Tag Archives | Tango in Marin

Student of the Month – Sergio Orvalles

by Lanny Udell

Servio Ovalles, Alma del Tango Student of the MonthDancing tango since: Learning tango was something Sergio wanted to do, but he had put it on the back burner.  Then, last summer, while on a trip to Argentina for his school (he teaches Spanish at Branson), Sergio took some classes and was hooked. He called the Performing Arts Director at Branson and asked her to find him a tango studio. She directed him to Alma del Tango.

Why tango: Sergio has always loved dancing — he’s done salsa, hip hop and banda, which he describes as a fusion of lambada and polka.  He also has been very active in athletics, especially bike racing and running.

“But as I get older, my body doesn’t respond in the same way,” he explains, so he looked for another way to use his energy. “Tango can be athletic, sensual and fun.”

Favorite part: “What resonates with me is the more modern aspects — the turns and twists remind me of banda.”  He listens to tango music every chance he gets, especially while driving to LA to visit his family. “I’m still learning to follow the beat.”

Servio Orvalles in Buenos Aires with tango teachers.

Sergio in Buenos Aires, pictured with his tango teachers.

“I don’t want to be a robotic dancer who just does steps, that ruins the fluidity of it,” says Sergio, who is proud to announce he was just promoted to Level 2!

About Debbie and John: “I like their methodology…they provide the scaffolding,” Sergio says. He describes their classes as very participatory, not just someone lecturing at you. “They’re good at explaining, showing and providing feedback.” He especially likes that they’re passionate about what they do.

Anything else? Sergio calls learning tango a humbling experience. “I had to deprogram my body. A lot of the dances I do have hip movement so tango is different from what I was used to.”

Last Word: Sergio looks forward to tango as a lifelong pursuit. “I hope to emulate people in the studio who continue to find the fun and the passion.”

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Alma Del Tango’s “Tango Dreamscapes”
Debuts on Valentine’s Weekend

Dream adventures come to life through a surrealistic tour of the Argentine Tango in this annual student production and fundraiser, conceived and directed by Debbie Goodwin.

You will meet the “sneak thief” in pursuit of the tango fairy; the wannabe artist who dreams of dancing off with his muse, the accordion-playing hobo who imagines winning the affections of the gorgeous society lady, two friends who are lost in nostalgia for the romantic days gone by when they danced the tango in Milongas all over town.

Pamela Shreeve and Michele Richards in Alma del Tango's Tango Dreamscapes

Pamela Shreeve, the Tango Fairy with Michele Richards, the Sneak Thief.

William Zemsky and Sylvia Flores portray Picasso and his muse in Tango Dreamscapes, a student production in Marin

William Zemsky as Picasso with Sylvia Flores, his muse

Tango dancers Tanja Obear and Mark Anderson perform in Alma del Tango's Tango Dreamscapes

Mark Anderson, street musician, and Tanja Obear,  his object of desire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two pieces have been choreographed for women only. “Pretty Feet” showcases the intricate footwork a follower must master, and “Femme Fatale” is a slightly noir ensemble dance with the dancers wearing masks.

Beautiful shoes worn by followers in Pretty Feet, a dance choreographed for women in Tango Dreamscapes

Focus is on intricate footwork in Pretty Feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musical performances and guest artists
Choreographed by Debbie Goodwin, Rose Vierling and John Campbell, and danced by 18 members of the Marin Argentine Tango community, Tango Dreamscapes also features musical numbers from dancers William Zemsky on guitar, Mark Anderson on accordion and Christianna Valentina, a professional vocalist/pianist.  Ms. Valentina will be partnered by John Campbell, a professional dancer and co-founder of Alma del Tango.

Guest artists Debbie Goodwin, Rose Vierling and Erin Malley from the all-women  company Tango Con*Fusion and the new Debbie Goodwin Dance Company, will perform a new work.

Performances and Tickets:

Treat your Valentine to a romantic evening (or afternoon) of  tango fantasy:
•   When:  Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13 and 14 at 7:00 & 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, 2  & 3:30 p.m.
Show runs 1 hour.
•   Where:  Alma del Tango, 167 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo, CA
•    Tickets:  In advance $20 general seating; $25 premium.  Available at almadeltango.org. Or call 800-838-3006. $25 and $30 at the door, if available.
•    Proceeds will benefit Alma del Tango, a Marin-based non-profit dedicated to encouraging artistic expression and the development of community through Argentine Tango.

