Coupons   Leave a comment


They say that when she arrives, she starts clipping virtual coupons asking people to make sure that they will have a dance later.
However, they say that when she’s engaged in a fascinating conversation with the Most Interesting Man in town (a conversation of substance, as neither of them likes superficial chit chat), she doesn’t like the stress of looking around to pay attention if she might catch someone’s eye inviting her to dance.

They say that she prefers to give her full attention to her conversation, especially if a free meal is involved. In all honesty she has been heard saying that she doesn’t like the etiquette  of the cabeceo. If a gentleman comes up to her and asks for a dance, she chooses to dance with him, or refuses him.

They say that after she leaves, she discards the imaginary coupons, and feels sorry that she did not get to use them.

Posted December 26, 2012 by Alberto & Valorie in Humor

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Life is about learning how to dance in the rain   Leave a comment

Vincent Sylvain, Publisher

Learning How to Dance in the Rain

Why people live in New Orleans Despite the Hurricane

By Dr. Andre Perry

Dr. Andrew PerryThe recovery phase of Gulf Coast hurricanes means more than cleaning up debris caused by intense winds and torrential downpours. Recovery also means addressing insistent questions of “why do you choose to live in New Orleans?” While askers obviously have not thought deeply about this question, I do think it’s philosophical in nature. So, I offer a philosophical response with special considerations for lukewarm transplants, newbies and temporary residents who have not embraced the idea of being New Orleanian.

Living is less a question of where than how. I make a plot in New Orleans because living with storms is a way of being that I trust leads to peace. Being New Orleanian means actively deciding to live with the inevitable. I’ve reached this conclusion because the psychological concept of denial never worked well for me (or for anyone else for that matter). When one accepts the idea that storms are inevitable, a more operative and important question I wish skeptics would ask is “how do you prepare?”

Whether its hurricanes, divorce, getting fired or death,storms leave with much less fan fare than their anticipated arrivals. Life is horribly anticlimactic. Most storms come and go like Isaac. Yes, there are days-long power outages, but you struggle through it. Troubled times are eventually replaced by joyful ones.

Living with the good and the bad is about acceptance. It’s about learning how to ride out a storm. The day before Isaac’s landfall, my friend in D.C. asked, “Why don’t you evacuate?” I replied, “If another storm comes next week and the week after, do you leave again and again?” The social and fiscal costs are clearly impractical. Likewise with the storms in our lives, do we pack up and leave every time there’s trouble?

Certainly, there are events when no amount of personal preparation will do. Evacuation is often necessary. However while it was the anniversary of the U.S.’s worst natural disaster, Isaac was not Katrina. We shouldn’t equate all hurricanes to Katrina, whose devastation should have been avoided. Her disaster revealed our policy and social inadequacies. Bad education, housing and levee systems hurt us more than the storm itself.

In the hours before Hurricane Isaac’s landfall, I didn’t ask myself “why am I here” because my city and family were better prepared. In fact, my day of preparation ended with a nighttime hurricane party. After a day of securing yard stuff, filling gas tanks, and completing other practical chores,my wife and I went to Irvin Mayfield’s I-Club. You know it’s a hurricane party when Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper and Dee Dee Bridgewater are watching the band take shots a day before landfall.

But that’s what we do in New Orleans. We’ve learned how to accept and prepare for the inevitable challenges of life. One of my favorite sayings is, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” That’s what it means to be New Orleanian. So when asked, why do you live in New Orleans, you can pass along my thesis and share that learning to live with the inevitable is a lot more fun than denying it exists.

Andre Perry, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Education Initiatives
Institute for Quality and Equity in Education
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70118
Phone = 504.865.2782
Email =
Follow on the web at

Milonga traspie workshops with Alberto and Valorie   Leave a comment

Milonga traspie workshops with Alberto and Valorie

For the first time in the region, we will be introducing tango dancers to the “milonga traspie.”
The term “traspie” is a short form version of “pie detras” which literally means foot behind, and when applied to the dancing of tango and milonga it describes an action similar to skipping, or taking two steps with the same foot while the other foot is locked behind.
In tango dancing we use “traspie” to switch from parallel system to cross feet system or to syncopate with a double step.
In milonga traspie, we take the concept further by developing an entire different style of milonga dancing suitable to what it’s called “smooth” or “slow” milongas.

We follow, practice and foster the legacy of legendary milonga traspie dancers like the late Omar Vega, Gustavo Chidichimo, Flaco Danny and many other unheralded milonga traspie dancers…
We think that you will thoroughly enjoy learning a new and fun way to dance the milonga to add to your repertoire.
We hope you will join us in adding a new excitement to your weekly enjoyment in the city, across the lake and in the capital.

