Tag Archives | SF Bay Area

Student of the Month: Francia Cifuentes

by Lanny Udell

 

Student of the Month Francia Cifuentes, Alma del TangoDancing tango since:  Francia grew up in Medillin, Colombia, where the legendary Carlos Gardel died. When she was growing up, her household was filled with tango music, but she didn’t think of dancing until a year ago when she was living in Sacramento

Why tango:  “I have a passion about it,” she admits. A traveling nurse, she first looks for tango, “then I look for the job,” she says. When she landed in Sacramento she thought, “OMG, I’m going to heaven.”  Francia immersed herself in the dance, taking classes six days a week for a year.

Favorite part: “The music – it’s so sensual, it touches every fiber in me,” says Francia. She loves the sound of the bandoneon and the violins. “The combination of sound goes straight to my heart. Sometimes I have to hold back the tears,” she says.  She also loves the challenge of tango. “It is so difficult – you need to think about your movement from head to toe.”

About Debbie & John: Francia loves their professionalism, the way they teach, and how they break every step into in 1000 pieces.  “They pay attention to every student and make sure everybody gets it.”

Anything else? We’re sad to say that Francia is leaving us at the end of the month. Her next nursing job is taking her to San Diego. But not to worry.  Our tanguera has found three tango venues where she can continue to pursue her passion.

Alma del Tango Student of the Month, Francia Ciguenta poseswith an image of Carlos Gardel

Francia with Carlos Gardel at the Salon Malaga, Medellin Colombia

Last word: Life as a traveling nurse can be lonely. “I go places where I don’t know anybody. Tango is the best thing that happened to me. I’ll stay in it for the rest of my life.”

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Student of the Month –
Christianna Valentina

by Lanny Udell

Alma del Tango Student of the Month Christianna ValentinaDancing tango since:  Christianna began her tango journey a year ago after she saw Nicholas Tapia (2014 Argentine Tango Salon USA Champion) dancing at a party where she was performing as a singer/pianist.

Why tango: “Tango had been on my mind for 15 years, and when I saw him dance I thought, that’s it—it starts tomorrow,” she says.

Christianna calls herself a “dance explorer.”  While working on a dance degree in college she studied ballet, modern, African style … and performed into her late 20’s.

Favorite part:  For Christianna, it’s the feeling of connection with another person. The nonverbal communication of having to listen to each other deeply in order to move together. “It takes so much focus, you have to turn everything off to do it, so it’s a great escape.”

About Debbie & John:  “I’m in awe of them – not only as dancers, but as teachers,” says Christianna.  A music teacher as well as performer, she understands how much heart and soul it takes. “They’re always introducing new themes, bringing in guest teachers…the classes are never stagnant. They bring creativity into every aspect. I don’t think there’s anything like Alma del Tango in the Bay Area.”

In Tango Dreamscapes, Christianna will be performing a choreography, partnered by John.

Christianna Valentina dances tango with John Campbell

Christianna and John Campbell in Tango Dreamscapes

“He has the patience of a saint,” she says.  “It’s been like trying to mold a tango dancer out of
a bundle of nerves.  It’s been a real honor to work so closely with him.”

Anything else?  In addition to dancing in the upcoming show, Christianna will be a vocalist/pianist performing a soulful tango song.  Even though she has studied Spanish and Portuguese, having to learn the Argentine accent was a challenge for the tanguera.

Last word: “Tango’s taking over my life and I’m loving it!”

Christianna Valentina, vocalist/pianist in Tango Dreamscapes

Christianna Valentina, vocalist/pianist in Tango Dreamscapes

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Alma del Tango Celebrates Bay Area Dance Week with free events

Free performance of Tango Magic – The Spell is Cast
plus, free introductory Argentine Tango classTango Magic - the spell is cast

To coincide with the Bay Area celebration of National Dance Week,
April 25 – May 4, Alma del Tango will open its San Anselmo studio
to dance lovers on May 4 with a free performance of their student
production, Tango Magic –The Spell is Cast.  The show, featuring
intermediate/advanced students from the Marin tango community
along with guest artists, debuted in February 2014.

Tango Magic explores the magical moments of the dance … that unspoken connection between partners, the music and the movement. Conceived and directed by Debbie Goodwin with choreography by Ms. Goodwin and Rose Vierling; script by Lanny Udell and Jonathan Cutler.

Where:  Alma del Tango, 167 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo, 94960
When:  Sunday, May 4, 2 p.m. – Sold out!
Tickets: Reserve here
Limited seating: only 50 tickets available.

A second performance will take place at 3:30 p.m. with tickets at $25 and $20. Proceeds will benefit Alma del Tango, a Marin-based non-profit dedicated to encouraging artistic expression and the development of community through Argentine Tango.
Purchase tickets here

Free class – Introduction to Argentine Tango

Rose Vierling, Alma del Tango instructor

Rose Vierling & David Caditz in Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story

Enter the captivating world of the Argentine Tango. In this introductory class with instructor Rose Vierling of Alma del Tango Studio, you will begin to learn to move like a tanguero(a); to embrace and walk the Argentine way; and to navigate the social dance floor. You’ll even practice the particularities of Argentine Tango etiquette. Partners are welcome, but not necessary. Please wear leather or suede sole shoes.

Where: Alma del Tango, 167 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo, 94960
When: Tuesday, April 29, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Register here

Click here for a full schedule of Alma del Tango classes and events.

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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.”

postcard-front-2-11_28

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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Tango Love Birds – Auriel and Winter

Winter & Auriel

Winter & Auriel

Love at first sigh…

The first time Auriel danced with her partner of almost 10 years, she felt her breathe out and relax … like her body was sighing with relief.  “I took this as a compliment to my dancing,” says Auriel. “She was seeing someone else at the time who didn’t tango and I was just a year out of a toxic relationship, so nothing happened between us except tango, which can be a healing and satisfying attraction in itself.”

Eventually Winter’s relationship ended and Auriel felt healed enough to ask her out. Tango has been part of their lives and work ever since with festival and milonga production, teaching, performing, competing and community building. “And still, we sigh in completeness when we tango together,” says Auriel. “Tango is something that connected us and completes us like nothing else.”

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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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