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At the end of June, the Queens Tango Festival is coming to London!

The Queens Tango Festival will celebrate the role of the follower in tango, with Ladies Technique workshops over the course of four days, as well as workshops for leaders focusing on the follower’s needs.

The Festival is co-organised by London tango teacher, Raquel Greenberg and the Queen of Tango Queens, Alejandra Mantiñan, who will be visiting London that weekend.

I feel honoured to have been invited to take part as the third female contributor.

So since everyone knows that it takes two to tango, why the need for a Festival that focuses mainly on the woman?

In my first few years of studying tango, I often felt that the role of the follower was overlooked in many of the group classes I took. The emphasis of the class was very much what the leader should do, with perhaps the occasional nod towards the follower.

Old school tango teaching was very much of the philosophy that the woman simply needed to follow. Any difficulty she had was always the fault of the leader. This of course can be quite a convenient get-out clause for us followers, yet we know in our hearts that there is plenty we can be doing to improve our tango. Plus we’d actually appreciate some guidance on how to achieve this!

But times have changed and Ladies Technique has developed enormously in the last 15 years.

And in the forefront of this movement is Alejandra Mantiñan. Alejandra’s tango career spans more than three decades. She stands out in the male-dominated world of tango and has inspired a whole generation of tango dancers. She has proved that the woman in tango can make a huge contribution to the creative partnership, that her role is to follow her partner, yes, but not purely so.

I will be giving a Ladies Technique workshop on Saturday 24th June as part of the Festival. I believe that with a clear understanding of technique, and practice, beautiful dancers soon emerge. The class will focus on foundation technique as well as styling and decorations. Click here for more information on this Workshop.

On Sunday 25th June, David and I will be performing at the Closing Milonga of the Festival. David will also perform with Alejandra on the same night. This is our next official Tango Movement Night Out and we hope you’ll join us. The venue is La Divina Milonga in Marylebone. More details to follow closer to the time!

Last Saturday 3rd June, our two-week workshop series on the "Caminata" and tango embrace got off to a flying start.

Students first thinking of taking tango classes are often lured in by an enticing promise: if you can walk, you can tango!

This would convince even the most nervous of students to try a class. And every word of it is true! Tango - in its essence - is simply a walk. A beautiful, elegant, refined walk, yes, but just a walk.

But then they drop the bombshell: it takes a lifetime to learn the tango walk!

In fact, they don't even need to tell you that. You worked that out in your first class! You know that feeling when you're giving someone your telephone number and suddenly you can't for the life of you remember it? That's how it feels when you suddenly realise that you can't work out how to walk!

So yes, the tango walk is not the easiest skill to accomplish in tango but it is an important one and a rewarding one. And it requires a little bit of dedication.

So last week, we cast other movements in tango aside to focus on our "caminata" and of course the wonderful tango embrace, an intrinsic part of the tango walk. Like the walk, giving someone a hug in every day life is a natural thing, but in tango it becomes something of an art.

It was amazing to see how in 2 hours so many different concepts and angles were explored. And yet we felt we had barely scratched the surface.

The response we had to the workshop was enthusiastic with many requests for the workshop to become a regular feature in our timetable. We are looking forward to developing the themes in Part II of the workshop this Saturday.

Don't worry if you missed Part I and don't worry if you don't have a partner - we'll be rotating partners throughout the class.

For more information on this Saturday's class, please click here.

Last month might have had some of the hottest days on record, but the day of our outdoor photo shoot must have been the coldest May day EVER!

And if that wasn't enough the rain also came down. This is London not Buenos Aires after all!

Still we survived and came out the other end with some lovely new tango shots.

We chose on of my favourite London haunts, the backstreets of Hampstead. After a fun day, we enjoyed a coffee and piece of cake in a nearby cafe. Tired but happy with the results we achieved.

The photos will be appearing around the website and in our gallery very soon! Until then, here is a taster of what is to come!

Thank you Hernan Brusa, tango photographer, for your gifted work!

It was one of those rare but unforgettable London treats: a warm summer's evening combined with an exciting outdoor event.

Borough Market was buzzing last Saturday night. Pretty much the whole of London's tango community descended on this quirky little market on the South Bank, plus tonnes of passers-by craning their necks to see what on earth was going on.

