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Nights Out 16-09-2016

A lot of you tell us how much you love the atmosphere of our classes. So much so that they become as much a chance to catch up with friends and soak up the feel-good feeling, as to learn to dance tango.

That's why we organise Nights Out every two months or so. Our Nights Out are a golden opportunity for us all to all meet up outside of class and together do what we most love doing: tango.

We choose some of the best "milongas" (tango clubs) in town for our venues. Sometimes we give a performance during the evening, sometimes just the pre-milonga class and sometimes we simply hang out with you al!

With Kim back from maternity leave, now seems like an ideal time to plan our next Night Out. Watch this space for news of our next one, coming really soon!

UPDATE: Our next night out is our Christmas Party on Friday 25th November and guess what, you're invited! Click here for all the information. We hope you'll join us - it's going to be a great night.

A new series of Strictly Come Dancing is due to start on the BBC tonight. And no doubt this year, as in previous years, the programme will serve up its own particular version of Argentine tango.

And there will be - as there always are - tango aficionados up in arms about it on social media. Equally, however, there will be many of us who have wearily grown accustomed to seeing our beloved tango misrepresented in the mainstream media. And other than a brief moment of irritation or a small squirm of embarrassment, we will move swiftly on to the next story in our news feed.

But, as one dance competition is about to begin, another very different one comes to a close.

In Buenos Aires, the Tango World Championship, El Mundial de Tango, has just crowned its latest champions in “tango salon” (dance floor tango) and “tango escenario” (stage tango).

Watching the footage of the final, I find myself wondering what Strictly fans would make of it. Because the difference between the winning tango and what they’ll see on Strictly, could not be greater.

El Mundial de Tango is the only competition that has any weight at all in the world of Argentine Tango. And contrary to popular belief, competitions in Argentine tango are not considered “the be all and end all”. Indeed they are a relatively recent innovation.

Many tango dancers think competitions can stifle our art form, turning it into a box-ticking exercise. By conforming to the rules or what the competitors think the judges are looking for, competitions risk creating uniformity and banality, inhibiting creativity and individuality.

But there was nothing uniform or banal about the winners of the stage competition this year.

What would a Strictly fan make of it? Well, I’m guessing they might detect a significant lack of bling and plunging necklines. Not that I’m anti-bling - I have succumbed to a fair few sequinned dresses in my time - but tango is so much more classy and complex than the cliché.

A Strictly fan might also miss the slicked-back hair of the classic tango Lothario. Our man is a foppish blond, bucking yet another stereotype.

But perhaps most striking of all, throughout the couple dance with a wrought iron bird cage with a red balloon inside. Around it, in their arms, even attached to their feet, the bird cage is the focal point of their choreography.

What’s it all about? Well, without some knowledge of the music, it is admittedly a little baffling. However, in Argentina, the piece - "Balada Por Un Loco" by Astor Piazzolla - is perhaps as well-known as “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and no less surreal in its meaning.

“Love me this way, crazy, crazy, crazy … Climb up to this tender madness in me. Put on this wig of larks and fly! Fly with me now! Come, fly, come!”

You may love the choreography, you may hate it. You may like aspects of it - ideas, movements, musical interpretation - but not everything. You might respect its individuality but find that it fails to capture your heart. Indeed, you may dislike anything that isn’t purest the form of improvised tango salon.

But there’s one thing I think even the harshest critics will agree on. The choreography is different, original and innovative.

When I watch this video, I see dancers following their hearts and giving an honest interpretation of the form. They dance how they want to dance, without worrying about the judges’ scorecards - and it pays dividends.

It’s refreshing to see individuality, creativity and imagination applauded in a world of plastic commercialism and stereotypes. By embracing originality, I feel the judges of the Mundial did something important. I believe - and hope - that they have opened the door to a good deal more creativity and individuality in future competitions. I’m excited to see how tango will grow as a consequence and what the Mundial will give us in years to come.

When we came to London nearly 10 years ago, we had one purpose: to create our Argentine Tango school and to impart our knowledge from our years in Buenos Aires to the very best of our ability.

But what we didn't expect was to create something else, something bigger: a whole community of like-minded people. Over the years, we have seen life-long friendships form, relationships blossom, even children born! All because Tango Movement brought them together.

So it seemed to us that it was high time we organised a party - not a tango party (we have organised many of these!) but a social one - to bring together all our tango students - both those who have recently joined us and those who have been coming for years. And even those who we haven't seen in ages but will always be part of our "tango family".

We knew we were being optimistic but the recent good weather inspired us to throw a garden party at our home. Thankfully, the tango gods were smiling down on us and we experienced a very rare thing in this country: a sunny bank holiday!

With invitations sent out just a week before (we were monitoring the weather forecasts!) and many of our students away over the Bank Holiday, we were amazed to welcome over 75 people over the course of the day. We tried to invite everyone we could think of by going through our class lists. We just hope we remembered most of you!

