Posts Tagged: argentine tango

911 Tango Impact

In preparation for the 10th anniversary of 911 tango friends, Jennifer Bratt and Ney Melo were interviewed for a segment of Yahoo! Vitality, “Second Act: A Webby Award-winning series about real stories celebrating life, passion and reinvention.”


As Ney found tango after the events of 911 in NYC, that day also helped to force me to change my life path, or maybe really to find my current path.

I too was working in NYC at the time. I had just arrived to work at 34th Street and Park Ave South. Our building security guy, James, was always friendly. I remember him saying something like, another plane just crashed into the 2nd tower of the World Trade Center. It was just before 9am and I remember looking at him thinking “WHAT?” It was like I didn’t really understand the words coming out of his mouth.

I took the elevator to my Executive Assistant position to the CEO of a branding company. I had been there for about 1 year already. All the major heads of the firms in the Americas were in town for their annual meeting. I was responsible for them and the many aspects of organizing that meeting.

I arrived on the 6th floor and our offices were in a chaos of telephone calls, locating traveling directors, and one of the graphic designers had plugged in a TV to watch the news. I remember seeing it again and again and again on TV and thinking it was unreal, like a TV show where they had blown up buildings. It wasn’t really real was it?I remember taking the elevator to the street and looking down Park Ave South toward the WTC and yes, there was smoke, lots of it. It seemed like time had stood still in that moment. I had walked out into the middle of the street but don’t recall there being any cars. Or maybe they were all stopped too…

It was a very long day for me (and for many). I think I was in shock for many many days after. So many of us had to find a way back to our homes – I didn’t have cell phone service and remember receiving intermittent phone calls from friends all over the US and Europe. I didn’t have a land line at my home in Jersey City and remember wanting to find a way into work in order to be able to call people.

Weirdly enough, a friend from France had visited me the weekend before and showed me a picture of himself at the top of the WTC. That was strange to see.

The skyline had changed – forever. The view from my home seemed wrong.

As I write this, I am overwhelmed by memories of people, conversations, art I saw, dances I saw, and feelings, mostly of hopelessness. The city began to change pretty drastically during the course of the rest of the 2 years I was there. Stores were closing, people were scared and talking about finally leaving the city and moving elsewhere. I would get calls from people saying – don’t take the subway today. Paranoia, shock, grief permeated everyone’s life.

I still have not returned to the site. I got really close once on one of my long walks through the city but was angry and incensed by all the vendors that cropped up with sales of 911 paraphernalia.

911′s impact on me was not a quick pin prick – and then it was over. And I don’t think it has been for anyone.

As I stayed on at my Executive Assistant position, I felt like I got farther from any dreams that I had had regarding dance. I have always described my time in NYC as being almost asleep or in hibernation. Time just passed by. About 1 year after, it was time for serious change.

I returned to Tempe, AZ to visit some friends from my grad school days at ASU. I remember the words from a phone call being, “you sound miserable, come for a visit”. I was invited to teach a dance class at Tempe High School. What a blast I had. I was on an adrenaline buzz for hours after that class. When I returned to NYC, I was determined to start teaching. It was time for change and a new direction.

I started a small tango course near Park Ave South and invited all the people I knew to join a 4 week tango class.

By the spring of 2003 I headed back to Arizona to pursue teaching dance and tango.

To the memory of all those who lost their lives in 911, who worked tirelessly to save lives and to those who still grieve, may time continue to heal.

Read more

El Mundial

It has been a week since the closing of the Mundial de Tango in Buenos Aires. This year marked the 9th World Argentine Tango Competition in Buenos Aires. Only 9 of them so far which doesn’t surprise me considering the majority of those people who started tango around the same time I did are self-proclaimed dedicated social dancers. The thought of Argentine Tango as a competition was and still is poo-pooed by many of us. “it’s a social dance!” we all cry in protest. And this was me too, until this year, which is why I am now very interested in the Mundial.

Let us look at some statistics to really begin to appreciate the growing scale of interest in the competition.

The competition has 2 categories: SALON and ESCENARIO. (Salon or Stage Tango.)

The Ministry of Culture estimated half a million people participated in some way in over 150 events during the two week festival. (The estimate for 2010 was 350,000.)

All events were free.

More than 500 artists performed.

492 couples competed and came from 26 countries.

The Winners: In the category of Tango Salón, Diego Julián Benavídez Hernández y Natasha Agudelo Arboleda (Colombia) and in the category of Tango Escenario, Max Van de Voorde y Solange Acosta (Ciudad de Buenos Aires).

It was estimated that out of all those people who gained entrance to the performances that 86% were from the US; 12% from Brazil; 7% from each Germany, France, Mexico, Colombia and Japan; 6% from Venezuela and Chile; 5% from Spain: 4% from Uruguay; and 3% from Canada.

The remaining 14% were Argentines!

