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Tango, the Original Animal
Tango Fest, Fri-Sun, Jan 17-19

by Kathleen Millard

With an abundance of attractions, the main motivator for my visits to San Miguel is the opportunity to receive instruction from a superior local dance teacher, Ezekiel Agreda Peinado.

Having taken private lessons from a number of instructors, I have a solid basis for comparison. Ezekiel is outstanding... and daunting. I approach a lesson with him eagerly YET with trepidation. For optimum benefit the session will require bravery, vulnerability, trust, humility and focus.

These are a lessons in Argentine Tango, not to be confused with the show style of ballroom Tango. Argentine Tango is the original animal. It is the passionate music and movement developed among the lower classes, lonely laborers and unemployed immigrants of late nineteenth-century Buenos Aires. It is sensual, unchoreographed, full-contact expressive and responsive movement. No other type of dance background can prepare you for it.

After the initial diagnostic tour around the floor with Ezekiel, I get a stream of corrective comments. "Move. Move. We move." "Extend the leg, extend the leg, extend the leg." "Freeze. Now look at your foot." “Pay attention. You are dancing without me." "Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat."

I am subjected to measured criticism on: leg extension, amount of pivot, angle of foot, alignment of body, relative position of hand and hip, among a host of other topics. A lesson with Ezequiel means exposing my flaws and foibles to razor sharp observation.

The evaluation exposes every little thing. During the hour, there is no chance of hiding a misstep or error. This maser of the art can both feel as well as see his students movement.

Although many other dances have a frame involving hand and arm connection, in dancing Argentine Tango the entire body must commune. In Argentine Tango it's more like a hug. It is in fact referred to as an embrace- un abrazo. There is contact with arm and hand, but more fundamentally with sternum and belly. Occasionally legs and feet meet to interplay. It isn't so much a dance done "with" a partner as much as it is against, through, or into your partner. The lead hopes that their guidance will result in the intended response from their partner. The follower attempts to accurately read their leader and respond accordingly with grace and precision.

During the lesson there are a few light moments which often involve Ezekiel mimicking my less than graceful movements. This is not an instructor who will smilingly tell you you're doing great while giving you a pat on the head. Yet, I always leave with a smile and a hug and the knowledge that I have done the hard work. It is a challenge, a knowing that there's always a place to go, refinements to achieve and embraces to share.


Please enjoy these and all the activities of Tango Fest 2020
Fri-Sun, Jan 17-19:

Tango Fest
Tango Show
Tango Talk & Class


Kathleen Millard has been exploring Tango for 4 years. She seeks opportunities to learn and dance wherever she travels. Kathleen lives in Green Valley, AZ.

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