by Lanny Udell
Dancing tango since: Catherine’s tango path has been on again off again (until now). She had her first taste of Argentine Tango at City College in 2000. Then she took a detour into salsa, ballet and jazz, before finding her way back to tango.
Why tango: “I’ve always needed to dance in some way, and for some reason tango calls to me,” says Catherine. A former salsa dancer, Catherine had performed in New York and the Bay Area, including a Raiders half time show. But, “there were a lot of changes going on in my life and I felt the need for a change,” she says. That’s when she turned to tango.
Favorite part: What really hooked her was the need to be so present in tango. At a stressful time in her life she found it almost therapeutic. “When the music comes on, I’m totally involved in the moment. It’s almost like a meditation. What I learn in tango I’m able to carry out into the world.”
And while she finds salsa dynamic and fun, there’s a romance and sophistication — and challenge! — to tango that always allured her to the dance. “They’re both sexy dances but in different ways,” she explains.
About Debbie & John: Catherine had been dancing at Bay West but when it closed, she found Alma del Tango. “As soon as I walked in, I felt at home. Debbie and John were so welcoming, it felt like a family,” says Catherine. She loves watching Debbie: “it’s beautiful to see her settle into the role with her face and body. I should be looking at her feet but can’t stop looking at her face!”
She finds both Debbie and John encouraging and supportive, “they want you to be the best dancer you can be. They’re also very generous with their time, their knowledge, and themselves.”
In addition to group classes, Catherine takes privates with John. “He has the ability to push you to the edge of what you can do…then a little beyond,” she smiles.
Anything else? Catherine volunteers at Alma del Tango, helping with marketing, posting classes online, and collaborating with Philip Benson on fundraising projects. “Debbie and John have created something so unique, a little gem, right here in Marin,” she says, “and I want to help them keep it going.”
Last word: Catherine went to her first milonga on New Year’s Eve. Before that, she didn’t have the nerve, didn’t feel she was good enough yet. “It turned out fine,” she reports, “a nice mix of levels and leaders.” Now she has no more fear of milongas!