And inevitably, even at a "non-tango tango party", there was quite a bit of dancing! With tango music playing, there was no stopping some people, even if it was barefooted on the grass!

The day was so fabulous that we now hope that - weather permitting - this will be a permanent feature on our tango calendar! So look out for the Tango Movement Garden Party: Edition 2 ... coming next summer!

Thank you everyone who came and made the day so special. For those who weren't there for whatever reason, we hope to see you next year!

I just loved receiving this video recently of our lovely students, Ed and Katie, dancing tango at their wedding.

Ed and Katie have been coming to our classes for years but it is a very different thing learning to improvise (as we do in our classes) to learning a choreography. Not to mention the feeling of getting up and dancing in front of a big group of people. Yes, we try to tell ourselves that that group is made up of only family and friends who love us and think anything we do is wonderful, but somehow those butterflies can be hard to shake.

Ed and Katie dance so well in this video that you’d never guess that their choreography did in fact turn into an improvisation when a technical hiccup meant the the tango went on for 20 seconds longer than expected. Can you tell? I couldn’t! I guess all those tango classes learning to improvise paid off!

Congratulations Ed and Katie for your beautifully elegant wedding dance. And congratulations on your marriage. We wish you many years of love, happiness and tango together!

So I did it! I kept dancing tango until the night before my baby was born.

I did it for my first pregnancy four years ago and now I’m happy to say I also did it for my second.

And not just because I didn’t want to give up teaching the classes I love until the last minute, but because I so enjoyed the feeling of dancing tango with my baby bump.

There is something quite amazing dancing while pregnant. I felt completely at peace with myself, freeing up my self-expression. The movements felt natural and for some reason I didn’t feel uncomfortable or unstable wearing my 9 cm tango heels. I know it is difficult to believe. Outside of class, I shed my wedges mid-way through my pregnancy and would only wear the flattest of flats when walking on the street. But in my “Comme Il Fauts” I felt completely happy.

Yes, at times tango’s close embrace was compromised by my ever-growing bump and more showy moves were out of the question. But somehow salon tango felt so much easier than walking to the dance studio from the tube station.

Although in many ways it is a wonderful feeling to be pregnant, in the final months you do feel a little like a baby elephant going about your daily activities. Just walking at a normal pace would produce a pain in my side or hip - very frustrating for a person who likes to run from one activity to the next. Yet, I never once felt a twinge when dancing tango. Maybe it was all those lovely endorphins that tango is meant to release. I’ll never know. But I am very grateful for it.

This video shows me improvising at the end of our Wednesday night Improvers class on the very night before the baby was born:

Just under two weeks after the birth, watching the video with my “now you see it, now you don’t” bump, is already incredible to me. Was that really me? And I’m so happy that as my little girl gets older, I can show her the video and tell her that was you inside my tummy just the night before you were born.

And I'll just also leave you with a few more videos of me dancing tango with my baby bump. Here at 7 months pregnant at the Che Tango Festival in London:

David and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our second daughter, Amélie Rose, who was born on Thursday 14th July, weighing 2.7 kgs/6lbs. She is absolutely gorgeous!

We are now enjoying a 2-week break while we all get to know each other. Our full programme of classes will resume in August. And I hope to return from maternity leave by mid-September.

We hope you're all enjoying a wonderful summer and we're looking forward to seeing you in just over a week's time!

Your Feedback 15-04-2016

It’s always wonderful to receive glowing feedback from students. It’s good to know that we’re still on the right track. Here are some of the lovely messages we’ve received recently which we’d like to share with you:

“Just wanted to tell you that I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to the Good  Friday South Bank tango event, and danced for 2 hours with familiar faces. I loved it so much I decided to go to the Saturday afternoon milonga at Tango Garden. I couldn't believe that I danced the whole time.

I did have several compliments about my feet and was asked who teaches me. I proudly said Kim and David,the reply was OH! So that explains it !!!!!!  They're fantastic teachers and very stylish.

Since the weekend I have been floating on a cloud and waking in the night with the music in my head. My head is consumed with tango, it's so crazy.

I'm so glad I found you lovely guys, I really couldn't wish for better teachers. You put so much into your teaching you really deserve to see some rewards.”

“Thanks for such a lovely lesson! I wanted you to hear what [another student] said (and I agree with) "not only are you both great teachers and great teachers together, you also make every single person in the room feel special." This is such a great gift you have and probably something I have never seen before. Everyone goes away feeling good about themselves.”

“Lovely class last night. Great moves as always and so nice to see some of the students from when we first started your classes...London can count themselves lucky to have such high class teachers.”

Changing Lives 07-03-2016

What does tango mean to you? Was it something you always dreamed of doing? Or did it take you by surprise?

For me it was a bit of both. I think I always had a little dream of dancing with another person and somehow just knowing what the other wanted without pre-learning a thing! Of being swept into another world. And if that other world was one from many years ago, even better - I’ve always had a soft spot for old movies.

