“Mente Corazon y Pierna”

Raining inside Club AtlantaThe Head, Heart and Legs, you have to feel the dance in these 3 places according to Eduardo Pareja (Parejita). You dance what you can and what you feel.

As I said in the last blog, I was so moved by all the fantastic information and stories that these Maestros recounted, that I wanted to continue to share some highlights here.

Out of the 8 planned classes only 6 actually happened due to the maestros cancellation or sickness. We took a cab during rush hour to arrive timely for these 2 hour classes. When it rained the space became flooded and the organizers would be found mopping. Mariella and Rolo were wonderful organizers of the event: young, enthusiastic, passionate, fun dancers, inquisitive and just lovely to be around!

All of the teachers spoke about their learning to dance and yes, they learned men with men. For example, El Toto Faraldo told us that he had an older brother who would come to the house with his friends and they would practice moves from the milongas at the house. Toto had a keen eye and would end up correcting the guys if they were doing the steps incorrectly.

Clase con Los AgudioElvira Agudio said that she learned to dance with her girlfriends at home. Her husband, Osvaldo, recounted that he grew up just a few streets behind the Club Atlanta and the guys would be practicing out on the streets. He was young then. He would go to them and ask them to show him a figure and they would tell him to go watch in a milonga and bring steps back to practice.

The idea was not to copy steps but to be inventive and creative. One milonguero would do his steps quickly in hopes that no one would see his moves and be able to copy them! This idea of creativity and uniqueness is something that Osvaldo Agudio expounded upon. He said what frustrates him is to see a teacher show a paso (step), then ask the class to imitate it, and then the teacher will ask the students to dance and they are all doing the same step, it looks like a choreography, like a ballet. The minute the woman moves herself it is no longer tango. Osvaldo Agudio was asking us about some moves and asking if they were really led. He didn’t seem convinced!

Clase con ParejitaBaila con amor, sin egoismo y con risa  Parejita

Translates as: Dance with love, without being selfish, and with laughter. Just another beautiful quote from Eduardo Parejita. He came to class with his wife who sat on the sidelines watching and his dance partner, Laura Grandi. He is 82 years old, so sweet and generous. Laura is 30 and she has been dancing with him for 15 of them. He spoke so naturally that you could feel his passion for tango and for his family. (He is a proud grandfather to a current famous soccer player.)

Another thing he said that completely stands out is never speak badly about a colleague, just do your dance. It’s hard sometimes for me not to be passionate and opinionated about what I do and I have never been one to keep my mouth shut. I will continue to strive to do so hearing these words repeated in my head!

Clase con TotoI dance what I feel and if I don’t like the music, I don’t dance. Osvaldo Agudio

We do that which corresponds with age, the youth bring the dance into the future otherwise the dance stays closed or boxed in with older people. Osvaldo Agudio

Disfrutar Disfrutar Disfrutar – Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy

El Toto told us that the ratio of men to women was 20:1. The woman would check out the men from head to toe and if anything was out of place she could refuse him. People were conscientious about their appearance. Everything and everyone were very humble in those days.

There were several other comments about the Championship and stories about milongas and orchestras, personal hobbies and ideologies, which I hope to be able to incorporate into future blogs.

Clase con Jorge RodriguezRommel was very interested in hearing their opinions about the Championship. I think for the most part there were very degrees of enthusiasm. With comments ranging from Great idea – muy bien to I was juror once and won’t do it again!

There was some discussion about labels and one of the maestros said, the labels are money. Easy for them to say living here where most strive to express the same thing in a dance called Argentine Tango to the music of the same name. It is very clear for them and they know amongst themselves who was where, in what neighborhood, when, and why moves were danced the way they were danced!

Such a wonderful opportunity to be with these milongueros. Thank you Maestros!

(translation is mine with some help from Rommel)

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4th Day in BA

After, what feels like a whirlwind of an arrival, we are already at the end of day 4 in BA.

We arrived on Friday morning to very long lines in EZE (the airport), so long that our luggage was already off the carousel by the time we went through customs/immigration! AND torrential down pours. We crammed all of our luggage and the 4 of us into my uncle’s car, typical Argentine style with luggage in between and on top of each of us! and made it into Buenos Aires to our lovely home for the next 3 weeks.

My star ASU student, Tyler, is on a first major adventure with his brand new first ever passport and his tango sneakers, armed with very little Spanish, he is here, participating in milongas and Leader’s Tango Week with some very fine tango leaders, already eating pasta and empanadas like a local!

