by Lanny Udell
Dancing tango since: Dance has always been part of Susan’s life—she studied ballet, jazz and tap in high school and college. A little over two years ago, she discovered Argentine tango.
Why tango: After seeing Forever Tango, she was inspired to learn the dance. She had lost the three most important men in her life within a few years–her life partner of 17 years, her brother and her father. “I needed to return to my art to heal after all of this loss,” says Susan. “Dance is my creative expression in the world and tango exemplifies it.”
Favorite part: “It’s all about the connection. The other thing I like is you can play dress up. It’s part of the creativity for me.”
What surprised her the most? “How difficult it is!” After a challenging musicality class she called her mom almost in tears, “I’m flunking tango!” Susan had come face to face with her inner critic. “I had to learn to silence that voice and just connect with my partner. It rears its head now and then, but I’ve quieted it to a whisper,” she says.
About Debbie & John: When she decided to study tango, Susan wanted a local studio and found Alma del Tango on the internet. “Debbie and John are fabulous teachers,” she says. “They know the technique so well and break it down in a way I can relate to easily. Debbie translates it into non-dancer language so it’s easy to understand at my level.”
She likes dancing with John because “he’s an excellent leader, and he makes me feel beautiful.”
Anything else? Susan has taken classes with visiting teachers, including Eduardo Saucedo. “He took me to another level of confidence by helping me break down some of the basics so I had a better idea of what I was doing,” she explains.
Susan danced in last year’s Alma del Tango student production, Moment to Moment. “I made myself do it,” she says. “My inner critic said, no, you’re gonna flunk again, but I refused to listen.”
Last word: “Tango is a lifelong journey, you never get to the destination,” says Susan. In September, the journey is leading her to tango in Paris, and she’s happy to follow.