Ricky Pashkus and how to glam up folklore

Ricky Pashkus and how to glam up folklore

After working for many years for the musical comedy of Corrientes Street – to describe this scenic genre in a general way – the choreographer Ricky Pashkus more recently embarked on a path towards native dances and the land itself.

In 2015, the Federal Secretariat of Public Media entrusted Ricky Pashkus with the organization of “Argentina baila”, a contest for folk dancers from all over the country. In 2018 created the Chúcaro Awards, to promote the professionalization of folk artists. And this year it launches “Germinart, Incubator of folkloric scenic projects”.

The program consists of a group of specialists accompanying the elaboration of selected choreographic projects. The chosen choreographers will receive a training in dramaturgy, music, video dance, makeup, costumes and lighting. These projects will not necessarily have to go on stage, because Pashkus is interested in something else: encouraging folkloric creation towards forms more related to what he calls “the cultural industry”.

Employee. Ricky Pashkus found a new world in folklore. Photo Juano Tesone

Free training

One aspect to highlight is that this training will be totally free for the participants, thanks to the Patronage of the City Government. Patronage, let’s clarify, is a plan of financial support for artistic projects by private companies in exchange for tax exemption.

“Unlike festivals and folklore rewards,” says Pashkus, “which privilege tradition and the genuine, the Chúcaro Awards emphasize the concept of the show. My team and I think that it is important to work on narrative aspects and installed in theatricality; although I know that “theatricality” is a debatable term.

-Why would it be debatable? For a long time, Argentine folklore and those of many other countries have had stage manifestations.

– What I’m going to tell you is very personal. I don’t come from folklore, but from a certain moment I started to travel a lot thanks to him. And there is something that does not have a good resonance in folkloric environments: when a show of this genre is associated with commercial theater. However, Chúcaro and Norma Viola managed to change this without entering any cracks. There is no point in discussing Chúcaro’s works, which are great to my taste, in terms of whether or not they are faithful to the original steps.

But on the other hand, we know that today there are folk groups that appear on international television shows and are criticized because it is believed that they have broken certain barriers. I don’t know if I’m wrong, but I always tell dancers that if they learn other techniques, such as ballet or contemporary dance, they will not lose their roots. Or that another type of labor insertion, or entering the cultural industry, is not going to harm them.

Ricky Pashkus, with dancers from all over the country.

Ricky Pashkus, with dancers from all over the country.

El Chúcaro, a forerunner

El Chúcaro was a creator in the world of folk dance, in partnership with Norma Viola.

El Chúcaro was a creator in the world of folk dance, in partnership with Norma Viola.

-You mentioned Chúcaro and surely you will remember that he regretted having added boleadoras to his malambo and explained it as a need to compete with the feathers, the glitters and the butts of the vedettes of the Buenos Aires magazines in which he worked. I understand that you are asking yourself questions about when or how something stops being genuine.

-I insist: I do not come from folklore and that is why I ask myself questions. Traveling so much inside I see that job placement is a burning problem for folk dancers. There is something that I preach a lot: that the dancers at festivals are presented with their first and last names, as singers and musicians are named. For me both things are related.

And on the other hand, folklore brings everything together: heterogeneity of bodies, diverse cultural models, unexpected faces. Nobody tells you “you can’t with that face”. But since I don’t have leadership in that world, I can’t help but question myself.

The famous and already mythical show Argentinian tango, by Claudio Segovia and Héctor Orezzoli, premiered in 1983 in Paris, represents a model for Ricky Pashkus.

“No one can deny that Argentinian tango he managed to create jobs for everyone: the milongas, the dancers and the teachers multiplied. I would very much like to do with folk dance what Segovia did in Argentinian tango. His dancers had “truth”, they were genuine; but Claudio Segovia and Orezzoli gave them glamor ”.

Ricky Pashkus would like to achieve with folklore a phenomenon similar to "Argentine Tango".  Photo Juano Tesone

Ricky Pashkus would like to achieve with folklore a phenomenon similar to “Argentine Tango”. Photo Juano Tesone

-How did this immersion of yours, perhaps unexpected, in the world of folk dance come about?

-In 2015, the Federal Public Media System proposed to make a television program with dance content. They call me, but when I find out it’s about folk dances I say “no, I don’t know anything about that world; They are going to throw tomatoes at me ”. They answer me “we don’t need a specialist but a captain to lead the boat”.

I surrounded myself then with a lot of very good people and kept quiet about artistic matters. I only made decisions about speed, which is important on television, and also that there was some entertainment. The program was very successful, a good rating especially in the interior, and I traveled all over the country.

Everywhere, from the provincial capitals to the smallest cities, they understood what he was talking about. All this experience forced me to listen much more and to recognize my limits; I also met very generous people, very broad and very far from the stereotypes that I had created. Finally, I modified the concept of homeland understood in the solemn sense that they teach us in school. I discovered that homeland means the defense of a dignified life on the ground where you were born.


To register for the Germinart project: Premios Chucaro (Facebook) and Premioschucaro (Instagram). Registration deadline: July 30.



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