This one is for our memory   1 comment

There was a time when sharing the details of every teaching experience out of town was part of the pleasure of savoring the transformation and joy we brought to so many lives over a period of three or four days. As a matter of fact, we began to do the sharing in our publication El Firulete as early as the December 1997 issue. Over the years, the monthly account of our teaching experiences took the form of a hard copy blog before blogs existed. A few years ago the 28 installments were transported to blog format and they reside now under the name of Tango Our Dance. The series was our calling card for a long time, and it was actually pivotal in attracting the attention of the Acquisitions Editor of Human Kinetics and their commissioning of the book Gotta Tango to us.Over the years we were surprised to hear vocabulary, definitions and descriptions originally written in the Tango Our Dance series become part of the tango lexicon used in discussion groups and by an entire new generation of traveling teachers. Occasionally, there is a message out of the blue that compensates from the loneliness of an unknown cyberspace and the need for an occasional pat in the back for the years we have spent educating the future teachers and dancers in North America since 1996.

“Really, It’s me who needs to thank you 🙂 When I first devoured “Tango, Our Dance” a decade ago, it made so much sense, it felt like a true revelation. I believe I still enjoy the benefits of taking the wisdom you so generously shared to heart, right from the beginning when I started to dance. Lucky me! And of course my heartfelt thanks extend to La Mariposa too.” – Suzanne E., Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

During those early years there was also a curious habit of making teaching more important than dancing. We were all in the embryonic stages of salon tango dancing and every opportunity to dance was welcomed with open arms. Some like us had the fortune of being exposed to the best exponents of the Argentine tango dance, during the 96 weeks run of Forever Tango in the San Francisco Bay Area. In our case, pure luck made our destinies cross paths with Esther, Pablo and Marisa Pugliese early in 1996, and because of them, we took our first trip to Buenos Aires in 1997 to meet the father, Mingo. That was the turning point in our lives, and the beginning of the incredible ride we have been on ever since.

But there were those who having completed a half a dozen tango lessons, put their former ballroom, salsa, what have you experience to test, and began teaching as well. You knew that they were teaching because in every conversation on just about any subject, they would manage to include several variations of “we were teaching” as part of whatever else was happening in their lives. Eventually I ended up admiring the persistence of those people, and the way they made themselves believe that they were actually tango teachers. Not a single one is around these days.

The other thing that got to be annoying were certain pros who counted on us to employ them organizing workshops, inviting them to our festivals, etc., etc. We began to find out that they would take due notice of our written chronicles about people and places where we had been, and proceeded to follow our trail soliciting business for themselves. Of course there was nothing wrong with that, except that coming to our home, grabbing a copy of El Firulete and closing the bathroom door in order to write down the details of places and contacts in secrecy, when they could have had the information for the asking, was the beginning of the end of our career as promoters of ungrateful and immature show dancers without a show to dance in.

The years have passed faster than I care to acknowledge. Mind blowing events have left their imprint in our lives, the terrorist attack in 2001, hurricane Katrina in 2005, a carotid endarterectomy in 2008.

We have learned to take care of each other and be protective of each other. As much as I hate the idea that there are so many things we may not have a chance to do, or places we may not get to see, we treasure unexpected experiences such as an invitation to teach musicians of the Baltimore Symphony how to dance tango. In 12 hours, over a three day weekend. That’s what we did recently, flying out on a Friday, teaching four hours from 10 am Saturday and Sunday, and from 9 am on Monday. Then flying back on Tuesday.

On the way back to the bed and breakfast on Mt. Vernon, after we were done Monday afternoon, we couldn’t stop marveling at the dedication, stamina, and above all the determination of a group of talented musicians to take instruction and put it into practice. It was as usual the beginning of a report to the report where we tell the world how great teachers we were again, how we… how they… but something unexpected happened.

As we went through the review day by day and people by people, one of us said, “This one is just for us to remember

Posted May 8, 2010 by Alberto & Valorie in Out of town

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  1. What a pleasure to welcome new dancers to our tango community! For those who missed it, Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart, current US Salon Tango Champions, were in Baltimore last weekend to teach a series of private workshops to musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
    There was even room for a few of us to join them. And it was a real joy to make some new friends and to immerse ourselves in tango. I’m even happier to see so many of the workshops’ participants out on the floor this week–at practica and at last night’s beautiful streetlight
    milonga! When tango gets a hold of you, there’s no going back. 🙂
    Welcome to our new friends, and thank you to Alberto and Valorie for sharing their wisdom and inspiration so generously!

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