Tag Archives | Tango in Marin

¡Dos chicos increibles! Two Incredible Tango-dancing Kids!

by Terence Clarke, author, journalist, Alma Del Tango board member

Terence Clarke, writer, tango

Terence Clarke

In 2006, my love Beatrice Bowles and I were in Buenos Aires to attend a week-long tango workshop with Gustavo Naveira and his wife Giselle Anne. It was mid-summer (i.e. Christmas-time in Buenos Aires, their seasons being precisely opposite to ours in the United States).  We had decided to participate in the workshop at the suggestion of Nora Olivera, who was also attending, with her husband Ed Neale.

The workshop was grueling and occasionally hilarious, depending on the moment and upon Bea and my abilities to keep up. I’ll write about it in a future column.

But there’s another story here.

Nora had told us about Gustavo’s two kids, Ariadna and Federico, who at the time were in school. Their mother, Olga Besio, was herself a noted tango maestra (and still is.) The two children were already masters of a kind, teaching tango together to children in a small studio in the San Juan y Boedo neighborhood, named for its most important intersection. This part of Buenos Aires has a rich tango history. (For an example, listen to the opening lines of Sur, written by Anibal Troilo and Homero Manzi [both of celestial importance to the history of tango], and sung here by Roberto Goyeneche. (“Old San Juan y Boedo…/The memory of your girlfriend’s unruly locks/and your own name floating from her goodbye.”)

Nora had put us in touch with Olga, who invited us to join her at one of her children’s class sessions. This neighborhood is filled with classic big-city noise…tremendous traffic on both boulevards, street vendors, cafes, small stores of every sort and bustling foot traffic on all sides. It was a very warm afternoon, and Bea and I were simply dragging along, hoping for some shade. After lemonades at The Esquina Homero Manzi, which is an elegant tango supper club on the corner where the two boulevards meet, we crossed the street and found the address Olga had given us. A simple door opened to a stairway leading to the second floor. We had not yet met Olga face-to-face, and we ascended the stairs, following the sounds of a recorded tango from up above.

Meeting Ariadna and Federico

Tango dancer Federico Naveira

Federico Naveira

The second floor contained three or four poorly painted rooms, including a large kitchen, windows wide-open for the air. It appeared to have once been a café of some kind, and now was quite run down. But the music was insistent, one of those tangos that commands your attention with its slow sensuous flow and possibilities for embrace.

We encountered such an embrace right away because Ariadna and Federico were dancing in the largest of the rooms. Bea and I stood watching in the doorway and, if it is possible to be transfixed, we were. They were just kids themselves, dressed in Levis, an over-sized T-shirt for him, a flower-printed blouse for her, and the de rigueur elegant dance shoes. But they both had all the authority that the finest tangueros have in the command of their dance.

Federico, with large dark eyes, like those of his mother, moved with slow, unquestioned intensity. His footwork, complicated and simple in the same moment, moved precisely with what the music wished to say. Ariadna is renowned for the spectacular grace with which she dances and her insistence on her own importance to the embrace and the movement of the couple together. That was evident even then, when she was in her teens. (You can see here a video of the two dancing together in 2006, the same year we met them. (Apologies for the poor video quality. The dancing is another story altogether.)

We also met Olga in person that day. She arrived later, and clearly wished to know who these two Americans were and how they had heard of her two kids. We admired her careful shepherding of her children and thanked her many times for allowing us to see them.

Argentine tango dancer Ariadna Naveira

Ariadna Naveira

Ariadna and Federico Naveira have gone on separately to international fame. If you have the opportunity to study with either of them, please do. You won’t regret it.

 

Terence Clarke’s new novel, When Clara Was Twelve was published on April 15.

 

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Tears for Orlando Paiva

Argentine tango Dancer Orlando Paivaby Terence Clarke, author, journalist, Alma del Tango board member

In 1995, Orlando Paiva was visiting the United States and stopped at Nora Olivera’s Sunday afternoon class and practica in Berkeley. These were very special sessions. Nora is noted for her exceptional teaching, especially in the way that she never molly-coddles the students. She tells you the truth about how you’re doing, and if you’re having trouble, she always offers a way to resolve the problem.

