Archive for the ‘New York tango’ Tag


The weatherman at NY-1 forecast it as a typical New York City weekend, a nearly perfect sunny, gorgeous Saturday followed by a stormy, rainy, nearly miserable Sunday. For tango dancers that narrowed the choices since the allegedly popular outdoor Seaport milonga was definitely going to be rained out. That meant traveling uptown to 73rd to the corner with First Ave where long time New York tango fixture Lucille Krasne runs Esmeralda’s Sunday Tango and tapas at Session 73.

We go back thirteen years knowing Lucille

We go back thirteen years of knowing Lucille

Lucille’s sister greets dancers at the restaurant’s hostess station and immediately behind is the bar area with a small square area that continues into a narrow passage that runs the length of the bar. Tonight the music blaring through the sound system was being mixed from somewhere inside the kitchen area by Ilene Marder of Woodstock tango fame. It takes a fertile imagination to think about people being able to dance on a 6 foot wide space in front oif the bar, and that’s what Lucille has. Dancing was remarkable comfortable and the dancers quite accommodating and well behaved.

Dancing almost felt like a photo op for the papers, he he

Although the tango population has changed enormously in New York City and recognizable faces at any given milonga are far and between, once on a rainy day one can see walking through the door an old time friend who got married and moved to New Zealand, and somehow happened to be in town just about the same time we were there.

Maida Zanaboni, tango fashionista and a driving force for tango in New Zealand

It’s been now over forty eight hours since being crowned winners of the 3rd US Tango Salon Championship, and this is the first milonga we attended for the expressed purpose of dancing. As we settled in the bar stools we are quite taken by the warm reception people give us, by the congratulations almost everyone cast in passing, and by the hostess invitation to do an exhibition.

A simple dance

After being introduced as the Salon tango First place winners, and Valorie birthday’s being mentioned, people get the usual warning that what they’re going to see is a simple way to dance, with none of that three ring circus fireworks that Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You can Dance (colorful quote mine) have brought to the dance floor.

For a split second I see us cast as the cavemen of the GEICO commercial watching a banner that reads, “Winning the US Salon Tango Championship is so simple that even a caveman can do it.

But then I think about the reason why we came and entered the contest: I just love the way we dance and how we embrace the dance in a true partnership where everything we do is for each other. We’re happy that 12 years later we still enjoy the light side of tango like two dancers in love.

After all, the fringe benefits of being the champions are twofold; we get to show people the way we dance, and even more important, we get to dance with the entire floor to ourselves.

A DREAM COME TRUE   28 comments

All photos (available for purchase HERE) courtesy of photographer Kai Cheung

The 3rd US Tango Championship is history

The day finally arrived and once more we headed for the Stepping Out Studios to dance the final three tangos on the first round of the finals with three other couples.

Highlights of our round of three tangos

Then there would be a second round with the four other salon finalists. After that four couples would compete in the stage category before the judges would retire to deliberate.

Salon and Stage participants with Sid Grant, seventh from the left

The music selected by DJ Yesim tonight was perfect for our mood and our style. The previous day anxiety and nervousness was replaced with a taste of Malbec to tone the muscles and calm the mind. The tanda started with a Di Sarli classic, followed by a lively Biagi. When the chords of Al compas del corazon from the trademark sound of Miguel Calo signified the third and final song of the first round, we couldn’t help but to share an intimate smile as the countless times we have danced it since we first did it in 1995 took over us for the next three minutes .

The way we dance tonight

The way we waited the judges decision

The way we were overtaken when they called our number

The way we turned into each other

The way the people greeted our accomplishment

The way it settled in being recognized as the best tonight

Alberto Paz - Valorie Hart

The way we smiled for all our friends in our tango world

Tango SALON 1st PLACE – Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz
Tango SALON 2nd PLACE – Selena and Alberto Hoyos
Tango SALON 3rd PLACE – Sarah La Rocca and Lexa Rosean


Our ride to Manhattan was smooth and short. As we went in, we were given our registration papers. A number was affixed on my back, lucky 120. Then we were directed to the warm up room at Stepping Out Studios, 9 stories high on West 26th Street between 6th and Broadway. There was a conglomerate of nervous smiles, polite greetings, and last minute rehearsals.

