Archive | June, 2013

Student of the Month – Jill Aggersbury

WP_Jill-Aggersburyby Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since:  Jill, Alma del Tango’s volunteer coordinator, started taking classes with Debbie and John through College of Marin in 2011, then joined ADT’s Wednesday classes when the COM sessions ended.

Why tango:  From ballroom to Latin and folk, Jill has danced almost all her life.  She had seen Forever Tango, and when she served on the board of the Allegro Ballroom in the early 2000’s she met Christy Cote and saw her perform. Then she found out about Debbie and John and her life as a tanguera was launched.

Favorite part: Jill loves the music and meeting a diverse group of people. “They seem to have an appreciation of beauty, even in the clothes and, of course, the shoes,” she says.

Jill in her role as Alma del Tango's Volunteer Coordinator

Jill as Alma del Tango’s Volunteer Coordinator

 

 

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Jill in Tango Tales 2012

About Debbie & John: “They’re great teachers, they complement each other so well and have great patience,” says Jill.  She likes that Debbie and John teach tango as a whole, including the culture and the etiquette — not just steps. She took their 3-month musicality workshop which gave her a deeper appreciation of the music and helped her to better associate the steps with the music.

Anything else? “Tango is a very sensual dance and one of the most difficult dances because it requires so much balance,” she notes. “You really have to feel your partner, there has to be a connection.”

Last word:  Jill would like to learn to lead so when there’s a surplus of followers, she’d be able to dance. Sometimes when the Level 1 class is short of leaders she will step in. Buenos Aires? It’s on her To-Do list.

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Jill (center) in her role in Pensalo Bien BEFORE breaking her foot and being unable to perform in Close Embrace 2013

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Debbie & John’s Anniversary Dance & John’ Surprise to Debbie! June 14, 2013

John surprised Debbie by singing her their song. Listen to the recording here:

John El Dia Que Me Quieras

Lyrics with translation: El DIA QUE ME QUIERAS

-Acaricia mi ensueno el suave murmullo de tu suspirar

(My Illusion caresses the soft murmur of your sigh)

-Como rie la vida si tus ojos negros me queiren mirar

(How life smiles if your dark eyes dare to glance at me)

-Y si es mio el amparo de tu risa leve que es como un cantar ella aquita mi herida todo todo se olvida

(If it’s mine the protection of your slight smile is like a song; it quiets my wound and everything everything is forgotten)

-El dia que me quieras la rosa que engalana se vestida de fiesta con su mejor color

(The day that you love me the rose that adorns will wear her best color)

-El viento las campanas diran que ya eres mia y locas las fontanas se contaran su amor

(To the wind the bells would tell you are mine and the delirious bells would tell of our love)

-La noche qu me queiras desde el azul del cielo las estrellas celosas nos miraran pasar

(The night that you love me from the blue sky the jealous stars will look as we pass by)

-Y un rayo misterioso hara nido en tu pelo

(A mysterious ray will nest in your hair)

-Luciernagas curiosas que veran que eres mi consulo

(Curious lightening bugs will see you are my comfort)

-El dia que me quieras no habra mas que harmonias sera clara la aurora y alegre el

manantial traiga quieta la brisa rumor de melodias y nos dara la fuente su canto de cristal

(The day that you love me there will be harmony, dawn will be clear and the spring will bring the quiet breeze, murmur of melodies and it will give to us it’s crystal singing)

-El dia que me quieras endulzara su cuerda el pajaro cantor florecera la vida no existira el dolor.

(The day that you love me the singing bird will sweeten it’s cord life will florish and pain will be no more)

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June is Tango Love Bird Month at Alma del Tango


On June 14, Debbie Goodwin and John Campbell will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary!

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Here they share with us their tango love story. In the posts that follow we feature romantic tales of other couples who connected and fell deeply in love with the dance, the music and…each other.

