Archive for the ‘Guillermo Merlo’ 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…


Planet Tango is happy to report the success of its Fourth Annual Labor Day Weekend Tango Getaway held September 1 -4. at the wonderful Reno Hilton in Reno, Nevada. As many of you already know, this is a great Argentine Tango weekend combining classes and socializing at its best.

Patricia, Guillermo, Fernanda, Alberto, Valorie and Nestor

Guillermo Merlo, Fernanda Ghi, Nestor Ray, Patricia Garcia joined hosts and Master teachers Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart for an enjoyable learning experience.

Nestor Ray and Patricia Garcia have been dancing together for more than ten years. In Buenos Aires they perform regularly in restaurants, cafe concerts, and many traditional clubs and confiterias. They were nominated Best Club Style dancers at the prestigious Hugo del Carril Tournament organized by the municipality of the city of Buenos Aires. They have taught at La Taberna de Ricardo, Social Rivadavia, and Confiteria Mariano Acosta in Buenos Aires, and in Winchester, Stanford, Virginia Beach, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Ithaca in the US. They have toured Europe teaching and performing with great success in Rome, Geneva, Bristol, London, Paris, Marseilles, and Naples.

Guillermo Merlo was in the cast of the San Francisco based company of Forever Tango, and toured with the hit show through England and Italy where he was honored at the Spoleto Festival. Fernanda Ghi danced professionally in Buenos Aires and in Japan before joining Guillermo in Miami a few years ago. Together they danced on Rafael Nicolau’s Tango, Tango Vivo and Tangoing. Their own production Tango Dreams has played in several US cities. Their original choreography is mesmerizing and breathtaking incorporating modern concepts to the traditional aspects of stage dancing. They have taught at various Tango weeks in London, Buenos Aires and Miami, and this was their second appearance at the Tango Getaway.

Alberto Paz grew up in the streets Buenos Aires, and Valorie Hart is American. He is also a writer, a historian and a lecturer on Argentine Tango. She is an artist who possesses a natural sensitivity for the Argentine Tango, the music, the dance and its culture. They teach and practice the traditional and authentic concept of improvisation as it is practiced in the clubs and salons of Buenos Aires. Their dancing is smooth, creative and elegant based on an authentic improvisational style. They are known for their enthusiasm, exuberance, patience and zest for Tango

Friday, people began checking in stopping by to pick-up your name tags and schedule of activities and meeting other tango friends on a dance floor ready with good music work out any cramped muscles caused by the journey to Reno.

Saturday morning and afternoon was dedicated to classes suitable for any and all levels of dancers. On Saturday night, participants and visitors were treated to the Reno Tango Ball with dinner and a show produced by the teachers.


Sunday had the same schedule and amenities. However, at the Sunday night milonga/dinner, the students were invited to perform at the now highly acclaimed performance. It was great fun! There was also a certificate presentation from the teachers to the students.



Monday had the last set of group classes, as well as some extra time to schedule those precious private hours with the teachers. So when you reserve your hotel room, make sure to specify that you want a late check-out on Monday, September 4. A fabulous Tango Boutique was set up as well featuring clothing, shoes, CD’s, and videos.


Kana from New York had a wonderful time. I’m already looking forward to return next year, she wrote. Valorie and Alberto’ are wonderful teachers. Their classes gave me me a great opportunity to thin about teaching.

Jack from Albuquerque thought that Reno was fantastic. The whole trip back all we did was talk about how much fun next year will be, he said, whether it be in Nawlins or Reno. All instruction was great and the best I have been exposed to since starting to dance tango.


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