Teach Me How To Tango
The UB Tango Club is gradually bringing rhythm to UB and recruiting members to increase the Tango community in Buffalo. Courtesy of Mia Jorgensen
A couple takes the dance floor, solely focused on each other. As they inch closer, with each slow rhythmic step, the tension builds until they finally connect in a moment of passion. The tango has begun.
The art of the tango danced its way to UB one year ago in the form of the Argentine Tango Club. Under the Graduate Student Association (GSA), students, alumni, and members of the Buffalo community are making significant strides toward increasing the tango following in Buffalo.
Every Monday, the Latin sound of sharp and sexy violins echoes through Harriman Hall or in the SU Flag Room as members of the club work with experienced instructors to learn how to tango. There is no experience necessary to join the club and all students are encouraged to join if they have a passion for dancing.
The tango is a 150-year-old sensual dance traditionally danced by a man and a woman. From the stands, the tango looks like a complicated dance with sharp hip movements, quick kicks, and an intimate connection between partners, but it simply breaks down to walking to the beat of the music.
Nevertheless, the tango is a difficult art to master. Beginners must learn to trust and read their partner's movements: thus the dance consists of non-verbal communication and can become intimate.
Once a month, Argentine Tango Club holds an event called the Milonga. The event gives members the opportunity to gather for a night of dancing, eating, and showing off what they've learned.
"Anybody can go to a club where they can ‘dance' when they get there, but how cool is it to actually have a dance with style," said Jamie Lane, a new member of Argentine Tango Club.
Lane joined the tango community when his roommate, a graduate student at UB, asked him to go. Lane already enjoyed swing, but wanted to pick up Latin dancing.
There are a variety of tango dances and UB's tango club specifically teaches the Tango Milonga. It can be danced in either a fast or slow tempo, and has a special rhythmic pattern to it. The patterns form because octosyllabic quartets are used and structured in a musical period of eight measures in 2/4, according to Gabriela Mauriño, a dance and music scholar and author of Tango and Milonga: A Close Relationship.
Christine Hawrylczak, an instructor for Argentine Tango Club and 1997 alumna of UB, originally learned how to tango in Montréal.
"[Tango] classes are a great way to make friends," Hawrylczak said. "The people who tend to do ballroom dancing and specifically tango dancing tend to be very nice, stable, [and] intelligent people who are looking for a structured outlet."
She has practiced ballroom, country, and swing dance, as well, but always finds herself going back to the tango because of the music that comes with the dance, according to Hawrylczak.
The club also sponsors a Tango Boot Camp each year, where students spend a full weekend learning about the form, dance, history, and music of Argentine Tango, according to barefoottango.com. The first day is dedicated to tango beginners and the second day to the experts.
Miles Tangos, instructor of Tango Boot Camp, has taught in London, Amsterdam, Malta, Zurich, and Buenos Aires, and is making his way to 102 Harrison Hall on Saturday, March 10 to teach the tango to the Buffalo community.
Rozia Patham, a provisional graduate student in pharmacology and toxicology, attended last year's boot camp.
"When you dance at a Milonga, it's like you're flying," Patham said. "I can't explain it. It's a very blissful experience."
Mia Jorgensen, president of Argentine Tango Club and a graduate student in anthropology, originally wanted to learn how to salsa. She was persuaded by friends to try the tango first and fell in love with the practice.
"I come because it's a really relaxing dance and, as a student, you really need some sort of outlet so you can get away from your work," Jorgensen said. "This dance allows you to do that because it's really about focusing on your partner. It allows you to clear your head."
Whether people join to relieve their stresses or to make new friends, the tango community at UB is still growing and learning the steps.
"You can only leave [the tango community] for so long before you're like, ‘I have to dance again,'" Hawrylczak said.
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