Tango Love Birds – Debbie and John

A life-changing dance

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Debbie Goodwin, Nito Garcia, John Campbell, July 18, 1996

 

John spotted Debbie across a crowded dance floor in Roble Dance Studio on the Stanford campus. It was July, 1996, and they had come for Stanford Tango Week (now known as Nora’s Tango Week). With a cabeceo, the tall, dashing man invited the beautiful woman with sparkling eyes and a brilliant smile to dance, and they have been inseparable ever since.

Debbie attended week two of the program as part of her studies in Dance Education. “This was to be the turning point in my dance career,” she explains. “I had been focusing on partner dancing, a dance form that one can enjoy at any age.” Once she discovered Argentine Tango, she was hooked and decided to make it her specialty. But very quickly it took on a deeper meaning.

John attended the workshop the previous week and, as fate would have it, he enjoyed himself so much that he changed his travel plans in order to stay for a second week. His interest in tango came from a desire to explore dance as a way to rebalance his life. He chose it because it was completely different from the kinds of things he would normally undertake. Clearly, he was more than ready for a change.

Like tango, love is complicated

At the time they met, Debbie and John were both in long-term marriages and each had three children. Neither was consciously seeking a romantic encounter. But Debbie tells us, “That night, when I danced with John at the milonga, I melted into his embrace. I realized, “uh oh, I’m in trouble!” For his part, John adds, “I suddenly felt something long missing in my life. It could never be the same.”

IMG_2649Tango Week came all too quickly to an end. They said their sad goodbyes and then returned to life as it was before. But John was already over the edge. A few days later, he sent Debbie a package in the mail. “It was a promotional poster for the Stanford Tango Week show we attended that week. That poster is framed and hanging on our living room wall,” she says.  The next week they met clandestinely at a park in Sacramento, and a few days later told their partners they were leaving.

At that time Debbie was living in Auburn where her children were in school, and John lived and worked in Marin. For seven years they took turns commuting every weekend to be together.

Special moments on and off the dance floor

DebbieGoodwinJohnCampbell2002VonierFor John it was “that impulsive first kiss.  Everything changed after that!” he says.

Debbie recalls a particularly romantic “Tango by the Bay” at the Masonic Hall at Lake Meritt when they danced ‘til the wee hours.  Not wanting the evening to end,  during their last tanda they danced right out of the ballroom, past the marble pillars, through the lobby and out the front doors.DebJohnWedding6.14.2003030

Seven years later, they were married at Marin Art and Garden Center. The guests danced to the tangos of Seth Asarnow and Marcelo Puig. For their wedding, Marcelo sang “El Dia Que Me Quieres.”

The couple honeymooned in Paris. Coincidentally, there was a tango festival in town.  They took classes from Pablo Veron and Osvaldo Zotto and Lorena Hermocida in a ballroom overlooking the Eiffel Tower. “At night, we crossed a bridge over the river Seine to dance tango in the moonlight on the quays. It was so romantic,” sighs Debbie.476

On looking for love through tango:

John says: “You don’t need to look for it. It will find you. You will know it when you feel it. Your life will change.”

051Debbie elaborates:  “Tango can bring out strong feelings that can be confused with romance. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the feelings from the person you are dancing with. We call this Tango Bliss. In tango you will find many types of connections with as many different people you come in contact with. How beautiful to be able to connect with a variety of people on so many levels, and if it happens to be a romantic connection, then John is right – your life will change.  Ours did!”

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Tango Love Birds – Michael and Margaret

Danger – the romantic kind CloseEmbrace_MichaelKlesert_byAlliNovak2013

Just over five years ago, Michael moved to Napa and became seriously addicted to tango. He began taking classes in Yountville but in order to dance at a real milonga he had to travel further – to the Belrose in San Rafael.

“The best way to do this without succumbing to the terror of asking a stranger to dance was to car pool with other members of the Yountville class,” says Michael. “One afternoon I was introduced to a charming, sophisticated, elegant Russian woman named Margaret, and we discovered that she also was from Napa.  Life is full of serendipity.”

