing so generously his knowledge of dancing, and giving me a chance to express myself through the dance. I feel proud and fortunate to work and grow with Luis.

REZ — What were your first Tango experiences? Performances?

PC — In 1990 I started in Canada. I was first much involved with salsa, and for a while I managed to do both, but tango quickly took over my life. Soon just dancing in Toronto was not enough, so I would travel every weekend I could to Montreal. But, a 12-hour drive every weekend to be on the dance floor was not really ideal. I managed to go various times to Buenos Aires for several months at a time. One day I realized I was really frustrated with the local Tango scene and that was it! The perfect excuse was to move to Buenos Aires and get as much dancing, as I wanted, as well as the best teachers.

I should mention my fabulous experience teaching tango to children. You would not believe how passionate they can be. I did a couple of shows with them that were very well received, the last one involving the tango community. I remember one little boy, who was about 11 years old and who wanted to become a professional tango dancer, and a little girl who said, "Am I old enough to do tango?" She was just 7 then.

REZ — Luis, tell me about your background, growing up in Argentina.

LB — I'm a fourth generation Argentinean descendant of Spanish, Italian and Croatians. I was born in La Plata and grew up in the centre of Buenos Aires. I always was in an artistic environment, as my parents are both actors.

I studied ballet and worked for 15 years as a dancer in the two most important theatres of Argentina: Teatro Colon and Teatro Argentino de la Plata, where I performed with the most famous dancers in the world, such as Maia Plissetskaia, Estela Erman, Julio Boca (star of the American Ballet Theatre), Maximilio Guerra (London Ballet Theatre), Iniaqui Urlenzaga (London Royal Ballet Theatre), Ludmila Semeniaka, and first line international choreographers such as Oscar Arais, and the French master and choreographer, Joseph Lazzini, who is so pleased to see that I am now using his technique of body works for tango dancers.


REZ — Luis, how did you develop has a tango dancer? Who influenced you—music, performers, partners, etc.?

LB — There was a big step between dancing "Swan Lake" and getting to the milonga. First of all, understanding the "essence". My first work in tango was in 1987. It was for a show of Jorjeddon (Bejart first dancer). I was 17 years old, and dancers like Giselle Anne, Alejandra Aquino, Nora Robles (my partner then), and Pedro Calvera where also part of that show. All of them continued successful careers in tango, while I dedicated myself to Ballet. While I was travelling the world as a ballet dancer, I often was asked, ¬How come you are Argentinean but do not dance tango?" My experience then was choreographed tango, not the tango of the milonga. In 1993, after a successful tour in Europe, I decided to look into it. Like most people, I got hooked, which was very difficult to combine with my ballet career. I would go to the milonga until early morning. My career really suffered, and I started to put on weight. In 2000, I decided to make the big step and take a leave of absence from the theatre. I have not returned to the ballet since.

For seven years I worked with Graciela Gonzalez, first as her student, then as her assistant, and later as a founding member of the Graciela Gonzalez Group (aimed at the investigation of the pedagogy in Tango). In 2000 I became her partner for a three month European tour (Germany, Austria, Italy, Israel, Holland for the International Festival of Amsterdam). That was the beginning of my tango career.

REZ — How did you both meet? What is the history of your dance relationship?

LB — We met in the famous Milonga, "Nino Bien". Pascale had just moved to Buenos Aires, and we never imagined becoming professional dance partners. It all just happened spontaneously. As Pascale grew in her dancing, she gradually joined me in the various works. When we recently moved to Paris, we officially introduced ourselves as partners.

REZ — Where have you performed? Where do you teach? Workshops, classes, etc.?

PC — Just a year ago we gave our first performances and workshops together in Montreal, Toronto, and Detroit. Now we mostly perform and teach in Europe. During the week we have our regular classes in Paris as well as a monthly workshop every second Sunday of the month; we are very pleased it is a real success. Milonga Traspie, musicality, and of course the Technique of jumps is a real hit! Last summer we went back to North America, and spent a month teaching at the Tango Boston Society, and then made a quick appearance in New York, where you saw us in action.

REZ — What are your plans for this year ? For future years?

PC — For the moment we enjoy being based in Paris. It is close to anywhere, really, if you think about it. It only takes 6 hours to go to New York. We plan to go back regularly to North America, and, who knows, why not spend half of our time in each continent! Geographically we are still unsettled and open to options. Our main priority at the moment is to continue with the projects promoting our method of teaching—continue the research and saving material of the last tango maestros.

REZ — What do you feel is the essence of your tango style and teaching methodology?

PC — The essence of our tango comes with its simplicity and the softness of our movements. In our exhibition we show an intimate and natural tango, which is accessible to dancers who are willing to let their heart embrace their partner. Our strong point is our pedagogy, our personal attention to our students. Our work is based on the knowledge of the body, structures of the dance as well as its historical context, creativity, and most of all sensibility to the music, and your partner. Teaching tango as a culture, not just a sequence of steps.

REZ — Who are your favourites Tango composers? Favourite songs? Favourite orchestras? What music do you prefer to dance to? Why?

LB — It is hard to choose since I really like most tangos from Guada Vieja to Piazzolla, but it would have to be the orchestras from the 40's, such as D'Arienzo, D'Agostino with Vargas, Tanturi with Campos, and, on top of the list, Alberto Castillo and Di Sarli.

PC — I prefer the orchestras that play with rhythms and melody such as Troilo, Tanturi Castillo, and D'Arienzo with Echague. Their music allows me to add my personal touch, through my embellishments, without interrupting what my partner expresses.

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