Posts Tagged: tango

1st USA Tango Competition in San Francisco, CA

I never thought I would be here talking about my experience at a Tango Competition.  I have poo-pooed the thought of competing in Argentine Tango for all of my tango career – until now.  I have been a strong advocate in promoting the dance form as a social dance, as a folk dance, not as a competitive sport!  or so I thought that was what it meant.

So Rommel Oramas asked me to join him as his partner in this Tango Competition.  At first I was furious and continued kicking and screaming for the most part for many  months until I did obviously, eventually, give in.  It was just something I didn’t think I wanted to do and didn’t want all those people who knew me as a social dancer to think I had crossed over to some other side! 

April 21 – 24, 2011 was the first officially sanctioned Tango Competition in the USA, Sanctioned by the Office of Festivals and Central Events of the MRamada, Rommel and Brianinistry of Culture of the Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. 

There were 25 couples who registered for the Tango Salon part of the competition – this included Rommel and myself. 

Tango Salon has a few key rules:

1) The Couple, once formed, may not be separated while the music plays. This means that they may not be break the embrace, considered as the tango dance position.

2) For the position to be considered correct, the body of one of the members of the couple must be contained all the time by the arm of the other member. It is understood that, in certain figures, this may be flexible; but not throughout the duration of the dance.

3) All movements must be made within the space allowed by the embrace between the members of the couple.

4) The Jury will take into account the couple’s musicality and walking style as fundamental to the score.

5) Within these parameters, the couple may carry out all the popular figures, including barridas (sweeps), sacadas al piso (drawn to the floor), enrosques (twists), etc. All other figures typical of stage tango such as ganchos (hooks), saltos (jumps) and trepadas (climbs) are completely excluded.

6) Couples, as in a dance hall, must constantly move counterclockwise, and may not stay in the same point of the choreographic space as this would obstruct the movement of the other dancers in the dance floor.

7) None of the members of the couple may lift his/her legs beyond the line of the knees.

And we were off and running!
Upon our arrival we were given a number that became our number for the duration of the event – #3. We were placed in a group – Number 1 – and on the first night danced with 5 other couples to 3 songs chosen ahead of time and told to us while we were on the dance floor. 

Each night started off with the Stage Tango Dancers doing their performances and then when they were done they continued with the Tango Salon category.  Each night Rommel and I were couple #3 and danced in the first group!  Each night we kept passing! 

Saturday night was a grueling night when after all the groups went they asked set up another group for a tie-breaker without telling any of use who the tie was for.  Rommel and I and another beautiful couple were in this tie-breaking round.  We had to dance to 2 songs. 

We passed!

There were 12 couples in the final round on Sunday.  12 of us past to this last round.  And this was an exciting time – 2 groups of 6.  Again in Group 1.  It was a “tanda” of 3 songs that were great for dancing, we knew the orquestas and we liked them. 

We didn’t get 1st, 2nd, or 3rd but it was an extraordinary experience.  Most of the couples were from California, there was 1 couple from Boston and 1 from New York. 

We found out from the judges that we came in 5th.  And I was complimented on my feet! 

Overall, I am glad to say I did it.  I feel well-equipped to talk about competition from new stand point. 

I did try to do some research on Tango Competitions because I remember when I started to dance tango – they didn’t exist, not that I had heard of.  And I did find out that 2010 was only the 8th time doing it in Buenos Aires – and this is the “world cup” or the World Championships –

I know the organizers of this festival and championships are looking forward to doing it again and having it grow and I am sure there will be more sanctioned championships throughout the world. 

The experience has added to my Tango experiences.  I can see myself training future competitors.  And I think the competition adds a dimension to the dance form that was completely unexpected – which is – to show others musicality, grace, endurance, beauty, connection, understanding of the dance form in the tradition of line of dance, respect for the floor and the other dancers – and all this can be done without having to be a show tango dancer. 

See 2 of our 3 dances in the 1st round of the final day of competition:

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TANGO 101 at Argentine Tango Festival

Rommel Oramas and I will be teaching a Tango 101 course at Arizona State University’s Argentine Tango Club’s hosted festival on April 1, 2, 3.

3 Great Reasons to attend the Festival:

3) SUNNY ARIZONA IN APRIL and for some of us, it’s right here!!

What an amazing line-up of teachers. I think the best teachers all in one place:

Tomas Howlin – I have taken classes with Tomas many times over the years. He is a student of my dearest maestra Graciela Gonzalez. Tomas has so much to offer and does so with whit, charm and sincerity.

Shorey Myers – I remember Shorey from festivals way back! I have seen her grow in her dedication and drive to understand this dance and its music. SHE IS my most FAVORITE DJ! I AM REALLY EXCITED TO HAVE HER HERE IN PHX!

Homer and Cristina – This lovely couple are not new to Arizona or to ASU. They have generously come to share their love and professionalism with the students of ASU and Flagstaff. The always wow the ASU students and inspire them. I know you will love them too.

Eric Lindgren and Rebecca Rorick Smith – I met Eric in Buenos Aires several years ago and fell in love with his dancing! I had seen videos of Rebecca and admired her from afar and didn’t officially meet her until recently. They come with a wealth of information. They are a tall couple and I know that all tall students will benefit from their perspective as well as their beauty. I took class with them recently and found the class completely fun and relaxed! I look forward to having them here as well.