I had been studying tango for about a year, so I got quite a few justified suggestions from Nora, and I can still recall almost the exact words she used for many of them. Precision, exactitude and follow-through are the prime elements in Nora’s advice, and those who understand that her deep love of tango is what drives her realize how valuable those elements are.

She introduced Orlando to the class. At the time he was about sixty years old. He was very slim and gray-haired, and dressed in tan slacks, a navy-blue blazer, white shirt and tie. Not a demonstrative man in conversation, yet he exuded a kind of kindness that won over the students immediately. Nora later told me that he had a serious heart condition at the time yet he persisted with his tango no matter what.

She asked him to perform for us. I don’t remember to which tango he danced, but it was slow and extremely elegant, with the nonetheless acerb bite that makes tango music often so revealing of deep emotion. He took his partner into his arms and began dancing.

You could see immediately the care with which he pursued the dance. He walked very slowly, and I remember how he would let his trailing foot follow along, pointed back, the toe at an outward angle that underscored the grace with which he was moving. Straight-backed, immersed in the music, and very formal, he made his partner look beautiful because she too was so involved in the way he was dancing. You could feel her intensity, and part of that, I’m sure, was enabled by Orlando’s caring escort of her around the floor.

He performed none of the gymnastic irrelevancies that so often appear in the work of today’s show dancers. No kicks. No lifts. No impossibly fast tripping about. This man was a tanguero, and you could tell that by how respectful he was of his partner and of the music. He moved very slowly, and every step was a marvel.

The students loved it and responded with much shouting applause. I turned to Nora, my own noisy clapping appreciative of what I had just seen. But what I saw now astonished me. Nora, who knew Orlando well, was awash in tears. I cannot recall another occasion when I have seen her so taken by what she has witnessed. Later, I asked Nora if Orlando’s heart condition were one of the reasons for his dancing so carefully and slowly. She responded that, no, this is the way Orlando has always danced. “He is a great master, you see,” she said. That was all the explanation I needed.

This video gives you a good sense of what Orlando Paiva could do. The quality of the video is not good, for which, apologies. But please note how beautifully his partner Cristina Benavidez follows him. She is wonderful herself, of course. But Orlando gives her the opportunity to dance in so contemplative a way that her performance reveals her very heart. Watch with what attention the audience watches them. The response of the audience at the end will give you a good idea of what you’ve just seen.

Orlando Paiva died on November 28, 2006.

Read about Debbie and John’s friendship with Orlando

Terence Clarke’s latest non-fiction book An Arena of Truth was recently featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

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Los Filippini: Style, Elegance, Kindness.

Tango dancers Lito and Lidia Filippini

Tango dancers Lito and Lidia Filippini

By Terence Clarke, author, journalist, Alma del Tango board member

Beatrice Bowles and I were visiting Buenos Aires in 2006, and were told about the club Viejo correo at Avenida Díaz Vélez 4820. Diaz Vélez is an interminably long thoroughfare, and on this particular night, we worried as very heavy rain coursed from above. Our taxi driver had to lean well forward over the steering wheel in order to be sure that his view of the road was clear. What was not obscured by the downpour on his windshield was blurred by the hurrying of his old, ragged wipers across the glass.

We got to the club, though, and were greeted by a couple of men at the door, armed with large umbrellas. They escorted us in, and we immediately noted the black and white tiled dance floor, gleaming smooth, that was surrounded by tables-for-four at which many dancers were sitting. What made the place immediately special for us was that the dancers were well-dressed. This is not something you normally see in Buenos Aires milongas. That city is infected with the same nuevo-homeless style of fashion, most prominently among men, that you see in almost every other American or European city these days. Levis, T-shirts, no verve, etc. At the Viejo correo, every man had on a suit and a tie. The women were all dressed with a preference for real elegance.

The Viejo correo is a local place, visited mostly by neighborhood dancers who seem to know each other well and, we found, are exceedingly friendly. They were surprised that a couple such as we could even find the place, and they watched carefully as we danced. They seemed equally surprised that we could essay the tango with at least some panache. Many of the other dancers wished to talk with us, and when they found we also had Spanish, our evening filled with conversation.

