Tango dancers and teachers Laxmi & Juan Manuel share their past, present and look to the future of Argentine Tango here in Westchester! Read more about each instructor's story of their journey on the Tango frontier!
DANCER SPOTLIGHT: LAXMI PARIDA, ARGENTINE TANGO DANCER & INSTRUCTOR
How were you first introduced to the Argentine Tango?
I went to graduate school in the most interesting city in the world, New York City! I was fortunate to be in this epicenter of arts and science at a critical time in my life. I had grown up in Mumbai (in some ways the NYC of India) and was thirsting to explore the rest of the planet. Throbbing NYC introduced me to the quintessence of different cultures in one geographic location. I lived a block away from La Belle Epoque in lower Manhattan and the attraction to Tango was fatal. I fell in love with the music, the dance and thus began my life-long affair. I trained with many teachers, the most influential being Mariela Franganillo. She shaped my style, approach and the discipline.
When did you create Westchester Tango?
When I moved to Westchester from NYC, I missed its energy and the Tango. This eventually led me to establish Westchester Tango in 2003. At that time, we organized classes at The Eagles Club and The Shine House in Ossining. I have fond memories of those days. I am grateful for the support I get from the studios such as Josie’s and Scarlett’s in Peekskill and of course, the whole Westchester Tango community. This coterie of tango-lovers are also part of my holiday party at home. In fact, I can think of at least two couples who met at Westchester Tango and happily married now!
Describe your Tango experiences across the globe.
Whenever I travel, the first object to get into my bag is a pair of Tango shoes. It is amazing how welcoming and friendly the Tango community is. I may not speak their language and they may not speak mine but we have a great conversation on the Tango stage. I was amazed to find thriving Tango communities in Seoul, Beijing, Taipei, Honk Kong, Singapore, and even South Africa. While in Asia Tango is confined to the major cities, I found in Europe that even smaller cities like Bielefld (Germany) or Padova (Italy) are home to some of the best Tango dancers. I am amazed by the resilience and dedication of the dancers: I was once in Trieste where people drove in all the way from Slovenia crossing international borders, and tangoed till the wee hours of the morning, in the middle of the week!
If you ask me to pick two of my strangest experiences: I would say Tallin (Estonia) where the location was an austere semi-abandoned Soviet building with locked gates. I don’t even remember how I managed to get past this obstacle: the building was dark, damp and spooky but the Tango, delightful! And, the second was in Sweden, in a village so obscure that I even forget its name, in the outskirts of Malmo. The site was an abandoned train station that the intrepid tanguera hostess was simply squatting in. She held these milongas to the amusement (or shall I say chagrin) of the local villagers who came and peered through the windows as we shamelessly danced in the closest of embraces, that only tango can get away with.
I am proud to say that I introduced Tango to India way back in 2006. To show how natural the lead-and-follow is, I grabbed a local, who I had never met before, and lead her through a short, beautiful rendition (milonga vieja). This demonstrated both the spontaneous improvisation of the dance as well as its naturalness. The crowd was instantly hooked. As I look back, I realize that my feet have tangoed on all the continents with the only exception being Antarctica. It is said that mathematics is the universal language and I propose we add Tango to that list.
What is most satisfying about having Tango in your life?
It is the oasis in my life: it gives me the pause that we all need in our busy lives. And, I find it very fulfilling to teach and share what I have learnt over the years with the eager community.