Tag Archives | Marin

New at Alma del Tango – Essentrics® Stretch and Tone Classes

Taught by Jasmine Worrell

Are tight muscles messing up your molinete? Does lower back pain put “ouch” in your ochos?  

Then come stretch, strengthen and find relief at Alma del Tango’s Essentrics® Stretch and Tone class every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30-5:30 p.m.  Jasmine Worrell, an Essentrics apprentice instructor, will gently guide you through a series of exercises designed to prevent and relieve pain. Jasmine is also Alma del Tango’s Swing Dance teacher and a member of Tango Con*Fusión Dance Company.

Apprentice instructor Jasmine Worrell demonstrates an Essentrics stretch

Apprentice instructor Jasmine Worrell demonstrates an Essentrics stretch.

 

What is Essentrics?

Essentrics is a full body workout that rapidly changes the shape of your body through a dynamic combination of strengthening and stretching. These exercises develop lean, strong, flexible muscles, and you’ll quickly notice changes in your posture.

“This style of stretch is flowing, not static,” says Jasmine, “and it’s not aerobic; it’s much calmer. It feels good as you’re releasing tension.” No equipment is used in the class, except for a mat (bring your own), and a diverse playlist accompanies each routine.

After experiencing debilitating shoulder and arm pain a few years back, and getting no relief from traditional medical intervention, Debbie Goodwin came across this program and wanted to offer it to her students and others. She says:

“Essentrics fits in beautifully with the dance classes we offer at Alma Del Tango. It has given me relief from my pain and has helped create a stronger and more flexible body that allows me to manage my strenuous schedule of dancing and teaching.”

Not for dancers only

Essentrics is ideal for all fitness levels. Whether you’re a tango dancer or not, you’ll benefit from the exercises that rebalance the body, prevent and treat injuries, and unlock tight joints.

 “I love all things stretchy,” says Jasmine. “In tango, things get tight—women are in heels, muscles and joints are challenged. Exercises that loosen up your hips and increase flexibility will make you a better dancer.”

Learn more about our Essentrics class

 

 

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Student of the Month ~ Randy Cook

by Lanny Udell

Randy is a familiar face at Alma del Tango’s advanced classes and milongas in San Anselmo.

Randy Cook Student of the Month A tanguero since 2001, he started to study Spanish and that led him to salsa. But when he saw some tango dancers perform in a 4th of July parade in Sonoma Plaza, he switched to tango. “Salsa is fun, but tango has depth,” says Randy. He began taking classes with Alisa Adams & Alejandro Oyuela at the Sonoma Community Center.

Why tango:  “I love the music, for listening as well as for dancing,” he says, citing the melting pot of sounds that infuse tango music. “There are classical elements, traces of Italian opera, Spanish music, the African influence and, of course, Carlos Gardel, the greatest tango singer, was born in France.”

On his first trip to Buenos Aires (he’s been 7 times!) Randy found that his training hadn’t prepared him to dance in the crowded milongas. There was no room for fancy patterns on the packed dance floors. So, at first our tanguero sat at a table,  watched the dancers and talked to people – a good way to learn, he says.

During his many trips to Argentina he studied with a variety of masters including Mimi Santapa, a highly respected teacher who focused on leaders, and Carlos Costes, a protégé of Juan Carlos Copes. Eventually he learned to navigate the crowded dance floors.

Randy Cook dances at Alma del Tango milonga

Randy Cook dances at a milonga at Alma del Tango

In the Bay Area, Randy has studied with a variety of instructors including Gary Weinberg and Lisette Perelle, Christopher Nassapoulous and Caroline Peattie, Felipe Martinez, and currently, Debbie and John.  “They’re excellent teachers,” he comments.

Learning to follow

In his private lessons with Debbie, Randy is learning to follow because, “I enjoy sitting back and letting someone else do the driving so I can ‘enjoy the scenery.’  Also, knowing how to follow will help me be a better leader by understanding what it’s like to stand on the other side.”

