By Angela Romeo
The arts encompass many disciplines. The arts – we have medical arts; we have writing; we have painting and we have dance. Aside from the artistic beauty of dance, dance has many other benefits. It is social. It is mental exercise. It is physical exercise. It requires no special skill or equipment. We dance for worship, for sorrow, for joy and just because.
One of the most beautiful dances is the Argentine Tango. The dance originated at the end of the 19thcentury in Buenos Aires. There are several different schools of Argentine Tango. Yet the dance seems to be ever evolving – embracing many influences. But the Argentine Tango retains an air of sensuality.
Argentine Tango is danced in an embrace that can vary from very open, arms-length, to very closed, chest-to-chest. The dance is one of physical connection that follows the emotional speed of the music.
With any dance there are leaders and followers – both parties cannot lead. The follower is as important to the beauty of the dance as the leader’s guidance.
In its simplest incarnation the dancers walk counterclockwise around the dance floor. The dancers’ feet are close to the floor as they walk, often brushing the ankles and a knee brushing as one leg passes the other. The dance has figures, as do most dances, but the figures can be incorporated in a more free form style than ballroom dance.
But the tango is not without its own social mores. Argentine Tango is danced in a set of three to four songs, known as a “tanda.” Once a follower accepts the leader’s invitation to dance, that couple is expected to finish all of the songs with that partner. “Breaking the tanda,” is seen as breach of protocol, as is dancing two or more tandas continuously with the same person.
Within the Argentine tango world there are waltzes, vals, the milonga, the oldest of the tango styles, and Nuevo, dance club version.
Confused? Don’t be. The Coachella Valley has a thriving Argentine Tango community. There are local opportunities to learn the dance.
Local resident Gary Gaulin teaches Argentine Tango at Premier Ballroom Dance Studio in Rancho Mirage. Gary is well known Chiropractor in Palm Desert. For the last six years he has been studying Argentine Tango and its techniques. He brings a unique set of skills and methods to teaching this sultry dance.
“I like to dance,” said Gary. “I became ‘hooked’ on Argentine Tango, or I should say Tango ‘hooked’ me because of the interpretive nature of the dance. Once hooked, I began to study more and more, about the history, the music and the nature of this intricate dance.”
“My class, although focused on learning the social dance aspect of Argentine Tango, will also give someone the essential skills they need to know to compete, or perform on stage,” said Gary. “Unlike other dance classes, it is a multimedia experience.”
“One of the great tango dancers, Carlos Gavioto, said ‘A good dancer is one who listens to the music. We dance the music not the steps. Anyone who aspires to dance never thinks about what he is going to do. What he cares about is that he follows the music. You see, we are painters. We paint the music with our feet.’ To me that is the essence of the Argentine Tango.”
For more information on Premier Ballroom Dance Studio visit premierdance.net