Archive | September, 2013

Student of the Month – Pam Shreeve


by Lanny Udell


Dancing tango since:  One night, about six years ago, Pam was leaving her ballroom dance class and heard tango music playing. “I was mesmerized,” she says. “I knew then that I’d be dancing tango.”    

Why tango:  Pam had seen a tango performance back in the 80’s, but it didn’t move her so much. But once she discovered the music and started taking lessons, she was hooked. Her once-a-week class quickly escalated to two and then four times a week.

Favorite part: For Pam, it’s all about the music and the connection with your partner.  When asked what she looks for in a leader, she says it’s not about the level of dance or doing fancy things…it’s more about integrity.

About Debbie & John:  Pam is a devoted fan. “I adore them…they are the most compassionate, sincere, hard-working instructors. They take amateurs and create magic. They listen, and give great feedback. Debbie has such faith in us, she treats us like stars.”

Pam dancing with Randy Cook

Pam enjoys a dance with tanguero Randy Cook
at Alma del Tango in San Anselmo


Her most magical tango experience:  While on a hiking trip in Jordan, Pam heard Bedouins playing Middle Eastern music in their tent, and she realized one could dance milonga to this music. So she and another tango dancer in her group did just that. The Bedouins had never seen tango before, nor had they seen a couple dancing together in a close embrace. They loved it … and so did Pam.

Alma del Tango Student of the Month Pam

Pam scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef


On a personal note:  A native Marin-ite, Pam has been a critical care nurse at Kaiser for 25 years. She has a daughter in grad school in San Francisco and a son in the Special Forces. Pam is also an adventure traveler, hiker, and loves birding. When we spoke, she was online booking a trip to India.


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Join us for Tango at La Loggia!

Be transported to a Buenos Aires café right here in San Anselmo as we tango the night away and toast with Argentine wines.

When: The second tuesday of every month

What: Tango from 7-10 p.m., with a featured performance by  Alma del Tango. John Campbell  DJ.

Where: La Loggia Vinoteca and Café, San Anselmo Avenue at Tunstead.

La Loggia is Italian-inspired but features local wines and delectables. For this special evening of tango, they will also offer Amalya and Cedrus Malbec wines, and Colome Torrontes, the signature white wine of Argentina.

Bring your friends and your dancing shoes for a fun evening of tango!

No cover.

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Students of the Month –
Jane Woodside and Jerry Ballard

Jerry Ballard & Jane Woodside

Jerry Ballard & Jane Woodside

by Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since:
  Jane and Jerry started taking tango lessons in February, 2013. The classes were a Valentine’s gift from Jane to Jerry.

Why tango:  Jane first became interested in tango in the 1980’s when she saw the film Tangos, the Exile of Gardel (El exilio de Gardel: Tangos).  It tells the story of a group of Argentinians who are exiled in Paris and decide to put on a tango-ballet dedicated to the legendary Carlos Gardel.  Tango struck Jane as a sexy, sophisticated and beautiful dance. Jerry, a musician, was an Astor Piazzolla fan.  “Everything I learned about tango I learned from Piazzolla,” he says.  (Jane actually saw Piazzolla in France in the 1970’s.)

Jerry was always interested in partner dancing, but “I’m about as talented at dancing as your average street lamp,” he says.  Jane doesn’t agree. “He really has good rhythm,” she says. Jane has done many types of dancing – including figure skating — since she was in her 20’s, but had never done partner dancing.

Favorite part:  For Jerry, it’s actually having moments of feeling that he can dance, while Jane  likes the idea of exploring something she’s never done before – responding to your partner in dance. “By nature she’s a leader and I’m a follower,” adds Jerry, so having to reverse those roles doesn’t feel natural to him.

About Debbie & John:  Jane, a petite 5’2”, and Jerry at 6’3”, find Debbie and John great models for them because of the height difference.   They also appreciate how easy it is to ask them for clarification, and that they can each demonstrate as leader or follower to show how it should feel.  Adds Jane, “I love when they disagree with each other about what they’re going to do next.”

Anything else?  Jerry says he felt confident in Level 1, but feels less so in Level 2.  Drawing on her dance background, Jane understands it’s good to be working on what you know, plus have a bit of a stretch, and then something totally challenging. “It’s like learning an alphabet, then words, then phrases. I’m looking forward to getting comfortable with the alphabet and enough words so I can start to work on the phrases. I think that’s when it will be artistic and the most satisfying.”

Last word:  Jerry and Jane have a 16-year-old daughter, Elena, who they describe as the most talented member of the family. They also have two Labradoodles – Gypsy & Django, and rumor has it that they’re learning to come when called with a Cabeceo.

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