Tag Archives | Argentine Tango

Student of the Month – Pam Shreeve

 

by Lanny Udell

DSC_0098_0542

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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Tango Love Birds – Tanya and Ilya

Fairy tales do come true

CloseEmbrace_TanyaRokhlin_byAlliNovak2013

Tanya Rokhlin

 

One evening last fall, Tanya decided to go to the milonga at Magdalena in Oakland with Debbie Goodwin. It was a spur of the moment decision as she was getting ready for a trip to Europe, but an evening of tango sounded good. When the women arrived, the room was crowded and dark.

Tanya recalls a man standing by the door as she was trying to make her way to get a glass of water. He invited her to dance but she declined. Later he reappeared and asked again. This time she accepted his invitation. Dancing with him felt very warm and comfortable. “Between tandas we discovered we both speak Russian,” says Tanya.

CloseEmbrace_IlyaMagid_byAlliNovak2013

Ilya Magid

Red flag!

During the evening, they danced a couple more tandas and she noticed he was wearing a wedding ring. Ilya told her he lives in Santa Barbara and has been dancing for many years. On alert, Tanya asked if his wife dances, too. “Yes,” he replied.  “I didn’t even listen,” she says. “I have a rule that if a man is married I don’t waste my time. Whatever I felt, I put it aside.”

At end of evening he asked if she would be dancing the next day, and where. When she responded he said “Ok, I’ll be there too.” Tanya admits she was a little excited by the prospect of dancing with him again, “but I was holding myself in a neutral space, not wanting to get too excited,” she says.

“The dancing was wonderful, he made me feel good. The embrace was incredible.  Later I heard the same from other women.  In tango, it’s not how many moves the man knows, it’s how he makes you feel,” says the tanguera. (Leaders, listen up!)

Tango1Tanya went on her travels to Europe and when she came back, a couple months went by with no word from Ilya. Meanwhile she did some sleuthing on Facebook and friended him. She looked at the pictures he’d posted and saw that everything he told her was true. His life looked picture perfect. “I thought how unlucky I am…I felt all this but he’s unavailable,” says Tanya.

Finally, Ilya called. “He said he was coming to San Francisco to visit me. I thought, why is he coming to visit me? I never asked him to visit me…I said we could dance together.” When he invited her to dinner before the milonga, she thought, “Ok, now I can ask questions.”  Tanya was frank.  She told him, “I don’t want to waste my time, so if you’re married it’s not going to work.”

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Tanya, pictured here, played the lead role of “Angelica”in Alma del Tango’s  “Close Embrace,” February 14-17, 2013

Then he delivered the news she wanted to hear –he had left his wife. “Don’t think it’s because of you,” Ilya told her.  “It was coming for many years.  Living alone gave me time to think and analyze what I want to do.”

“Once he told me he was available and I wasn’t the reason, I completely lost my head,” Tanya admits. “And I’ve never looked back.”  Since then the couple has been inseparable. “Nothing is perfect in life,” Tanya says philosophically. “There is always a spoon of dirt in a jar of honey. Everybody looks at this from their own angle. I look at it as a miracle for me, and he looks at it in the same way.”

After dancing the lead role in Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story, in which Ilya also performed, Tanya moved to Santa Barbara to be with her tango lovebird. Now the couple goes to milongas in Los Angeles every weekend.

“It is a fairy tale that I’m living,” she says with a happy sigh.

Watch Tanya and Ilya dance here:

Video filmed and edited by John Campbell – Alma Video Production

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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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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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La Milonga de San Anselmo Honors Two Marin Tango Couples

On July 27, La Milonga de San Anselmo honors Al & Barbara Garvey
and Jean & Charlie Stewart
who
helped build the SF Bay Area Argentine Tango community from scratch starting in 1985!

San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is one of the largest tango communities outside of Buenos Aires. Today, we take for granted the fact we have the choice of several classes and milongas on Tango Mango to attend every day of the week. This was not always the case.

The first time Barbara Garvey, a Fairfax resident, saw the show Tango Argentino, on a business trip to New York in 1985, she called Al from the hotel to say “I’ve just seen what we’re going to do the rest of our lives.”

Al & Barbara Garvey

A year later, the touring company of Tango Argentino had come and gone from San Francisco, leaving behind a small but enthusiastic group of aficionados. Al and Barbara continued to actively promote all tango activity in the area, developing a mailing list and information center to support a growing community of teachers, students and entrepreneurs. They were joined in this endeavor by Jean and Charlie Stewart, also of Fairfax.

Among the first Norteamericanos to travel to Buenos Aires in search of tango

On that first trip in the spring of 1987, they were fortunate to meet the legendary Fino Rivera and take a lesson from him, only a few weeks before his untimely death. This encounter clarified dramatically for them the distinction between salon-style, or social tango, and the exhibition version, tango-for-export, to which they had been exposed by cast members of Tango Argentino.

Back in the States, looking for a proponent of social tango, they discovered Orlando Paiva, a milonguero of exceptional elegance, then resident in Los Angeles. They invited him to present a series of workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area. After his return to Argentina, they continued to organize seminars in Northern California for Danel and Maria Bastone of New York, and Michael Walker and Luren Bellucci of Los Angeles, Orlando’s proteges.

Studying with the maestros 

On subsequent journeys to Buenos Aires they studied with many other leading maestros, among them Roberto Grassi, “El Pibe del Abasto”, Pupi Castello, Graciela Gonsalez, and Lampazo. In 1991 they met Nito and Elba Garcia in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and, through the auspices of friends Hector & Ana Villalba, brought them to California for the first time, launching their world-wide teaching career. As the Northern California tango community grew to the largest in the US, keeping up with all its activities prompted the founding, in 1995, of the non-profit Bay Area Argentine Tango Association.

The first milonga in Marin

The Fairfax Milonga (1994-2003) was run by Jean and Charlie from 1994-1999 then taken over by the Garveys until 2003 when they moved to Puerta Vallarta. Al and Barbara also hosted many tango parties in their charming 90-year-old house centered around a dance floor and its tango bar. If you danced tango between the years of 1985-2003 you most likely would have attended these wonderful events. John and Debbie missed them so much, they traveled south to dance with Al and Barbara in their new home, again designed around a dance floor and surrounded by yet another budding tango community they have inspired!

Al and Barbara have performed and taught tango for almost 25 years, but they, along with Jean and Charlie, think of themselves as milongueros and tangueros, interested in all aspects of its culture, from the dance to language, literature, music, history and philosophy.

Milonga de San Anselmo Guest DJ’s 

The Milonga on July 27th also features another Marin couple, guest DJ’s Steve and JoAnn Palubinskas. Steve and JoAnn were introduced to tango in the same Mill Valley tango class taught by George Guim that John Campbell was attending in 1994. They have been instrumental in keeping the spirit of tango alive throughout the Bay Area and can be found dancing and DJing at many of the top milongas several times a week.  They hosted the popular Broadway Milonga 1996-2002.

We invite you to come and enjoy a wonderful evening of music, dancing  and companionship at La Milonga de San Anselmo this Friday, July 27th.

La Milonga De San Anselmo
(held 4th Friday of every month)
167 Tunstead Ave, San Anselmo, Ca 94960
Class 7-8pm  $15 Class + Milonga
Milonga 8-10pm  $10 Milonga Only

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