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Documenting a period in my development that could become pivotal

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Drawing Pampas Devils' Tango lessons

With the generous permission from Juan Pablo Vino's Pampus Devil dancers, I am using their instructional video as reference for drawing Tango. I started drawing the Pampis Devil dancers on a cruise that began January 4th in Buenos Aires. Now that I am back home, I am working from memory of the performances and lessons on ship. The drawing above is my favorite one that I did today. I hope to use these drawings to make some 3" x 2" tiles for a gift. A question comes up. Could I do just as well drawing Tango dancers in Oregon? After all there are many classes here and videos on the web. The answer is it isn't the same drawing here as it was when I was emerged in the excitement, the history and culture. For more detail about drawing the Tango please click on my comments.


Kay Dennison said...

I really like this drawing!!!!!!! Tjanks for sharing it!

Parapluie said...

Thank you Kay, I am striving to make the dancers look as though they are dancing and not paper dolls pasted to a stage - difficult in Tango for several reasons. The movement begins in the rib cage. In basic steps the rib cages of the woman and the man face each other in a constantly held position so the partners are dancing together. Difficult in drawing to depict the bridge and constant rib cage position because the three dimensionality of the rib cage volume on a flat surface has receeding angles that need to be drawn in perspective in proper relationship to other references or the dancers will fall open and not be moving as a pair. the references I have found are the lines of the necks and shoulder pads of the man and the shoulders of the woman. The dance steps are done in a cat walk which presents another problem. Three points are always in contact with the floor (The heel and sole of the weight bearing foot and the toe of the moving foot) so care needs to be taken to show which leg is moving. Clues of which foot is weight bearing are very subtle. The angles of the shoes and the bend of the ankle is important to show. The other clue is lining up the imaginary center of gravity line. Hair often falls parallel to the line as do dangling ear rings and the way clothing hangs. Another difficulty is static postures at rest between steps. The end of each step does not give the heightened impression of movement. Better movement occurs when a transfer of weight is happening as the dancers are mid way in a step. Also the non weight bearing foot drags at a small angle which is a sign that there is no weight on it. Another problem with showing movement in Tango dances is that the upper body doesn't move much. The bent knees alos quiets the upper body and contraposta possition of the hips. there is very little up and down of the hip in contrast to rumba. The Man twists some in the shoulders when the woman does the figure eight step. Her body moves like a top pivoting on the ball of one foot - a very subtle almost impossible thing to dipict on a flat drawing.
It is an amazing challenge to study the Tango through drawings. When I am copying the paused movements in the video there is the daner of depending too much an old drawing practices of lining up reference points. I am most pleased when I have turned off the video and and add emphatic gestural lines comming from memory of kinetic feel of the dance.