Master of Ceremonies Sidney Grant went through the logistics and one of the participants suggested that all the dancers form a circle and hold hands as a symbol of the camaraderie that tango brings into people’s lives. The twelve couples ready to compete were,

120 Valorie Hart & Alberto Paz USA/USA
121 Colleen Liddie & Richard Isaacs Canada/USA
122 Jean Fung & Mark Greenglass USA/USA
123 Emily Vartanian & Pawel Cheda USA/Poland
124 Antoinette Tomai & Johnny Tablada USA/USA
125 Catherine Nicodemo & Edmund Fu USA/USA
126 Chino Hara & Yoshi Adachi Japan/Japan
127 Suki Shorer & Ramzi Edlibi USA/USA
128 Amy Zhang & Barry Black USA/USA
129 Selena & Alberto Hoyos USA/USA
130 Sarah La rocca & Lexa Rosean USA/USA
131 Ninah Beliavsky & Joseph Samaha USA/France

Antoinette and Johnny

Antoinette and Johnny

Valorie greets Amy

Valorie greets Amy

Pawel and Emily

Pawel and Emily

Valorie with Alberto Hoyos from Orlando, FL

Valorie with Alberto Hoyos from Orlando, FL

The format of the competition called for three rounds of four couples each dancing three tangos. DJ Carlos Quiroga spun Di Sarli, Biagi and Malerba pieces selected by judges Torres and Cervila.

But first the participants were introduced to the audience and had a warm up dance.


Video courtesy of RoseUnderMyWindow

At this point we haven’t been able to secure videos of our own round, but here is a sample of what it looked like had you been there.


128 Amy Zheng & Barry Black – USA/USA, 129 Selena & Alberto Hoyos – USA/USA, 130 Sarah La rocca & Lexa Rosean – USA/USA, 131 Ninah Beliavsky & Joseph Samaha – USA/FRANCE

The Judging Panel would be judging 4 different areas: musicality, circulation, walking style and the consistency of the embrace

The 2009 Official Judges: , Junior Cervila, Guillermina Quiroga and Jorge Torres

After the rounds were danced, the judges retired to deliberate and when they came back we heard the names of those who would return the next day. We did it. Our happiness was beyond description. We were among the finalists who will be dancing for the championship Friday night at Stepping Out Studios in Manhattan.

The hope endures, and the dream lives on.

2009 Salon Finalists

120 Valorie Hart & Alberto Paz USA/USA
123 Emily Vartanian & Pawel Cheda USA/Poland
124 Antoinette Tomai & Johnny Tablada USA/USA
125 Catherine Nicodemo & Edmund Fu USA/USA
128 Amy Zhang & Barry Black USA/USA
129 Selena & Alberto Hoyos USA/USA
130 Sarah La rocca & Lexa Rosean USA/USA
131 Ninah Beliavsky & Joseph Samaha USA/France

THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG   2 comments

Tonight is the night when we fulfill a personal dream that began a year ago while totally unexpected I found myself being wheeled to the operating room of East Jefferson General Hospital. Conflicted and uncertain of the outcome, I was haunted by thoughts of life after the unthinkable. My dearest love and life partner continuing the journey without her Tangoman was a thought hard to formulate. A cynical New Jersey housewife wrote later, “Bud, she’ll do OK,” projecting in the reality of her statement a possible lack of partner intimacy, the kind I have been so fortunate to nurture with my dancing butterfly.

Most social tango dancers I know reach a level of mediocrity where they begin to view the way others dance in a negative way, passing judgment and lamenting their shortcomings on account of others behavior. I stopped playing the game of judging the way others dance when we began to dance together. I realize now how much I love the way we dance, the way we economize movement and milk the three minutes of any tango, and how each time feels like a new beginning. It’s almost sinful not to share it.

During the recovery process I promised myself to enter the US Salon Tango Championship held annually in New York City in July, the birth month of my dear Valorie. What could be better than to treat my dear Mariposa with a reunion with friends from the previous life while doing what we love the most in our current life. The perfect birthday present that keeps on giving.

So here we are getting ready to head for the Stepping Out Studios, pouring rain or not. We will be dancing three pieces with eleven other couples in front of a panel of three judges. All the preparation, the long walks, the late night milongas, have got us ready to go out on the dance floor and dance tango, our dance.