Marcelo “El Chino” Gutierrez is one of that unique and lucky generation of tango professionals/ dancers that “came of age” in an era where tango came to a crossroads and renewed itself in the 2000’s.
He benefited both from being able to study with such old school masters as the Dinzels, Nito and Elba, the Rivarolas, Teresa Fernández (Todaro system) and Victor Arne; and from being part of the tango revolution that started with Gustavo Naveira and came to be known as Tango Nuevo.
What tango is today, in 2014, is a mix of these two: the old and the new; the old understood better thru the new; the new reaching back to the old for tradition; the old reaching forward to the new for inspiration; the old and the new intertwined and made stronger through these interactions and for mutual respect. The best tango professionals of today understand, dance and teach tango based on this dichotomy.
El Chino started studying tango in 1998. He studied dance and choreography at IUNA (Instituto Universitario Nacional de Arte – Buenos Aires) where he received professional training in choreography, Russian and French classical dance, modern dance, jazz and yoga.
For the past 10 years he has worked on developing and perfecting the teaching system he has become so well known and respected for; a system focusing on stability, groundedness, comfort, natural body movement, core leading, organic leading and following..etc. Just a few classes with him can drastically improve your dancing and change your entire outlook of tango.
His famous exercises and specialized ideas: “Grounded,” “Standing leg,” “Push the Floor” and “The Horse Ride” exercise. Which has been copied by many others.
He provides insightful tips, tools and techniques to help his students achive sel-confidence and self-consciousness to maximize their effort and dance effectiveness.
El Chino is regularly sought out to teach workshops of his system to groups of professional tango dancers around the world; and is also well known for his ongoing Cobra (teaching women to lead in tango) classes in Buenos Aires.
The below testimonials give a little bit of taste of how El Chino’s teaching has influenced some of his studets.
“I started working with El Chino two years ago during a trip to BsAs as various teachers in the States had recommended me to take classes with him. Since then, I regularly take group classes or privates with him when he comes to Berlin.
El Chino has a unique teaching approach that looks at how YOUR body functions. In his classes, he uses basic principles of anatomy, biomechanics, physics, motor control and psychology to provide further understanding and awareness of our body.
What personally attracts me the most in his method is that El Chino does not simply teach a series of technical steps used as fixed moves or as objects to fill in a box…to fill in the music... El Chino focuses on core principles (such as body weight: its trajectory, relation to energy; pendulum effect for boleos; embrace to give only a few examples), that can be applied in various situations to develop more quality in the steps and deeper connection with the partner AND the music.
His love for argentinian tango translates into his continuous desire to show that everybody can dance, regardless of any previous experience or skill in dance or sports, or any particular sensitivity to tango music. In that respect, El Chino keeps developing new exercises, live situations, or metaphors that make his teaching material easy to all of us who have various dancing backgrounds and experience. He uses a lot of humor in his classes to create a relaxed atmosphere and friendly connection with people while making you work rigorously on your dance!
In addition to having great pedagogy, El Chino is really fun, listening and curious about this students as persons. Each time I work with him, I have the feeling we plant a seed.We let it grow for a while. This usually results in me gaining more understanding of my body and therefore more freedom of expression, of connection with others. Until we meet again, both grown of various experiences. We get excited about how the seed grew, we water the little plant again with new thoughts and ideas, and we plant another seeds!”
Aude Noiray, Berlin
“Marcelo Gutierrez has been one of our most influential teachers over the years.
The brilliance of his method resides in his intimate knowledge of the musculature involved in dancing tango, and of how best to train these specific muscles and muscle groups to work most effectively. He has developed various exercises for this purpose-- ones that aid the body in discovering sensations, and others that strengthen the muscles involved-- as well as exercises for maintaining posture, and those aimed at increasing sharpness and power of movement. Moreover, he relates pure movement of the body to the floor on which one dances, to the space through which one moves, and to one's partner.
Over the years, he has impressed upon Ciko and me the paramount importance of being grounded dancers. More than a mere cerebral understanding of this important concept, he has successfully transferred the knowledge into our bodies-- so that we may dance the way we have come to envision with this notion of groundedness. Other times, he succeeded in teaching concepts to our bodies before our minds have fully grasped them-- a rare find in the world of tango pedagogy.