Initially Michael was reluctant to cabaceo the lovely tanguera, thinking she was a more experienced dancer. But, eventually, after much internal debate, he worked up the nerve to ask her to share a tanda with him.CloseEmbrace_MargaretTrachtenberg_byAlliNovak2013

“I was completely embarrassed and thrilled at the same time,” he admits. “She didn’t seem too offended by my leading, so I invited her again a little later.” Soon, the two began dancing more often and commuting to various milongas, first with small groups and occasionally just with each other.

“Danger — the romantic kind — lurked in these long drives back and forth,” Michael recalls.  These interludes allowed them to get to know each better, sharing life adventures and discovering mutual interests as they drove. “Margaret went to university in Moscow where ballet, opera and theater were all very available and top quality, and I conducted musical theater, once aspired to conduct opera and was a symphony orchestra manager at one time,” Michael explains.

The spark ignites…MM-107

The time spent alone together in the car became more engaging and more exciting.  “Neither of us was aware of our growing desire for the other until one night, when I walked Margaret to her front door after dancing. She kissed my cheek, almost melting me in my shoes,” says Michael. “Totally unexpected and searingly hot, this simple gesture led me to admit that I had been wanting to touch her hand in the car but was afraid to scare her off.”

During their commutes Margaret wasn’t thinking about a relationship. “I thought he was a very nice man and I enjoyed his company. I liked not having to drive by myself at night.” Things began to progress more rapidly after Michael took Margaret to dinner to celebrate her birthday at Skates in Berkeley, then to a milonga in Oakland – their first real date.

“Since then, we have danced at my best friend’s wedding in Colorado, in the lobby of several hotels, Yountville and Cabo San Lucas included, at wineries, the de Young museum, outdoors at the Legion of Honor, and on stage in Alma del Tango’s production Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story in San Anselmo.”

CloseEmbrace_MichaelKlesert_MargaretTrachtenberg_byAlliNovak2013

When he knew she was the one

For Michael, the most romantic night of all was early in the relationship. “With a full moon and fog rolling over the ridge in Sausalito, we danced to live music by Seth Asarnow and Marcello Puig, alone on the tiniest of dance floors at Cafe Divino. I knew at that point she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

Margaret agrees, “it was extremely romantic.  Afterward we drove along the Bay and I realized it but didn’t say anything. Tango is a very passionate dance.  Some day we won’t be able to go tango dancing, but in the beginning, tango did its part.”

“None of this would have been possible without our very strong, mutual obsession for tango,” says Michael. “Our next big tango adventure will be a trip to visit Margaret’s daughter in Paris. Any suggestions for great places to tango?

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Tango Love Birds – Tanya and Ilya

Fairy tales do come true

CloseEmbrace_TanyaRokhlin_byAlliNovak2013

Tanya Rokhlin

 

One evening last fall, Tanya decided to go to the milonga at Magdalena in Oakland with Debbie Goodwin. It was a spur of the moment decision as she was getting ready for a trip to Europe, but an evening of tango sounded good. When the women arrived, the room was crowded and dark.

Tanya recalls a man standing by the door as she was trying to make her way to get a glass of water. He invited her to dance but she declined. Later he reappeared and asked again. This time she accepted his invitation. Dancing with him felt very warm and comfortable. “Between tandas we discovered we both speak Russian,” says Tanya.

CloseEmbrace_IlyaMagid_byAlliNovak2013

Ilya Magid

Red flag!

During the evening, they danced a couple more tandas and she noticed he was wearing a wedding ring. Ilya told her he lives in Santa Barbara and has been dancing for many years. On alert, Tanya asked if his wife dances, too. “Yes,” he replied.  “I didn’t even listen,” she says. “I have a rule that if a man is married I don’t waste my time. Whatever I felt, I put it aside.”

At end of evening he asked if she would be dancing the next day, and where. When she responded he said “Ok, I’ll be there too.” Tanya admits she was a little excited by the prospect of dancing with him again, “but I was holding myself in a neutral space, not wanting to get too excited,” she says.