In another way, it took me by surprise. When my sister suggested I join her for a tango class (back in the late 90’s), I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I had no pre-conceptions about tango (other than perhaps confusing it with ballroom tango) and no expectations. After that first fateful class, I remember thinking, “I think I might do this once a week”!

Little did I know that soon I would be dancing several times a week, and then every day. And then ... well, most of you know where tango has taken me. Within a relatively short space of time, tango went from being a pastime to a passion, taking over my life, becoming a way of life.

And I’m always fascinated when I see students going through the same thing, crossing that threshold from pastime to passion. Hearing the way they talk, seeing that all-familiar gleam in their eyes. And I love hearing their stories of how tango has changed them in completely unexpected ways, in both their personal and professional lives.

One student - a dermatologist - told us recently that when she opens the door and welcomes in her next patient, she does so with more poise, presence and confidence than in her pre-tango days. And she feels that this in turn helps her patients feel more confident and trusting in her care.

And just the other week, we received this moving message from a student who had returned to tango after a long, injury-induced break:

“With much trepidation I returned last night to your absolute beginners class, boyfriend in tow, intending to just walk for an hour. I wanted to remind you just how special a job you and David have, and that what you do for us is about so much more than just a dance.

Even years after I had been in that room, it felt exciting to be with so many people just starting on a tango journey. I talked to a girl who was at her first class, and by the end her eyes were lit up with the possibility of the dance. It was quite an emotional class for me, a mixture of fear that I wouldn't manage, dismay at the weakness and wobble in my legs, a deep calm from the tango itself, and the hope that my boyfriend was enjoying it thrown in for good measure.

Tango has made me walk taller in other aspects of my life, helped me to be determined, shown me to sometimes just let go of things when they aren't working, and to trust myself. I have missed you all so much.

I am starting again very slowly, probably with a few quiet weeks of beginners as I let my muscles wake up. I do hope that I will see you soon, inspiring me again.”

When I read messages like that, I realise it’s what I love most about my job. That it’s more than simply teaching tango, it’s about helping people to live out their dreams and enrich their lives.

The other day, I was spending time with another close student - a doctor who works in intensive care. I’m constantly in awe of what he does day in day out, the stress he is under and the long hours he puts in. So when he commented on how important a job David and I do, I laughed, “Not in comparison to you! You save people’s lives every day”.

To which he replied: “So do you!”

Please let me know if tango has impacted your every day life, helped you to understand yourself better or changed your life in any way. It would be great to hear more stories!

Last Saturday, it was our Student Night Out. As always, it was wonderful to have many of our students join us for a great night at the Light Milonga in Shoreditch.

Our Nights Out are an opportunity for students of all levels to get together outside of class, mingle, dance and generally soak up the atmosphere of some of the best milongas London has to offer.

We always love spending time with our students who over the months and years become our friends. But something about last Saturday night in particular stood out for me. Something a little different from the norm.

Our Nights Out always attract a big group from our Improvers, Intermediate and Advanced classes but - although we encourage our Beginners to come - there is usually only a very small number. The majority understandably feel hesitant about coming and often choose to wait until they have a few more months of tango experience under their belt.

However, last Saturday was quite a different story. A sizeable group from our Beginners and Confident Beginners classes turned up. Watching intently from the sidelines, many of them got up and danced. There’s no need for a “tango licence” to dance in a milonga and - following our advice from class - they kept it simple, kept to the line of dance and tried to avoid collisions. We felt very proud and excited for them. Just as nice was to see them together as a group, supporting each other in their first experience at the milonga, already forming friendships.

At the end of the evening, students who had only been learning tango for a matter of weeks came up to me with bright eyes and glowing faces, saying how excited they were to have come to the milonga and to have actually danced!

One guy, who had only come because some classmates had pleaded with him to join them earlier that day, wrote me this email:

“Thanks for inviting us to the event last Saturday! It was a great tango evening! What I found amazing was that after just four classes of the crash course, I was actually able to do more than enough moves for a whole dance and have the confidence to invite ladies for a dance! Thanks for that! (It took me about a year to gain that kind of confidence for salsa and kizomba).”

2016 is definitely shaping up to be a great year for new starters. Here’s to the new generation of London tango dancers!

Blue Monday 19-01-2016

It's "Blue Monday" apparently and I don't know about you but already some of my New Year's Resolutions are slipping. So I thought a note to remind you of what you have to look forward to this week might be in order!

3 Reasons To Be Happy on Blue Monday:

1) All our regular drop-in classes are ON. With a class for every level (and 5 levels in total), we're bound to have something for you.

2) It is our final Technique Workshop this Saturday AND my favourite topic: DYNAMICS & CREATIVITY: speeding up/slowing down movements for expression.

3) It's our FIRST NIGHT OUT this Saturday. Venue: The Light Milonga in Shoreditch. We'll be teaching the Intermediate Class and then staying on for long night of music, tango and fantastic company.

Well, I don't know about you but I feel better already!

Un abrazo tanguero,

Kim

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