Many of the men offered the cabeceo to Beatrice, and always thanked me when they escorted her back to our table, for not being offended by their taking her from me. It was clear to them that she could dance, and I was not about to intervene with her opportunity to be on the floor with authentic milongueros porteños. The entire experience, for both of us, was unique.

There was a further surprise
One of the renowned couples in tango at the time were Lito and Lidia Filippini, and we learned that they were going to arrive at the Viejo correo, to dance that evening. “Not to perform,” one of the men assured us. “They come here all the time, just to dance, like the rest of us.”

When the Filippinis arrived, they were greeted by almost everybody as they passed through the tables to their own, which had been reserved for them. They were an older couple, dressed just so, as were all the others in the room. And indeed they did not perform. Beatrice and I watched as they joined others on the floor. Their dancing was in no way flashy or overtly gymnastic. They too were real milongueros and danced with care and elegance spiced by the usual Argentine porteño intensity.

Beatrice and I danced a tanda, and we sensed we were being watched by the Filippinis. This can be an unnerving experience for dancers who are not professionals themselves. After dancing, we sat down at our table and, heads held in reserved silence, calmed our nerves with a few sips of malbec. After more tandas, we saw that the Filippinis were leaving, and as they approached our table, I nodded to Lito. To our astonishment, he and Lidia struck up a conversation with us. Where were we from? Were we enjoying Buenos Aires? Where else were we dancing? And then they told us that they thought we were dancing well. It had been a pleasure for them to watch, they said. I reached out a hand to Lito, which he shook with enthusiasm, and we both thanked them. It was then that I noticed that the others in the club were watching the conversation. It was clear that they approved, too.

The evening, of course, astonished both Bea and me.

As you’ll see from this video the Filippinis dance in an older style free of the balletic macho fireworks that so often mar contemporary tango.

Compás. Elegancia. Verdaderos milongueros.

For another adventure from that evening at the Viejo correo, see my piece “Big Nose in Buenos Aires.” 

 

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Student of the Month ~ Fred Anlyan

Alma del Tango Student of the Month Fred Anlyanby Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since: When speaking with Fred about tango, it’s important to specify Argentine Tango, as he has danced other genres…i.e., International Tango and American Rhythm. He started dancing Argentine Tango just last August.

Back story: Fred didn’t discover dancing until he was in his 40’s. His then-wife wanted to dance so he agreed to a few lessons, thinking that would be the end of it. But he got hooked! At that time, he was dancing International Ballroom and International Latin. He became a Pro/Am competitor, dancing with one of his teachers.  He later took up West Coast Swing.

Why Argentine Tango: It so happened that the studio where he first went for ballroom classes in the 1990’s was located in the same building as Alma del Tango, so that piqued his curiosity. “Argentine Tango was starting to get popular,” says Fred, and he became interested in pursuing it without giving up his other forms of dance. When he did venture in to Alma del Tango last August, Eduardo Saucedo was Artist-in-Residence so Fred had his first month of tango training with Eduardo.

Fred describes Argentine Tango as very complex and technical. “Some things can carry over from other kinds of dance, but the application is different,” he says. “I consider myself a pretty good ballroom dancer and decent West Coast Swing dancer…but I wasn’t very good at Argentine Tango.”

Favorite part: Fred took a few minutes to think about this one. His answer: “My vision for what I could do if I continue to practice. I have my mind set on things I want to do, but I’m not there yet.” (Ed note: Are any of us?)

About Debbie & John: “I think they’re terrific, he says, “so warm and supportive. They greet everyone with a smile and a hug. They’ll support you in stretching a bit beyond where you are. After I’d been in class for 1 ½ months I asked if I could try Level 2. They looked at each other, talked briefly, and said, sure, go ahead.” Now Fred takes Level 1, 2 and 2/3 on Friday night.

Anything else? “Whenever you do something challenging you have to put in a certain amount of time to get good. I’m not there yet with Argentine Tango.” But with his determination and skill, there’s no doubt he will be.

