¿Por qué bailamos Tango? | Why do we dance tango?
Tues Feb 28 | By Travis Widrick
The dancers. Listed in order of time dancing tango.
- Sara Golic 10. Amanda Garley
- Claire Cerra 11. Michael Nadtochi
- Michael Koury 12. Hernan Prieto
- Dijana Šavija 13. Robin Thomas
- Melissa Parkhurst 14. Oliver Kolker
- Jose Ortiz 15. Homer Ladas
- Tiniko Widrick 16. Jonatan Aguero
- Yutong Jee 17. Javier Rodriguez
- Alla Lokav 18. Sharna Fabiano
In this blog you will read about the personal stories of Tango dancers from around the world. They were all asked three questions in hopes of discovering Why do we dance tango?
1. What drew you to Tango?
2. What keeps you dancing tango today?
3. How long have you been dancing?
The idea for the blog was sparked out of my own curiosity as a dancer and a tango teacher. As a teacher of tango I ask often ask myself ‘what is it about the Tango that pulls people in?’ What personal need does it fill? Why tango? What does it have to offer that gives us so much joy and satisfaction? What about tango keeps us coming back for more?
Feeling confident that each persons journey was unique, I wanted to find a wide range of dancers to share their personal tango story in hopes of revealing why they dance tango.
Below you will read the stories, thoughts, feelings and experiences of 17 dancers ranging from 1.5 months to 20 years of tango experience.
I would like to extend a personal thank you to each of you who shared your tango story for this blog. Thank you for your time, and sharing your beautiful words.
Sara Golic | Serbia – Buffalo, NY | 1.5 months
1. What drew you to Tango? “Desire to dance, but not simple desire for movement, rather movement that requires other persons. For many other dancing activities it is not necessary to be open for other people, you can easily do your own things just slightly being aware of others presence. Tango wants you all, more present, here and now.”
2.What keeps you dancing tango today? ” Idea that, as is in daily life, steps are needed but they are not oblige us to obey them blindly. Tango, as life, will create perfect steps for two that are dancing together.”
1. What drew you to Tango? “My initial draw to tango was the music, and the hook was a trip to Argentina. As I prepared to embark on that 23 hour flight with classmates from Oswego to explore Buenos Aires for a week I read all I could about Argentina’s history, cultural melting pot, and watched endless tango videos on YouTube. While the dances were mesmerizing I didn’t understand enough about the construct and connection to see it for the art form it is. I was mostly interested in the music. My background as a violinist in classical orchestras gave me insight to how the music was constructed and clued me in to how to listen for the layers between instruments. The music was what kept my interest through the end of that semester upon our return to the states. I was drawn to the excitement of (unknowingly) Trolio and Pugliese, and the sharp and sophisticated aesthetic of Tango Nuevo. I had endless instrumental tango playlists queued for studying and car rides home. It was exotic and sad and just what I needed at the time as I prepared to leave school without a definitive plan after graduation.”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “I remain a tango dancer because I can’t imagine *not* being a tango dancer. It started with a few walking steps feeling smoother and blending with those of my partner. It was confirmed the first time a close embrace connection that felt solid affirmed to me that my partner was there and listening to me as I was to them. I had no chance of going back. I’ve got Di Sarli melodies in my head, my toes trace lapices under my desk, and I walk taller as a dancer. Tango helped me come back in touch with myself and with the world around me after a period of feeling like I couldn’t stand to reach out to others or be reached. But the tango embrace of my partner and the ronda and the community is there and warm and solid. And the best part? I’m just getting started. There is so much to tango’s technique, culture, history, and dancers that I’ve yet to know, and every bit I learn makes me want more.”
1. What drew you to Tango? “I was drawn to tango at a time when I was trying to better understand two subjects: a) being present/getting out of my own head, and (b) learning about the masculine/feminine dynamic while getting more in touch with the inner masculine.
While living in NY, a coworker of mine was telling me how much she loves tango and when I asked about it, she explained to me that it is not at all choreographed but, rather, it’s an improvisational dance, a subtle conversation that happens sub consciously in real-time. She explained the leader/follower relationship. I was intrigued. On top of that, I’ve always enjoyed myself while dancing and it sounded like a good way to meet people so, it was an easy sell for me. I signed up for a lesson right away.
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? The social aspect is great. I enjoy meeting new people and it really is a nice community. That, along with the constant learning, adjusting, and improving is a lot of fun.
Dijana Šavija | Buffalo, NY | 5 years
1. What drew you to tango? Initially, I started learning how to dance Argentine Tango because I wanted to get closer to Argentine culture. However, tango drew me closer to many cultures, people, careers, countries… Then a ‘close embrace’ came along and I got to explore deeper the beauty of hugging – I was drawn by drama and happiness mixed together in tango music and dance – and then one day I felt a true belonging to the enchanted universe of tango and I decided that I will stay there forever.