It is strange to find myself here without a tour to guide but nice that several ASU students are here for their exchange programs and Tyler, here to dance and experience tango to the fullest. Love having some of “my kids” close by.

Already I have seen my maestra, taken a private lesson with her, been to 3 milongas, and saw “old” friends who I either see traveling or in Buenos Aires! And tonite I will connect with more family.

The weather is chilly – especially for our thinned out Arizona blood! Our housemates have colds and we are fending that off with Vitamin C and Chinese herbs, thanks to J from Flagstaff. So far – so good.Congreso Buenos Aires

We are staying in a lovely tango house near Congreso – which is just a few blocks away from some great milongas and the Congress Building. Of course, we have not seen any of the weather that is in this picture!

I had heard enough about inflation prior to coming here but now being here we are seeing and feeling the impact first hand. The peso has 2 rates, the bank rate and the black market rate, of which there’s plenty of opportunity to purchase the latter. And that is significantly higher than the bank rate, of course. The cost of food is higher, taxis, buses, subways, everything, milongas, shoes – all of it, is higher. Even with the higher exchange rate it seems almost ridiculous to pay so much for that which was so much cheaper even a year ago and even markedly cheaper 5 years ago. It is common to pay between 12 – 14 pesos for a soda or bottled water at a milonga. At the bank rate, that’s $3. The milongas are between 30 – 45 pesos. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot of money but it’s almost normal prices for someone coming from the US. In other words, it’s not a cheap vacation anymore. (12 pesos for a dozen eggs.) It used to cost around 25 pesos to travel almost anywhere in the city by taxi, now it’s double that. From Congreso to Palermo it has been 45 pesos. Those were the milongas we chose for the last few nights.

Today in my class I was reminded – intention before stepping. So I leave you with that idea as well. Where is your intention when you take your steps both as a leader and a follower? Are you taking a step and then arriving where you want to be? Consider the inverse, “I want to be there” and then step there.

we are here!

Tyler and his ghosts!


happy to be among greatness!




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Saturday in Flagstaff

Argentine Tango Workshop & Milonga
Saturday, July 28, 2012 in Flagstaff, AZ
With Daniela Borgialli and Rommel Oramas

Workshop at Human Nature Dance Studio
1:00-2:30 pm Social Sacadas (Intermediate/Advanced)
2:30-4:00 pm All about Turning the Giro (Intermediate/ Advanced)
Cost: $15 per afternoon class

Class & Milonga at Canyon Dance Academy
7:00-8:30pm Class-New Fundamental Ideas (All Levels)
8:30-11:00pm Fundraising Milonga
Cost: $15 for evening class and milonga

Bring your checkbook if you want make a separate, tax-deductable donation to help Daniela and Rommel compete in the World Tango Championship in August

Please bring snacks to share during the milonga
For more information or to set up a private instruction contact Nancy Williams at 928-213-0239 or
Human Nature Dance Studio, 4 W. Phoenix Street, Flagstaff, Arizona
Canyon Dance Academy, 2812 Izabel Street, Flagstaff, AZ

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I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it will be to have this couple with us for workshops and for an evening of amazing performances.

Rommel and I first saw Virginia and Christian dance by accident at a Practica in Buenos Aires. We were on 1 of our tango tours and Virginia y Christianthe students were a little tired so we decided to change the itinerary and go to a practica. We didn’t know much about the scene or that there would be a performance. I remember that I was so impressed by Christian and Virginia precision and line, not to mention their exquisite musicality.

The next couple of years we called on them to teach group classes to our tour group. In deciding teachers for the groups I invite teachers who we won’t see in the US or who we haven’t seen yet. Virginia and Christian have always been a perfect match for our groups. They teach like they dance, precise and generous. They are calm and kind.

We have admired their dancing since then. Rommel particularly likes Christian’s musicality and enrosque turns. These seem to be his signature move. We are so excited to have them in our city and we hope that you will not miss out. I have been getting emails from several organizers throughout the US who wish that they could have this exquisite couple in their city. We are 1 of ONLY 3 stops on their visit to the US.

I promise that you will not be disappointed. Come see them perform at the milonga on Saturday July 14th.

