by Lanny Udell
Dancing since: Mark first saw Argentine Tango performed at a half-time exhibition show during a Grand National Ballroom Convention, over 20 years ago. Then, after a 10 year hiatus from serious dancing, in April 2011, he attended a Weller House milonga in Fort Bragg. Dressed in tight-fitting Wrangler jeans with a rodeo belt buckle, cowboy boots and a western shirt, he “tango-walked” all night. He recalls: “The people, the embrace, the ambience, the music…I was hooked!”
Why Tango: For Mark, tango is the pinnacle of dance expression. He has had structured partner dance instruction and experiences for a number of years, but since finding this dance form, “I can truly relax and express myself, and feel my partner’s expression in the music,” he explains. The music is a big part of the draw for Mark, an accordion player with a deep appreciation for musicality.
Favorite Part: Those moments between the cabaceo, leading up to the embrace…and then that first step when I can feel us become one with each other …
About Debbie & John: After watching some very accomplished followers at a milonga in Santa Rosa, Mark inquired as to where else they were dancing. They mentioned Alma del Tango and invited him to join them at a class. “Debbie approached me as soon as I entered the dance floor,” says Mark. “She made me feel very welcome and at-ease.” He admired the manner in which John and Debbie worked together and relayed the facets of the lesson to their students. Now he looks forward to Debbie’s energy and enthusiasm every week.
What surprised him most: Having come from a ballroom background, Mark was surprised at the slower movement of the dance lanes in tango, “ it allows much more time to explore and improvise,” says the tanguero. He is also surprised at the vast array of options and amalgamations available in the figures presented in tango. “And, I am pleasantly surprised at how luscious and provocative the women dress at the milongas!”
On a personal note: Mark makes his home in Potter Valley, Mendocino County. A home and commercial building contractor for over 30 years, he currently specializes in turn-of-the century remodels. Mark is an active ocean diver and pursues sport fishing using breath-hold diving techniques. He is also an active musician playing the piano accordion, and a classical music enthusiast.
Last word: “I have always enjoyed reaping the benefits of positive results from confronting challenges,” says Mark, “and I find Argentine Tango classes and milongas to be some of the most challenging and rewarding moments in my life, thus far.”