Archive for the ‘Armando Orzuza’ Tag

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The Guest List

Early in 1996 we dropped out of the corporate and high tech worlds to pursue our new found love affair with each other and the tango. Looking into the future we reckoned that we had at least twenty years of strong legs on which to dance our way around the world. Unknowingly we become the first full time couple teaching across the USA for a span of ten years on a continuous basis.

With still a few years left on that twenty year investment of good legs, we still dance and teach, but have become more grounded in our adopted city in the South, New Orleans. Unexpected events of life have made us stop, and look back, realizing that we had never set aside the time to rekindle the memories embedded in dozens of photo albums, VHS tapes, Digital 8 and Mini DV cassettes.

One photo in particular brought back memories of an aspect of our lives that we seldom talk about, or arguably brag about. The photo was of a sign that hung on the front gate of our Silicon Valley home. It was the first sign that welcomed those who entered our Planet Tango.

From 1996 to 2000, we served as the gateway into the Bay Area tango community for many well known and a few unknown artists… We promoted, translated for, and provided work opportunities to the initial wave of visiting dancers from Argentina. We were also innkeepers and house hosts to many of them.

Name Housed Provided work Comments
Orlando Paiva Yes Yes Deceased
Rodolfo Cieri Yes Yes Deceased
Maria Cieri Yes Yes
Pablo Ojeda Yes Yes
Beatriz Ojeda Yes Yes
Andrea Misse Yes Yes Deceased
Leandro Palou Yes Yes
Pablo Pugliese Yes Yes
Esther Pugliese Yes Yes Deceased
Jorge Nel Yes
Facundo Posadas Yes Yes
Kely Landam Yes Yes Deceased
Armando Orzuza Yes Yes
Daniella Arcuri Yes Yes
Marcos Cuestas Yes Yes
Guillermo Merlo Yes Yes
Fernanda Ghi Yes Yes
Nestor Ray Yes Deceased
Carlos Gavito Yes Deceased
Pupi Castello First and only exhibition ever in the USA
Graciela Gonzalez with Graciela Gonzalez

After our relocation to New Orleans in 2000, we continued the tradition of hosting well known artists at our House of Tango and yearly Tango Fests, until 2005…

Name Housed Provided work Comments
Nestor Ray Yes Yes Deceased
Patricia Garcia Yes Yes
Guillermina Quiroga Yes
Alberto Catala Yes
Armando Orzuza Yes
Daniella Arcuri Yes
Miriam Larici Yes Yes
Hugo Patyn Yes Yes
Orlando Paiva, Jr. Yes

Those were wonderful years of non-stop tango life, a period in time when we didn’t realize how important it was to help so many artists to break into the new world that the USA was to become for tango… With a few exceptions, we have never heard from most of them again. So we don’t know if they ever felt the love, dedication and generosity that was gifted to them.

For us, their walking through our doors and in and out of our lives constitutes a collage of experiences we’ll never forget for as long as we live…


The last official weekend of the Summer went out in great tango style. Dancers from seventeen states attended Planet Tango‘s Third Annual Tango Getaway at the fabulous Reno Hilton in Nevada September 3-6. This year the attendance doubled. Many dancers from the Bay Area, Reno and Las Vegas added local flavor to the event. The event was very well organized by Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart, and their classes along with th other fabulous instructors were something very special.

The traditional casual get together on Friday night to register, pick up schedules and stretch the legs on the dance floor turned out in to a full fledge milonga. Saturday morning, classes started in earnest with teachers Daniela Arcuri, Armando Orzuza, Guillermo Merlo, Fernanda Ghi, Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz. This year a Tango Barre class was added. In spite of the early 9 AM start, it was very popular and very well attended.

Each couple had their own unique teaching style, grounded on authenticity and faithful to the roots of Argentine tango. All teachers spoke English fluently which added to the overall friendliness and quality of the classes.



The Saturday night Reno Tango Ball was elegant and the attendance toppled 115 persons. Dining tables were appointed with taupe tablecloths and burgundy napkins. A centerpiece of two dozen roses placed on a mirror and surrounded by candlelight highlighted the tango elegance of the evening. Tuxedos and shimmering were in order. An Italian themed buffet was delicious and after the teacher’s exhibition, dancing went on until past 1 am.



