Pelando Variación! It literally translates as: Peeling Variation, which hardly illuminates what this is all about. And I have a curious mind so I went on a small quest to understand the word pelando in this context, which meant, ask Carlos (my dad), who didn’t have any idea of how the word worked in this context, therefore, he asked his Argentine friends, who gave a variety of answers! Of course, I reached out to the organizers of this event for their input as well.
The word pelando seems to be slang and very popular today (however, my Argentine younger cousin had no idea what I was talking about!) and the older generation (my father and his friends) also had some trouble with this word. Sacar a relucir came up, meaning to show off to shine. Also, I was told that it’s a 100% Uruguayan expression!!! I asked Rommel Oramas, who is currently in Buenos Aires and participated enthusiastically in this Pelando Variacion, who said it’s about showing off a part of the music, in this case the variación. Finally, asking Oliver Kolker, one of the organizers of the competition, who said, “Show me what you got!”
Before I went on the quest for what the heck pelando meant I kept thinking it was peleando! Which almost sounds the same but peleando means fighting! Which makes me giggle because my crazy mind thinks with all the types of “dance battles” that we have today – here we go with tango!!! And what a concept!
But now I’m on track. And clearly so are you!!! Caught up in my 2 loves of language and its reflection/expression of culture and tango!
The brainchild of Oliver Kolker and Gaston Torelli, Pelando Variación is a competition, with great prizes! It entails only dancing the Variación in the music.
What’s the variación you ask?
Not all tangos have one but some of them have tremendous ones: the part of the music that goes nuts! Sometimes in the middle of a song, more usually at the end, the variación climaxes everything fantastic in the orquesta to this moment in the music. Show dancers are expected to be able to really perform this part of the music. It is the virtuosic part of the song and for me the dancers too, show their virtuosity as they strive to reflect the music in their fast footwork and expression.
This is an excellent way to help tango students understand the music from this vantage point. Often times the tango music seems so complicated or boring to untrained musicians or non-Argentines and I think this is an excellent way to bring aspects of the music to the forefront and to also see how it relates to the dancing. Again, probably bringing up questions like, how can I dance the variación without choreography and just naturally during my tanda in the milonga? Will this mean more variations on musicality classes in the future?
This competition is judged by a panel as well as by the public. Go cheer your friends on! Keeping tango in the community alive! The judges look for: 1) Precision 2) Elegance (Quality of Movement) 3) Musicality 4) Originality 5) Difficulty. And the winner gets, among other things visas to come to the US for a month tour. A great prize as it is so difficult and costly for Argentines to obtain visas to the US for work.
Here’s the video link to the semifinals of Pelando Variación Semi Finales – you can see the couples individually as they show off and give it all they got! The Finals are coming up on Wednesday October 21 and you can see the scores on Facebook @pelando variación.
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