Randy explains: “The follower has more input than many realize. That makes it more of an exchange. The more receptive the leader is, the more the dance is a shared experience. Her energy, what she makes of your lead, becomes a conversation, not a monologue.”

Suggestions for dancing at a milonga

“You don’t need to be an advanced dancer to dance well at a milonga,” advises Randy.  “It’s best to keep it simple, stay in your lane, listen to the music, and hold your partner with a soft and comfortable embrace. Remember that the two of you are also dancing with everyone else in the room, so your job is to harmonize.”

Writer/producer of a tango show

Poster for show at Sonoma County librariesLast year Randy was invited by the Sonoma County Library and Friends of the Library to create a tango performance told through story and dance. He adapted a short story from an Argentine anthology, translated it, and staged it with two couples in the lead roles, with Randy as the storyteller.  Featured dancers included Pam Shreve, Jan Lok, Mirin Lew, Gerry Forcier, Dach Ver and Michael Farmer. The show was performed in five libraries to enthusiastic audiences.

Cast members, tango show at Sonoma County libraries

Cast members Pam Shreve, Randy Cook, Dach Ver and Jan Lok

Randy’s most magical tango experience

“While dancing with a portena in Buenos Aires, the orchestra was playing and she was singing the words in my ears.”

 

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Student of the Month ~ Marty Benson

by Lanny Udell

Alma del Tango Student of the Month Marty BensonDancing tango since:  Marty has been dancing most of his life, primarily swing dance. For him, dancing brings together two of his passions—sports (movement) and music. He had taken some tango classes years ago and came back to it about 14 months ago.

Back story: In May 2012, Marty was blindsided by a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. He became paralyzed and was hospitalized for six months, undergoing aggressive treatment. Told he might not walk again, Marty was determined to get through this ordeal and stayed focused on his desire to get back on the dance floor and the ski slopes. After his release from the hospital, he began rehab in early 2013.

“Dance is good therapy,” says Marty. “I still have issues with balance but tango helps.”

Debbie Goodwin agrees:  “Studies have shown Argentine Tango to be therapeutic for all types of physical and emotional conditions. Its multifaceted movement stimulates the brain, improving coordination and balance.”

Never expecting this level of recovery, Marty’s neurologist didn’t think he’d dance or ski again.

Why tango:  For Marty, tango is the most communicative dance between two partners. “There is room for interpretation, you can really work within the structure of the music,” he explains.

About Debbie & John: Marty heard about Alma del Tango while taking swing dance classes at another Marin venue. He attends the Level 1 and 2 tango classes on Wednesday nights.  “Debbie and John break down the patterns very well, in an understandable fashion. Their interactions are fun…they don’t always agree but they work it out in the class.”

He also likes the building itself.  “It’s fun to go there…it’s like a clubhouse with friends to dance with. It furthers the sense of community of Alma Del Tango.”

Anything else?  Marty is the proud owner of a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado.  “1978 was the last year of the really big Caddies – America’s luxury car,” he explains. “In 1979 they began downsizing.  The ’78 still had the full-sized “three body trunk.  It’s like a ship, you don’t drive it you pilot it.”

Last word: Marty’s ultimate ambition is to dance the swango – a fusion of swing and tango. (See examples on YouTube)

Tango dancer Marty Benson with his 1978 Cadillac Eldorado

Marty Benson and his 1978 Cadillac Eldorado with “three body trunk”

 

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Student of the Month — Maria Perez

by Lanny Udell

Maria Perez, Alma del Tango Student of the MonthDancing tango since: When it comes to dance, Maria has done it all. As a child, she studied ballet, tap and jazz, and she was on her high school’s jazz team. While in college, she became an exotic dancer to help pay her tuition. Now, some eight years later she still performs. Tango came into her life nearly two years ago.

Why tango: “I’ve been a dancer my whole life and when I saw tango I said oooh, I want to do that. It’s so beautiful and passionate,” says Maria.