On Sunday night the ballroom was setup cantina style resembling the way some dance halls are set up in Buenos Aires. The theme for the buffet was a very tasty Mexican fiesta of the palate complete with the frozen Margaritas and Corona beer flowing form the bar. Colorful table linen, huge Mexican paper flowers and pierced tin silver candle holders added the finishing touches to a festive evening.

The Saturday night teachers exhibition

The Sunday night students showcase

Monday morning classes were held until noon and participants did one more brisk last minute shopping for CDs, shoes, art work, videos and clothing.

The teacher, the logistics, and the unique class arrangements made this event one of its kind and so far the best offering. Generic tango weeks are enjoyable and instructive but they all share one common flaw. People get to decide the level they are at, pick the teachers they want to follow and the classes they want to attend. By choosing one they miss the other… and they never know what they missed or whether they have made the right choices. The knowledge acquired this way is haphazard and incomplete.

At the Reno Tango Getaway we expected to have some fun spending time with friends and making new ones while picking up or polishing a few techniques in the process. We did all of that and more beyond our wildest expectations. As far as learning is concerned Valorie and Alberto made a point to now each dancer even if they met them for the first time. With uncanny sensitivity and educated instinct they suggested which room people should choose. Each set of teachers spent the same amount of time in each room.

The student to teacher ratio was the lowest we’ve ever seen or heard of. There were 12-15 couples in a class. No restrictions were imposed reagrding who could attend, but somehow the hosts juggled the roster and treated everyone with the same quaity time and instruction. Tango is a gift and we will always be grateful to Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz for sharing it with us.

Story by Michael Ditkoff, Renaldo Leon and Walter Kane


September 5-6, 1998

For the second year in a row, the Reno Hilton welcomed the Argentine tango and its faithful practitioners. What began last year as a proposition to congregate a number of dedicated tango dancers under one roof with a selected team of experienced teachers for fun, work and play, has turned into a destination of choice for tango dancers around the nation.The Labor Day Weekend Tango Getaway is by far the best planned, organized and put together tango event in the United States bar none. But, then this is what you should expect when you decide to spend your time and money to enhance your understanding of the Argentine tango, its music, its dance and the vast amount of cultural information that comes attached to it.

The Labor Day Weekend Tango Getaway is a yearly event sponsored by Planet Tango, and organized by Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz. People came from Nebraska, New York, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, California, Utah and Nevada. The Michigan people in particular had to deal with the inconveniences created by the strike of Northwest Airlines, some of them flying stand-by and spending long hours at unexpected airports in order to make it to Reno. They had been there last year so they knew that the additional effort was worthwhile, and for that we are deeply grateful to them.

Choosing the right mix of teachers is the key for an all around success in providing people with knowledge, entertainment and value. We invited Daniela and Armando back and brought from Buenos Aires an exceptional couple of teachers with an engaging personality, Leandro and Andrea. Both couples met and exceeded our expectations in terms of their ability to work with people and deliver fresh and creative material.

Curtain call

Curtain call from a grateful cast

It is a little hard to explain in writing, wrote Victor from Tampa, FL, you really had to be there. I had not met Andrea and Leandro prior to Reno, but would highly recommend their workshops to anyone who would like to improve their Tango. They both have a great grasp of the technique and are very good teachers. Their English is absolutely excellent and they both express themselves very well. Their style is very elegant and they focus a lot on improving posture, proper body positioning and accurate foot placements.

I have read before about women who have felt cheated at various workshops by not getting any specific details for women. If you have a chance to work with either Daniela or Andrea, I assure that will not be the case. To have two instructors at the same weekend that pay equal attention to the women was very well received.

This was also the first time that I had met Valorie and Alberto. I found them to be extremely competent organizers, excellent teachers, and delightfully warm and caring people.

Their classes were focused on improvisation. This was accomplished by starting with a familiar movement and then changing it in a direction not so familiar.

When the new direction started to become comfortable, then a different ending was added or perhaps a way to connect into another familiar movement that was not totally obvious. A great deal of emphasis was put on the importance of the man “marking” all of the movements, directions, and timing subtleties.

The whole weekend’s workshops were very informative and filled with useful new ideas and applicable improvements.

I would like to say “Thank You!” to Valorie and Alberto for supplying such a terrific opportunity to tango over the Labor Day weekend.