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? Tango keeps me in the present. Tango is a body language spoken through music but in silence, in the movement. Tango is a sweet mystery and I belong to it the way it belongs to me. Tango is my space – and I love sharing it with others. Dancing tango makes me profoundly enjoy my own existence in the embrace and movement with another person.
Melissa Parkhurst | Rochester, NY | 6.5 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “My sister dragged me. I was used to being pretty good at everything pretty quickly. Tango…was not that. I told her I never wanted to come back. But then that night, I stayed for my first milonga and I had one dance through which I was floating. Somehow, my feet were moving where they needed to, I was just sweeping the floor (at least it’s how it felt even if not how it looked!). My exact thought was, “ok… whatever I have to learn to feel that again… I’ll do it.” That feeling is what drew me to it. I couldn’t even appreciate the music for the longest time, but that initial feeling was enough to suck me in.
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? Tango taught me how to let someone into my space, it helped me to bring down my walls, to physically feel someone touch me in a healthy way that is so needed. My ability to follow relied on my decisions to let people in, to let my defenses now, to quiet my mind, to relax my body. I continue because of my learned love for the music, the ability to become one with another. It doesn’t happen every dance, but this is what we all crave, yes? My need to relax, to let go of the rest of my world. I dance when I’m sad, angry, frustrated, passionate, playful. It covers all feelings, all emotion. It allows me to communicate when I don’t want to talk, or when I feel I can’t talk. It allows me to be around like-minded individuals, and I find I need that. I need to be around people who can hear me, who are passionate about similar things other than dance. I crave being surrounded by people who seek deep connection. This is not a dance of superficiality. You cannot dance in a deep, connected way AND hide your personality, your fears, your desires. This is why it’s not easy for anyone, and why many choose to leave. It takes work. This is therapy, but what a beautiful therapy it is. While there is always technique to improve upon, balance, stability, the reason it keeps me in and reminds me often enough of how it felt to fall in love.. it’s more emotional, more spiritual in nature.”
Jose Ortiz | Washington DC | 7 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “Based on my personal perspective Tango dancing was a very challenging goal to achieve, especially been a dancer all my life. Tango dancing took my skills beyond limitless hours of practice, study and sometimes frustrations from the undisclosed secrets that we must find to understand such a unique art. Also, I discovered that Tango is not for everyone.”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “What keeps me dancing today, is the enthusiasm of the undiscovered within the art of Tango, and uncontrollable desire to experience and discover how other cultures around the world are connected with the same emotions.”
Tiniko Widrick | Ottawa / Buffalo, NY | 7 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “I wanted to learn a skill that I could invest myself into, progress, and make it a part of me. I wanted it to enrich my life. I picked Argentine Tango because it was out of my comfort zone, discreet, and technically challenging.2.
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? I enjoy the continuous personal growth. I enjoy both the dancing as well as the cultural part of tango. When dancing, I enjoy the connection with different people through non-verbal communication. The cultural part, ie. socializing when not dancing, allows me to be social, meet different people, encourage others, and find inspiration for myself. Tango still challenges me and I like that it still pushes me to be curious, continue to get to know myself, and continue building my skill. I also really love the music, and when I hear it, I feel a reaction (happy, sad, melancholy, nostalgic) that I sometimes want to express through dance, and sometimes just want to savour.”
Yutong Jee | Ottawa, ON | 8 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “Music”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “Music”
Alla Lakov | Boston, MA | 9 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “Drama”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “Addiction to happiness from the good dance”
Amanda Garley | Bolder, CO | 10 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “I’ve been dancing since a young age and have always been interested in all forms of the art. In college I had the opportunity to learn ballroom but somehow got signed up on the Argentine Tango e-mail list. And after a year of putting it off, I finally made it to 1 practica and that was the beginning of a 10 year-long journey.”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “Although luck drew me to tango what really made me stay was the ‘bottom-less’ feature. I love dancing and I enjoy so many different styles. But tango is the only one that’s truly drawn me in. Every time I feel like I’ve got a hold of this dance, I’m knocked off my feet again. Whether it’s gaining a new understanding of the same technique, immersing myself in the music and the rich history of it all, or engaging with cultured people from all over the world….I’m always learning new things with this dance. And not just learning but the gratification of connecting with another human being where no words are needed is extremely satisfying.”
