Every year, a small group of Tango Movement students get together a few months before our Winter Ball to start preparing for our Student Show.
The Tango Movement Student Show has gone from strength to strength since its start in 2010 and has become known as the best of itʼs kind in the UK! It has also become one of the highlights of our Winter Ball.
Rehearsals take place around 2-3 months before the ball. The group meets just once a week (twice a week as the Big Day draws closer) and have the challenge of learning a choreography - a surprisingly difficult thing for dancers who have spent years learning to improvise!
The group needs to absolutely together so a great deal of effort goes into making sure that they all move as one ... and donʼt inadvertently kick each other!
The training is not always easy. There are often a few emotional wobbles during the rehearsals. But there is also amazing sense of camaraderie, focus and anticipation.
D-day always generates different emotions amongst the students. Some become incredibly nervous beforehand, only for calm to descend when the moment arrive. For others the exact opposite occurs!
And just as nervous as the performers themselves are their teachers - David & I - watching from the sidelines.
But however we feel before or during the show, the sense of euphoria once the show is over is shared by all! And the champagne can start to flow!
This year, our group comprises students from our Advanced, Intermediate and Improvers classes. There will be both veterans from previous years and brand new faces. We are incredibly excited about their performance this year and we are so looking forward to cheering them all on!
GOOD LUCK GUYS!
Watch the Video of Last Yearʼs Show with Backstage Footage
A few months back, we were teaching at a Tango Festival outside of London, where tango aﬁcionados travel long distances to take part in workshops and dance the night away in the festivalʼs “milongas” (tango nights).
The atmosphere was electric and the dancers warm and effusive. One guy, however, stood apart.
I recognised him from our previous years at the festival. This year, as in the past, his expression throughout our classes was stormy. It seemed that however much he tried and despite our guidance, his movements were awkward and robotic. I admired his persistence but felt his frustration.
Saturday night was the Festivalʼs Grand Milonga and it was well-attended. Couples glided and twirled around the dance ﬂoor, torso to torso, cheek to cheek, to one beautiful tango tune after another. At the end of the night, as the tired but contented dancers began to drift off the dance ﬂoor, ready to return to their rooms, the DJ started playing some rock and roll. The mood changed and the festival-goers, mustering up one last ounce of energy, started to ﬂing themselves around to the 1950ʼs beats.
One dancer, again, stood out. A natural dancer, he could give Elvis a run for his money. Yes, it was Mr Stormy from our classes. It was incredible to see his transformation. He was the centre of attention and we all watched him with a smile on our faces.
The next day, in class, I saw him battling away again. I decided to mention to him that I had seen him the night before and that I knew he had it in him to dance. Something lit up behind his eyes. He said, “I donʼt know where it comes from - it just kind of happens”.
I remember the same feeling when I started to dance tango. Deep down I felt I had it in me to dance - and I knew I could from dancing at parties - but the movements were unfamiliar to me and they felt imposed and unnatural.
As time passed and I dedicated more time to tango, the movements became part of me, my outlet, in fact my only way of really expressing the way the music made me feel.
I told Mr Stormy to trust that things would start to work for him. Everyone feels robotic to begin with. How can it be otherwise when we are trying to programme our body to do things it has never considered doing before? And the body, feeling that it is doing something new, automatically tenses up, exacerbating the situation.
Feeling robotic is not necessarily a bad thing. OK, it is not exactly what we had in mind we decided we would learn to dance! But I like to think of it a little like painting by numbers. At ﬁrst we learn the movements, working out their path, not necessarily understanding why we are being asked to do things in a certain way. By the end of the process we have created a beautiful drawing, and it begins to make sense to us. Then we add the paint (in my mind the music and the expression), and suddenly we have a work of art.
The process of programming our body to do new things will feel a little mechanical, but it is important that we clearly instruct our body what to do. It is when we do this that we can really begin to feel and express ourselves through the movements.
So whenever weʼre learning a new movement, we should expect (and embrace) the robotic stage. It may feel awkward but, with time - and maybe when youʼre least expecting it - the movement will settle and soften until it feels like a part of you.
It’s hard to believe but it’s that time of year again!
Our Winter Ball 2014 is just under two months away and anticipation is already mounting for the most glamorous event of the year!
Our Ball is now in it’s fifth year. Not only is it fantastic for us as a School to have something to look forward to each year, but it is also amazing to be able give back to the country that gave us tango
Once again the Old Finsbury Town Hall, Islington, will be magically lit and filled with the haunting notes of bandoneon player Victor Villena (Gotan Project) - who will be travelling from France to be with us that night.
Victor will be again teaming up with British quartet Los Mareados. And we will be in the expert hands of DJ Diego Doigneau in between live sets.
Rehearsals are now under way by a small group of our students who will be performing in our Student Show. The Show has become a real highlight of the Ball. To whet your appetite, have a look at last year’s performance:
David & I will also be performing as we do every year. And there are few places that feel more atmospheric to dance than in that beautiful ballroom surrounded by our students and friends.
When your feet are tired and you need a pause, you can wander through to the Council Chamber and enjoy the Argentine food and wine that will be on sale and browse our latest collection of Comme Il Faut tango shoes
This year, the funds raised will go to help children in need in both Argentina and the UK:
(1) Hombre Nuevo - a charity for the homeless in Cordoba, Argentina
(2) Doble Ayuda - a charity giving educational support to children living in poverty in rural Argentina and (
(3) the UCL Michelle Zalkin Scholarship - funding a Masters degree in Child Health and Child Protection.
And finally, let me leave you with this little taster, a montage of one of our past balls
We can’t wait to see you there!
Tickets are available at: here or in Tango Movement Classes!