The weekend looks like this:

5 Unforgettable Intermediate/Advanced Workshops

Friday  7:30pm to 9:00pm Vals

Saturday  1:00pm to 2:30pm Milonga I
3:00pm to 4:30pm Milonga II

Special Milonga 9:00pm to 1:00am (includes performances by Los Totis)

Sunday  1:00pm to 2:30pm Enrosques, Sacadas y mas
3:00pm to 4:30pm Virginia’s choice

WHERE: SNAP in the Large Bond Hall of the SCUCC
4425 North Granite Reef Road Scottsdale, AZ

Full weekend pass ONLY $150.00
Individual class $45
Saturday or Sunday day pass $80 (not including the Special Milonga)
Special Milonga with Show $15

(limited private lessons available)


Christian y Virginia in Russia




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Labels – Part 2 – It Gets Personal

I have discovered that I have a lot to say about the labels that are used in Argentine Tango.

Essentially one of the main reasons why I have never given myself, or my dancing, a label except for social dancer, is twofold – too often I find myself dealing with an uneducated public and more importantly a public that doesn’t dance or hasn’t ever moved, let alone social danced. This isn’t always true but often is the case.

So who are those labels really for? That person who wants show tango for their wedding? That person who wants you to perform Tango ClassArgentine Tango to 20 minutes of Astor Piazzolla? Or Gotan Project?

The label doesn’t get me any further with the general populace than with someone who has just started dancing. After all what do your non-tango friends ask you when you tell them you’re taking tango classes? Just this weekend prior to a performance a woman was confusing what she thought was tango with flamenco. Isn’t it amazing that we all become educators of dance when we have to explain what we’re doing? And in turn I consider most teachers not just dance teachers but educators of culture in this dance form. Would it make a difference to a newbie if I called myself a milonguero teacher, a tango salon teacher? It might encourage someone to do more research or it might turn them off.

Times are changing and the dance form is evolving. We are living in remarkable times for many reasons. Technology has globalized us. How amazing that dance of any kind gets air time and that on youtube you can see all kinds of dances with correct labels or not!

Another way that times are different in the culture of Argentine Tango is that there are so many more women than men dancing this dance. Not like how it was in the 40’s with so many men and not as many women. Times were different. Men had to be skillful and inventive in order to be popular at the milongas of their day.

But with this change – the competition is now “stiff” for women. We are competing for relatively few skilled dancers. And the number of women who are highly skilled is high. So often women dance with anyone just to dance regardless of skill level. (And those who know me well know that I am not speaking about how many laps around the dance floor he does or how many cool figures he does.) And this is a shame but it is a reality. A reality I do understand.

But what would it be like if the tables started to turn. If women only danced with those men who were good dancers. And what I’m talking Jon & Nancy dancingabout now is about labels – watching the dance floor. Knowing who we are as dancers, individually.

What is your label? What do you like?

And why would you dance with anything but a good dancer? A good dancer for you?

There was a time and often still in Buenos Aires, a man will not dance with you unless he has seen you dance. And the same is true, that a woman will not dance with you unless she has seen you dance.  Like is looking for Like. I want to be sure that I dance with someone who likes what I like.

I check out the embrace
I check out their musicality
Their floor craft
And assuming at this point that I do not know them – I take a chance and dance. (But remember that more often than not, people dance with those they know first.)

I hear the arguments coming – that sometimes you still can’t tell. A leader or a follower might dance one way with one person and then a tanda later dance completely differently with another. So is this globalization on a micro level? A milonga filled with variation and diversity of embrace? Like maybe it once was in Buenos Aires where those who danced a certain way in one neighborhood would be noticed in a milonga in downtown (El Centro) Buenos Aires where their tango was a little different or possibly forbidden to dance a certain way at a milonga.

Labels are our identifiers – a way to create connection – the – hey you may be like me because we are from the same city, town, village, tribe.

And in tango  – if the label helps you to find more of those like you who need and want the music, the embrace, the connection, then let the labels work for you. But aren’t we all still dancing? (And this is an important point.)

In a recent wonderful interview with Javier Rodriguez, which can be seen on youtube in Spanish, he says we are dancing Today’s Tango, Tango de Hoy. Isn’t this true?

Our society, our culture, is reflected in our dances. Argentine tango is reflecting all of its cultures. All those cultures that have embraced it regardless of what you want to call it.

So to that dear follower who struggles with all the information that is being tossed at her, I encourage her to continue to understand her Dancing at a milongatechnique as a follower, as a woman in this dance, as there are certain skills to know. And again “follow what you feel, not what you think”.

(I would like to mention and acknowledge that I think Europe and the US took a huge interest in pedagogy and gave rise to many teachers who were indeed and who still are very much interested in teaching, not just steps and figures but how the body executes them. And with this interest there has been a slow rise in Teacher Training Seminars, Workshops Labs, etc. Even an interview on youtube that I recently saw with a famous Argentine teacher, a woman, mentioned the current desire for teachers to teach the how.)

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