1.What drew you to Tango? “In the beginning, back in the 90’s, it was the music of Astor Piazzolla that I used to listen to while driving my father’s car – that music was somewhat deep and profound. It was the sound of bandoneon and there was something about the sadness of that particular music that was different from any other type of music. That was the beginning of Tango for me. I said to myself: one day I will dance this dance.”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “When I discovered the connection between the two human beings while dancing tango, that quiet moment that you reach for when you are dancing at the milongas. That was much more of the reward than what I expected from tango, originally thinking it would be an outlet for me kicking my legs or doing a split with a girl. And that is what is so attractive to me up until this moment.”“Apart from it being our work, just going to the milonga and relaxing into the embrace is probably one of the sweetest things you can do for yourself as a tango dancer, professional or not. In that moment I see that we are all truly equal on the dance floor. There are just men who want to dance with women and women who want to be embraced.”
Hernan Prieto | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 16 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “I’m from BA, tango is in EVERYWHERE. Although, on contrary to what many people believe, tango is not mainstream and it’s still being linked as old music for old melancholic folks. However, my grandparents and my father loved tango. I grew up listening to stories of them in Milongas or quoting some tangos in the same way some guy could quote a poet.
I remember being 8 years old, walking on a sunny Sunday with my father. He was a man who had travel to different countries when young. That day he said to me: ‘ you must learn at least a lyric of a tango song and learn the basic steps of tango’ and then he added ‘ one day, you will be abroad and people will ask you to sing a tango or to dance it because you are Argentinian. It would be embarrassing for you to not know how to’.
That statement stayed in my mind resonating for years.
At the end of my high school, long after my father passed away, one friend and class mate of mine told me that he was taking some tango classes in an incredible place full of youngsters. It called La Viruta. Just couple of block from where I lived.
So I decided to go with him, it was a summer sunny Sunday evening of 2001. Since that day I didn’t stop dancing.”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “Tango is in my DNA, is in my way of thinking. Tango helped my to relate to people that in other way I would never possible meet.
That strong bond I get when I dance feedbacks my eager of dancing. I love going to a place, a city or a country that I’ve never been to and be sure that I know that language everybody “speak”.
Tango’s still for me a bottomless mystery. Like an archaeologist dig a field trying to find answers, I study tango, I dance it in the same way. I know there’s something more that I didn’t discover yet.”
Robin Thomas | New York City | 18 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “The movement and the music”
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “Touching human beings”
Oliver Kolker | Buenos Aires | 19 years
1. What drew you to Tango? & 2.What keeps you dancing tango today? “With Tango I found my expression, and the way to being able to communicate with other dancer and person in a beautiful dialogue under the music”
Homer Ladas | San Francisco, CA | 20 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “Creative expression and deep connection.
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “See number 1.”
Jonatan Aguero | Buenos Aires | 20 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “I started dancing tango when I was 7 years old , because my grandma introduce me to tango , ( the reason that she introduce to me in , because in that moment I was very nasty boy, so they want to make me tired dancing). 🙂
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “Wow!!!! actually I can not explain exactly very good this, because tango is like an addiction to me ( I need tango every day ) is Passion !! So , when you feel passion for somethings you can’t stop doing. Right now is my job ( I live because of tango ) tango make me feel happy, make me forgot any problem in my life, make me feel a life!! When you feel all of this things “you can’t stop”!! Tango is a big parts of my life!!
Last words from my heart… Tango is not just dance , is not choreography , is not just Milonga. Tango is more that this and one day the people will understand this, but they will understand with time, the feeling!”
Javier Rodriguez | Buenos Aires | 20 years
1. What drew you to Tango? “The strongest thing that attracted me to Tango ..
It was to see the infinity in the connection of the couples that danced and that was what attracted me until the present day.
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? “What keeps me dancing today are two things … first my partners. The woman, the other perfect part that makes you touch the sky
And the second is the wonderful music.
If we did not have the Tangos, we would never have been that happy.”
Sharna Fabiano | 20 years
1. What (not who) drew you to tango. When I encountered tango I was in the midst of a larger exploration of partnered dance that included many other social dances – tango stood out from all the rest because of its more complex improvisational structure. The absence of a basic step, the way the dance unfolded spontaneously from an invisible physical dialogue, the smooth, elegant quality of the movement itself, all of these things I found captivating and very very beautiful.
2. What keeps you dancing tango today? I have drifted away from social dance in the last five years or so – I’m just pursuing other things now creatively and personally, but I do still feel very committed to teaching tango and enjoy it very much. I believe community dance generally is a powerful way for people to stay engaged with their own humanity and with the humanity of others. I realize that’s a huge claim, but feeling connected to your own body, experiencing physical touch, the practice of trusting and being trustworthy, expressing yourself creatively and feeling that you belong in a community, these are the building blocks of a safe and stable society, and we need all the help we can get with that right now. I really do believe strongly that tango is one of those things that pulls us away from our screens and reminds us that we’re not just consumer drones on a regular basis, and unless we do that we can’t really be healthy or make a meaningful contribution to the world.
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