Tango Lessons in Buenos Aires

by Kelsey Menke, sophomore

Tango music filled Hostel Milonga two weeks ago as 22 Concordia students took dance lessons in an attempt to embrace the culture of Argentina.  Buenos Aires was the first stop of Concordia’s new Around-the-World Semester Program.

photo by Adam Lee

Mai Vu and Jessica Schober learn steps for the tango.

When the students entered the room for the beginning of the lesson, the instructor, Hugo, immediately noticed that they had too much energy. He explained that the tango contains dramatic, passionate steps, so he insisted on having fifteen minutes of massage techniques and relaxation exercises to calm everyone down.

After they properly loosened up, the students paired off and watched Hugo as he taught the group the basics of the dance. He demonstrated that the tango has six simple steps in which the girls are supposed to mirror any movement made by their partners.  Lined up along the hallway, they practiced the steps repeatedly until they got it right.

Most of the students thought it seemed simple enough, until Hugo surprised them by pulling out blindfolds for everyone to wear. He encouraged everyone to just listen to the music and rely on their partners for guidance as they moved counter-clockwise across the hallway. Ethan Scherch, sophomore, especially enjoyed this exercise, saying, “It forced us to forget about the strict structure of the steps and taught us how to get into the flow of the dance.”

On top of the six basic steps, improvisation also plays a key role in the Argentine tango. With that in mind, Hugo taught all of the students additional movements and poses that would add flavor to their style. Some of the girls’ favorites moves were the ocho, a figure-eight foot movement, and the sandwich, where the girl would kick her foot into the air. Mai Vu, sophomore, said that she liked practicing these movements with Hugo as her partner because he perfectly guided her into all of the correct steps.

By the end of the hour, the students could confidently tango across the hallway with ease. Hugo emphasized that he was impressed with how fast they learned, and that they danced best when they were blindfolded and unaware of other people watching them. The group is excited to discover even more cultural activities that are waiting for them all over the world this semester.

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