Originally from Buenos Aires, Maestro Questas moved to US almost 30 years ago. He has been traveling back and forth teaching, performing and competing. He is based in Los Angeles right now. We sat down to talk about Argentine Tango in the US…
Question: Hello Marcos. So nice to meet you! I’ve noticed a lot of Argentine Tango activity here in the US, new competitions and events. What is happening?
Marcos: Hola Maria! Thanks for having me. Yes, you are right! Tango is finally making its way around the United States, as an intriguing and soulful dance because of its unique movement and requirement to connect to someone. I believe that things have a tendency to develop in time, and in a world where it is so easy to become distracted Tango offers the opposite in the sense that we get to connect to ourselves and to others. It challenges us to ground ourselves and look for what's happening in the moment.
Question: What is your background? How did you come to the states and how has Tango been in involved in your life?
Marcos: I began by watching my grandparents dance Tango in Buenos Aires, on the back patio of their home. After a family dinner or a celebration there would come a time in the night where Tango music would be played off the radio, and people would get up to dance. My grandparents would go out to the Tango Salons and I would hear how everyone danced and would come home late at night. In what is latest, even if one did not dance Tango there was Tango music on the radio, Tango shows on TV which I eventually became part of. My mother began teaching me my first steps in secret, and one day showed my dad when he came home from work. My dad was an Artistic Director of a local folkloric company and when he noticed I had learned a few steps he stepped in and began teaching me how to dance. My first performance was at the age of six as I was part in a celebration of the national Pink House entertainment committee, that would be equivalent to our White House here in the States, and it never left me since. I've danced in the major Tango halls, traveled internationally with Tango shows, danced in some of the best Tango shows on television and one day came to the States and never left.
Question: So where do you see Argentine Tango going in the United States? I know you are part of two major big projects including the United States National Argentine Tango Association and the first International tango Summit and Argentine tango World Cup. Looks like a big year for you…
Marcos: Yes, it has been our idea since 2016 to host the largest Tango Festival and Championship in North America and so the “International Tango Summit & Argentine Tango World Cup” was born. It will take place this September at Hilton LAX and is a unique collaborative effort of looking to blend the largest Tango Festival, a Tango Competition so unique it has never been offered and evenings filled with live traditional music with an orchestra from Buenos Aires. In researching what we wanted to offer in competitive Argentine Tango, It became very clear that Tango has a diverse amount of styles which people are just learning about today. We have Tango de Pista, Milonguero style, Fantasia, Vals, Milonga, Tango, Rhythmic Tango, Tango Stage. However we also wanted to give space to important partnerships including Amateur division, Pro-Am division and a Professionals only division. And this is something that we have never seen in Argentine Tango ever before, and it's really exciting! On top of that, our event is sanctioned by the United States Argentine Tango Association that I am part of as well. There are a few competitions in Argentine Tango happening throughout the world aiming mostly at Amateur dancers, but there is no competition or organization supporting the Professionals in Argentine Tango. USNATA offers a place for Amateurs, but is also looking to an opportunity for Tango Professionals to progress, work and compete. USNATA welcomes a vast Committee of individuals with a diverse background in Argentine Tango who are working together to document Tangos styles, create a Tango syllabus as well as work towards future opportunities for Professionals, and develop a thorough Tango accreditation program for any Professional looking to progress their studies and become a certified Tango teacher. It is our vision with these Maestros to support growth and include all styles.
Question: So you are telling me that this is the first time in the Tango history that you were offering Professional, Pro-Am and Amateur partnerships? This hasn't been done before?
Marcos: That's right! There are many wonderful Argentine Tango competitions that have paved the way to where we are today. As I mentioned before, these competitions and events focus mainly on Amateur dancers. We would like to open doors to the Professional Argentine Tango dancers in the United States and the world. In addition to the Amateur category we are offering the Professional only category as well as Pro-Am category where Professionals can compete with their students.
Question: What is your grand title at the competition?
Marcos: We decided to make our grand championship title the Triple Crown. It is taking Tango’s three historically most known styles Argentine Tango, Vals and Milonga. Another unique difference that we offer is that our championships, different from single dances, are danced in a set of three back to back dances. This is our tradition and it i called a “tanda”. We hold our tradition whether we dance a championship such as Tango de Pista which has three Tangos back to back, or our ultimate title the Triple Crown which has our Traditional Tango, Milonga and Vals danced back to back. 12 minutes may seem along time, but when dancing Tango the time seems to fly. It's really fun to watch but even better to be apart of.
Question: Can you tell me a little bit more about the United States Argentine Tango Association?
Marcos: Yes, sure! Apart from dance competitions, USNATA will be offering an accreditation system developed by grand Maestros from Argentina and all over the world. There will finally be an opportunity for Professionals of all backgrounds, Tango, Ballroom, Latin or Caribbean dances, to get certified in authentic Argentine Tango and keep their students motivated for years to come. Based on the Tango syllabus offered in the accreditation process, the Professional Tango dance teachers will get introduced to the syllabus danced at our dance competitions. I know that many dancers are looking forward to this and again, this is something that doesn’t exist in the US or the world.
Question: So where do we find information on the upcoming dance competitions, festivals and USNATA?
Marcos: This coming September 6-9 we are organizing “The International Tango Summit and Argentine Tango World Cup”, more information is available here: www.internationaltangosummit.com. Our next big competition and festival will be taking place in Washington DC in July 2019 ‘National Argentine Tango Competition & Casablanca Festival’ www.tangocasablanca.com. To learn more about USNATA, check out their website: www.usnata.org.
Question: Is there anything else you want to share with us?
Marcos: That is a great time to add Argentine Tango to your dancing and it's a great time to explore this unique dance whether you are a Professional, Amateur or beginning to dance. The community is absolutely growing, and there are great schools and Maestros to learn from. It just so happens that most of them are part of the core of USNATA. We are in the beginning stages of unique opportunities, educational programs and a new way to express yourself - how fantastic is that? Muchas gracias por tu tiempo, Maria... and let’s Tango!