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Student of the Month – Michelle Ly

Alma del Tango Student of the Month Michelle Lyby Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since:  As a teenager in Viet Nam, Michelle was introduced to tango in a ballroom dance class. But it wasn’t Argentine Tango. Last year, a friend invited her to the Sea Horse for an Argentine Tango class. “I was in a good mood, so I said why not? I hadn’t danced in over 20 years.” Michelle was captivated and signed up for lessons.

Back story:  “Tango fascinated me, it’s so beautiful,” she says. When she joined the class at the Sea Horse she thought, no problem, I’ve done ballroom dance before, but, “boy—Argentine Tango is not like ballroom! I was totally lost because in tango, it depends on the leader, not counting steps. It takes a tremendous amount of concentration.”  After three months, she was frustrated—“I couldn’t dance it.” But she kept going even though she was miserable. “I wondered, what’s wrong with me?”

One evening after class, a woman invited her to dance. “I didn’t know a woman could lead,” says Michelle. That woman happened to be Sylvia Goodman who told Michelle, “Don’t worry, leave it to me.”  After the tanda, Sylvia told her about Alma del Tango. Soon after, Michelle bought her first package at Alma del Tango.

Why tango:  “My passion for the dance was like a burning inside of me,says the tanguera.  She realized that in Argentine Tango, you are not stuck with a certain process. It’s about connection with the leader. So she forgot about counting steps,as she was used to doing in ballroom. “It’s more about free expression between two people,” says Michelle.  “It’s like falling in love.

You cannot be absent for a moment. If you lose that focus it’s not tango anymore.”

Michelle Ly with tango instructor David Orly Thompson at Alma del Tang, Marin

Michelle with David Orly Thompson dancing milonga at Alma del Tango

Favorite part: Even though she enjoys Latin dances she finds they’re not as rich as tango. “The expression in tango is so beautiful, so artistic,” says Michelle.  She began to buy shoes, and special clothing. “And I began to wear red to create a mood, like anybody in love doing silly things. Sooo sentimental…what can I say?”

About Debbie & John: Michelle looked at the Alma del Tango website and watched videos of Debbie and John dancing. Then she contacted Debbie. “I said I’d do anything to dance like her. I want so badly to be able to dance nicely like her. And John is awesome, the way he stands, his technique.” Says Michelle with a warm smile, “Alma del Tango freed me, it finally clicked. I am able to dance more and more. Without Debbie and John I couldn’t dance.”

Last word:

A day without tango makes my heart sad.”

 

 

 

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June is Tango Love Bird Month at Alma del Tango


On June 14, Debbie Goodwin and John Campbell will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary!

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Here they share with us their tango love story. In the posts that follow we feature romantic tales of other couples who connected and fell deeply in love with the dance, the music and…each other.

Tango Love Birds – Debbie and John

A life-changing dance

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Debbie Goodwin, Nito Garcia, John Campbell, July 18, 1996

 

John spotted Debbie across a crowded dance floor in Roble Dance Studio on the Stanford campus. It was July, 1996, and they had come for Stanford Tango Week (now known as Nora’s Tango Week). With a cabeceo, the tall, dashing man invited the beautiful woman with sparkling eyes and a brilliant smile to dance, and they have been inseparable ever since.

Debbie attended week two of the program as part of her studies in Dance Education. “This was to be the turning point in my dance career,” she explains. “I had been focusing on partner dancing, a dance form that one can enjoy at any age.” Once she discovered Argentine Tango, she was hooked and decided to make it her specialty. But very quickly it took on a deeper meaning.

John attended the workshop the previous week and, as fate would have it, he enjoyed himself so much that he changed his travel plans in order to stay for a second week. His interest in tango came from a desire to explore dance as a way to rebalance his life. He chose it because it was completely different from the kinds of things he would normally undertake. Clearly, he was more than ready for a change.

Like tango, love is complicated

At the time they met, Debbie and John were both in long-term marriages and each had three children. Neither was consciously seeking a romantic encounter. But Debbie tells us, “That night, when I danced with John at the milonga, I melted into his embrace. I realized, “uh oh, I’m in trouble!” For his part, John adds, “I suddenly felt something long missing in my life. It could never be the same.”

IMG_2649Tango Week came all too quickly to an end. They said their sad goodbyes and then returned to life as it was before. But John was already over the edge. A few days later, he sent Debbie a package in the mail. “It was a promotional poster for the Stanford Tango Week show we attended that week. That poster is framed and hanging on our living room wall,” she says.  The next week they met clandestinely at a park in Sacramento, and a few days later told their partners they were leaving.

At that time Debbie was living in Auburn where her children were in school, and John lived and worked in Marin. For seven years they took turns commuting every weekend to be together.

Special moments on and off the dance floor

DebbieGoodwinJohnCampbell2002VonierFor John it was “that impulsive first kiss.  Everything changed after that!” he says.

Debbie recalls a particularly romantic “Tango by the Bay” at the Masonic Hall at Lake Meritt when they danced ‘til the wee hours.  Not wanting the evening to end,  during their last tanda they danced right out of the ballroom, past the marble pillars, through the lobby and out the front doors.DebJohnWedding6.14.2003030

Seven years later, they were married at Marin Art and Garden Center. The guests danced to the tangos of Seth Asarnow and Marcelo Puig. For their wedding, Marcelo sang “El Dia Que Me Quieres.”

The couple honeymooned in Paris. Coincidentally, there was a tango festival in town.  They took classes from Pablo Veron and Osvaldo Zotto and Lorena Hermocida in a ballroom overlooking the Eiffel Tower. “At night, we crossed a bridge over the river Seine to dance tango in the moonlight on the quays. It was so romantic,” sighs Debbie.476

On looking for love through tango:

John says: “You don’t need to look for it. It will find you. You will know it when you feel it. Your life will change.”

051Debbie elaborates:  “Tango can bring out strong feelings that can be confused with romance. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the feelings from the person you are dancing with. We call this Tango Bliss. In tango you will find many types of connections with as many different people you come in contact with. How beautiful to be able to connect with a variety of people on so many levels, and if it happens to be a romantic connection, then John is right – your life will change.  Ours did!”

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