Tango dancers and teachers Juan Manuel & Laxmi 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!
How were you first introduced to the Argentine Tango?
I grew up in the southernmost region of Argentina known as Patagonia, a last great frontier, in a touristy resort town called Ushuaia. I was raised by my grandparents where I would wake to Tango music every morning. My grandparents practiced dancing tango at home a lot. When I was 10 years old they started taking me to Argentine Tango dance socials, known as milongas. As a young boy, my grandparents made me feel very comfortable and at home in their Tango community. Shortly thereafter, my sister and I started taking formal Tango dance lessons.
When did you decide to pursue Tango professionally?
We studied at a Tango & Bolero academy with our first instructor, Carlos Espinoza, who seemed to me a ‘very old guy’ at the time. Carlos thought my sister and I showed promise and prepared us both for a performance at a huge festival in Ushuaia. He was very pleased with our presentation and I was also very happy and inspired as well with our performance and my abilities. This sparked my desire to become a professional dancer and Carlos became my coach for several years. I enjoyed taking lessons with Carlos, going to numerous milongas and performing at various venues. I also became a teaching assistant at his academy.
What brought you to our East Coast?
At age 18 I moved to Buenos Aires by myself and here I really grounded myself in the exciting world of Tango. I continued my training there while attending high school. Every night there was a different milonga, different people. At this time I also began accompanying my uncle, Diego DiFalco and his wife, Carolina Zokalski, at their “Tours to Argentina” milongas. They were working out of their current location in Summit, New Jersey where they trips to Argentina with their students. I learned so much from them. And so they invited me to the East Coast to live and work with them. Diego is known for his authentic style of teaching and dancing the Argentine Tango. I believe that Diego & Carolina are the last frontier of Argentine Tango because they are teaching the very traditional, early principles of Tango which from what I see in the Tango community are being lost little by little and are being meshed into other styles of Tango such as Tango Nuevo or Tango Salon. I believe the authentic principles provide the best foundation for any Tango dancer and that this is what is necessary in order to learn the proper way to lead for the man and the proper way to follow for the woman, as well as learning the embrace which is essential for the connection with your partner, and the how to interpret the music. I feel very fortunate to be Carolina and Diego’s next generation and am so delighted to be here in the states teaching and performing for Carolina and Diego.
What brings you to Josie’s International School of Dance?
I met Josie and her fellow Tangueros at a party that Josie hosted for a friend’s birthday. I liked Josie’s enthusiasm as a dancer and as an organizer and Josie really appreciated my knowledge of Tango and my comfortable lead. Josie said it really motivated her and her friends to improve their Tango! As a teacher here I hope to introduce authentic Tango inspired by my uncle’s school. I see how lost and disconnected beginning dancers often are at milongas. Sometime students are too eager to learn steps rather than learning the proper way to lead and follow. I believe to learn to lead and follow are the essential challenges for dancers. The embrace, the connection between partners, the ability to hear and interpret the music are the key elements in creating this beautiful dance. I want to encourage students to become partners dancing to the stirring music of Tango together.
So come and take my class. I will make you an awesome Tango dancer!