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I wanted to dance. Carlos Gavito: Life, passion, and tango - ABR

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Writer: Ricardo Plazaola

CARLOS EDUARDO GAVITO (4/27/1943 – 7/1/2005) was born in La Plata, Argentina. He spent his youth in the barrio of Avellaneda (to the south of Greater Buenos Aires) and the rest of his life circling the globe.

He traveled for more than forty years and visited more than ninety countries. He spoke English, Italian, French, and Portuguese fluently and could understand German, Russian and Japanese. He was a universal man who took the tango from the barrio to the world.

He began dancing not too long after he started to walk, and then there was no stopping him: tango, rock, folklore, Latin rhythms, swing. On stage and off, there was no dance he didn't try. Over the years, he searched for his place in the dance world and his tango: the unique style that brought him fame.

In the mid-90s, after being out of Argentina for many years, he gained international renown with the company of Forever Tango, and word got back to Buenos Aires. From then on, he was a critical and imposing figure in the porteño milongas. Julio Fernández Baraibar, who wrote the prologue of the first Spanish edition of this book, said that any milonga that Gavito went to became "the milonga to attend" and that when Gavito got up to dance, "the dance floor became transformed."

The life of this unique dancer ("the motionless dancer") is a never-ending list of fascinating –if not astonishing– stories and surprising statistics. Some test the imagination: the number of times he traveled around the world, the number of women he embraced on the dance floor, and the number of people that were deeply moved by the grace of his steps. And perhaps another statistic: the number of those people who, when they witnessed him dance, decided there and then that they wanted to dance the tango.

Life cheated Gavito of the few more years he would have needed to achieve the vast recognition he fully deserved. But there are videos and books like this one that will ensure his place in tango paradise. Five years after Gavito's death, this English translation of Ricardo Plazaola's new Spanish edition coincides with the year that Argentina is entering its tricentennial.

RICARDO PLAZAOLA (2/4/1951) had a successful career as a journalist. He began in the mid-'70s, working for La Calle's newspaper and writing for magazines such as Goles and Siete Días. He then worked for the newspapers Tiempo Argentino and Página 12 and reported the news for Radio Mitre (that he directed for 12 years) and Canal 9. He teaches in the school of journalism TEA. On the radio, he led the program Bailo tango [I Dance the Tango], dealing specifically with the world of the milongas. When he met Gavito, his admiration was immediate. Soon after came his affection for the dancer. One day, Gavito knew he didn't have much time to relate his ideas and adventures and thought that Plazaola was the ideal person to listen to and understand him. This book results from long conversations ("insufficient, rushed") that Plazaola had with him in the small apartment on Lima Street where Gavito took refuge at the end of his life.

KAREN SIMON is a Canadian-trained translator with a Ph.D. in French literature. She has taught translation at McGill and Concordia universities in Montreal, Quebec, and taught Argentine tango since 1992. She met Carlos Gavito in 1996 and took classes with him for several years.

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