The thinking of these two young performance artists who make their bid for our city’s musical artistry with a true vocation. “We like the stage and we admire salon tango.” Working flat out, they dream of having their own company in “the near future.”
All out for tango. She left high school; he left university. Ayelén (16), and Federico Paleo (20), are the leading figures in this admirable story of vocation, study and work. They know what they want and struggle for it, dedicating all the hours of their day to laying the foundations of their artistic career. “This is mine. I’m going to sit the fourth grade exams externally. And everyone is supporting me because they know the effort this all means,” says this teenager, who is already an experienced professional when it comes to going on stage or facing the camera. When she left school the principal told her: “It’s the best thing you could do”. Federico is studying externally in the second year of the English translator’s course at the university, and he tells us about their daily routine: “We get up early, me at 6 and she a bit later, at 8. We go to the gym. Then we have a class. Right now we’re learning folk dancing with the maestro Ferreira. In the afternoon we rehearse, then we give lessons at our studio until around ten at night and there are days when we give lessons and shows at a tango theme hotel. To all this we add the private shows and events, TV programs, advertising…” A packed schedule, in spite of their youth.
- When did you stop dancing as a hobby and become professionals?
Federico: When we joined the maestro Mayoral’s dance group, some five years ago…
Ayelén: I was really young! (she smiles).
Federico: We were working with really big, well-respected people with years of experience. It gave us an attitude of greater responsibility.
Ayelén: I remember when he selected us for the opening of the Puente de la Mujer in Puerto Madero. Mayoral taught us the feeling of the dance.
Federico: And how to deal with people, how to behave and do what’s us. He taught us not to bother about other people nor to be a copy of anyone else.
- What is the style that Ayelén and Federico seek to achieve?
Federico: We like tango al piso, but fast, with ganchos, sacadas…
Ayelén: With the odd leap here and there to good effect, but few tricks.
- Do you go to dance at discos? What’s the difference between dancing at discos and dancing tango?
A: Yes, we do go and they’re two quite different things. Tango is a passion; at a disco you have fun in a different way…
F: I go and I have fun, I have a great time, but it’s not what belongs to me. Tango is mine. I feel much more identified.
- How important is technique and how much physique and image?
A: Physique, presence, it’s very important, it helps, as does the outfit, but technique and the dance itself is everything when it comes to going out onto the stage.
F: It all adds up! But you have to dance! Otherwise it’s no use.
- There’s an emblematic couple in the history of tango dance, Juan Carlos Copes and María Nieves. Would you two like to be the couple of the future?
A: Obviously! Who wouldn’t?...! One always has the aim of being the best. And this takes time and work.
It’s nearly eleven at night. At their studio in the Flores neighborhood, certainly one of the nicest and best fitted out tango schools in Buenos Aires, there are no more pupils now and the two of them, lounging on a sofa, talk about tomorrow’s show: the clothes, the shoes, and the special photos for La Milonga Argentina. Ayelén is a live-wire, full of energy, Federico is calmer. They complement each other very well and aim for the same thing.
- How would you define Ayelén?
F: She has a lot of personality, her presence makes a big impression. She steps onto the stage and with her body she says “Here I am,” she’s very confident. She doesn’t copy anyone, that’s how she is, she has a special magic. A fault to correct? (He laughs) Not to shout so much!
A: Federico is very elegant, I love how he looks in the suits… He’s creative, has technique, is “calmer”, I want to do everything fast… I admire his patience! … especially giving his lessons, he’s really charming with the women, he pets everyone in a good mood.
- Is there an old tango and a new tango for you two?
A: There isn’t an old tango, it’s the traditional tango; well grounded, calm, which is wonderful when well danced. Doing a good walk is perhaps more difficult than doing a trick or fancy flourish.
F: Of course, because what’s traditional takes years to dance well, whereas a gimmick no, you practice it until you get it right. But what’s really nice is that traditional tango is alive, and at the same time it’s good that it is being renewed because otherwise it would be left like in a glass case.
- Have you two thought of entering the World Championship?
A: Yes, we’d like to, but I’m still under-age, so I can’t.
- Which couple is the most technically evolved?
F: For us it’s Gisela and Gaspar, in fact we have lessons with them, we like their style, their technique, and what’s more, they’re very nice people.
- And do you dance to electronic tango?
A: If I have to dance it I do, but… I wouldn’t spend all night dancing to electronic tango.
- You’re most important joint dream is having your own company, isn’t it?
A: It would be great to have a well put-together show, with singers, a good orchestra, dancers… it’s our dream for the future…
F: The near future.
- Which orchestra or tango get to you most?
F: For me “Tanguera” and an orchestra: D’Arienzo and Forever Tango.
A: Various, but I’ll name one tango: Gallo ciego; and an orchestra: Forever Tango.
- I you could dance with a particular performer who is neither tango nor Argentine, who would it be?
F: The actress Drew Barrymore. I think she’s fantastic. I sent a letter to her in USA when I was a kid and she replied with a photo which I have in my room.
A: Luis Miguel!!!! He recorded “El día que me quieras,” I’d love to dance with him… imagine, every time he comes here I’m there in the front row!
- And an impossible goal or dream, what would that be?
A: Nothing’s impossible if one makes as effort and is dedicated. I see goals, goals, always goals to aim for.
F: Yes, I think the same, you have to give your best effort in everything, with all your drive and enthusiasm.
- Do you feel the responsibility of being the generation on which the continuity of tango depends?
F: Yes, but we take it very seriously for our part. It would be good if we can maintain the roots of tango. It’s great that there are fusions and it’s evolving, but that traditional tango remains, that it isn’t lost.
The interview ends. They carry on. Talking about plans, a trip to USA, a DVD; an advertisement in Italy… They’re young, they give it their all and are going for more. To the limits, as today’s kids say.
Photos: Producción Especial Machado Cicala