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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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Student of the Month – Tanya Rokhlin

Tanya Rokhlin 2012

Student of the Month – Tanya Rokhlin
by Lanny Udell

Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since:  July 2011

Why tango:
Tanya was drawn to tango after experiencing the embrace. She was on a cruise ship and saw a performance by a “gorgeous Argentinian.” She asked for a private lesson, and the moment he embraced her she felt the connection. “I was in a zone,” says Tanya.

When she came back to San Francisco she began to look for classes. That’s when she found Debbie and John.

Tanya Rokhlin & Robert Leys in Tango Tales 2012

Favorite part: The connection. Tanya admits that her life has been mainly self-centered, but when she started taking private tango lessons with Debbie she realized that she had to listen, to surrender to the lead, or she’d never get in the zone again. “I find sweetness in this,” she says.

About Debbie & John: Tanya feels blessed to have found them. “I love their enthusiasm and professionalism.”

Tango Tales

Tanya Rokhlin & Deborah Loft Tango Tales 2012

Anything else: As she prepares for the lead role in the upcoming student production,
Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story, Tanya recalls performing in Tango Tales earlier this year.
“I never thought I was a showy person, but I found it exhilarating.” She’s looking forward
to being in the spotlight again.

Photo by Alli Novak
Dancers Jose Orellana & Tanya Rokhlin

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Students of the Month – Dart & Dottye Rinefort

Students of the Month by Lanny Udell
Lanny Udell


Tango Tales

Dart & Dottye Rinefort – Tango Tales 2012
Photo: Alli Novak




Dart and Dottye Rinefort

Dancing tango since: 2008


Why tango: (Dottye) I was intrigued by the idea and have always liked sampling something new. Then a high school classmate “dared” me to just try it.  Dart has never missed the opportunity to accompany me on a new journey so we embarked on our tango adventure together. His appetite for travel was rewarded when we were able to explore the origin of the dance – Argentina!

Favorite part: Solving a good mystery or piecing together a complicated puzzle is something we have always enjoyed. The study of Argentine tango meets all those requirements and much more.

Dart & Dottye Rinefort
All About Tango 2011
Photo: Dominic Colacchio


About Debbie & John: They are dedicated and compassionate instructors of Argentine tango. When we overcome an obstacle in class, they share in our excitement. They give us the individual attention and encouragement that keeps us moving forward, and they always remind us to have fun.

Anything else:  For the more mature dancer, they say to eat your berries and fill yourself with antioxidants to delay cognitive decline. We say, tango every night of the week and there won’t be any cognitive decline.  Once we have accomplished some of the patterns or “tinker-toys” as John calls them, we need to work on their connection with the music (musicality). That’s the allure: the next challenge!


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Student of the Month: Boyer Cole

Students of the Month by Lanny Udell
Lanny Udell

Boyer Cole

Name: Boyer Cole

Dancing tango since: 2007

Why tango: I had done all the ballroom dances and was looking for something new.

Favorite part: The creativity, trying to come up with steps during the práctica and connecting the dots from one step to the other. Working to keep the steps in the right expression for the music.  I’m amazed at how quickly I can forget what I learned the night before.

About Debbie & John: They’re great teachers. They take a subject and expand on it so I feel more comfortable with some of the details of the dance, and then they will add on something else that can be used with what I just learned. This progressive approach works well for me.

Anything else? I like Debbie’s newsletters and emails; they’re a great way to stay informed.

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