Conceived and directed by Debbie Goodwin

Headshot of director/choreographerDebbie Goodwin, director/choreographer, Debbie Goodwin Dance Company

Debbie Goodwin, director/choreographer of Tango Dreamscapes

An accomplished tango dancer/choreographer and teacher living in Marin, Ms. Goodwin has immersed herself in Argentine Tango culture for the past 18 years. Tango Dreamscapes is rooted in her ethnological research of tango communities, the topic of her master’s project in dance from CSU Sacramento, and her continued interest in the profound effects tango plays in the lives of those who enter into this culture.

About Alma del Tango
Alma del Tango is a non-profit 501(c3) organization dedicated to encouraging artistic expression and the development of community through Argentine Tango. Under ADT’s umbrella, Debbie Goodwin and John Campbell bring dance classes, lecture demonstrations and performances to the Marin community. Also under its auspices are the all-women’s dance company Tango Con*Fusion,  Debbie Goodwin Dance Company, Alma Video and Seth Asarno y su Sexteto Tipico.  For more information: almadeltango.com

For additional photos and interviews with Artistic Director Debbie Goodwin
contact:
Lanny Udell
(415) 459-8966
press@almadeltango.org

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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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Students of the Month – Antonio Sausys & Katia Dimitrova

by Lanny Udell

Alma del Tango Students of the Month, Katia & AntonioDancing tango since:  Tango was very big in Antonio’s home country of Uruguay, and his mother introduced him to the dance when he was just 8 years old. His second connection with Argentine tango was as an accordion player touring Europe with an opera company in a performance that explored the impact of tango on Parisian society.

Katia’s tango journey began three years ago when the couple started taking lessons as a way of doing a physical activity that would also connect them artistically.

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 Halloween Party @ Alma del Tango

Why tango:  “I fell in love with it on a trip to Uruguay,” says Katia.  She and Antonio were in a restaurant/bar and she saw women come in with tango shoes in their bags.  “My jaw dropped. I wanted to do it,” she says. “When we started taking classes it felt like a meditation for a couple…you have to get in synch with each other…that’s the only rule.”

“In my case,” says Antonio, “I thought oh, I know tango.  But I discovered it’s one of the most challenging things I could do.  As a leader I had to learn how to move my body to induce the follower to do what I wanted. Leading requires sensitivity which can be difficult for men.”

Favorite part: For Antonio, it’s the building of intention, and a nonverbal connection. “It’s a true act of connection,” he explains, “because you know what you want as a leader and you must create the space for your partner.”

Katia  agrees.  “It’s about building a connection, and the constant reminder to relax. The more you relax the better. When I close my eyes it’s the best dance. Otherwise I lead!”

“And I struggle,” Antonio chimes in, laughing.

About Debbie & John:  “I really like them … they have a very good connection and both are very passionate,” says Katia. Antonio likes their body language communication – “it’s very precise. I like seeing them in action.  I like their passion, their love for tango.  I am very inspired by their artistry.”

Anything else? Antonio and Katia will be dancing in Dreamscapes, the upcoming student production.
“Because we travel at that time of year we’ve never been able to be in the show,” Katia explains. But this year they made a deal with Debbie:  “We told her if she’d give us the routine we’d practice while we’re away.  We’re very proud to go back to Uruguay with a piece we can show,” says Antonio.

Last word:
  Antonio sees tango as “a healthy co-dependency.”

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Student of the Month – Tanja Obear

by Lanny Udell

Alma del Tango Student of the Month Tanja ObearDancing tango since:   Tanja started dabbling in Argentine tango about 10 years ago.  She had explored a few different dances, enjoyed salsa and swing, but when she found Argentine tango, it resonated with her immediately. Tanja has spent the last seven years focused on her family and has recently re-emerged with a new fervor for her interest in Argentine Tango.

Why tango:  “For me tango is a metaphor for life,” says Tanja. “It offers joys, challenges, and opportunities for growth. In its best moments, it becomes a true spiritual experience.”

 Favorite part: Tanja loves the connection that tango offers her…to the music, to her dance partner …and to the community. She enjoys the feeling of being completely in the moment. “It’s a very passionate dance but it can also be light and fun,” she says.

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Tanja with tanguero Mark Anderson at La Milonga de San Anselmo

About Debbie & John: “What I like most about John and Debbie’s teaching style is that they articulate the nuances of Argentine tango in a playful manner, so I’m able to stay focused, yet relaxed,” says the tanguera. “Debbie also teaches followers to be active in the interpretation of the music and the lead. Even though the leader is the choreographer, the follower has her own role to play.” Tanja also enjoys seeing women leading as well as following.

What do you look for in a leader: “It’s important for me that somebody really feels the music and expresses it through their dance.  While it’s important to be technically accurate, a leader who connects and feels the music, makes all the difference.”

Anything else? On October 31st, Tanja will dance with the Alma del Tango dancers when they perform for the Goldenaires in San Rafael. It’s her first time performing in front of a group.

