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Friday, February 22, 2008

Sometimes Life Looks Better in Black and White...and Grey

Last night, I was watching these Murat and Michelle videos again (see below), and I wondered why they were so appealing to me, more than some of the others I watch. I love watching this couple, and their musicality and interpretation is swoon-worthy.

But I realized that part of what draws me in is that these videos are filmed in black and white.

There's something about the black and white aesthetic that allows us to focus on the nuances, the shadows: the visual equivalent of those ineffable parts that make tango what it is. Black and white reveals an inner life. There's a privateness to it.

It's the same reason why I love black and white movies so much. Faces are more interesting, more beautiful to me that way. Locations have more depth, more character.

Look at Rita Hayworth in You Were Never Lovelier (one of my favorite films ever), and then again in Cover Girl. Same gorgeous woman, but her face is incomparable in black and white.

Glorious color has its place, to be sure, but it also provides a distraction to the eye that can take away from the intensity of the action or the intimacy of the moment.

Murat and Michelle dancing in Tango Amor show in Maui, August 2007. The tango is "Remolino" by Francini Pontier and Raul Beron.

Tango improvisation by Murat and Michelle at the La Belle Epoque Milonga, New York City, June 9th, 2006. Music: "En Esta Tarde Gris".


koolricky February 22, 2008 at 10:20 AM  

Murat and Michelle are a couple that puzzle me. Murat is a lord of musicality and playfulness (I think that those are my greatest attributes, but i am not a lord ;o) ) but I ABSOLUTELY hate what he does in 2:15 to 2:23 in Remolino. It's SO ugly!
And then you have Michelle, whose background in other dances gives her a resource of playfulness that can match Murat's. However, her dance is punctuated (let me underline punctuated) by severe technique lapses...
I am always vert critic so I am going to finish by saying that despite all this I would love to have classes with them and to discuss exactly those things with them!
Coming to the theme of this post. B&W shows you things you don't see in colour and colour shows you things you don't see in B&W. Perfection doesn't exist.

Elizabeth February 22, 2008 at 12:00 PM  

There was an ice cream store we used to go to that had a mural of black and white pictures of the dairies of the Pacific Northwest, and we would say to each other with a sigh: "Remember when the world was black and white?". The kids just looked confused, but we always said it, and we always remembered. A beautiful world with no red blemishes, no gaudy clothes, no distractions from the essence. I love this post, and I love the black and white videos. I am going to change my profile picture to black and white for sure.

b February 22, 2008 at 1:03 PM  

I liked this post and loved those videos. I'm starting to look at my shoe collection, almost entirely different versions of black&white patent leather, in a newfound way thanks to you... :)

tangobaby February 22, 2008 at 3:12 PM  

Hi Koolricky,

I hope you get to have a class with them someday because they're lovely people and students love them. As to what you like or don't like, that is the beauty of having one's own opinion. What I see when I watch these is not an accumulation of moves but an overall feeling of emotion and love between them.

Hi Elizabeth,

There's something about seeing old black and white images that makes things seem like they were more "real". (I am not explaining this in the right way.) I know exactly what you mean, though.

I happen to think you look lovely in color, but you do what you think is best.


Hi b,

If you get a fedora to go with those beautiful shoes, then you will really be stylin'. Channel your inner Cary Grant.

I hope you find a Rita Hayworth someday.

msHedgehog February 22, 2008 at 3:32 PM  

Black and white is so much fun for the photographer, and I particularly love it for portraits. A very little thought and skill brings such returns.

I also like photographing subjects that happen to be monochrome in themselves, in colour. That can be very striking.

studio wellspring February 22, 2008 at 3:47 PM  

let's watch "you were never lovelier" asap. ;o)

koolricky February 24, 2008 at 8:49 AM  

Hi there, reading back my post and I think I gave a bad impression of what I think about MyM... I really like them, they are at the moment one of my favourite couples. The video where they dance to Re Fa Si played by Ben Bogart y Los Gatos Azules in Boston MIT is one of the most enjoyable tango clips I have seen reecently. And... to complicate things a little bit it has been produced in a reduced-colour-sepia-B&W way. Check it out, you'll love it!

tangobaby February 25, 2008 at 9:22 AM  

Hi Ms. Hedgehog,

Do you have any pictures you can share with us?

Ms. Wellspring,

My DVD player is ready whenever you are.

Hi Koolricky,

No worries. I respect your opinion and there's nothing written anywhere that we always must be in perfect agreement. Different people find different things that appeal to them, for many reasons.

I'll look forward to watching your clip soon.

Relyn May 28, 2008 at 6:39 PM  

Ooo... I forgot to tell you. I watched "You Were Never Lovlier." I enjoyed it so, so much. I laughed and felt awed and entertained. Great movie. You are right, she is much better in black and white. Thanks for the recommendation. What next?

tangobaby May 29, 2008 at 10:01 AM  

Hi Relyn,

I am sooooo glad you got to see that film! It really is a gem and can be watched over and over again. Her costumes, her makeup, her hair--not to mention her incredible dancing--and those wonderful songs...*sigh*

Now THAT'S a movie!