friends of argentine tango family...
"Tango saved my life!"
I discovered Tango at a difficult time in my life - shortly after the loss of my mother. Dancing Tango helped me through the feelings of despair and work my way toward the confidence and strength I would need to go on. In the social setting of milongas, I learned how to navigate the Tango community's codes and found a home in the mix of people sharing the love of dance. Tango reveals so much about people. A special intimacy can develop and last only a song or two, or it can continue for a lifetime.
Tango has given me so much that I want to give back to others, by helping them embark on their own Tango journey. With my colleagues at FoAT, we're bringing Tango to people outside the usual dance world - reaching out with programs for seniors, children, people with chronic diseases, and disabilities. It's fulfilling work and it honors my personal debt to the Tango.
"I was an outsider and I found my home in the Tango!"
I started to dance tango when I was eight years old. I was a fat little boy with thick glasses and no interest in sports. This made me a complete outsider in Buenos Aires. Dancing gave me a community and an artistic goal. I felt like I belonged in the conservatory, surrounded by other children who loved to dance and participating in an art form that was part of our shared culture.
Although my passion and ability were appreciated, my teachers discouraged my ambition to perform. I simply didn't 'look the part' of a professional dancer. They assured me that I could become a Tango teacher and steered me away from the stage.
At seventeen, it was time for my metamorphosis! I lost weight, replaced my thick glasses, and pursued a stage career. When I teach, I bring the experience of being sidelined at every class. I know how it feels to be rejected, and I want all my students to feel welcome. There are no outsiders in FoAT.
"Tango grabbed my heart and soul!"
Seven years ago a friend invited me to an intimate Tango event in a Tribeca studio. After taking a basic class, an elderly man performed with a stunning young woman. His hands were behind his back through most of the dance. I was mesmerized as he eloquently swept her across the floor and orchestrated spectacular lifts. When the dance ended, I asked him, "What is your secret?" "La musica." he said. The next morning I signed up for tango classes three times a week and never looked back. Occasionally I would travel to Buenos Aires to tango. I was in my sixties at the time. Though I had danced all my life, no dance form penetrated me so deeply as tango. The tender, passionate form lifted my spirit, ignited my emotions, strengthened my body and even sharpened my brain. What could be better?
Last season brilliant Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui from Sadler Wells was invited to perform milonga on New York City Center's main stage. As I was the Director of Education, it made sense to bring in a local tango organization to introduce tango to students across New York City. When I observed the magnificent work of Friends of Argentine Tango Walter, Leo and my team created a program impacting 1,800 students. We provided workshops for teachers and students, residencies and a performance at City Center. It was wonderful beyond words to marvel at the differences in children who might otherwise never have experienced the wonder and joy of tango.