negotiation |nəˌgō sh ēˈā sh ən|
discussion aimed at reaching an agreement

I am always repeating to my students that Tango is a negotiation. There is always a negotiation in dance both in the learning and doing of it. And in a couple’s dance like Argentine Tango, i think there’s a lot of it!

I was in Flagstaff last weekend teaching and had a wonderful time. A discussion on negotiating came up again. One thing is for me to say it and then another for students to want to talk about it or need an explanation of how it works.

Negotiations begin in a social setting from the moment we arrive at a milonga – who to sit with? Where to sit? Maybe this is only really about choice or also about negotiating with others or with oneself – the psyche? Or the ego?

When you’re asked to dance – are you already defensive? Then why did you say yes? You have to negotiate this? Can you decide that this will be a new dance? A fun time? An actual dance and not a “roll of the eyes” moment that will be complained about for hours?

When you’re in the dance – I often get asked – what do I do when or if my partner does x or y? My question back is – what do you want? Do you want to fight? Or do you want to enjoy it? can you negotiate in that moment to not struggle?

I think all dance is about negotiations. As a modern dancer there were negotiations with myself, my body, my mind, with my choreographers, my dancers, my colleagues, my teachers. It is the same in tango and I believe in most modern and social dance forms.

A specific example came up:
Leader: What do I do when I feel the follower “vibrating” beneath me? I am not sure if she is decorating or what but her whole body seems to move and jiggle in my arms.

And this leader clearly had an opinion about this jiggling by his tone. So I proposed to him 2 scenarios.

Daniela: well you could try to stop her because clearly you don’t like it. Or what if you actually guided her movement, almost like joining in on it? so it might feel less like she’s vibrating and more like she’s being accompanied in her movement and maybe that’s the support she needs. 

Every scenario is different and sometimes we will choose not to negotiate – a non-negotiable moment!  Just like life!  And other times, I encourage considering a negotiation. And most of all, remember, dancing is supposed to put a smile on our faces!

(Funny how I was searching for a picture to post with this blog and most of the pictures I found were either people shaking hands, 1 person throwing a punch, or there was money involved!)

No throwing punches, no money, and lots of smiling!

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Tango Fun In ABQ

I just returned from a weekend in Albuquerque where I attended workshops with Eric Jorissen. One of my favorite tango teachers on the planet! His knowledge of the dance form, his pedagogical approach, his wit, charm – he has got it all!

I met Eric many years ago now, I think in New York City. After that in Denver, and then I attended the El Corte Teacher Training Program in its 2nd year in 2006. El Corte is Eric’s Tango School in Nijmegen. To my knowledge 1 of the only of its kind. I view Eric as a forward thinker and doer. Creating models for tango that the US is just now implementing.

It was wonderful to connect with him this weekend and to dance with him at the milonga at Las Puertas on Saturday night.

He reminded me of several things when considering community development that I had simply forgotten. One, for example, that due to the distance of the United States it is much harder to continue to encourage the integration of communities without creating saturation. In Europe the distances to travel are much less in a short train ride or car ride with friends you can be dancing in another community. Europeans are used to traveling. I know many of us travel for tango but it is not always a reciprocated venture – I may have gone to ABQ but when will they come here? maybe for a festival? or for a workshop, but the bottom line is our distances to travel are more.

Another reminder about human nature from Eric was that when you arrive at a milonga or at a festival, the first people you are inevitably going to dance with are people you know. The longer the hours of a milonga eventually you begin to add new faces to your dancing.  This is true when you have a lot of people attending milongas.

But are these still just excuses? As I continue to look for answers to help grow the Phoenix tango community. “just start something new” is also what Eric said.

Along with conversations about community and trends I enhanced my leading vocabulary with some really delightful “salon” movements. The whole weekend was meant for social dancing, taking movements within your embrace, keeping it social, friendly and fun.

I am often reminded that I look like a “girl leading”, regardless of the compliments from followers on being a good leader! This weekend I was able to work on my leading and received some great pointers.

We are often confusedly told to “lead with our chests”. Which causes chaos in our bodies – shoulders by our ears, left arm too high and tense, and not enough “groundedness” in our legs.  I think these could be the case for any leader regardless of gender. I was encouraged this weekend to remind myself of the connection of my legs to the floor and more importantly the relationship of my pelvis to leading. YES, my pelvis as a driving force behind my torso! Sometimes we move our torso and pelvis as a unit and sometimes the torso and the pelvis do not join that action. But the torso is still attached to those legs through the pelvis.

I look forward to returning to Albuquerque for their Tango Festival in November.
And am very inspired by the efforts of their communities of Santa Fe and Abq, to the Tango Club and to Radi’s Tango Academy.

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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.

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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

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Blog Dedication

For me a New Year never really started in January, for me time was always marked by the beginning of a school year, September. So I guess it’s appropriate that I have been inspired to start this writing journey this month.

Rolling around a dozen plus topics to write about I thought the best place to start would be with a dedication to this man –

My dad.

I am definitely a daddy’s girl and this year my father will turn 70 years young. He was born in the Patagonia region/ province of Argentina. A few years ago I was lucky to join him and my mother on a journey down memory lane. His memories, his very young childhood in this very desolate area of Argentina.

While we were there we visited with distant relatives to exchange information for a very large extensive Family Tree that he had been researching and organizing. Stories, names, dates, gossip all relating to the Borgialli’s and some to tango.

We learned that my grandfather, who passed away when I was very young and before I met him, was a milonguero. He enjoyed the milongas. I have heard stories that my grandfather had hoped that I, as the first grandchild, would share his birthday and I almost did, but I decided to arrive the day before!

Dad often tells me that I remind him of his father in certain gestures. Since I’m the only one in the Borgialli family who currently dances Argentine Tango we wonder if it was genetics or maybe some magic from my abuelo.

Who would have thought that my life’s journey would take me back to my ancestor’s roots.

Here’s to Argentine Tango! Its music, its song, its stories, the dance, its journey through time and geography.

Gracias daddy y abuelo………..

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