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Mugre - What Is It & Why On Earth Would You Want it? Tuesday, 11 July 2017 print

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Mugre. Something you often hear professional or experienced tango dancers talking about.

You may hear them comment “they have great technique but their tango lacks a bit of mugre”.

And if you look up the dictionary definition of “mugre” (pronounced /mu:grei/) - you might be surprised to find that literally it translates as: “dirt”!

Yes, that’s right. Dirt!

But perhaps a better way to translate mugre in this particular context, would be “grime” or “grit”.

We’re all striving towards perfection, but sometimes what we really want to see is something that falls short of perfection.

Yes, tango technique is important, musicality, creativity and expression too. But to cap it all it’s great to see a tango dancer with just a touch of mugre.

It’s difficult to explain what “mugre” looks like to someone who is not deeply involved with tango. But rest assured it is nothing to do with the way someone dresses or their personal hygiene!

On the contrary, it is part of the traditional culture of tango that one should go to the milonga washed and well-dressed. It is a mark of respect for the partners you intend to dance with that night. And I would go so far as saying that that should apply to classes too.

It is your dance that should have mugre.

Because who cares about perfect technique when you can see soul, expression, connection? When what you can see makes you feel something.

It is partly because tango is an improvised that mugre is something to aspire to. Because a slick, polished choreography can be wonderful to watch but it doesn’t have that beautiful live quality that an improvisation has - despite its flaws. It’s kind of nice to see dancers smile wryly when something doesn’t quite go to plan. The odd misstep seems to be part and parcel of an improvisation.

So is it time to put a halt to our technique exercises? And our continued learning path in tango?

Unfortunately, mugre without technique just doesn’t cut it. It’s no excuse for poor dancing. You have to be a damn good dancer, with a bucket load of experience, to look good with mugre.

Maybe this seems likes an impossible goal then but for me the morale is this: continue to explore, strive always to better than yesterday. But relax if it isn’t perfect. It’s mugre! And you’ll enjoy tango all the more.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Jo Tuesday, 11 July 2017 20:03 posted by Jo

    New terminology for me. Almost like once you learn a new word there's a whole new way of making sense of something? Yet another truly enjoyable article from this blog.

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