Student of the Month Fred Andlyan dancing a Fox Trot

Fred and his partner Christine Rinne danced a Fox Trot in a showcase at Stars Ballroom

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Noche de Tango…An intimate, Buenos Aires-style evening at Alma del Tango

 

by Lanny Udell

Tango vocalist/dance teacher Mira Barakat and guitarist Scott O'Day at Noche de Tango

“It was a lovely intimate evening anchored by Mira’s startlingly passionate singing” – Douglas

When Debbie Goodwin approached Mira Barakat with the idea of presenting a “tango cabaret” at Alma del Tango, Mira was intrigued. “I had been working with guitarist Scott O’Day for several years, and the idea of teaching musicality came out of our partnership,” she says. Thus, the concept for a musicality workshop followed by dancing to live music was born.

Mira and Scott wanted it to be an intimate evening, where dancers would feel relaxed and comfortable. In the workshop guests learned about musicality from the point of view of a musician and a vocalist/dance teacher.

“Most classes are technical, about structures and steps,” says Mira. “Musicality can be more subtle. We wanted to inspire dancers to listen to the music and feel how it affects our bodies. Dancers can move intuitively when they know what to listen for.”

“I enjoyed learning about tango music “models” and their names. Mira and Scott concisely demonstrated how to embody these models in our dancing. I look forward to seeing how I can incorporate this aspect of musicality in my tango!”  -Kyra

The Salon

In Argentina, Mira explains, there are many restaurants with a small dance floor where you can eat, drink, socialize and dance. That’s the feeling she wanted to convey on this special evening. “A tango Saturday night out, slightly different from a milonga.”

Scott and Mira played for dancing, with DJ’d music between sets. Guests chatted at cabaret-style tables, munched on delicious empanadas from The Wooden Table Cafe, along with other snacks and sampled a variety of wines.

“It was a lovely intimate evening anchored by Mira’s startlingly passionate singing and Scott’s fluid accompaniment on guitar.  Good food and wine to boot.  I look forward to another such splendid affair.” – Douglas

 

The event was wonderful in a number of respects.  First, the workshop topic, namely, musicality.  This is something that even though it is right in our faces, or rather, our ears, tends to slip under the radar.  It is important, and the event helped address it.  Second, live music.  This is always nice, and in this case, was particularly touching.  Third, the opportunity to dance, in the workshop, during the live performance, and with the recorded music.  And the dance seemed in a more intimate, cafe-type setting.  And hey, the food was good!” Matt

Mira’s Album Release

The party was also a celebration of Mira’s first album release, “Mira Barakat Tangos.” It was recorded in Buenos Aires, with “two amazing guitarists,” Juan Villarreal and Patricio Crom, assisted by the well-known singer and artistic coach, Ariel Varnerin. Rather than produce a physical CD, they decided to offer it as an online release only. The collection of 11 songs is available for streaming and purchase at mirabarakat.bandcamp.com.

What’s Next?

If you missed the February 1st Noche de Tango, no worries. Another such evening will take place on June 6, at Alma del Tango.  Watch for the announcement.

Mira will soon be heading to Buenos Aires for her tango immersion program, BA. Tango Evolution, where students learn and train with professional dancers as partners. Learn more at batangoevolution.com.

 

 

 

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Students of the Month ~ Lynn Gardiner & Jacq Macias

by Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since:  Lynn had dipped her dance shoe into tango about 10 years ago, but came back to it seriously 2 ½ years ago after she met Jacq and they enjoyed dancing tango together.

Jacq has been a social dancer for six years and discovered tango in late 2015. (Jacq uses gender neutral pronouns they/them or simply their name when being referred to.) They had been dancing country western, but after trying a tango class at Abrazo in Berkeley, Jacq was hooked. 

Why tango? Both agree, “Tango relies heavily on connecting with your partner, there are no set steps, it’s highly improvisational. It’s an opportunity to zone in and be really present together.”

Favorite part: For Lynn it’s the feeling of flying. “A mixture of going where the leader is taking you, and what you, the follower, bring to it. The feeling of one person + one person = a pair, and the pair rides the wave together,” she explains. “The leader doesn’t create it…the music creates it.”

