Tag Archives | Tango in Marin

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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Student of the Month – Chuck Isen

by Lanny Udell

Chuck Isen tango dancerDancing tango since:  A relative newcomer to tango, Chuck started taking classes and private lessons in the summer of 2013.

Why tango:  Chuck has been dancing since he started going to sock hops as a 12 year old. That’s when he learned the jitterbug, cha cha, swing and other popular dances. As an adult, he became a professional actor and studied jazz and ballet as part of his training.   In the late 70’s, Chuck began facilitating personal transformational workshops…and stopped dancing.

Now semi-retired, he’s decided to learn a dance he’d never studied before. “Tango has always intrigued me,” he says, “it’s a sensual dance, and it’s a challenge.”

Favorite part: Those moments when it flows. He enjoys “allowing the music to guide me around the floor.”

About Debbie & John: “They make tango fun, and they break it down so we are able to follow,” says Chuck. He also likes the way Debbie and John relate to each other. “Their relationship is right out there on the dance floor. It’s fun to watch them negotiate.”

What surprised him: “Because of my dance background, I didn’t expect it to take this long…it’s kind of a humbling experience,” he admits.

Chuck Isen in "I Hate Hamlet"

Chuck as the ghost of John Barrymore in the College of Marin production of “I Hate Hamlet”

When asked what he looks for in a follower Chuck says, “Someone who is better than I am and is willing to surrender to the process of following. And, someone who’s forgiving, and allows me to fumble.”

Anything else? At the end of December, Chuck went to the San Diego Tango Festival for a 5-day total immersion in tango. And, he’s considering going to CITA in March.

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Student of the Month – Edith Kaplan

by Lanny Udell

Edith Kaplan, Alma del Tango student of the month.Dancing tango since:  Edith took her first tango class in 2008. She had signed up for a flamenco class through College  of Marin. It was supposed to be four evenings but the teacher was ill for two weeks.  Itching to dance, Edith took another look at the COM program and saw Debbie and John pictured on the cover. That was it – her tango life was launched.

Why tango:  “After the second class I was enchanted and wanted to continue,” says Edith.  But after the session ended, there was a long break coming up. “I tried to figure out where else to take lessons, and I started going to beginner classes at various venues in San Francisco.”  Then Edith moved to Hawaii where she lived for the next three years.  Upon returning to the Bay Area, she continued her dancing with Debbie and John.

Edith dressed up for  Halloween at La  Milonga de San Anselmo 2012

Edith dressed up for the Halloween
milonga at Alma del Tango, 2012

Favorite part:  Edith is a creative person and she finds tango a very creative dance. “I like the connection with your partner and with the music … and the interpretation, which can be different every time,” she observes. “ It’s a beautiful dance for a woman, allowing her to express a female energy that’s not so possible in the outside world … of being strong and surrendering at the same time.”

About Debbie & John: “It’s a combination of their passion and ability to teach what they really love,” says the tanguera.  “They’ve built a community where it’s more than just coming together to dance, and with the performances we have a very strong connection.  I feel privileged to be part of this. I couldn’t be in a better place.”

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Edith dancing at the Halloween
Milonga de San Anselmo – 2012

Anything else? A graphic designer, Edith contributes her talents to many Alma del Tango projects. She designed the poster, program and other elements for Close Embrace. She also creates Debbie and John’s promotional pieces, and did the design work for Tango Con*Fusión’s Trading Places and last fall’s Piazzolla concert.

Edith will be performing the women’s choreo in our 2014 student production, Tango Magic. And, she is contemplating a trip to Buenos Aires in March.

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Edith with Debbie at Nora’s Tango Week Milonga 2012

Last word: When asked her secret for getting a dance at a crowded milonga, she grinned and said, “smile.”

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Student of the Month – Deborah Loft

by Lanny Udell

 

Deborah LoftDancing tango since: Seven years ago, Deborah was taking a ballroom dance class which included one unit on tango.

Why tango: She fell in love with the music and the moves and, in time, transitioned out of ballroom. “It took me a while to find a tango community and teachers,” she explains.

Favorite part: For Deborah, tango is unlike any other form of social dance because of the close embrace, the connection, the musicality, and the one-step-at-a-time nature of it.  She’s loved to dance since she was a little girl, although she’s had no formal training. “So it doesn’t surprise me that I’ve made a commitment to learn this dance as well as I can.”

About Debbie & John: “To an exceptional degree they create community, and that has all kinds of benefits which also show up in our dancing,” says Deborah. “We know each other, have patience and confidence in each other.” She also appreciates the way Debbie and John work together and continue to learn from the best teachers and bring it back to us. She appreciates Debbie’s strength, creativity and energy. “Since I take private lessons with her, I appreciate her strength as a leader.”

Anything else? Deborah has participated in all three Alma del Tango student productions. In All About Tango she performed a solo partnered in part by a man and in part by a woman.

Deborah Loft as Maurice Le Beau in Tango Tales

Deborah as Maurice LeBeau in Tango Tales, 2012

And in Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story, she played the role of the novelist on stage and as the recorded voice-over. She also danced in the finale and was the show’s costume coordinator.

Deborah Loft as the novelist in Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story

Deborah as the novelist in Close Embrace, 2013.

Tango fits perfectly into Deborah’s profession and passion as an art historian. But she also has another passion – opera. She rarely misses a performance at  the San Francisco Opera and travels to Europe to attend the great opera houses in Vienna, Salzburg and Paris.

