Posts Tagged: social argentine tango

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:

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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:


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Upcoming Workshops for August 2011!

I have set up some interesting workshops for August.

In designing the workshops I had a few goals in mind:  continue to promote tango, encourage the continued study of the dance form, focus on technique and challenge  9141522copythose dancers who have been dancing or studying for awhile!

In order to continue to promote tango we are offering a fun casual evening Introduction to Argentine Tango course which I have named: Date Night an Introduction to Argentine Tango. This will be a course for those wanting to check out the dance form, like dipping your toe into the pool before diving in. Rommel and I will be teaching some fundamentals of the Argentine Tango as a social dance.  You can bring a date or a friend or come solo. There will be a Free Raffle so tell your friends.

Friday August 19th and Friday August 26 for Date Night!
7:00pm – 9:00pm $15 per person or $25 per couple includes a free raffle and snacks.

After attending Date Night consider coming back for the BEGINNER’S WORKSHOP on Saturday, August 27 – 12:00pm – 2:00pm. This workshop will be a continuation from the Intro and will add more tools to your tango toolbox to practice.
$20 per person or $35 per couple

And for those who are no stranger to the dance we have a short 2 hour Momo Danielas shoes 2 4 2011FOLLOWER’S TECHNIQUE class. I know the struggles of the follower role in this dance so let’s build some tools and some understanding of how the beautiful body is to function on the dance floor with any lead. Class includes a warm-up and exercises for creating pretty feet and balanced posture.  Wear comfortable clothes and bring soft shoes, practice shoes or even socks. 

Saturday, August 20 – 2:00pm – 4:00pm for FOLLOWER’S TECHNIQUE
$20 per person

On Sunday, August 21st and Sunday August 28th Rommel and I will be sharing some fun ADVANCED COMBINATIONS for the Social Dance Floor from 12:00pm – 2:00pm.
$20 per person or $35 per couple per class

Pre-Registration is always appreciated – call 602-743-8560 or email:

In Summary – Workshops in August hosted by accesstango taught by Daniela Borgialli and Rommel Oramas

Friday, August 19 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm DATE NIGHT an Introduction to Argentine Tango. Including FREE Raffle
Saturday, August 20 – 2:00pm – 4:00pm FOLLOWER’S TECHNIQUE: Improve your dancing and get answers to those questions about balance, posture and clarify any unclear feedback that you have received.
Sunday, August 21 – 12:00pm – 2:00pm ADVANCED COMBINATIONS for the TANGO SALON with Rommel Oramas and Daniela Borgialli
Friday, August 26 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm DATE NIGHT an Introduction to Argentine Tango. Including FREE Raffle
Saturday, August 27 – 12:00pm – 2:00pm BEGINNER’S WORKSHOP
Sunday, August 28 – 12:00pm – 2:00pm ADVANCED COMBINATIONS for the TANGO SALON with Rommel Oramas and Daniela Borgialli

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Teaching Tango at the University!

In addition to teaching in the community, I teach tango at ASU’s School of Dance in the Institute for Design and the Arts. Formally teaching two levels of social Argentine Tango at a University is a pretty unique situation. Students receive two credits towards their degree for each, even repeatable course they take. During a 16-week semester, we meet twice a week for a total of three hours a week.

When I was asked years ago to replace a retiring faculty member, a single tango course was in place. I immediately revamped the syllabus when I first came on board. Later the advanced level was added.

Over the course of a semester I take my students on a dynamic tango journey. They begin with walking and connection games. I conduct classes on milonga, vals, musicality and a presentation on the history and evolution of the dance form. We also watch videos of famous tango couples to help my students define their aesthetic. They are also required to attend milongas and practicas in the community and participate in the student-run Tango Club.

In the short time that I have been teaching, I have seen a difference in my students in their first tango class. When I first began teaching in 2005, almost none of the students in the class had ever heard of or seen tango prior to class. Now, thanks to reality TV shows, almost all students have seen or have been exposed to some form of social dancing, including tango. They are, of course, surprised to discover that Argentine Tango as a social dance is sometimes quite different from what they have seen on TV or YouTube.

