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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