by Lanny Udell
Dancing tango since: As a teenager in Viet Nam, Michelle was introduced to tango in a ballroom dance class. But it wasn’t Argentine Tango. Last year, a friend invited her to the Sea Horse for an Argentine Tango class. “I was in a good mood, so I said why not? I hadn’t danced in over 20 years.” Michelle was captivated and signed up for lessons.
Back story: “Tango fascinated me, it’s so beautiful,” she says. When she joined the class at the Sea Horse she thought, no problem, I’ve done ballroom dance before, but, “boy—Argentine Tango is not like ballroom! I was totally lost because in tango, it depends on the leader, not counting steps. It takes a tremendous amount of concentration.” After three months, she was frustrated—“I couldn’t dance it.” But she kept going even though she was miserable. “I wondered, what’s wrong with me?”
One evening after class, a woman invited her to dance. “I didn’t know a woman could lead,” says Michelle. That woman happened to be Sylvia Goodman who told Michelle, “Don’t worry, leave it to me.” After the tanda, Sylvia told her about Alma del Tango. Soon after, Michelle bought her first package at Alma del Tango.
Why tango: “My passion for the dance was like a burning inside of me,says the tanguera. She realized that in Argentine Tango, you are not stuck with a certain process. It’s about connection with the leader. So she forgot about counting steps,as she was used to doing in ballroom. “It’s more about free expression between two people,” says Michelle. “It’s like falling in love.
You cannot be absent for a moment. If you lose that focus it’s not tango anymore.”
Favorite part: Even though she enjoys Latin dances she finds they’re not as rich as tango. “The expression in tango is so beautiful, so artistic,” says Michelle. She began to buy shoes, and special clothing. “And I began to wear red to create a mood, like anybody in love doing silly things. Sooo sentimental…what can I say?”
About Debbie & John: Michelle looked at the Alma del Tango website and watched videos of Debbie and John dancing. Then she contacted Debbie. “I said I’d do anything to dance like her. I want so badly to be able to dance nicely like her. And John is awesome, the way he stands, his technique.” Says Michelle with a warm smile, “Alma del Tango freed me, it finally clicked. I am able to dance more and more. Without Debbie and John I couldn’t dance.”
“A day without tango makes my heart sad.”