Jacq likes the life lessons you learn in tango. “Even if you’re leading, you’re also following your follow,” she says. Typically, Jacq leads and Lynn follows, but they do change off.

About Debbie & John: “They create a warm, welcoming atmosphere,” both partners agree. “It’s wonderful to be in their class, they’re attentive to answering questions,” says Lynn. “Debbie is trained in different forms of dance, so you can ask specific questions, such as, is this like ballet or jazz, and she can describe various dance styles and cross-compare.  John is great in the way he describes things scientifically—power, rotation, cause and effect.”

“We like that they are a couple teaching together. It’s fun to watch them get along and uplift each other. It’s like learning about a dance partnership in action.”

Jacq says, “Monday night is our favorite night of the week. We attend Level 3 and 4 and make a whole night of it.  Their teaching style is very comfortable and dynamic. I especially enjoy the musicality lessons. They offer suggestions on technique, and you find you’re getting better and better.”

Anything else? The tangueros attend weekly practicas and occasionally a milonga.

We love our date-time at Alma Del Tango, and can’t say enough, how dearly Debbie and John’s classes have enriched us…dance skills-wise and personally as well

Tango dancers Lynn & Jacq compete in April Follies

Lynn and Jacq competed in April Follies.

Last word: Lynn has been training in dance for 30 years and owns a private dance studio, Learn with Lynn! She teaches 17 different types of partner dance and also choreographs weddings and teaches a Parkinson’s group. Music is her other passion. “In dance, I feel I’m all the instruments at once,” she says. A singer/songwriter/bass guitar player, she currently has four singles out. Find them at LynnGardinerMusic.com

Tango student Lynn Gardiner teaches in her own dance studio

Lynn teaching in her studio

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My Love, Let Us Stay Here

Terence Clarke, writer, tango

Terence Clarke

By Terence Clarke, author, journalist, Alma del Tango board member

One of my very favorite tangos is “Quedémonos aquí,” with music by Héctor Stamponi and lyrics by Homero Espósito. It has been recorded by most of the major singers of tango since it was first written.

The lyrics form a single suggestion from one lover to another, that they remain where they are at the moment…presumably in bed…rather than getting up and returning to the irresolute tango life of forgetfulness, alcohol’s hopelessness, and all those things that have drained them of blood itself in the fruitless lives they’ve been living.

 

“Amor, la vida se nos va,
quedémonos aquí, ya es hora de llegar!
¡Amor, quedémonos aquí!
¿Por qué sin compasión rodar?
¡Amor, la flor se ha vuelto a abrir
y hay gusto a soledad, quedémonos aquí!
Nuestro cansancio es un poema sin final
que aquí podemos terminar.
¡Abre tu vida sin ventanas!
¡Mira lo linda que está el rio!
Se despierta la mañana y tengo gana
De juntarte un ramillete de rocio.”

“My love, life is passing us by.
Let us stay here. Right now has the hour arrived.
Love, let us stay here!
Why fall pitilessly to pieces?
Love, the flowers are just now blooming
and there is such pleasure in solitude. Let us stay here!
Our weariness is an endless poem
to which here we can bring an end.
Open a life that has no windows!
Look how beautiful the river is!
The morning awakes and I would
bring you a bouquet of morning dew.”

The lovers are caught in a debate with themselves over the state of their souls. Do we continue this irresolute tango life (the bars, the boliches, the lies we tell each other, and the foolish search of the bottom of the glass) or do we turn to the soothing beauties of nature, the soul-healing qualities of sunlight and clear, rippling waters, of flowers and the delicacy of the morning dew? The choice is clear. But in the midst of the exhaustion that our wasted life has brought to us, can we make that choice?

As you can see, this tango is not light reading. Big questions are at its core, and the music that carries these lyrics is some of the saddest I’ve ever heard. The irony for me is that this entire tango and its plea for freedom from self-doubt is made up of the tango life itself that the lovers are questioning.