Beginner TANGO 101 At a bargain price – this is the time to get your non-tango friends TANGO-ING!! 

There is something for everyone at this Festival:
classes for all levels, 
great teachers,
the weather,
the company,
the milongas,
the next great ASU T-shirt,
the Tango JAM for all musicians to participate,
Tango Rapper Momo Schmitt



for TANGO 101 – All Weekend Pass for NON-STUDENT Includes ALL Tango 101 classes (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), Tango 101 milonga (social dance), and admittance to watch Tango Festival Performances Saturday night (around 10:00pm) for $55

Regular Festival pass (not Tango newbies) Includes ALL classes, milongas, practicas, welcome event, music jam session, and tango-yoga. (Not included: Sunday Family Dinner, Thursday Milonga, T-shirt) for $150

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So many things to look forward to !!!!

So much tango to enjoy in the coming weeks!!!!  Be sure to check out to confirm times…

ASU Guerilla Milonga in Elevator!
ASU Tango Club is hosting their semester milonga on Saturday December 4th in the ASU Memorial Union Ballroom from 8pm – 12am.  $10.  They are calling it the Black and White Milonga.  Tango Club is celebrating their 10th Anniversary as well.
It’s amazing to think that I was taking tango at ASU and then shortly after I left in 2000 Tango Club began to take formation.  I knew the originators of the first tango clubs as they had taken class with me!  I was fortunate to have Eric Parks and Ali Wachutka as students in 2006 who started the Tango Club format as it stands now. 

Next weekend we have combined the Practica del Desierto with the Practica del Diablo.  ASU will be the hosts for this practica on Saturday December 11th 8pm – 12am at Art of Dance Studio in Scottsdale.  This practica will be run by ASU students. Acacia Crouch will be DJ.  Marie Righetti will be teaching the class prior to the practica.  As an added attraction the ASU Tango 2 students will give you the option to “DANCE WITH A DEVIL”.  Followers:  buy a tanda or 2 with a lovely Tango 2 leader of your choice. 

Remember you can still practice your tango on Tuesday nights at Art of Dance.




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Nice autumn weather!

On Sunday the sun came out for us!  We went to the Feria de los Mataderos.  This Dancers at Feria de los Mataderoswas my first time there.  We took a 20 minute (or so) taxi ride and we arrived around noonish.  It was a fair similar to the one in Recoleta or like the one here in Plaza Dorrego BUT it has a stage where there is live music and Folkloric dances.  It was really neat!  They danced: Chacarera, Chamame, Samba.  The artisans were lovely as well.  I think the small group of us who went enjoyed it.  I know I really enjoyed the empanadas that we ate!
Las SaltenasHere are the ladies making empanadas in a stall.

There was this very old man with a face of a thousand stories who was dancing in the street with the rest of whomever wanted to.  At one point he yelled at the crowd "to move farther away" – to give more space. 

Old Man at the Feria

Sunday we had a wonderful asado prepared for us by the America del Sur where we are staying.  We had some beef, chicken and veggies and a beautiful desert plate prepared for us by Chef Juan!  During the course of our meal we were also lucky to have some live music with 2 musicians. 

Dessert by Chef Juan

The America del Sur often plans things and it so happened that they were planned for this evening.  It was a lovely addition to our meal! 

Sunday night we went to El Beso for some dancing.  It was a bit of a controversial evening!!!  A little bit of male tension on the dance floor and some female frustration for the desire for more dances.  This is an interesting position that I have found myself in.  The need to fill my "contract" with everyone to have them dancing as much as possible or at least experiencing some growth and satisfaction.  AND noticing that this is the midway point of the tour – people are tired and some of us are coming down with colds!  NOT ME though!  I also had an interesting evening dancing with an older milonguero – pretty famous – he is known as ToTo!  Really interesting to dance with these older men (like the famous milonguero TeTe who just passed this January).  They have an interesting phrasing as well as small steps – not a lot of drama or not too busy in their dancing.  Really lovely and totally unexpected. 

Rommel has been down for a couple of days and today – Tuesday – seems to be much better.  Lu was a little under the weather and a few people in the group took the night off last night. 

I have decided to divide the group for the next few days to try to maximize everyone’s experience.  This also means dividing the assistants.  So for today and tomorrow I have decided to offer 2 options and those who want to go to 1 milonga go there and to another one go to the other one.  I do not think I can spread myself as thinly by trying to go to both places.  So I will just go to 1 or the other… some of the group are going to both – which is great!!!

So last night a small group of us went to see the Orquesta EL Afronte.  I think we had fun.  It is right around the corner from where we are staying, so that’s a nice bonus!  It’s a little place that has a dive-bar feel!  But seeing and dancing to live music is always pretty cool!!!  Ryan had an interesting dance – a full circle of sorts for him! He danced last night with the assistant who helped us on his first tour 3 years ago!!!  It was really nice to see her and for Ryan to be courageous and dance with her.  So great for him!IMG 3125

                    Here’s Delisa with Jose LuisD & JL

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