“The dancing was wonderful, he made me feel good. The embrace was incredible.  Later I heard the same from other women.  In tango, it’s not how many moves the man knows, it’s how he makes you feel,” says the tanguera. (Leaders, listen up!)

Tango1Tanya went on her travels to Europe and when she came back, a couple months went by with no word from Ilya. Meanwhile she did some sleuthing on Facebook and friended him. She looked at the pictures he’d posted and saw that everything he told her was true. His life looked picture perfect. “I thought how unlucky I am…I felt all this but he’s unavailable,” says Tanya.

Finally, Ilya called. “He said he was coming to San Francisco to visit me. I thought, why is he coming to visit me? I never asked him to visit me…I said we could dance together.” When he invited her to dinner before the milonga, she thought, “Ok, now I can ask questions.”  Tanya was frank.  She told him, “I don’t want to waste my time, so if you’re married it’s not going to work.”

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Tanya, pictured here, played the lead role of “Angelica”in Alma del Tango’s  “Close Embrace,” February 14-17, 2013

Then he delivered the news she wanted to hear –he had left his wife. “Don’t think it’s because of you,” Ilya told her.  “It was coming for many years.  Living alone gave me time to think and analyze what I want to do.”

“Once he told me he was available and I wasn’t the reason, I completely lost my head,” Tanya admits. “And I’ve never looked back.”  Since then the couple has been inseparable. “Nothing is perfect in life,” Tanya says philosophically. “There is always a spoon of dirt in a jar of honey. Everybody looks at this from their own angle. I look at it as a miracle for me, and he looks at it in the same way.”

After dancing the lead role in Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story, in which Ilya also performed, Tanya moved to Santa Barbara to be with her tango lovebird. Now the couple goes to milongas in Los Angeles every weekend.

“It is a fairy tale that I’m living,” she says with a happy sigh.

Watch Tanya and Ilya dance here:

Video filmed and edited by John Campbell – Alma Video Production

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Tango Love Birds – Kathy and Mark

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Kathy Burwell

The perfect storm

As the final piece of her divorce settlement, Kathy ended up with a round-trip ticket to anywhere United flies. As her mind drifted through various exotic destinations, her best friend said, “If I could go anywhere, it would be Buenos Aires to dance tango!” That was Kathy’s aha moment. She immediately signed up for Debbie and John’s beginning tango class.

Meanwhile…Mark, also newly divorced and new to California, was invited to the same tango class by a woman he’d recently met. They danced, but didn’t date. Then, one fateful evening, Mark stayed to watch the Level 2 class and in walked Kathy, “the most beautiful woman in the world,” he beams, “and I immediately began to think how to get close to her.”

To prepare for her Buenos Aires adventure, Kathy went to Los Angeles to visit Becka, a well-known tango dancer/teacher.  While talking with other tangueros at Becka’s house, one man said prophetically, “It will change your life.”

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Mark Lewis

Are we dating?
Back in Marin, Mark emailed to invite her to join a group that was going dancing together. That felt very unthreatening to Kathy, “not like a pick-up,” she laughs. She began venturing out to dance spots on her own, and one night she called Mark to see if he and his friends would like to go.  They showed up late, and Kathy thought he was dating one of the women.

Then, on a Saturday night they went together to a class in Sausalito but didn’t change partners.  After the lesson, during the milonga, “no one asked me to dance,” says Kathy.  Finally, someone did, and seeing this, Mark decided to leave. “I’ll get my stuff,” said Kathy, and they jumped into his truck. That’s when he told Kathy he had terminated a relationship. “It was a game-changer,” she says.

They headed into the City and danced til the wee hours (not tango). The next week, after Debbie and John’s class, they went out for a glass of wine. “Are we dating?” asked Mark. “Well, we haven’t had a date,” Kathy responded. So he asked her for a date. “I was totally infatuated,” he says.