The event was organised by the Argentine Embassy, who laid down a dance-floor, set up a music system and then waited for the crowds to descend.

As we jumped out of our car, in our performance cloths it was wonderful to hear the notes of our tango filling the London air. And as we rounded the corner, we saw an open-air milonga in full swing, dancers filling every spare inch of the make-shift dance-floor.

It was amazing to perform at such an exciting event with so many tango aficionados present. And we felt their passion for tango in the applause they gave us during our performance.

And after the show? A glass of wine with our students and some delicious empanadas around the corner at the Argentine food stall. Bliss.

We may have many more performances this year but we're sure this performance will stand out in our memory. Thank you everyone who came to see us and for your "buena onda"!

You might be surprised to learn how I came to dance tango.

It was down to Scent of A Woman. A 1992 Hollywood film with one short, sentimental tango scene.

It’s kind of funny now to think that I wouldn’t be dancing tango if it wasn’t for a Hollywood film. Me, who is always complaining about how Hollywood, and the mainstream media, misrepresent and parody tango.

I remember loving the film when it came out in the cinema. And I vividly remember the scene in which Al Pacino - a blind war veteran - dances tango with a beautiful stranger.

But in fact that wasn’t the actual moment I discovered tango. It should have been but it wasn’t. It simply didn’t occur to me that I could learn to dance tango and I carried on with my life as usual.

However, in another cinema, on another day, it inspired my future brother-in-law to try tango and it was through him I came to my first tango class. (Thank you Daniel!)

Returning to the film over 20 years later, I prepared myself to be under-whelmed by the tango scene which had indirectly changed my life forever.

And yes, it has to be said that the tango itself is only a sketchy representation of what the real dance should look like. My brother-in-law was determined to dance “like Al Pacino” but to my more experienced eyes, it appeared that Al Pacino had had nothing more than a few basic classes in Argentine tango before the film.

However, the sentiment of the film was as beautiful to me as it was back in the 1990’s. And if I look beyond the steps and style, what the scene says about tango still strikes a chord with me.

It tells me that tango is about stepping onto the dance floor with a complete stranger and dancing without any pre-planned steps. And it tells me that it is about sharing a few short but unforgettable moments with another human being. Whether I have anything in common with that other human or would otherwise have had any contact with them.

And these wonderful words from the film are still pearls of wisdom for any student of tango. And yes, I do occasionally quote them in my classes!

“No mistakes in the tango, darling, not like life. It’s simple. That’s what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, just tango on.” - Al Pacino (as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade)

And the film has clearly made a long-lasting impact on popular culture. In our experience, "Por Una Cabeza" is by far the most popular song choice for the couples we coach for their wedding dance.

So yes, I am happy that it was this scene from Scent of A Woman that led me to the crazy course my life has taken. For me, it is in its own way, a beautiful representation of what tango is about.

On Thursday night, we celebrated the 79th birthday of our dear student and friend Sue.

Sue has been studying tango with us for nearly 10 years now and comes to our advanced class. No one who sees her dance can believe she is 79 years young!

Watch her traditional birthday tango Vals (waltz) in her celebration after class.

The Birthday Vals is one of my very favourite tango traditions. Each dancer in the room takes it in turn to dance with the birthday girl/boy. It is an exhilarating feeling to go from one dancer to the next, each with their own energy, personality and interpretation.

Sue is a more accomplished dancer than most dancers half her age! She dances several nights a week and is able to keep up with the most energetic of partners.

Sue, here’s to many many more years of dancing. Thank you making us believe that we will all be able to do it too!

We were very excited to visit the BBC on Wednesday to talk about tango!

David and I accompanied tango musician Julian Rowlands to talk about the relationship between tango and the music.

We met with Katie Derham, presenter of the BBC Proms and 2015 finalist of Strictly Come Dancing, who asked us many questions about tango, specifically focused on we interpret the music when we dance.

”Dance is music made visible” - said the great choreographer Balanchine. And tango in particular has a fascinating relationship with its music.

The programme will form part of a new series - “Sound Of Dance” - combining Katie’s love of dance and music on BBC Radio 3. Each week Katie will talk to different experts from the dance world, focusing on distinct genres such as ballet, classical Indian and of course Argentine tango!