The Saturday night teachers exhibition

Nancy and John from Santa Cruz, CA found the weekend relaxing, non-competitive, educational and fun. We learned so much in a few fun-filled days, they wrote, thanks to the clarity they all brought to every lesson.

Leandro and Andrea brought their keen sense of musical interpretation to each detailed class and gave us inventive and beautiful embellishments. They focused on awareness of lifting the upper body while separating it from the lower, thereby freeing the legs. They are trained dancers and gave us a real taste of their training… slow and precise exercises which were never boring, each leading into useful walking combinations and figures, if we wanted to get fancy.

Daniela and Armando were fun and snappy, as always. They are a pleasure to know. They taught great milonga rhythms, footwork, and expressiveness. They gave us their unique approach to the old-fashioned music, and performed gorgeous demonstrations generously to the delight of everyone, even during the lessons.

The Sunday night students showcase

Alberto and Valorie offered refreshing and challenging combinations and innovative moves, and most importantly, they showed how to lead them. This broadens our concept of what is possible in tango and keeps us from feeling complacent.

We enjoyed meeting people from all over the US and dancing at the evening milongas with new friends. The teachers were very kind to mix in and dance with us, as well. We’re looking forward to next year!

A wonderful time

A wonderful time


Choosing a destination for an enjoyable tango weekend is very important. Nevada‘s reputation for tight slots and loose women is long gone. These are the nineties and American’s lifestyles are changing. Corporate downsizing has resulted in a concerted effort aimed to offer a gentler and kinder destination where families can actually spend their vacation dollars. The choice of Reno to hold our very first three day Tango Getaway weekend was a great idea.

Downtown Reno

Downtown Reno

They came from as far as Tampa, FL, and as near as Truckee, CA. All in all, over 50 attendees helped make the 1997 Labor Day Weekend Tango Getaway at the Reno Hilton Casino and Resort, a runaway success. Dubbed the biggest little city in America, Reno, NV hosted for the first time ever a tango convention with participants from Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Valorie Hart deserves the credit for the concept and implementation of her vision of selecting the magnificent facilities of the Reno Hilton, near the airport to make this event a first class affair met with rave reviews by all participants.

Of course the presence of Daniela Arcuri, Armando Orzuza, Facundo and Kely Posadas along Valorie Hart and yours truly Alberto Paz kept the participants working hard during more than 30 hours of instruction, coaching, demonstration and personal attention.

People began arriving early Friday afternoon, and by 9 PM they made it to the Crystal Ballroom for the social adjustment welcome milonga. As the party got underway, the excitement kept building and the crowd warmed up with cheers the introduction of the members of the faculty. Then they kept the party going past midnight in spite of an early start scheduled for the next day.

Almost half of the participants were couples so two groups were formed and assigned a homeroom. The teachers rotated from room to room insuring that everybody received the same amount of instruction time with all the teachers.

On Saturday night, muscles were already aching, legs had become heavier but the spirits were running very high. Dinner was delicious, the music invited everyone to try out the newly acquired knowledge. A sense of anticipation built for the floor show starring the teachers.


The party continued deep into the early hours of the morning, and that was reflected the next day as the ghost of tango dancers dragged their feet to the Crystal Ballroom for the beginning of the second day of classes. By Sunday afternoon, the energy level had gone up and the general session ended up around 5:30 PM.

One of the classes

Room number 1

Another group class

Room number 2

We had a very rewarding experience working with these two couples . We had the fortune of getting to know them not only as professionals but as individuals. Each one full of stories, experiences and concerns about the thing we commonly share: the love and respect for the Argentine tango.

Without a doubt they are professionals beyond the call of duty. Their generosity, their delivery and their dedication to transmitting their knowledge and experiences will long last in the memories and hearts of those fortunate to have enjoyed their company.

First class all the way

First class all the way

We managed to catch a wonderful staging of Smokey Joe’s Cafe at El Dorado Hotel, marveled at the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, and ravished the succulent buffets at the Pepermill. For a few days, the somehow convoluted and competitive world of the tango was replaced by a sense of camaraderie, friendship and respect for the labor and efforts of each other.

The main attraction

The main attraction

The final pleasure came in the form of a beautiful and touching showcase featuring some of the participants. An original concept we hope it will become a tradition. When all the classes were over, everybody was inspired by their peers demonstrations of talent and prowess.