13 May 2020

A WOMAN IN A MAN'S WORLD, by Antonella Terrazas

I am an artist. I don't consider myself to be a “Tanguera”, nor a “Milonguera”. But first and foremost, I am a woman and this was something hard to understand and to accept… Now, at 29 years old, I realize a big part of my life I’ve been trying too hard to be perfect.

Let's focus on the Tango world:
Tango life has always been very confusing and difficult for me, ever since the very beginning... I‘ve been repeatedly discriminated for being a follower, a woman, a ballet dancer, a crazy adornos girl. Having so many people call me "a passive part of Tango" made me believe for so long that I was just that: passive.
Today I can say I’m proud of what I became; it is the first time I've ever said this about myself.

Hopefully, one day this attitude will disappear and everyone will be able to express their true self, as individuals and as artists.
Surprisingly, the most aggressive and the most frequent acts of discrimination I've faced, came from other women. Women who told me that I cannot work in this field if I do embellishments, if I don’t have a partner, if I don’t know how to lead… Women who told me that I have to lead extremely well because I’m not strong like men. Women who told me "don’t be so strong, you must look feminine and sexy". Women who told me I’m not good and strong enough to succeed.
I believe women are strong and what we say has consequences, be they positive or negative. I am lucky to work in Tango and some people are genuinely interested in hearing what I have to say. I want to be that woman which supports all of you, I want to always encourage you to do everything you want.
We are so responsible for all this. It is up to us to stop this behavior. Stop judging! 

Let me tell you a recent story that makes me laugh and hopefully, it will make you ponder a little bit:
I recently participated in a Got Talent TV Show with my friend Csongor Kicsi. How did it all happen? We had been there two times before. The first time I wasn’t sure I like all this TV stuff and I went in thinking it was mostly just easy publicity. But there, behind the scenes, I met many amazing artists who told me about their experiences and why they participate in this tv show. There were chasing two important things for every artist: a good quality video and publicity.
I was shocked… I felt stupid! Publicity is publicity and we need it to show what we can do, especially If we aim to make a living from our art, like I am. We have rent to pay, bills, cat food, dresses, shoes… you know!
I was quite afraid this first time that the production team could decide at any point to change my dress and choreography in order to make it more suitable for a TV Show… so I was paying lot of attention not to ruin the name of Tango. Again, (self)judgement appeared from nowhere.

I did so many things as an artist since I was 5 years old! I worked on cruise ships, in amazing dance companies where I got to wear sexy stuff, I danced almost naked, I was part of a magic show, I worked with acrobats and many great artists. When had all this go away? Why was I doubting and judging myself?
Today I understand! I was trying to fit in this man's world…

This time, for this TV show, I accepted the rules of being part of a TV show. Here people want to get a taste of Tango, but not the Tango that we, in our tiny Tango world, think of. People want to see what they imagine Tango to be.
So the production team changed my dress because the one I brought was covering my body too much. Go figure :) For me it was fine. Did I feel sexy? Yes, absolutely! Did I feel obscene? Hell, no! I had danced in really skimpy outfits before. That day, I danced like I used to do years before and it made me happy because that crazy, partially naked dancer on the stage, that is the real me. Not because I like to dance naked, but because I had learnt that my body is part of a show.

After the show aired, "funny" comments started to emerge, coming from what I call “Tangueros”. They were complaining that my dress is not representing Tango… Well, besides that I don’t care, I think we should all remember where Tango emerged… so considering its origins, I could say I was too covered up, actually.
You may think I was somehow portraying women being prostitutes…But dear all, we are on a TV Show, nonetheless! Since when my body is not allowed to been seen?! It is my body! I go to the beach much more revealingly!

A few years ago, this feedback would have affected me; now, I find it to be almost funny. What pushed me to write all this is that such things are still happening, on different levels, to all the women in the tango world, be they professional dancers or not. Men and women. both genders are responsible for perpetuating this behavior. Imagine seeing a woman on the street, wearing a very short skirt, with plump red lips and a top… Would you think she is going to pick up her son at school? What would you say about her? But why would you say anything at all? Keep your comments for yourself. Or better yet, don't assume, don't judge at all.

Tangueros don’t like seeing my butt on a TV show? Let’s talk about what is really happening during Tango events…
You think people go there only to dance? Really?! I’ve been there… I saw with my own eyes why people get close to Tango… Let’s not be hypocrites. All in all, my position is that it doesn’t matter how Tango is presented to people who don’t know much about it. People get inspired in different ways. People who find it sexy, elegant or whatever perhaps will take a Tango class. Maybe not mine, but someone else's. Then you can thank my butt!

How many of you went to a Tango class because you saw Al Pacino “dancing Tango”? Was that real Tango? Was it a taste of it?
Let’s be snob and say "Al Pacino…he is famous, he can do whatever he wants". If you stop and think for yourself, would you really agree that whatever a “famous” person says or does is always good?

How many women wear the same dress like 50 other girls in order to be invited… accepted? “You must wear a skirt. You must look sexy, so men will invite you. Don’t do embellishments, because men don’t like it. Seat with a Maestro so you get to dance. Dance close embrace because that’s the real Tango". How many girls go to bed with a maestro in order to dance with him?! How many girls go to bed with dancers in order to become their dance partner”?!

What is all this madness?!! Is this part of Tango?!
I would say "yes, it is", because I've seen it happening all these years. So when you lecture me about how I’m supposed to be representing Tango, I actually have a pretty good idea about it.
A whole repertoire of fake acts, just to be accepted... Dear all, what if we started talking about what really matters? What if we talked about what's real?
I invite you to stop judging, start loving and dance in peace.