As such, it is eminently danceable. A remarkable example is a recent performance by Ariadna Naveira and Fernando Sanchez, to “Quedémonos aquí.” Often these days the videos of tango are filled with excessive hurry, big-time gymnastics, and way over-dramatic gesture. Not in this one. When Fernando and Ariadna are finished dancing, there is a demonstrable silence before the applause comes. I believe this is so because the audience is stunned by the beauty of what they’ve just seen. 

Terence Clarke’s new novel, When Clara Was Twelve, will be available in bookstores and on Amazon after April 15.

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Student of the Month ~ Larry Litt

Portrait of larry Litt, Alma del Tango Student of the Monthby Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since: Larry hadn’t set foot on a dance floor until 2011, the year that he turned 70 and got married for the second time. His wife Ying had been dancing tango for 10 years.

When taken as a spectator to his first milonga, he said to himself, “Wow, I want to learn to dance like that!” His thoughts, better expressed years later by Otros Aires, included: “Say goodbye to your old life. There’s no going back.”

Back story: Larry was very diligent in his tango study, attending several classes a week, taking private lessons, practicing at home with his wife, and attending milongas. But then, in November 2018, he underwent a complex surgery and had to take a 3-month hiatus. As soon as he was able, he was back on the dance floor.

To Larry, tango involves more than dancing. It’s a life that includes physical fitness. “You use the same muscles as in martial arts or ballet, and similarly you need skills in balance and range of motion. And a great add-on is learning tango musicality,” he says.

As a new dancer starting at a later age, improving his tango involved many extra hours. “Although going to med school was an intellectual bonanza, it also was a physical fitness disaster. There was so much sitting!” says Larry, a retired UCSF professor emeritus in Anesthesiology.

Favorite part: “The connection–when it works,” says the tanguero, referring to the tango connection with one’s partner. “It can exist even with the simplest figures. For the leader, it’s all about the follower, not oneself. I learned that in an early beginner class after feeling that I had mastered the steps just taught. Proud of myself, I asked my partner for feedback. She replied, ‘I felt like I was dancing alone.’ That was the first of many epiphanies.”

Tango dancers Larry Litt and his wife Ying with Eduardo Saucedo

Larry and his wife Ying with Eduardo Saucedo

About Debbie and John: “Related to the first epiphany is the fact that one can be given an explanation without being given an understanding. Debbie and John do an outstanding job making sure students get both,” says Larry. “Their technique is highly polished. They emphasize fundamentals, teaching by example after every explanation.”

Larry takes a private lesson with John on Mondays before the Level 3 class. In early sessions with John, Larry had to lead. When asked how that went (due to the height difference) he replied, “well, it makes you stand up straight!”

Ying remedied the height issue for about a year by regularly joining Larry’s private lessons. When that was no longer possible, Larry was able to find a tanguera who regularly partners with him in John’s lessons.

“When John asks me ‘what do you want to do today,’ I say, ‘whatever is best for learning in class tonight.’ That greatly reduces stressful challenges to my brain’s visual-spatial processing. Some dancers can, from watching only once, identify steps and subtleties of a figure,” Larry explains. “Far from being such a person, I benefit greatly from the foundation set by an early look.”

Anything else:  Larry and his wife have danced tango during their travels to France, Japan, China, England and Wales. Each time they found their fellow dancers warm and welcoming, much like the community at Alma del Tango.

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Student of the Month ~ Rick Kutten

by Lanny Udell

Portrait of Student of the Month Rick KuttenDancing tango since: Rick is new to the tango world having started just three months ago (at this writing). His journey to tango started with solo dance, also known as self-expression dance. He had never done any partner dancing until a friend said, “let’s try East Coast Swing.”

Back story: Rick and his friend signed up for East Coast Swing at Dance Arts. “It took me three months to learn how to do a triple step,” he laughs. “I felt like I had two left feet.” Then they decided to check out Jasmine Worrell’s Swing class at Alma del Tango. Rick fell in love with Jasmine’s way of teaching, and he’s been dancing with her for 3 ½ years.