Milonga traspie workshops with Alberto and Valorie

Definition and concept of the Milonga traspie. Technique and posture.
Musicality, Rhythmic expression, classic figures and adornments, improvisation

Part 1, Sunday July 1, 2012
3 – 5:30 pm
Leila Haller Dance Academy
4916 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130


For your convenience, you can register on line via secure server Paypal,

$25 per person, click HERE please.

$40 per partners, click HERE please

$20 for regular students of Ector and Kerry and out of towners, click HERE please

Or, catch us at the Eiffel Society on Tuesdays and the Presbyterian Church on Fridays.
It all else fails, mail your registration check to,

Valorie Hart
808 Washington Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130

Posted June 11, 2012 by Alberto & Valorie in HOME

International High School Inaugural Gala   Leave a comment

Posted June 8, 2012 by Alberto & Valorie in HOME

At What Point?   Leave a comment

At What Point

Few people understand that embracing the tango as a way of life and as a way to make a living has exposed us to the full range of human emotions, virtues and shortcomings. We learned to understand that the way some people behave has an impact, among other things, on our livelihood… and that those who defame know exactly what they are doing.

Before settling where we are now, we traveled the length and width of this country bringing the gift of tango to countless individuals and fledgling communities.We had the unique fortune of being mentored by wise people from whom we learned that when we hear gossip about us, we need to take the high road… When we hear that people criticizes us, we must fly higher… When someone is out to harm us, we soar above the frail remembering that rats are afraid of heights.

But still, at what point someone says, “No, I have known him, her, or them for over 13 years, 13 months, or13 weeks and I have never heard him, her, or them say that, I have never seen him, her, or them do that, and I have never met anybody that supports what you’re saying,” and sets in motion the cleansing and rejection of toxic gossip and innuendo that keep a community from growing healthy?

Posted April 22, 2012 by Alberto & Valorie in PEOPLE

Another tanda   Leave a comment

Another tanda

People who just yesterday played with us on the dance floors around the San Francisco Bay Area suddenly begin to have babies, others die in the most tragic of ways, and a new breed of playmates give us the eye the way we looked at our parents when they shook their heads watching our tastes and preferences. Lucy has morphed into Ethel, and Ricky is now Fred.It feels like just the other day when we made the decision to step aside and throw our support to a former disciple turned tango entrepreneur. In return we’d get the treatment and respect extended to visiting celebrities, and occasionally would be invited to do a workshop or two, or perform at some special occasion.

In between we had to deal to unexpected health challenges, one that almost marked the end of a road. Nevertheless, one year after our last foray as milonga hosts, we returned to the former Taqueros restaurant, now the upscale Irish House.

It was Sunday, the week after the Saints fumbled their 2011 Superbowl hopes in San Francisco, allegedly affected by the same malady that some New Orleanians who venture out of the Parish line suffer, the fish out of water syndrome. What’s great about this city is that nobody goes ballistic, there is no mourning period, they put their Saints paraphernalia away and resume the countdown to Mardi Gras.

We had this idea of appealing to a new group people so the critical mass of dancers in the city would increase, and we were expecting and prepared for a great introductory lesson and an introduction to tango parties to many newcomers. I felt like 1997 again, except I had long hair back then.

Imagine our surprise when face after known face began to file into the upstairs room on time for the multilevel lesson. They changed their shoes and stepped on to dance floor forming a circle. It really felt good and it changed our focus immediately.

We presented a very nice combination consisting of a turn to the left right after the salida in cross feet, then showed a similar salida followed by a turn to the right, and finally taught them how to concatenating them together for a longer and challenging move.

After the lesson, we danced almost four hours non stop, a new after Katrina record. The virtues of dancing at a public place become evident one more time. People made their choices of whom to talk to, whom to dance with, whom to drink with, and whom to sit with. The place really look like (not, I’m not going to say Buenos Aires), the place look like the kind of place where adults go to socialize with other adults.

Even a group of youngsters put some of us to shame, by occupying a table, ordering diner and drinking champagne. We really appreciated every single person who took the time to come, dance and have a good time.

When it looked like we were destined for the geriatric hall of fame, we heard the music, looked at each other and got up to dance another tanda.

Day of tango at the Copa   Leave a comment

Day of tango at the Copa

The December 1994 issue of the Argentine tango magazine El Firulete reported the first celebration of the Day of Tango outside Buenos Aires. Billed as the International Day of Tango, the event took place in Fremont, California at a place called La Cueva. Representatives of the Bay Area Tango Association, and event executive producer and publisher of El Firulete Alberto Paz, took turns to read from various essays about the lives of Carlos Gardel and Julio de Caro.