Some students are occasionally disappointed but more often than not they are intrigued by the possibilities that Argentine Tango offers them through the partner relationship. This partnership demands skills in listening and improvisation, attention and patience in order to move through the space together. In this evolving dance form they learn to negotiate, lead and respect each other and their community, and the culture of the dance itself.

With more than 80 students each semester, it really never is the same class twice. Class has been called a stress reliever and a fun distraction to the everyday, heavy course load of many honors students. Although basic templates and syllabi are in place, my students inspire and surprise me all the time and oftentimes send me spontaneously into new, exciting directions. Every semester these young students remind me how magical and powerful dance can be.

They find friendships and sometimes even love – two of my students recently married. Students tell me that they learned to be better persons through tango or found their voice through the dance. Several of them have been dancing with me their entire college careers. Life has fed their dancing, and the dance has fed their life.

It is a wonderful experience to watch them form bonds of friendship and trust. I think one of the most exciting aspects of watching my students’ process of learning this dance is that they come with honesty and openness. They are willing to have a positive experience as they challenge themselves. They laugh together and help each other. It is a reciprocal openness that I share and enjoy so much.

I love my job!
I love dancing!
I love tango!

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Reminders about finding housing in Buenos Aires

What you see on the internet is rarely what you get. The pictures always look nice and big too! I have also found that it doesn’t matter how many questions you ask unless it is in print somewhere, like a contract, it won’t exist like you think it does. Even sometimes the contract doesn’t matter because if you are renting a place, it has probably been lived in many times over by the time you get to it.

I have had several experiences of renting places and sometimes due to urgency and sometimes in good faith I have rented sub-par situations.

My most recent situation has left me very angry, disappointed and disillusioned as I guess a situation of this kind would to anyone.

And instead of totally complaining I wanted to advise and well, there might be a little complaining.

Firstly and I think probably the most important thing you can do when trying to find a place to stay in Buenos Aires is to try to connect with as many people as possible in the tango community and ask them about the places you are thinking about renting. Try to find someone who has stayed there or someone who might even go check it out for you.

Try to know as much as possible about what you are looking for.

How often is their housecleaning? What does it include? Does this include a change of sheets and towels?

Is there construction going on in the building or on the street?

Are there pots and pans, silverware, glasses, mugs, etc?

Often times there are things that maybe even the owner doesn’t know about. Take the time to take a careful look around to see if the place meets your needs. Know that once you pay, and usually it is in cash, that you will not get that cash back. You may get a portion back if you decide early on that it is not going to work. And portenos are very good at trying their best to rectify the situation in order for you to stay.

Now a note to those who are renting to Tangueros.

Most foreigners who are traveling and are staying for more than 1 week are expecting a certain level of comfort. Of course, I don’t speak for all those who are visiting but some of us.

If I wanted to stay in a very inexpensive place or even in a hostel living situation than I would choose this and I would expect a certain standard. I must also mention that I have stayed in very nice hostels over the years and have been very pleased. However, if I am paying $40+ / night I would expect to have a clean place to stay and proper plumbing. I would expect the toilets to flush, the shower to function more than a dribble, and the house to be clean. Clean meaning that there is not a layer of dust all over the place. If there are futon beds and the actual frame is broken so that when you lie on it you have a piece of wood in your back then it needs to be dealt with. If a bed is going to be on the floor it would be best for this to be stated.

I know that every house has its peculiarities. I refer to things such as how the lights may work or how far to turn the hot water or only turn on the hot water. Whatever they are these should be outlined in a booklet or told to each new person coming to the house. Kind of like a list of house “rules”. These should include how to use the heat or the air conditioning.

It is amazing to me how much the tourists are being taken advantage of in Buenos Aires. I have family who live there and who have lived there their entire lives who claim this as well.

With all this being said, I just ask that as a tourist you become informed and as an owner or vendor who is offering a service that is needed that all aspects be taken into consideration.

You don’t need to be taken advantage of as a tourist, a visitor, remember to be as clear as possible as to what you want and do some asking around. 


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