Chapter 12. London Admirers

Videos courtesy of Jill Barrett

Ricardo’s 75 birthday

Tributes To Our Dear Friend Ricardo

I’m very sad to tell you that Ricardo’s health has deteriorated suddenly and he is in his final hours of life.

Ricardo and his partner Ewa spent the last few weeks in Buenos Aires, and returned to their home in Santa Fe, NM last Tuesday.

This sudden change is such a shock. When I last spoke to him, 7 days ago, he was with friends in a restaurant in Buenos Aires. The previous time we spoke he was buying tickets in the Colon Theatre. He has successfully fought his ill health (lung cancer for years and more recently bone cancer) for so long it’s hard to grasp that he cannot any more.

Ricardo is now where he wanted to be in to end his life and is being cared for by the woman he loves. Ewa has the support she needs from nurses and members of her family.

He is very fortunate to have such a wonderful lady  at his side.

Jill Barrett,   Tango en el Cielo



Ricardo, we have met up three times now. The first was in England when you came to Southampton with Jill to teach. You were very complimentary about my dancing which my confidence greatly at that early point in my tango career. I also remember how you got a chair and sat in the middle of the room when the group carried on talking during the lesson, and you just waited for them to stop. It was very funny and very powerful too.

Yours affectionately, Peter


I am so sorry to receive such news. At your studio I have had the pleasure to learn tango from Ricardo and in to enjoy his company. Knowing how you cherished his friendship this must be very difficult, but remember, he leaves special memories and a legacy of tango every time you teach and arrange functions.

Pam Mannings


I last saw Ricardo in November when Jill, Ian and I had lunch with him in the Los Platitos restaurant. He seemed then – as always – so indestructibly optimistic, healthy and useful that I can hardly believe what Jill told me. He was so happy about his move to Santa Fe, so full of stories about the past and future tango tours in Europe, and further afield. I realize I have been very lucky to have had contact with such a powerfully happy older person. In a world totally obsessed with youth, Ricardo is a great role model, proof that life really does carry on past for those in their 30s and beyond, that you can have a happy fulfilling life at any age, that it’s never too late to dance, to make new friends, to fall in love, move half way across the globe to be with someone you love.

If you can tell Ricardo one thing, please tell him that I congratulate him for his massive achievement, of having the joie de vivre of a teenager in his 70s.




It is striking how strong an impression Ricardo made on people. Some people who met him only once or twice have felt moved to write to him and about him. It was because of the man he was, not because of his tango.

Let’s try to remember the most important things he taught us about tango. There are so many it’s hard to think where to start. Which of his sayings have made the most impression on you? The ones that come first to my mind are:

Be yourself…Develop what you have (develop a style of dancing based on your own natural way of moving and your own feeling for the music)…Don’t try to be a clone of somebody else…Dance from your heart, not from your memory…Walk to the music every day (including at home, by yourself)…Laugh when it goes wrong.

Jill Barret, Tango en el Cielo


I met Ricardo several times and found him an inspiration. Great men like him pass one’s life seldom, and I am grateful to you for providing me the opportunity to have him touch my life.



His naturalness in dancing was a pleasure to watch and an inspiration to us all. His influence lives on after him.



I met Ricardo in a summer of 2004 and only had two private lessons from him. In that short time, he helped me to find the tango I had inside me and that I had wanted to dance all along. Ricardo’s advice reads like a recipe for ensuring that the tango is fun rather than hard work. I felt that Ricardo’s main goal in teaching was to make people see that dancing IS fun and SHOULDN’T be hard work, and to help them have as much fun as he did. I believe I shall go on being inspired by him for the rest of my life.




It was one of the highlights when Ricardo came to Southampton, discussing the music, orchestras, different dancers and of course the tango itself. There can be few people who could tell Carlos Gavito to “dance properly,” when some showy steps were danced practicing together. Although there is an empty space on the dance floor, it will be filled by dancers full of fond memories and advice that he generously passed on.

Alan Jones

Ricardo’s views on women leading were, I think, typical of his generation. He believed that tango is about a man and a woman and as such he had a gut feeling that two women dancing together didn’t make sense. He said that if a woman leads her following suffers. After discussion he revised this to: “when a woman spends a lot of time leading her following suffers”.

I think he believed that leading is inherently damaging the woman’s ability to follow. We used to argue about that. If I was dancing with him and something went wrong he would tell me to stop trying to lead. I would insist i was trying to lead, I simply lost my balance, made a mistake, misunderstood his lead.

However, Ricardo never said that a woman shouldn’t lead. On the contrary he encouraged me in my leading and gave me lessons in which i was leading a woman partner. He understood that a woman teacher needs to know both roles, and also that some women in London are leading a lot now because of the lack of good male partners.

When he and I taught together and there was a shortage of men in the class, he and I would both dance with the partnerless women and he was very happy to do that.

So I think whatever his views were in principle, he was broad-minded and flexible enough to adapt himself to different situations and cultures. He was a good and loyal friend to me and supported what I did, even if he didn’t agree with it. For example, he was by chance staying here in my home once when I gave a whole day’s workshop on changes of direction, boleos and other moves in the “Gustavo Naveira” style of tango. In other words, not Ricardo’s style at all. I suggested that he might prefer to go out for the day, but he wanted to stay. He watched the whole class. He gave us good humor, support and encouragement, and helped me by turning the music on and off. However, he refrained from giving us the benefit of his opinions (which must have cost him a lot of effort).



We fondly remember his visits to us and the magical way he used to teach. Thank you Ricardo for your warmth and giving nature.

Tracie Gooch


I only met Ricardo on a couple occasions but he left an impression with me of not only being a wonderful dancer but also a charming, lovely man, a real gentleman.

Tina More



I met Ricardo in London in one of his many classes and remember him as my only true teacher. He lived tango and taught us to feel the music and the partner with the heart. Then dancing just happens naturally, just like walking in the park.



I was fortunate to dance a few times with Ricardo. I had the impression that his breathing whilst dancing was like an additional instrument in the tango song being payed. Thank you Ricardo.

Adriana D. Pegorer


Ricardo shared his love of tango with me in a way like no other teacher; he opened my eyes to tango as a dance of emotion and showed me that a great dance depends on passion as well as technique. For that I will always be grateful to him.

Charles Long


He had an effect on every one in the class, regardless of if they were beginners or experts. Everybody danced better after his lessons. I recall him dancing with a woman who had never had a tango class before.

My tribute would be: “He got to everybody in their heads as well as their feet, and he just loved meeting people.”

This tribute is from Susan: “It was a privilege to be in the company of Ricardo. His very presence had an amazing, powerful and inspiring energy. It appeared as if he had the secret of the very essence of life, which he wanted to share.”

Nigel and Susan Little


I remember Ricardo with great affection and respect. He always greeted me as a friend and once invited me to his table; that to me was an honour. I love his footwork and his style – Simple and Honest. I will miss him, they don’t make a dancer like that any more.

Martin Russel Walters


I was dancing with Ricardo and kept stepping on his toes, apologizing each time. He replied: “Please don’t apologize, I am wearing too big shoes tonight.”

Please reveal yourself…


I took just one lesson from Ricardo, in the Dome in 2005, and it reassured me that the tango I wanted to dance wasn’t an acrobatic display at arm’s length. I learned a whole style of dance that evening. His warmth and energy filled the Dome. It is hard to believe he was terminally ill at the time.




Published on 14/04/2017 at 11:20 pm  Comments Off on Chapter 12. London Admirers  
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