Favorite part: Maria says tango is the most challenging dance she’s ever had to learn. Why? For one thing, she doesn’t like to follow, she likes to be in charge of the dance. Also, “there are very slight nuances in the cues, and subtleties which I’m learning. It’s more specific in the details than most dances,” she explains. “I’m glad nobody told me before I started that this dance was the hardest to learn or I might not have tried it.”

About Debbie & John: Maria is impressed by Debbie and John’s incredible arrangement in marriage and work. She sees their different skill sets–Debbie is the driver and John is very analytical. “I so enjoy watching them bring their dynamics to the dance floor and to their teaching. Their love for each other comes through in their dancing.”

What surprised her about tango: “I didn’t know we shouldn’t make eye contact. That surprised me but I appreciate it now,” she observes.

Alma del Tango student Maria Perez and her dog.

Maria and her pooch

Anything else? In addition to her career as an exotic dancer she has a degree in dog psychology and owns a dog walking and training business. She is also a Reiki practitioner.

Last Word: Maria is partnering with Sergio Orvalles in Alma del Tango’s December 4th student performance of Moment to Moment. Be sure to reserve your tickets!

Exotic dancer, tango dancer

Maria, exotic dancer

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Student of the Month – Wade Spital

by Lanny Udell

Wade Spital, Alma del Tango Student of the MonthDancing tango since: Though not a newcomer to dance, Wade is fairly new to Argentine Tango, having started in April 2014. He describes himself as a fairly seasoned swing and country-western dancer with a strong background in Latin and ballroom as well. “I typically dance and/or take dance classes 3 or 4 nights a week.”

Why tango: In 1987, a friend asked Wade to take a ballroom class with her and he agreed. “As soon as I started, I really liked it,” he says. “I found that partner dancing helped me feel more connected and also enhanced my experience of both dancing and music.”

Over the years, Wade has done some American Ballroom Tango, but as Argentine Tango increased in popularity he became intrigued. “I thought I’d get around to it eventually.” Then, last year he decided, “I’m not getting any younger. I’d better learn this dance.” That’s when he went onto TangoMango.org and found Alma del Tango.

Wade Spital, Alma del Tango Student of the Month, with swing dance partner

Wade and his swing dance partner at the Black and White Ball

Favorite part: “Because Tango is an improvised dance there’s a lot of potential for individual expression,” says Wade. While he likes all three tango rhythms, he’s partial to the Vals. He also appreciates the package offered at Alma del Tango. “I get a whole night of dancing for a very reasonable price.”

About Debbie & John: “They’re very caring and passionate teachers who really enjoy helping their students,” says Wade. “They have built something very special, I haven’t found anything else like Alma del Tango in the Bay Area.” Wade also appreciates being greeted at the front door by Dottye. “Her big smile always makes me feel welcome,” he says.

Anything else? Wade owns a machine design and fabrication business in Petaluma called Avalon Engineering. He is also a co-founder of a non-profit animal rights group in Sonoma County called Compassionate Living.  “We encourage people to move towards vegetarian and vegan diets to improve their health, lighten their impact on the environment and reduce animal suffering,” he explains. Wade also admits to being “a hopeless computer geek.”

Tango dancer Wade Spital rescues

Wade and his non-profit volunteers rescued 450 chickens that had been abandoned and transported them to a sanctuary.

Last word: When he’s not on the dance floor, Wade may be found playing the piano or guitar, hiking, or watching the sun set at the coast.

 

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Alma del Tango Celebrates Bay Area Dance Week with free events

Free performance of Tango Magic – The Spell is Cast
plus, free introductory Argentine Tango classTango Magic - the spell is cast

To coincide with the Bay Area celebration of National Dance Week,
April 25 – May 4, Alma del Tango will open its San Anselmo studio
to dance lovers on May 4 with a free performance of their student
production, Tango Magic –The Spell is Cast.  The show, featuring
intermediate/advanced students from the Marin tango community
along with guest artists, debuted in February 2014.

Tango Magic explores the magical moments of the dance … that unspoken connection between partners, the music and the movement. Conceived and directed by Debbie Goodwin with choreography by Ms. Goodwin and Rose Vierling; script by Lanny Udell and Jonathan Cutler.