Last word: As Activities Director at WindChime – Memory Care Community in Kentfield, Tanja finds it deeply rewarding to have the opportunity to bring the joys of music and dance to the residents.  “I find inspiration for my work in tango, the arts, and the beauty found in nature.  My greatest joy in life is my seven year old daughter.”

 

 

 

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Bettina Maria brings her exciting new collection to Alma del Tango

Bettina Maria tango fashionsMini Fashion Show Friday, July 18
We’re excited to welcome Bettina Maria to the studio with a showing of her latest tango fashions during La Practica de San Anselmo.
Inspired by the style, the music and dance of the Argentine Tango, she creates one-of-a-kind designs for sophisticated tango dancers everywhere. Her goal is to make you feel stylish, well dressed, playful, feminine and sexy! Since her clothes are made specifically for tango they move well and look fantastic on the body.

Bettina Maria, a Berliner, studied fashion design in San Francisco and worked in high fashion on the west coast for 15 years.  After seeing Forever Tango, she decided to immerse herself in the culture and spent three years living, studying and breathing tango in Buenos Aires.

Inspired by the creative energy of the city and its many fabulous dancers, as well by her own engagement and training in the dance, she Bettina Maria backless tango dresschanneled the many colorful impressions and emotions into her own art … and the collection “MODAS DE TANGO” was born.

“Each piece is individually made with love for detail, with love for Tango, with love for beauty,” says Bettina.

Modeling her fashions Friday evening will be: Debbie Goodwin, Gisela Green, Keiko Kikuta, Olivia Levitt, Lisette Perelle, Dottye Rinefort, Mila Salazar and Bettina herself.  Fashion show will begin at 8:45. Don’t miss this exciting event and the opportunity to purchase an original from the designer!

PS–Bettina Maria’s fashions will be soon available at Alma del Tango on an on-going basis.
Sexy tango pants by Bettina MariaFloral print tango dress by Bettina Maria

 

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Student of the Month – Larry Seeger

 

Alma del Tango Student of the Month Larry Seeger  by Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since: Larry’s tango adventure began about six years ago. After seeing Forever Tango, he was mesmerized.

Why tango:  A ballroom dancer all his life, Larry was intrigued by the intricacy of Argentine tango. “I wondered, how could I learn to do that?”  Then fate stepped in and Larry was invited to a book signing for   Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home, by Maria Finn. At the event, Maria danced with David Caditz, and that fanned the flames of Larry’s desire to learn this dance. After some classes with David he discovered Tango Mango and began studying with various teachers in the Bay Area.

Favorite part: Larry has danced West Coast Swing for 10 years, and he finds similarities between the two. “Both beg for a lot of musicality, interpretation, flexibility and innovation,” he observes. “When I dance with someone and have a wow experience, it’s because we have a 3-way connection — lead/follow/music.” It’s not just the beat, Larry explains, it’s the mood. “There are surges of energy that the composer and musicians are communicating. As a dancing couple we feel that, and amplify it. When that happens, I get tearful…it’s incredibly emotional and beautiful.”

Tango dancer & sea captain Larry Seeger

Larry pursuing his two passions…sailing and dancing.

About Debbie & John: “They’re exceptional at teaching good technique…in fact, they’re driven by it,” says Larry. He also appreciates the way they approach you during class and practicas, offering feedback. “John is very tactful,” he says. “When he provides feedback he starts with the leader and almost always gives the follower some tips, too, so you don’t feel like one person is the problem.”

Larry also admires John and Debbie’s commitment to creating a tango community in Marin. “They had the vision and took the initiative to make it happen.”

Anything else?  Larry is passionate about becoming an exceptional tango dancer… exceptional enough so he doesn’t get turned down when he invites someone to dance.

Larry joined the Alma del Tango dancers for a performance at the San Rafael Rec Center

Larry partnered Lanny Udell in last fall’s Alma del Tango performance for the San Rafael Goldenaires

 

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Student of the Month – Gary Febus

by Lanny Udell

Student of the Month Gary FebusDancing tango since: Gary and his wife, Laura, began taking tango lessons about 10 years ago when their ballroom dance teachers included tango in their classes. When the teachers left the Bay Area, Gary and Laura stopped dancing ballroom and started taking tango lessons at the Lake Merritt Dance Center.

Why tango:  “It’s definitely a commitment dance, “says Gary. “That’s why we didn’t get involved at first. It wasn’t like picking up foxtrot or waltz which you can do at a lesser level. People who get into tango aspire to be better.” According to Gary (and as we all know), “tango is a dance that will crowd out other dances.”