Marcelo is a teacher as much as he is a dancer. He is invested in his students' growth as dancers as much as he is in his own. His training methods have had a huge impact in helping us to attain our own personal goals, and in shaping us into the dancers we are today. He is extremely approachable and humble. His care for his students extends beyond the confines of the classroom; he enjoys socializing with and getting to know them, which makes for a very personalized training experience.”
Adam and Ciko, New York
“I'm very thankful for El Chino Tango's incredibly inspiring tango practica today. most of all: thank you for your experimental way of teaching by constantly challenging us to discover by ourselves and to trust our bodies, feeling and awareness. it was a wonderful journey with every fiber of my body into the laws of tango-physics: mass x force x momentum =/--> powerful though unforced tender organic flow in every single movement. :-)))”
“Highlight of my week: Tango Challenge Práctica with Marcelo "El Chino" Gutierrez (El Chino Tango)
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Marcelo over the past two weeks. Every time I have walked out of a class with him I felt a change in attitude and increased confidence while dancing.
Marcelo’s unique approach to the movement of the body has taught me that
1.) Tango should be pleasure without the attributed pain that most dancers feel now and then,
2.) it is possible to move freely at all times,
3.) when you feel restricted or strained, something is wrong and you should adjust your alignment and posture,
4.) you have to create your own space and defend it,
5.) you should always protect your own axis with your life .
And yes, you have to work hard and practice to achieve this, but it all seems so worthwhile when you feel comfortable in every step you take on the dance floor.
Last but not least, I will take my time and stop rushing – tango is not a race!
I am tremendously inspired. Muchas gracias, Marcelo! Hasta la próxima.”
Clara Berlinchen, Berlin
“Luckily, there is no copyright on teaching: neither on exercises nor concepts. This is fortunate for me, as I am a self-confessed pedagogical magpie and when I am at a class which really worked well, I take careful notes and reproduce the best ideas with my own students. And I realised this evening, helping two female friends of mine with issues with their leading, that I have had such a brilliant leading teacher (in Marcelo El Chino Gutierrez) that I think I should share the insights. I think the most viable solution to the problem of the gender imbalance in tango is for more women to learn to lead and not only learn but get real pleasure from leading. And suddenly it struck me: on a good day, I can dance musically and comfortably as a leader and, with the right partner, I can really enjoy it. More women should do this and I think I could set them on the right path, at least make sure they start off well, when they don't have the benefit of El Chino himself and his famous Cobra Classes (for women leaders). Cher allegedly once said "mother, I *am* the rich man you wanted me to marry". And perhaps this is also an answer to our frustrations with the guys who grip and squeeze and control us, who are tense and uncomfortable and off the music... rather than complaining about them, girls, let's show them how it's done. Be like Cher. Be the leader you've always wanted to dance with.”
Terpsichoral Tangoaddict, Buenos Aires.
“My problem with leading at the milonga (at those where same-sex dancing is acceptable) is that, as a follower I know how horrid it can feel to be in the arms of an incompetent dancer and I do not want to put any good dancer of my acquaintance through that. But, on the other hand, if the woman isn't a good dancer, I don't want to dance with her. I may not be the best leader in the word, but my fussiness as to partners already greatly surpasses my skill. (This might change when I become more proficient at protecting my own back from injury). The result of this, my Groucho Marx syndrome, is generally a stalemate. But I made a solemn vow and promise I would lead a friend tonight. I am already giving myself a mental pep talk and remembering my teacher El Chino Tango's three basic requirements for leaders: 1. Don't kick her. 2. Don't let other people kick her. 3. Don't push her around.”
Terpsichoral Tangoaddict, Buenos Aires.
“I have always been inspired by Marcelo's dancing and teaching, since we first met 5 years ago. He understands and articulates body movement really well and creates a very nurturing and experimental environment for learning. He encourages students while still challenging them, especially with the variety of exercises and drills that help your body understand movement, specifically your own body, so much more. Having knowledge of other dance forms is evident in his dance, and really does make for a strong, fun, and interesting process. His excitement when he sees improvement and growth is contagious, in that way he has always been super supportive .”