Interview with Soledad Maidana

By: M. Belén Bulacio –

The blessings of restraint

Soledad Maidana is a sensitive, patient and committed woman, taurine qualities that will be revealed after the first unsuccessful attempt to record the chat via Google. After the setback, Soledad welcomes us at her desk, sitting in an armchair upholstered with northern motifs, surrounded by her books and hundreds of CDs. A garland of little lights, shining behind her, gives warmth to the atmosphere.

The creator of the videos and workshops of “Bailar la Palabra, la poética del tango como inspiración” is a dancer, teacher, researcher, Damián’s partner and Charo’s mother. After a while, I invite her to imagine that we were chatting in a bar, sitting at a table near the window. Soledad suggests we have a cappuccino at La Flor de Barracas, a remarkable bar that closed this year, and that brought her great sadness.

As she adjusts her glasses, she recalls her approach to dance as a teenager with Irene, her best friend. In her journey through musical languages she took jazz and flamenco classes, and was in her neighborhood murga. Tango appeared in her life when she began to listen to the radio in high school and then especially when she discovered the program hosted by Amelita Baltar on Channel A. She confesses that her initial fascination for tango was woven by several aspects: the musical, the historical, what tango represents and, only later, the dance.

Between cappuccinos and uncertainty

Belén: How are you dealing with this pandemic?

Soledad: Trying to find a balance between life at home with my six year old daughter who had just started first grade with the quarantine, only fifteen days ago… with all that illusion, with all that learning that we were starting to do, to read, to write… so I am going through that process with her. Many people talk about free time in quarantine. I feel I have less than before.

We accompany each other a lot. Always with a lot of truth with my daughter, she has seen me some days very tired or super happy or “daughter, look, it’s ok, today we watch the movie”, with a lot of sincerity but without neglecting school. There were many “I don’t know” in this period. “When will the virus go away?” “I don’t know, daughter” “When will I be able to go to the carousel again?” “Shall I tell you the truth? I don’t know.”

Soledad shares with me the importance of giving value to the work of teachers, because her mother and grandmother were teachers. She also highlights that the quarantine brought some crazy days due to the combination of her own workload, her daughter’s school and the chores at home.

Dancing the Word

B: How did you adapt to the work challenge imposed by the pandemic? What blessings did the quarantine bring?

S: Professionally, very happy with what started to happen with the virtual workshops, which were the continuation of the videos I launched in 2019. Everything was taking unexpected paths. Now that the virtual workshops came up, I feel super happy because I feel that after having offered my perspectives, my thoughts, my sensations, now a super interesting space was generated that allows me to continue.

Bailar la palabra is a self-managed venture that was born in 2019 with the aim of providing tools from the poetics of tango for dancers. In its beginnings it launched a series of videos with different guests. With the presentation of the videos he noticed that there was a part of the tango community that had these concerns to listen, deepen and interpret the lyrics to apply it to the dance. Although there were workshops and seminars on the poetics of tango and tango culture, there was a lack of articulation with dance.

Soledad: It is not the same to dance Después, which is a tango that talks about a mourning where the beloved woman dies than Bien Pulenta, which is a lunfardo tango. They have nothing to do, neither musically nor poetically. It is not the same thing. What happened in the musicality seminars was that the orchestral aspects were worked on and the lyrics were left out. For me, Tinta Roja has a musicality that is not only given by an instrument, it is given by the voice and its poetics.

I realize that Soledad is passionate, she enjoys very much everything she has developed from Bailar la palabra. At the end of August Soledad will launch her first book, Bailar la palabra, also as a self-managed project. The book includes a decalogue that she herself wrote, which shows the importance of spaces for collective construction and permanent exchange of critical thinking.

B: How can each one of us contribute (from our place and our work) something to the milonguera community?

S: It worries me because there are many colleagues who from one day to the next were left without work and because it is difficult to get ahead in these conditions, so, what we try with Damián is to support the undertakings of colleagues that arose during the pandemic, from asking for food to buying barbijos or participating in virtual milongas. There were also referents or teachers giving virtual talks on a collaborative basis or for free, and we tried, as far as we could, to collaborate. To lend a hand.

B: During the forty years, have you noticed bonds of solidarity among colleagues, among artists, among the different protagonists of the tango universe?

S: I felt greater interaction between professionals and amateurs. There is a very big division in the tango world between the masters who travel around the world so they don’t have much contact, you suddenly see their videos on YouTube and maybe now they are next to the music maker of the neighborhood practice organizing a solidarity festival. The teachers who travel around the world are now also at home giving classes through Zoom. I see more interaction but I don’t feel that we are all on the same page.


B: What do you think the milongas will be like after this experience?

S: I don’t know. I feel that the return is a bit far away. Maybe because we don’t have the same resources. Talking to an organizer like Oscar Héctor Malagrino, he had found out that for a comeback you need things that are totally out of the reach of an organizer, like the panels you go through and they disinfect you (some TV studios have incorporated them).  Well, he told us that it is inaccessible because it is very expensive to rent that. But, if over time we can go back, it still gives me a sense of distance. I don’t know, and we would have to see to what extent the older adults are encouraged to come back. We will have to see how many people will come because I imagine that nobody wants to expose themselves. For young people, it seems to me that there is another … I would like to be able to give you a better answer, but I still see it a bit far away.

B: What information do you have at hand on how other countries are managing it?

S: What I have heard from other countries is that they are outdoors, without changing partners, with a lot of protocol such as taking the temperature and I have seen some of them with transparent masks, but at least they have that possibility.

[1] Tormenta (1939) Música, Letra: Enrique Santos Discépolo.

[1]Carillón de la Merced (1931) Music: Enrique Santos Discépolo. Lyrics: Enrique Santos   Discépolo/Alfredo Le Pera.

[1]Después (1944) Lyrics Homero Manzi Music: Hugo Gutiérrez.

[1]Bien pulenta (1950) Lyrics: Carlos Waiss Music: Juan D’Arienzo/Héctor Varela.

[1]Tinta Roja (1941) Lyrics: Cátulo Castillo Music: Sebastián Piana.