Buenos Aires bound
“By late September it became clear to me to invite Mark to go to Buenos Aires with me because we enjoyed dancing together so much,” recalls Kathy. “Buenos Aires was a really exciting time,” adds Mark.  “There was the incredible energy of a new relationship.  We were with total strangers and didn’t speak the language. We were both new to being divorced and new to tango. We were empty nesters. Our kids are the same age…we hit the perfect storm.”

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Kathy Burwell & Mark Lewis in All About Tango 2011

“Tango is another way of solidifying our closeness and communication,” he explains. “When you’re in Buenos Aires and totally afraid to dance with a stranger and there’s only one person you can hold onto, it’s the bonding. You want to succeed at being a wonderful dancer, you want to be with that person who you know won’t judge you so you can relax and be who you are.”

Dancing their story
In 2011, Kathy and Mark performed a choreographed dance in Alma del Tango’s student production, All About Tango. They danced a milonga that joyfully expressed their tango love story.
While other priorities have kept Kathy and Mark from regularly dancing tango, they’re hopeful that will change.  The welcome they received at the benefit milonga for Alex Levin was so heartwarming.  “Look at the community we have,” beamed Kathy. “It was wonderful to feel welcome and to pick up where we left off.”

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Tango Love Birds – Auriel and Winter

Winter & Auriel

Winter & Auriel

Love at first sigh…

The first time Auriel danced with her partner of almost 10 years, she felt her breathe out and relax … like her body was sighing with relief.  “I took this as a compliment to my dancing,” says Auriel. “She was seeing someone else at the time who didn’t tango and I was just a year out of a toxic relationship, so nothing happened between us except tango, which can be a healing and satisfying attraction in itself.”

Eventually Winter’s relationship ended and Auriel felt healed enough to ask her out. Tango has been part of their lives and work ever since with festival and milonga production, teaching, performing, competing and community building. “And still, we sigh in completeness when we tango together,” says Auriel. “Tango is something that connected us and completes us like nothing else.”

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Student of the Month – Stephanie Graham

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Stephanie Graham

by Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since:  Stephanie took her first tango class three years ago with Debbie and John at COM. She also does Irish Step Dancing and has taken tap.

Why tango: After years of performance oriented dance Stephanie, an empty nester, wanted to learn a partner dance. “I knew I would have to study to understand it,” she says. She had seen Tango Argentino, the precursor to Forever Tango, and was struck by it. But, she admits, seeing it with her dad was “kind of embarrassing because it was rather steamy.” Another reason  she chose tango is “… unlike Irish Step Dancing, it’s something I can do in my 80’s.”

Favorite part: The possibility of surprise.  “You don’t know in any given dance what level of connection you’re going to have with someone,” says the tanguera.

Cast of Shoe Seduction

Stephanie top row, 2nd from right “Shoe Seduction”                         All About Tango 2011

About Debbie & John:   “I’m so glad they were my first teachers, they’re always very encouraging. And, I’m glad they started milongas in Marin, it gave me the courage to go to milongas.”

Stephanie has danced in two Alma del Tango student productions, All About Tango and Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story.  “Working with Debbie on the shows was amazing,” she mused.  “She has calm energy.  It’s incredibly hard, and I’ve never seen her lose it.”

Stephanie Graham dancing with Dean Lawler lower right couple in Close Embrace 2013

Stephanie Graham dancing with Dean Lawler, lower right  Close Embrace 2013

Anything else: In March, Stephanie went to Argentina with two friends. She took tango classes in Buenos Aires and hired a taxi dancer for a couple of days. “It was nice to dance all night with a good leader,” says Stephanie, “but it isn’t the same when you have to pay someone to dance with you.”

Stephanie, third from the left dancing Pensalo Bien in Close Embrace 2013

Stephanie, third from left dancing Pensalo Bien in Close Embrace 2013

Last word:  When asked if she experienced any piropos*  in Argentina, she laughed explaining: “one in Mendoza, but I don’t know what they said.”

*Piropo – Flirtatious, “poetic” remarks directed at women by men on the street.

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