December 11 has been the Dia Nacional del Tango in Argentina since 1977 when it was decreed as such in commemoration of the birth dates of the creators of the voice and music of tango, Carlos Gardel and Julio De Caro, respectively. The person behind the efforts to establish a National Day of Tango was Ben Molar, a poet, editor, maker of stars and pop stars and patron of the cultural life of Buenos Aires (named distinguished citizen of the city), head of the Academy Porteña of Lunfardo and the Academia Nacional del Tango.This year, the Academy of Tango – Texas, an Austin-based non-profit, celebrates the first official “Day of Tango” (Dia del Tango) festival with live performances by area tango instructors, professional performers, poets and musicians.

The Mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell, recently issued a Proclamation designating December 11th as the Day of Tango, and the State of Texas Governor’s office has also recognized this date as a momentous event. With the approval of La Academia Nacional del Tango de la Republica Argentina, The Academy of Tango-Texas is proud to bring this momentous celebration to Austin!

Downtown Austin

The Copa Bar and Grill is located in the heart of downtown Austin in a very old building, offering the sights, sounds and flavors of Latin America. It features a diverse lineup of live music, and on Tuesday nights it is the home of Always Tango weekly milonga.

As we arrived, we were directed to the second floor where they had set up the room for vendors (shoes, dresses,and books) and a food table catered by Buenos Aires Cafe.
Shortly thereafter we came down to the ground floor salon where the festivities took place.

The first hour was devoted to introductions, readings on the history of tango, poetry and an Argentine folk group dance in typical native attires.
During the second hour, dedicated to the Golden Era, hosts Alicia and Juan Carlos took turns to dance with various members of the community followed by a group performance by students of Daniela Arcuri.
Gifted musician Glover played several tango classics on the piano and a short segment of open social dance followed.
At the 3 o’clock hour, a piano performance by Renee Casarsa took the audience through a quick trip back in time with compositions like El choclo and El entrerriano to Piazzolla’s Verano porteño.
Then it was time for the Evolutionary tango performances by several hot couples that included Monica and Gustavo, Julia and Jerry, and ourselves.

Participants Certificate presentation

The evening continued with more poetry reading, singing, and musical performances followed by Neo Tango performances (whatever that is because it all looked like So You Can Dance meet Forever tango) highlighted by Judy Foster, former disciple from San Antonio, and talented Daniela Arcuri. A final number featuring heavily tattooed dancers didn’t seem to meet the climatic expectations for a fair ending to an incredible day, but it got the mostly local audience whistling and cheering.

Happy to have been there

Valorie and Alberto dance to Indio manso with the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra

Nothing wrong with your frame   Leave a comment

Next to the sound of fingernails scratching on a blackboard, the sight of a long arm hung over the man’s shoulder with a hand like a banana bunch pressing against the lungs or kidneys of a poor guy makes my spine tingle and shudder. Perhaps is something about the scratch that sounds like an animal in distress, or the violation of the integrity of the embrace that is as conspicuous and embarrassing like a fart in church.

It takes a concerted effort to go out of the way to hold a guy’s lung, kidney or hip, fingering his back, and pointing the elbow out and up, as if telling everybody that this guy doesn’t have any body presence and he needs to be held and poked in case he falls apart.

It also takes a lot affection to invite to dance someone who used to know how to embrace and was very caring about it, before the great floods of 2005. Much of the elegance, connection, and shared intimacy was swept away by the waters that drowned the city for weeks under a scorching sun. But one night there she was sitting next to me shooting the breeze with friend, so I asked.

She got up with a look of surprise in her eyes that matched my surprise when her left arm went up and around my shoulders the way she used to do back then. There was the magic of the tango bringing two human beings from different time periods together under the allure of violins and bandoneons.

While we waited for the second song of the tanda, she asked how was her frame. Your frame is good, I said, and we danced the next song. The warmth of blood rushing on a young body, the pearls of perspiration and the deep calm respiration are a unique gift that rewards a tango dancer who knows how to treat a woman.

On the next pause, she asked if there was anything wrong with her frame. There is nothing wrong with your frame I said. And we danced the rest of the tanda.
As we stood for a moment exchanging pleasantries, she asked again about her frame and what was I doing with my right arm around her back keeping her upper body from turning away and into me with freedom. Was there anything wrong her frame?

There is nothing wrong with your frame, I said.
My right arm around your back was embracing you to make sure we danced as one in the space we created with the embrace.