It is a very exciting time to be part of the world of Argentine Tango. Especially when the 3rd place winners in Tango Salon are tango friends, Brian Nguyen and Yuliana Basmajyan – currently residing in Los Angeles. They were the winners of the 1st Buenos Aires government sanctioned US competition that took place in April this year in San Francisco. Great dancing Brian and Yuliana! Congratulations!

Brian and Yuliana

Read more

3 more days of Workshops THIS WEEKEND!

Last Friday’s Date Night was a great success and here’s an opportunity to do it again!
Friday, August 26 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm DATE NIGHT an Introduction to Argentine Tango. Includes a FREE Raffle, wine and cheese!   $25/couple or $15/person

Saturday, August 27 – 12:00pm – 2:00pm BEGINNER’S WORKSHOP $20/person or $35/couple

Sunday, August 28 – 12:00pm – 2:00pm ADVANCED COMBINATIONS for the TANGO SALON with Rommel Oramas and Daniela Borgialli $20/person or $35/couple

All classes held at Art of Dance Studio 7077 East Main Street, Suite 11-12
Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (Located in Marshall Square, behind Occasions by Design)

Read more

Ladies! Please stand up!

Why is your butt sticking out so far behind you? Have we decided to embrace the caricature of tango? Your lumbar spine is so curved that I have lower back pain for you. Are you being taught this way?

I have a really hard time believing that other female followers are teaching followers to stick their butts out, compromising their lumbar spines and thus the affect is that their bellies now hang over their own toes. If there is a loss of integrity in the core muscles, this posture compromises the spine and the knees and the ankles and ultimately, I believe, the connection.

So I am not asking that followers keep their stomach muscles tightened for an entire milonga! But I am asking that we take some time to remember that there are 2 of you in this beautiful dance and the only one responsible for you is you. Before you jump on me about lead and follow and what the roles in tango are, let us get back to this dynamic posture question.

Posture in tango is a dynamic entity. It is made up of the embrace, the followers’ commitment to a standing leg and a free leg, and her commitment to her partner and to moving/dancing. Within this dynamic posture, even before the 1st step, many things are happening. For example: Do I know my partner? Have we danced before? Is he distracting because he is handsome, smells good, looks like a good dancer and finally asked me? Is he smelly? Am I unsure about my decision to dance with him?

I think as a social dancer we must wipe the slate and focus on the task at hand – dancing and making a connection. And I realize that there isn’t always 1 way to problem solve if things aren’t feeling comfortable. BUT I do believe it is my responsibility (as it is the male or leader) to be the best follower I know how.

Here’s my personal checklist from all my years of dancing (not just tango). The checklist is a partial inventory of images I use to focus myself when dancing. It is heavily influenced by my training with Mindful Movement Master, Pam Matt and Tango Maestra, Graciela Gonzalez, who I am always grateful to for having helped me change my dancing and keep me growing in the dance. A word about the images – let the images do you! That’s all they are – images – so let your imagination enjoy them, your body will do the rest.

1. Zip up!
I picture zipping up an imaginary zipper from my pubic bone to sternum. Graciela speaks of 2 centers – 1 below the belly button and the other around the sternum and keeping them equidistant from each other.

2. Up the front and down the back!
Just following the zipper image in the front there is an equal image in the back. Allow the tailbone to lengthen to the floor, as if there was a little weight attached to it. This image has been effective for followers who complain about lower back pain. This image is not about tucking the pelvis; it is about working with your proper body to attain proper length in the muscles.

3. Bigger than you are!
Imagine yourself as being taller and wider than you are. Command your presence through your width and your height.

4. Fountaining!
I often invent new words when I am teaching; fountaining is 1 of them! Imagine that you have a fountain sprouting out of the top or crown of the head and it shoots over your partner’s head. If this image doesn’t work think about dropping your chin and elongating the back of your neck.

5. Encircle the embrace.
Imagine that you are a encircling your partner with the embrace. After all tango is circular!

I have seen much success with these images and I believe they need a class to further explain them and embrace the questions that arise from working with them. I hope that Followers in this dance feel supported and STAND UP for themselves in a graceful and elegant way.

For more information or advice on being a Follower contact me:

Read more


1 of 2 Date Nights this month!

Friday, August 19 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm

DATE NIGHT an Introduction to Argentine Tango.
Including FREE Raffle and wine and cheese!

For you or those friends who need something fun and different to do on a Friday night. Come to DATE NIGHT! This will be a harmless stress-free introduction to Argentine Tango as a social dance.

3 Reasons to attend Date Night:

1) Argentine Tango is a fabulous way to meet people and to share a lovely evening.
2) You will learn from the best teachers in the Valley – Daniela Borgialli and Rommel Oramas.
3) We all know that dancing is great exercise, improves posture and flexibility, is fun, AND there is something for everyone!

Come with a Date or Come Solo – all are welcome!

We’ll see you at ART OF DANCE
7077 East Main Street, Suite 11-12
Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (Located in Marshall Square, behind Occasions by Design)

$15/person or $25/couple

For more information or questions:


Read more
« Previous PageNext Page »