Tango’s vet­eran cou­ple hark back to golden age

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - World -

BUENOS AIRES, Ar­gentina — They are in their ninth decade of life, but the rhythm of tango still thrills in the legs of Os­car and Nina.

Even their com­peti­tors at last week’s tango world cham­pi­onship con­ceded that this cou­ple danced the most au­then­tic tango of all.

Hav­ing learned tango dur­ing its golden age in 1940s Buenos Aires, Os­car Br­usco and Nina Chu­doba are some of the long­est-sur­viv­ing pro­po­nents of the art.

“We are the essence of tango,” said Br­usco, still straight­backed at 90 and ready to dance.

“Our tango is some­thing dif­fer­ent: walk­ing and cross­ing, floor tango. None of this twirling of the legs.”

Chu­doba, 82, is the daugh­ter of Pol­ish im­mi­grants who set­tled in one of Buenos Aires’ top tango ar­eas, Valentin Alsina.

She is glad to see young peo­ple still danc­ing tango but is also nos­tal­gic for its hey­day.

“We breathed tango, we fell in love with tango and we laughed with tango,” she says.

“They all dance the same nowa­days. Be­fore, each dancer had their own style.”

Chu­doba turned to danc­ing se­ri­ously in her 50s af­ter her hus­band died. That was how she met Br­usco, also a wid­ower.

They go four times a week to “mi­lon­gas”, tango dance par­ties.

Br­usco said that was all the re­hearsal they needed for the cham­pi­onships.

“I have been danc­ing since 1945. What could we re­hearse?” he said. “I have a lot of mileage in tango.”

Faced with younger com­pe­ti­tion, the cou­ple did not win the cham­pi­onship in Buenos Aires — but they got a stand­ing ova­tion as they stepped on stage.

Back­stage, fi­nal­ists Juan Manuel Ros­ales and his wife Liza greet Br­usco and Chu­doba be­fore go­ing on stage to com­pete.

“When I look at them, I think that they are part of tango,” says Ros­ales.

“They lived through the real age of tango, in the 1940s, when the whole coun­try was danc­ing it.”

Nearby, younger male dancers in suits jelled their hair, sport­ing mus­taches like the stars of a past age.

“The legacy has been passed on,” says Liza. “We will try to keep the essence from be­ing lost.”

EITAN ABRAMOVICH / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Dancers Os­car Br­usco (left) and Nina Chu­doba (sec­ond left) walk to the stage dur­ing the Tango World Cham­pi­onship in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina, last week.

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