“MY EMBRACE” – I want to dance you in space occupied by the embrace of a man and a woman (Carlos A. Estevez (Petroleo)

Posted October 8, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in EL YEITE

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It feels like 2000 again   Leave a comment

Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart teach tango in New Orleans at this studio – photo by Alberto Paz

To say that Alberto and I are excited with the way the upcoming Thursday Argentine tango sessions are shaping up, would be a major understatement. Really. Can’t tell if the moon is in the seventh house and Mercury aligns with Mars, but it really feels like 2000 again…For those of you who might wonder why 2000 is significant, it is because that is the year Alberto and I moved to New Orleans and became the resident tango teachers and promoters. We had our own dance studio (The House of Tango), taught several weekly classes, and over the course of the years right up until Katrina, hosted five acclaimed tango festivals in New Orleans. We also produced tango shows, and performed in many showcases.

Highlights in the tango career of Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart

After Katrina, things changed, even in our happy little tango world. But now, with Alberto’s health restored, and the city’s rebirth in full swing, we are ready to resume where we left off. We will be teaching weekly classes again at a beautiful ballet studio on Canal Street.

Fundamentals are not something we learn today and then discard tomorrow. Accomplished musicians do scales. Accomplished athletes do drills. Accomplished ballet dancers do daily classes at the barre. Accomplished artists draw every day. Accomplished writers write every day. This is how we use our fundamentals. They are the tools that we use every day as tango dancers. The more experienced we become, the more our fundamentals will look so spectacular that they will not be recognized as such by the untrained eye.

Our classes will be two hours long. Every week we will begin with a warm up, something we call Tango Fitness that drills technique. This session will be led by myself. Then, Alberto and I will introduce a particular aspect of technique which will be pertinent to the topic chosen for the evening’s lesson.

Tango is the ultimate touch dance between a man and a woman. It is a safe form for experiencing human connection three minutes at a time. It is an exercise in mutual respect and consideration for both partners as they both embark on a journey that requires full participation and cooperation from both ends of the partnership. No partner needed. Multiple lesson pass don’t expire unless we do first.

with Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart
Lelia Haller Dance Arts
4916 Canal St., New Orleans, LA

STARTS THURSDAY AUGUST 4, 2011 (and then every Thursday thereafter)

8 pm – 10 pm

$15 per person, $25 per couple
5 lesson pass $50 per person, $90 per couple

For more information, 504.535.3614, or email,

Grandpa got run over by a taxi   Leave a comment

We love to sit around the table at the milonga and listen to grandpa’s stories of the old days. The formative years of the tango, as he calls it, when men danced with women and age was not a reason for discrimination. Everyone knew somebody, even when they all went by their first names, and nobody knew where anyone else lived or what they did for a living. They abode by a code of conduct that had been brought from far away lands by legendary members of the “milongas porteñas.” For grandpa, the nineties were the golden years of tango in North America. He even calls himself a proud member of the class of 1995, when Stanford University in Palo Alto, California declared that 1995  was the year of the milonguero.

It seems that when a person ages, time passes by a lot faster and the pace of progress can be overwhelming for people who belong to  the last generation that listened to the radio. These people have an uncanny power of imagination, can visualize many things, and are able to think and comprehend concepts in a very complex manner exercising their brains at full capacity.  I’ve seen grandpa shake his head in disbelief seeing guys perched on a dark corner watching You Tube videos in their miniature screens. A man formed in the gracious and romantic art of glancing, raising an eyebrow, and nodding the head to engage a female into accepting an invitation to dance, he gets unsettled by the sight of females reverting to a primal state using their thumbs to ferociously send text messages on their phones at a milonga.

Imagine the surprise when the other night grandpa borrowed my iPhone and texted “Next Tanda?” to the lady across the table. Her eyes lit up with mischievous pleasure, and texted back, “Yes” and continued thumbing her phone.

The current tanda came to an end, the cortina ensued and the next tanda began. Grandpa got up, gave a kiss and a hug to a friend who had stopped by the table and began to go around the table to meet the texting lady, who was already up bright eyes and bushy tail. Suddenly her face went ashen in a panic sort of way. A guy was rushing across the floor heading in  her direction. She looked at my grandpa and said something like, “Sorry, I had promised him a dance on my way to the bathroom.” I was afraid that grandpa was going to live up to his reputation of making women cry, but he simply said, “Yes means yes,” and added, “Go and dance with him.” At that moment I fell very proud of the old man.

As he sat down hiding his hurt pride with a sweet smile, grandma leaned over and whispered in his ears, “Don’t worry, honey, don’t take it personally. That’s her taxi and she pays him to dance with her,” and then kissing him softly added, “You just got run over by a taxi.

Posted July 2, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in HOME, Humor

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