Gary and Laura, tango dancers

Gary and Laura

Favorite part: For Gary, it’s the emotional content, the close embrace and the salon style. “Tango has the corner on that.”  He also likes the community aspect of tango…not just a single community, but the fact that there are different crowds, different ages at various venues. And tango is something he and his wife can enjoy together…pretty much anywhere.

About Debbie & John: Gary has been taking private lessons with Debbie for about a year.  He wanted a female instructor to evaluate his dancing. “I’d been aware of Debbie for a few years, and had seen her perform,” he says. Gary and Laura have also taken Debbie and John’s Monday night couples class. “There’s nothing I don’t like about their teaching,” he says. “Debbie is a friendly, open person and she tries hard to solve your problem so you get what you want out of the dance.” What Gary wants is to be a better dancer, “and Debbie has helped me quite a bit.”

Anything else?  When they’re not dancing tango Gary and Laura are avid bike riders. They also play golf, water ski and enjoy sailing.

Last word: “Women and shoes – I never got it before, but I super get it with tango. My wife hadn’t worn high heels in a long time.  Now her closet is full of Comme Il Faut,” he says with a smile.

 

Gary and his pal, Teagan

Gary and his pal, Teagan

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Student of the Month – Cocco (Bella Monarch) Savelli

 

Cocco Savelli by Lanny Udell

Dancing tango since:   Bella wanted to start studying tango, and in January 2010 she received a flyer in the mail from College of Marin with Debbie and John pictured on the cover. It must have been fate.

Why tango:  “I fell in love with tango over 20 years ago when Forever Tango opened in San Francisco.  I went to every performance, and I was mesmerized.  I wanted to do that!” says Bella.  Four months after beginning classes, she started writing a show for stage that would involve telling the story through singing and tango.  She wanted to portray the characters and dance the show herself … so began the long-term commitment of learning tango.

Favorite part: “Everything! The dance…the shoes…the sensuality and passion of tango,” she gushes.  “At first glance tango seems to be about the flesh, but it has so many layers beyond that.”  As a singer,Bella is moved by the music. And she also loves the traditions, for example, the cabeceo. “I am constantly fascinated with how leaders and followers interact…how they lose their own identities on the dance floor and tango takes over, it’s very Zen.”

Alma del Tango's Halloween milonga

Bella as a French countess at Alma del Tango’s Halloween milonga

About Debbie & John:  For Bella, they are “the best role models I have… kind, genuine and so generous.”   She loves their commitment to each other, to the dance, and to creating a tango community.  “They are patient with students and very supportive,” she says.  “I also enjoy watching them teach and especially their ‘time outs’ with each other as they debate what or how to bring what’s next.”

Anything else?  Bella has participated in three Alma del Tango student productions. In Tango Tales she was a featured artist and sang three classic tango songs accompanied by the Russian pianist Ludmilla Morry.  She is also appearing in Alma del Tango’s new production, Tango Magic.

Most memorable moment: During Tango Tales, Bella got to know Alex and Karina Levin who also danced in the show. One night at a milonga, Alex asked her to dance, and she shyly said …no, thank you. He asked why?  She explained that she wanted to, badly, but “I am too scared…you are way too good for me!”  He said, “Don’t be silly, it’s just a conversation. I say something, you say something.  There is no wrong, no right. You absolutely can do it!”  With that, she gave him her hand.  “I have never danced like that in my life!  It was tango bliss. His genuine kindness, encouragement, gentleness and depth transcended the dance floor and captured my tango soul.”

Bella sailing the bay

When she’s not on the dance floor, Bella may be pursuing her other passion–sailing.

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Tango performance at La Loggia gets rave review

Alma del Tango's Debbie Goodwin & John Campbell

Alma del Tango’s Debbie Goodwin & John Campbell

The second Tuesday of every month is Alma del Tango night at La Loggia in San Anselmo.

Tangueros come to dance, and diners thrill to the music and special performance by Alma del Tango’s Debbie Goodwin and John Campbell, or guest dancers.

On Tuesday, January 14, Debbie and John electrified the crowd.  Tango student Deborah Loft was in the audience that night and writes: “Congratulations on an especially fine performance at La Loggia. I thought you both reached a new level, and from the applause, I could tell that everyone else thought so, too.”

She went on to say, “I was thinking about what made it so special. I realized one element was that you chose to dance to a non-tango piece—When I’m 64 — and that besides the whimsy and unconventionality which opened up new possibilities, the song was in English (and well-known), so that we could see you responding to the ‘text’ (as we opera-goers say).”

La Loggia Vinoteca and Cafe is Italian-inspired but features local wines and delectables.  For these special evenings of tango, they also offer Argentine wines.

Tango at La Loggia in San Anselmo

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