Sunday, May 9, 2010

Libertango - Tche-tchet-ka!

It's just another Russian version of Libertango, he thinks, with a domra and a bass balalaika. But as the finger is poised above the move-on-to-the-next-video button, a man in a red suit strolls onto the stage. Aha, he thinks, now the woman in black will come from stage-left and they will dance the tango - seen that before, let's move on. But then, the man in the red suit busts a move from Fred Astaire and the next thing you know he is tapping up a veritable storm. Haven't seen that before - looks like a blog topic.

The dancer is Vladimir Kirsanov - an Honored Artist of Russian and a teacher, a writer and all around evangelist for tap dancing or step dancing or as his website suggests, tchtchetka. I don't know how young he is but I've seen many younger men who would call for the oxygen after a few minutes at Mr. Kirsanov's pace. And he dances with such grace, ease and creativity - the man is Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire reborn.

While the man in the red suit steals the show, the musicians deserve our attention also. That is Andrey Tarasov on the alto domra and Dmitri Averin on the bass balalaika. Both are members of the Quartet Skaz. You can see more of their work on this YouTube Channel. The bass work in the latter part of the video is particularly notable. Frequently, the bass balalaika is assigned to provide the pulse on the root of the chord behind the music but Averin shows he is quite a capable musician with a strong jazz sensibility. Listen carefully to his work.

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