In the first week, Katie will talk about Sir Frederick Ashton, the founder choreographer of the Royal Ballet. Argentine tango will make its appearance in Week 2 of the series.

“I am thrilled to be involved with this series which will introduce Radio 3 listeners to the wonder of dance through the magnificent music which accompanies it.” - Katie Derham

Sound Of Dance starts on BBC Radio 3 on 3rd June with episodes every Saturday from 3pm – 4pm.

We will announce on our News Page when the Tango programme that we were involved in is about to be broadcast!

I am so looking forward to my Tango Technique Workshop this Saturday … just for the ladies.

Ladies Technique is one of my all-time favourite topics. And although we often hold Technique Workshops for both men and women at Tango Movement, there is something quite special about occasionally working with just the girls.

Somehow over the years, I’ve turned into something of a tango technique geek, excited about even the smallest details in our movement and new ways to explain them in my classes.

I haven’t always been this way. In my 20’s, all I wanted to do was get on with the dance. I was prepared to work hard and practice, and I knew that technique was important, but I wasn’t always as patient as I should have been about the where and the how I should initiate the movement, the positioning of the body … and every other tiny piece of the jigsaw.

I despair of my younger self. I can now see how much more progress my students who take tango technique seriously than those who are just looking for their next dance partner and “tango fix”. Because it is the details that make up the whole.

I remember the feeling of dancing in a fog of confusion, not really sure what is happening from one moment to the next. Enjoying the feeling of things progressing, only to feel that progress slip away from me, without fully understanding why. Because, to quote the legendary Rudolf Nureyev:

"Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration."

I am a total convert to technique. Just a few minutes of technique each day can have more value than many hours of dancing in the milonga. Too many people adhere to the misguided belief that racking up their “tango miles” will improve their dance. If it does, it is over a much longer period of time. And in fact unfocused practice can serve only to reenforce bad habits.

A good technique workshop should help you to strengthen the precise muscles you use when you dance tango, acquire greater corporal awareness, increase your confidence and fuel your self-expression and creativity.

I hope this has inspired you to get started (or keep going) with your technique. And if you’re not sure exactly what you should be working on or are in need of some fresh ideas, look no further than my Ladies Technique Workshop this Saturday!

This is the second week we'll be working on Ladies Technique. My students last week requested a second workshop to reinforce the ideas from the first class. But don't worry if you weren't able to make the first one. I'll make sure everything is crystal clear.

The class will take place this Saturday 20th May at 3:30 - 5:30 pm at Marshall Street Leisure Centre, 15 Marshall Street, Soho, W1F 7EL (close to Oxford Circus). Price: £20 per person. Please contact us if you would like to book a place.

We'll start the class without our shoes (bring a pair of socks). After that we'll move to our tango heels. I'd strongly recommend that you wear the shoes you would nomally wear to dance tango in - rather than simply practice shoes.

I can’t wait to help you find your light bulb moments!

We're immensely proud of our students who performed at the UK Tango Championship last Saturday 1st April.

Six Tango Movement couples performed a choreography during the evening in the spectacular Edward Lumley Hall in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Some of them had performed in our Student Show at the Winter Ball in January but others were completely new to performing. They managed to learn the choreography in a just under two weeks and to perform it with technique and confidence. A real achievement!

I was told I looked like a worried mother putting on a brave face as I watched them file out onto the dance floor. But my butterflies soon subsided as I watched them dance.

And then came my favourite part of the proceedings: the post-show drinks to celebrate!

Thank you to our students for their dedication, hard work, focus and passion. We're so happy to have you as part of our tango teaml!

We're still waiting for the official video, which we hope to post here shortly!

We're excited to present the video of David performing with Alejandra Mantiñan at our Winter Ball in January.

This is a wonderful example of what tango is all about: Alejandra arrived in London and the next day performed this tango, without any rehearsal or warm-up at all. Just two bodies reading each other and the music ... oh, and in front of 300 people!. The atmosphere was electric.

For me it was an enormous pleasure to watch David perform with this wonderfully creative dancer.

It was a pleasure to WATCH him perform full stop! I've always loved watching him dance but I don't get this luxury when I'm in his arms. Ironically, the name of the tango they danced that night was "En Tus Brazos" (In Your Arms).

Enjoy!

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