Where:  Alma del Tango, 167 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo, 94960
When:  Sunday, May 4, 2 p.m. – Sold out!
Tickets: Reserve here
Limited seating: only 50 tickets available.

A second performance will take place at 3:30 p.m. with tickets at $25 and $20. Proceeds will benefit Alma del Tango, a Marin-based non-profit dedicated to encouraging artistic expression and the development of community through Argentine Tango.
Purchase tickets here

Free class – Introduction to Argentine Tango

Rose Vierling, Alma del Tango instructor

Rose Vierling & David Caditz in Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story

Enter the captivating world of the Argentine Tango. In this introductory class with instructor Rose Vierling of Alma del Tango Studio, you will begin to learn to move like a tanguero(a); to embrace and walk the Argentine way; and to navigate the social dance floor. You’ll even practice the particularities of Argentine Tango etiquette. Partners are welcome, but not necessary. Please wear leather or suede sole shoes.

Where: Alma del Tango, 167 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo, 94960
When: Tuesday, April 29, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Register here

Click here for a full schedule of Alma del Tango classes and events.

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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!

DebJohnWedding6.14.2003035

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

DebbieJohnTangoWeek1996111

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 – 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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Student of the Month – Helen Reutovski

Helen Reutovskiby Lanny Udell

 

Dancing tango since: Helen has been dancing tango for five years, but her fascination with the dance began when she was 10 years old and saw ice dancers perform to La Cumparsita.

Watch the tango on ice that mersmerized young Helen.

Why tango: Helen started taking classes to find relief from her life circumstances at the time. Little did she know that in a few short years she would be performing tango onstage!

Favorite part: “The music captivates me deeply,” says Helen. She also loves the feeling of connection with a partner,  “when a couple starts moving it’s like being in a different dimension or in a pleasant whirlwind as you feel the wind under your feet.”  In tango she finds profound truths that also apply in everyday life. “You have to be alert, be in the moment, and stay tall and on your own axis.”

Helen Reutovski in All About Tango 2011

Helen Reutovski in All About Tango 2011

About Debbie & John: Their love for people and the dance, and their irresistible enthusiasm stand out for Helen. “Debbie makes us feel like a star,” she says. And when dancing with John “you find out where you are…he’s always challenging us which makes dancing with him an ultimate treat.”

Anything else? Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story will be Helen’s third appearance in an Alma del Tango student production. She greatly admires Debbie as a director/choreographer, calling her “a great visionary.”

Last word: Attention leadersHelen is looking for a partner to dance milonga with her. Interested? Email or speak to her at class.

Here’s the milonga she dreams of learning.

Helen Reutovski in Tango Tales 2012

Helen Reutovski with Robert Leys in Tango Tales 2012

 

 

 

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Student of the Month – Jose Orellana

Jose Orellana at La Milonga de San Anselmo
photo by Alli Novak

by Lanny Udell

 

Dancing tango since: Jose started taking tango lessons about 10 years ago. Although he left it for salsa, tango was still in his soul. In 2009 he reconnected with his inner tanguero.

Why tango: During his salsa days, Jose met Cari who later became his wife. They decided to take tango lessons together and enjoyed a beautiful wedding dance.

Favorite part: “I get a lot of satisfaction when I encounter someone I don’t know on the dance floor and we can have a ‘conversation’ ” he says.

About Debbie & John: Jose appreciates that they teach very difficult material “gently.” He describes their technique as simple and clean … “I’m really happy to be in their hands.” Jose recalls when he first met Debbie and John and noticed their rapport. “I fell in love,” he says. “They’re not only good dancers and teachers, they’re good together.”

Anything else: Jose will have a leading role in the upcoming student production, Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story. He hopes to give the audience something that will inspire them to explore tango. “I want them to walk out thinking they saw something special.”

Last word: While he is a little envious that the Argentines invented tango, he says his native Chile has better empanadas.

Jose Orellana & Tanya Rokhlin
photo by Alli Novak

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