An Interview about The Tango and Me with Joergen Erik Assentoft
Updated: Oct 13
We’re speaking today with Joergen Erik Assentoft about short film, The Tango and Me.
Trevor Brooks, Phoenix Journal (PJ): First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Joergen Erik Assentoft (JA): I'm a self-taught filmmaker living in Copenhagen and Buenos Aires (born 15. Juli 1954). Started 3 years ago with video recordings of Tango shows in Denmark and Buenos Aires. I started my company Abrazo Productions and work i.a. with company videos, documentaries. The first year I spent learning film footage and using my equipment (SONY FS-5, SONY A7III, and SONY Alpha 1). I have always loved to take photos and video from the time with DV tape up to the new digital equipment. The storytelling of my short film is very important because I want to involve the people seeing it so they are touched.
(PJ): What attracted you to this project?
(JA): I wanted to tell Alejandra's story about her dancing and teaching. It was my idea and luckily she accepted.
(PJ): This is one of several films you’ve made about tango. What is it about this dance that is so fascinating?
(JA): The fascinating about dancing the Tango is the music, the abrazo, the improvisation between the leader and follower. The tone of the music in the instruments, ex. the Bandeneon can get you to cry because it goes directly to your heart. Also, the common action of the bodies, because the dancers need to listen to the music and the leader, needs to listen to the follower's body movements to be able to the follower to express her self All these elements make the depth and the difficulty of the tango and the beauty. Even a very good dancer has always new to learn from this dance. The way of walking is very important and in Buenos Aires, we train 2 times per week walking for one hour. The beauty of tango is inside of the dancers and not outside. The public feels this intimate and the communication between the partner. The tango is not only technical figures and plasticity but the dancers are one organism.
(PJ): How did you meet Alejandra?
(JA): The first time I meet Alejandra was in Salon Canning where she was celebrating her 30 years anniversary. I saw her dance and this dance together with the music went directly to my heart. Here is the dance performance I recorded on my iPhone: https://vimeo.com/84249545 After this dance, I said to myself that I wanted to have dance lesson from her. However, it took 5 years before I succeed to start with dance lessons with her. I then asked her if I could take videos of her dance shows to the milonga and later I asked her to do a documentary of her life.
(PJ): The title, The Tango and Me. Was that a reference to the 1989 film, Tango and Cash? Did you mean to emphasise that fact that Alejandra is independent and not in need of a partner?
(JA): I don’t know about this film. The title was from Alejandra. As a dancer, she needs a partner but as a teacher, she doesn’t need a partner because she can teach both as a leader and a follower. She has a fantastic partner in her life. Aioniken for 7 years in Italy. In my film, there is a short part showing the different partners.
(PJ): What surprised you most in your interviews with Alejandra?
(JA): In her teaching, she adapts very well to the students and gives a very simple precise teaching with images (movements ) of daily life. To know how much she was very known in the world and the Tango Pasion show in Paris.
(PJ): What message do you think viewers should take from this film?
(JA): The messages from the film will be that it is always important to go after what is right for yourself and work with that so it will succeed. It also shows for the women that it is possible to be a star without a man. To learn tango is to learn about yourself. To learn tango is to learn communication with your partner and this is not only in the dance but in your life.
(PJ): Have you tried tango dancing?
(AM): I have been dancing for 13 years of tournament dancing (standard and Latin) when I was young. So when an earlier girlfriend asked if I wanted to dance the Argentine tango I said yes. However, it was more difficult than I have expected. I have now danced the Argentine tango for 14 years and I love it. Taking classes all over the world, but for the last 4-5 years I have stayed in Buenos Aires between 1 and 6 months.
(PJ): Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
(AM): I have been working on a new film “Siga el Baile” for the last 2,5 years and was Director of Photography on this film, which shows the singers and tango orchestras in Buenos Aires and the dancers at the Milongas. We only need the money for the Music Copyright then it will be presented.