Surrender Tango delves into the mystery of the tango connection–why sometimes you lose yourself in your partner’s arms and other times three minutes seems like three hours. This thirty-minute film goes beyond tango as a dance to tango as a metaphor for relationships. The rules and roles of tango partnering reveal how giving space actually creates more intimacy. The film breaks down various aspects of the dance to see how a good embrace is about sharing; the lead is about clarity and commitment; the follow is about sensitivity and surrender. But surrender requires that the dancers be centered and independent of each other before they can truly give themselves to each other. Sensuality is the frisson that adds tension and excitement to the dance and music is the glue that holds the couple together. Shot entirely in New York City, social dancers talk in Central Park and South Street Seaport about how tango has affected their lives; dance teachers and performers convey the intricacies of the connection through interviews and demonstrations. The film includes music by Hector Del Curto’s Eternal Trio and culminates in a performance of Escualo by Mariela Franganillo and Jorge Torres.
This was the most conceptual documentary I ever produced. I planned the entire structure before I started shooting. To explain and illustrate the tango metaphors I would have three levels of dancing and interviews: social dancers, dance teachers and dance performers. The film would be completely based in New York City. I’d shoot the social dancers in Central Park and South Street Seaport to highlight the beauties of the City; the teachers would be shot in a New York loft; the performers would be on stage with full production value invested in that dance. It would be my gift to the audience at the end, hoping they would then see so much more in the dance than at the beginning.
During production, when I would get frustrated by trying to construct a documentary on such an abstract idea as a metaphor, I would rely on my roadmap and just keep going.
The New York tango community was very supportive throughout the entire process that, on and off, took three years. I am grateful to everyone involved and particularly my teachers Fran Chesleigh, Valeria Solomonoff, Rebecca Shulman and Mariela Franganillo for their challenge, inspiration and love of the tango.