By
Silvina Damiani

e always made a living with his profession of dancer but also he is an expert in designing choreographies for shows and musicals. There are many professionals of tango dance that have learnt with him and with his friend and associate, Antonio Todaro.

Born in 1934 in the province of Santa Fe, Bravo was a milonguero from an early age. He started dancing at age fourteen in Floresta, the neighborhood where his family settled, in the western area of the city of Buenos Aires. Like many colleagues of his generation, he was unable to make a living only with tango and, in the early years of his professional career, he worked at the Correo Argentino and in the Bank of America.

In 1962 he made his debut as soloist dancer in a show a few yards from the Obelisk, on the mythical Corrientes Avenue in downtown Buenos Aires. In 1963 he replaced Virulazo at El Viejo Almacén, the well-known venue in the neighborhood of San Telmo, owned by Edmundo Rivero.

In 1964 he shared the bill at the Teatro Astral with the singer Guillermo Fernández, then a boy prodigy, today one of the most talented artists in tango. He also followed the steps of the Carlos Di Sarli’s musicians to open again the Cabaret Marabú on Maipú Street, one of the most famous venues downtown in the Golden Age of tango.

In 1968 he made his first international tour along with the popular Juan D’Arienzo orchestra. Throughout all this period his dancing partner was Haydée Varoni.

Thereafter other achievements which were more widely known came: a show alongside the female singer Libertad Lamarque and his roles as first dancer and choreographer of the Mariano Mores’ company.

Only in the 90s he began to be widely regarded as a model of tango dance. After analyzing this late recognition, Bravo says: «By the time we were young there were no possibilities of social recognition like we have today because the ones who danced tango were very few and the job market, either in Argentina or abroad, was much more restricted for tango.»

This teacher, choreographer and dancer is known in the tango milieu as teacher of teachers because some of the choreographies that many dancers display in Buenos Aires and throughout the world belong to him.

Furthermore, Bravo has taught classes to personalities of dance like Guillermina Quiroga, Roberto Reis, Carlos Copello, Natalia Games, Gabriel Angió, Pancho Martínez Pey, Osvaldo Zotto, among many others.

Nowadays, we can state that he is one of the most significant personalities of tango dance linked with teaching together with the late dancers Antonio Todaro and Pepito Avellaneda.

Owner of a unique energy, he displays each figure as if he were drawing a piece of Buenos Aires with his legs. Character, tenacity and quality are some of the attributes that define this dancer who has more than 58 years of experience in dancing and teaching.

In his long career he worked with great tango orchestras like the ones of Juan D’Arienzo, Miguel Caló, José Colángelo, Los Señores del Tango, Mariano Mores and Osvaldo Pugliese.

His tours of the United States in which he appeared at Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, as well as those of Europe and Central America are repeated year after year.

In recognition of his career as dancer he has received many honors and awards: in 1957 he won a tango contest at the Confitería Dominó; in 1964 he won his second contest at the Confitería Siglo XX; in 1968 he won his third contest at La Casa del Tango; in 1989 he was the first dancer and choreographer of the Libertad Lamarque’s company and won the Estrella de Mar award together with the José Colángelo orchestra; in 2011 he was honored as the most outstanding maestro of the year by Solo Tango.

A special paragraph deserves his capacity as educator and, especially, the Método Todaro-Bravo, no doubt, one of the most important contributions for spreading tango as popular dance. This method was created together with Antonio Todaro (another teacher of teachers) in the two academies they created and directed in Buenos Aires for over fifteen years, between 1970 and 1985.

The system or method they developed is profoundly pedagogical. In it the teacher makes the student experience the movements in contact with the other. According to Bravo’s words: «I think it is important that a man experiences from the beginning the relationship between the bodies and when he is led he has to feel how the different marks that a leader makes are sensed.»

Bravo clearly recalls his work alongside Todaro and says: «Antonio was my working mate, friend and associate. After Miguel Ángel Zotto’s acknowledgement his name became more known than mine but it also was because I have a low profile. When I go to a milonga I prefer a table which is not near the dancing track. I think that if there is someone who wants to say hello to me he would do it all the same.»

Undoubtedly, Raúl Bravo is an authentic artist of our tango, wise and generous, prototype of the longest-established porteño style.