Professional tango dancer and Austin resident Paola Aguillon-Brashear is passionate about this beautiful form of dancing. Learning tango is about “stepping into a culture… It is a journey that will take you back to turn of the century Argentina,” she says. Find out here why so many people take the journey, and why so many fall in love with tango along the way.
Texas Lifestyle Magazine: What is tango and are there different types?
Paola Aguillon-Brashear: Argentine Tango is a century-old dance that was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The dance evolved in multiple countries over the years. American tango is a variation of the original dance and is part of the ballroom dance repertoire. Today, Argentine tango is practiced and enjoyed in many countries around the world. The most active communities can be found in Europe, Russia, the United States and South America.
TLM: Dance halls are still really popular in Texas. How different from the two-step is the tango?
PA-B: Tango really differentiates itself from other dances because of its improvisational nature. Although some counts are applied to the dance, the leader has a lot of freedom to express the music, which means the follower can always look forward to something unexpected.
TLM: Is it a difficult dance for beginners? Tango dancers always look really serious.
PA-B: Tango is a fairly easy dance to learn. We like to say that if you can walk, you can dance tango! Leaders have a steeper learning curve than the followers.
Classic tango music does lead to a more elegant and intimate experience than other dances. Because there are no counts or systematic patterns in Argentine tango, the partners pay a great deal of attention to each other throughout the dance—which is another layer of intimacy and connection. The partners lose themselves in the moment of the dance, and often look serious and focus while the music is playing. However, wait until the end. You’ll see a blissful smile on the dancers’ faces.
TLM: Why should I tango?
PA-B: Tango has a rich history and a varied repertoire. It is possible to dance tango every night in Austin. Dallas, San Antonio and Houston also have very active communities. If you enjoy traveling, tango is the perfect dance because it is practiced in so many places around the world.
TLM: Do I need to have a partner?
PA-B: Tango communities are very inviting and it’s the custom to welcome beginners and dancers from out of town, and for them to be introduced to partners. A tango dancer can walk into a room full of strangers and will always leave having made friends. Dancing with friends, as well as strangers, is part of the experience.
TLM: Okay, I’m sold! How do I get started? Is it going to be expensive?
PA-B: Tango lessons are widely available and range from $10 to $15 for classes. Many instructors offer private lessons, which vary in price depending on the experience level of the teacher.
There are also many festivals in Texas throughout the year. The next annual Day of Tango is in Austin December 9-11. Plus, traveling instructors visit the main cities offering intensive workshops for a weekend or a couple of weeks at a time. A great way to find the right instruction is to visit www.austintango.org or join tango groups on Facebook in your city. That way you’ll also get to find out about events such as the tango dance parties, “milongas.”