Last word: In 2012, Deborah spent three weeks in Buenos Aires immersing herself in tango. She went for CITA, the annual international tango festival, then stayed on to study and dance with a local instructor who spoke no English. By the end of her stay, both her dancing and her Spanish were transformed!

 

Deborah at the SF Opera

Opening night at the San Francisco Opera

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Student of the Month – Pam Shreeve

 

by Lanny Udell

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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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Student of the Month – Mark Anderson

by Lanny Udell

Dancing since:  Mark first saw Argentine Tango performed at a half-time exhibition show during a Grand National Ballroom Convention, over 20 years ago. Then, after a 10 year hiatus from serious dancing, in April 2011, he attended a Weller House milonga in Fort Bragg. Dressed in tight-fitting Wrangler jeans with a rodeo belt buckle, cowboy boots and a western shirt, he “tango-walked” all night. He recalls: “The people, the embrace, the ambience, the music…I was hooked!”

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Mark Anderson – Accordion Player

Why Tango: For Mark, tango is the pinnacle of dance expression. He has had structured partner dance instruction and experiences for a number of years, but since finding this dance form, “I can truly relax and express myself, and feel my partner’s expression in the music,” he explains. The music is a big part of the draw for Mark, an accordion player with a deep appreciation for musicality.

Favorite Part: Those moments between the cabaceo, leading up to the embrace…and then that first step when I can feel us become one with each other …

About Debbie & John:  After watching some very accomplished followers at a milonga in Santa Rosa, Mark inquired as to where else they were dancing. They mentioned Alma del Tango and invited him to join them at a class. “Debbie approached me as soon as I entered the dance floor,” says Mark. “She made me feel very welcome and at-ease.”  He admired the manner in which John and Debbie worked together and relayed the facets of the lesson to their students. Now he looks forward to Debbie’s energy and enthusiasm every week.

TangoMirabai

Mark Anderson – Tango Dancer

What surprised him most: Having come from a ballroom background, Mark was surprised at the slower movement of the dance lanes in tango, “ it allows much more time to explore and improvise,” says the tanguero.  He is also surprised at the vast array of options and amalgamations available in the figures presented in tango. “And, I am pleasantly surprised at how luscious and provocative the women dress at the milongas!”

On a personal note: Mark makes his home in Potter Valley, Mendocino County.  A home and commercial building contractor for over 30 years, he currently specializes in turn-of-the century remodels. Mark is an active ocean diver and pursues sport fishing using breath-hold diving techniques. He is also an active musician playing the piano accordion, and a classical music enthusiast.

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Mark Anderson – Contractor

Last word: “I have always enjoyed reaping the benefits of positive results from confronting challenges,” says Mark, “and I find Argentine Tango classes and milongas to be some of the most challenging and rewarding moments in my life, thus far.”

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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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Seth Asarnow y Su Sexteto Tipico Join Alma del Tango

Marin’s premier nonprofit dedicated to Argentine Tango

(San Anselmo, CA, November 12, 2012) Alma del Tango, a Marin County nonprofit based in San Anselmo, is pleased to announce that Seth Asarnow y Su Sexteto Tipico has come under the organization’s auspices.

Seth Asarnow y Su SextetoTipico

Seth Asarnow y Su SextetoTipico
Photo by Peter Ivory

A Marin native and resident, Asarnow is considered one of the best bandoneon players in the country, and his sextet is frequently seen and heard playing at tango venues throughout the Bay Area.”I consider myself a tango musician, not just a musician who plays tango,” he says.

Keeping the Golden Age of Tango Alive
Asarnow endeavors to reproduce the sound and style of tango orchestras that were popular during the Golden Age of Tango — the 1930′s to 1950′s. “These days very few musicians have the ability or desire to play in this style,” he says. “I’m trying to preserve an amazing style of music in its original form.”

After seeing the  show Tango Argentino in 1986, Asarnow was drawn to the bandoneon and its soulful, melancholic sound. The bandoneon, a type of large concertina, was developed in Germany and brought to Argentina by emigrants at the turn of the 20th Century where it became the essential instrument in tango ensembles. He describes the instrument as unusual, with many quirky features that give it a distinct and endearing personality. “Those qualities, along with its mournful, evocative sound are what make it so captivating,” the maestro explains.

Asarnow is happy to be associated with and support the other groups under the Alma delTango umbrella. His goal is to raise funds to expand the sextet to an Orquesta Tipica which usually has 10 to 12 musicians including a string section, three or more bandoneons, piano and bass.

“I’m excited to have Seth and his Sexteto as part of Alma del Tango,” says board president
Debbie Goodwin. “Music drives the dance, and live music takes the experience to a whole
new level.”

Debbie Goodwin & John Campbell

Debbie Goodwin & John Campbell, founders of Alma del Tango, the Marin-  nonprofit.
Photo by Alli Novack

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About Alma del Tango

Alma del Tango is a nonprofit 501c(3) organization dedicated to encouraging artistic expression and the development of community through Argentine Tango. Started by dancer/choreographer Debbie Goodwin and tango dancer John Campbell in 1966 under the name Social Dance Cultures, the organization is now doing business as Alma del Tango, translated Soul of the Tango. In addition to offering tango classes and events, Alma del Tango is the umbrella organization for the all-women’s company Tango Con*Fusion, Alma Video, Debbie Goodwin Dance, Tango Califia, and now Seth Asarnow y Su Sexteto Tipico.

For more information: www.almadeltango.org

 Media contact: Lanny Udell
(415)459-8966
lanny_udell@comcast.net

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