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June 1, 2007

Mini-review of our Milonga at Yale University

Linda Alila of the Yale Tango Club posted this mini-review of our sojourn in New Haven, CT. It was sent to an email list called "University Tango" that is aimed at tangueros in higher education:


Mandragora Tango ROCKS. Seriously, get them to your milonga/festival if you can. I don't think I've ever met a friendlier, more enthusiastic band. I have to admit, I had some reservations after hearing their recordings on their website, but they're *much* better in person.

On Sunday afternoon, the band got together with members of our tango orchestra for a group lesson, and I was blown away by the amount of knowledge between these four guys. It's clear that they've been watching tango musicians closely. (They also spent a stint in Argentina, working side-by-side with musicians.) The best thing about Mandragora is that they're very supportive, working on your strengths while teaching you new techniques. So if you're even remotely interested in playing tango, these are definitely the guys to work with.

Later on, at milonga*dot*edu, Mandragora played with a lot of energy. Yes, they played Piazzolla (which I like listening to, but not dancing to), but they did a tango version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which endeared them immensely to the dancers.

The kicker was when the bandleader/accordionist, Bob Barnes, traveled around the room with his accordion as they played "La Cumparsita." He stepped down from the stage, walked around the floor with the dancers (following the line of dance!), and played for a while in the center of the ronda as the dancers swirled around him.

Lately there's been a fair amount of criticism about how bands rarely play with dancers in mind. I think I can confidently say that Mandragora's music works for tango dancers. But it's also clear that they really enjoy playing together. As someone who also plays an instrument, this kind of camaraderie resonates strongly with me.

I'm really glad that Mandragora came down to Yale, and I highly, highly recommend that you have them on your campus as well.

Posted by bbarnes at June 1, 2007 4:06 PM

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