While working with Jasmine, Rick says, he struggled. “Then something magical happened. My partner and I found each other…on the dance floor and in the music. It was amazing! Intoxicating! Ecstatic! Ephemeral! Now I know why I am dancing. Because there are moments of magical, mystical union…of what? Love? Life? The universe?” (In tango the phenomenon is known as tango bliss.)

When did tango enter the picture? Last summer Rick heard that Eduardo Saucedo was coming to Alma del Tango for his annual August residency, and he decided to stick his toe into the tango waters. With tango, he jokes, “I discovered I had two right feet!” After Eduardo left, Rick found that everything he’d learned had evaporated, so he started over with Debbie and John.

Why tango: “I’m a drama queen,” says the tanguero, “and tango has a lot of drama. It’s a good fit for me to have a style where my drama, feeling, creativity and musicality have a place for expression.”

Rick recalls that when he was learning swing, his critical ego was so strong. “I wish I could have enjoyed being a beginner, but I did not.” Now, with tango, he is taking his time to enjoy the process. “I know I will be a good tango dancer, in time.”

About Debbie & John: “They offer a warm and welcoming field for beginners,” says Rick. He finds them patient and generous with their time. “Their love for tango clearly comes through. I know it’s challenging to help beginners get their mojo going. It’s a unique challenge and they do it well.”

Anything else: Rick attends Level 1 and 2 classes and will soon start going to the Friday night class and practica. He describes himself as a “strong and generous” lead. I want my lead to be obvious…I want my follower to ‘get’ my lead.”

Tango dancer Rick Kutten at Alma del Tango

Rick takes a break during the cortina. (Is that his next partner behind him?)

Last word: Rick sees tango as a long-term relationship. He’s “super-excited about the open expanse of possibilities tango offers.”

 

 

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Students of the Month ~ Gayle Delaney and Kevin Kreitzman

Tango dancers Gayle Delaney & Kevin Kreitzman by Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since: Newly divorced and thrilled to be single again, Gayle went to a speakeasy party in 1994. “A couple got up on the stage and did something magical,” she says. It was Argentine Tango. The couple was Al and Barbara Garvey, legendary Bay Area tango dancers. That was the beginning of her love affair with tango.

Kevin started dancing tango a year ago. “I was not a dancer,” he says. “Gayle brought out the dancer in me.”

Why tango: Gayle had done ballroom and Latin dancing, and she was a competitive ice skater during her teen/college years. When she saw the Garveys dance, she says, “they were in such harmony with each other, I knew I wanted to do it.”

Back story: With a man she met salsa dancing, Gayle signed up for tango classes through Mt. Tam Adult Education. About the same time, she met John Campbell who was in her Psychology of Dreams practice (a pioneer in the field of dream psychology, people come to her to understand their lives better through dreams). She recommended that he take a beginner class of Argentine Tango. “It’s a wonderful way to meet people,” she told  him. He took her advice and we know where that led!

Gayle gave up tango in 2004 to begin harness training to help her learn jumps for skating. It required that she be out early in the morning, so late night milongas didn’t work for her. But, last year she was drawn back to tango and Alma del Tango

“Tango is so much better now,” says Gayle. “A mere 20 years ago, women weren’t taught…they were just expected to follow. But, thankfully, that’s changed.”

About Debbie & John:  “They are the best teachers I’ve ever had,” says Gayle.  “They break it down, talk to the leader and follower, not like in the old days.

I feel like Rip Van Winkle, I woke up in a paradise of tango!”

Kevin adds, “I appreciate John and Debbie because they break things down and explain. You can see what you’re doing wrong. I’ve got a few bad habits I keep repeating. I’m hoping that more and more things will become second nature.”

Anything else: We’re sorry to say, Gayle and Kevin have left Marin to make their home in Florida. But they haven’t left tango. They are determined to continue dancing. Gayle’s vision is to have milonga house parties. “We will create our own tango world.”

Last word: Buen Viaje, Gayle and Kevin! We hope you’ll come back to visit and dance with us again.

Kevin Kreitzman holds his partner's beautiful tango shoe.

Kevin contemplates drinking from Gayle’s new Madame Pivot shoe. Rome, July 2019

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