Teaching The Tango: Building A Community – Part 1

Interview
TEACHING THE TANGO
Building a community – Part One
By Petra Gimbad

This is an interview with Marguerite Brodie, who is a tango instructor and the founder of the Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival.

(Full disclosure: the writer studied tango with Marguerite in 2016 and 2017)

Marguerite and Andreas

How did you start teaching tango?
M: I blundered into teaching. I had learnt the tango through a gift from my daughter, while I was visiting the US. Then I returned to Malaysia, and there was no one to dance with.

I wanted so much to dance, I wanted a group of people to dance with. Rather than losing the little that I knew I decided that I would share my knowledge with a group so that we could dance together.

You have to be passionate enough about tango to teach.

What motivates you to teach?
M: Teaching gives me a great deal of pleasure. Each time I teach, I learn. Each time I dance, I am so happy.

What, in your opinion, makes a good tango teacher?
M: To me, the instructors who are desirable are simply put, good people: honest, straightforward, who care about students, who pay full attention to students during workshops and who never think that their word is God’s truth.

Do you feel frustration in class as a teacher?
M: Everyone makes their own choices. You have to let students find out things for themselves.

It keeps me going when students or even when participants of workshops I have organised in the past (for other instructors) come up to me to say, “tango has done something for me”.

Recently, one of my students who is an emergency room doctor expressed what tango means to her.  I am so proud of her and think she is doing such a fantastic job – where else can you get a doctor like that in the ER? And isn’t it wonderful if tango has done something for her?

These responses make teaching and creating opportunities for visiting instructors to teach worthwhile. That tango has done something for others is payment enough.

From what I understand, it is frustrating for more experienced dancers to dance with beginners at milongas. How do you feel about this as a teacher and the ‘founder’ of the Malaysian tango scene?
M: That beginners are not worth your while? No, for me, it is never a pain and always a pleasure. It is extremely satisfying for me to give pleasure to someone else who is still learning.

I think that it is all about attitude. In every tanda you give your best and put your heart into the dance.  You can learn with every tanda. When you dance a good tanda – even with a beginner – you have made a difference. You can spend that time improving your axis, balance and sensitivity.

Everyone wants to dance with the best dancers but everyone was a beginner once. You dance for the other person. It is just 10 minutes of your life.

We have a few tango instructors in Kuala Lumpur, and some of them were former students of yours. What do you think of the challenges that they face teaching tango today? 
M: As I stated earlier, when I started teaching this was because I wanted to dance and there was nobody dancing the tango. Even though instructors are no longer starting from ground zero, I still feel that there are challenges ahead for them.

In Kuala Lumpur tango instructors teach part-time and this is reflected in the way tango is danced here – where it is social rather than competitive. Of course, there is good and bad in this.

Teachers will continue dealing with the challenge of growing a community.

Where are you at the moment, in terms of teaching?
M: As a teacher and at this point in my life I am more focused on teaching the basics and enjoying this process – the basics meaning the walk and connection. This is important because you might learn steps to look good, but does it feel good for your partner?

You also need to prepare your students for the unexpected at milongas.

All teachers have the responsibility of sustaining and growing a community.  We need to support each other as much as possible, and provide unselfish constructive support for each other.

In doing so, we have what I think is tango: which is the result of people coming together to share mutual passion.

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Countdown to 11th Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival

Countdown to KL Tango Festival – 2 more days to go!
Not too late to register for the milongas and workshops with Bruno Tombari y Rocío Lequio and Sebastián Acosta Laura D’Anna @  KL Tango Festival website http://www.tangomalaysia.com/index.html

Milonga in KLTF-2018-countdown2

Meet the Locals: The Instructors Edition Part 5

Interview
MEET THE LOCALS
The Instructors Edition, Part Five
By Petra Gimbad

In honour of the KL Tango Festival’s 11th year, we have subjected the instructors below to the TANGO HOT SEAT.

ChrisyMich

Name: Michelle Ng and Christopher Wibowo

When and where do you teach? How do we contact you?
You can find us at the following address:
Dance Blaze Academy,
7A, 2nd Floor, Jalan Bangsar,
59200 Kuala Lumpur.

Describe yourself as a tango instructor, in five words.
Michelle: Connecting our hearts through dancing.
Chris: Dancing is freedom and happiness.

Best tango moment:
Chris: 2011 in Sydney, when we shared our first abrazo and had our very first tanda.
Michelle
: 2016 in Hongkong, dancing to D’Arienzo after 3 years; it was my best tango moment.

Worst tango moment:
Michelle: It happened when I was dancing to Pugliese. Not only was I disconnected several times but he adjusted the abrazo.
Chris
: I don’t remember.

What keeps you going?
Michelle: I need to breathe.
Chris
: It is good to my heart.

What made your best tanda, special?
Michelle: When we communicated the same language in harmony.
Chris
: When the abrazo was present.

Your dream tanda – what would the songs be?
Michelle: I love Pugliese.
Chris: Too many.

The truth: do you have a life outside of tango? What do you do? (work, hobbies)
Michelle & Chris: Tango is our life. We take this life onto the dance floor, we dance with friends and students, watch tango videos, practice, fight and explore new movements, even our plants listen to tango music everyday.

Do you dance /listen to music from any other genres, apart from tango?
Michelle & Chris: Yes, we dance to Salsa, Lindy hop and some casual Latin type of dances.

Maestros and maestras we should follow:
Michelle & Chris: We are students of Javier Rodriguez and Moira Castellano, and our beloved late Andrea Missé.

Should we support the KLTF, what are your hopes for the Malaysian tango community?
Michelle: It is not easy to organize festival year after year and KLTF is on its 11th year! I am proud to say we are a small yet a growing community.

If tango were an animal, what would it be?
Chris: White lion.
Michelle: Red scorpion.

Meet the Locals: The Instructors Edition Part 4

Interview
MEET THE LOCALS
The Instructors Edition, Part Four
By Petra Gimbad

In honour of the KL Tango Festival’s 11th year, we have subjected the instructors below to the TANGO HOT SEAT.

Weng Fatt and Yennie
Name(s): Yennie (Y) and Weng Fatt (WF)

When and where do you teach? Day, time, venue.
We teach on Sundays from 7.30pm to 8.30pm at Pier 12 Seafood Tavern, Old Malaya, Changkat Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur.

How do we contact you?
Yennie can be contacted on Whatsapp at +60 12 679 2323

Describe yourself as a tango instructor, in five words.
WF:  Obsessed about things that matter.
Y: Exploring endless possibilities of tango.

Best tango moment:
Y: When I have an emotional connection with the partner and the music while dancing, be it at a milonga or during a performance.
WF
: Introspectively, it is experiencing a subliminal connection with the person with whom I dance. Manifestly, that would be having had the great honour of representing the Argentinian and Uruguayan embassies several times at the Latin American Festival.
It is also gratifying when our skills are used for charitable purposes and to further philanthropy.

Worst tango moment:
Y: When I feel disconnected from the partner and the music.
WF
: Left feeling empty at the end of a dance.

What keeps you going?
WF
:
Continuous learning, sometimes beyond tango itself and the friends one makes along the way.
Y:
The endless possibilities of tango.

What made your best tanda, special?
Y: One which emotional and melancholic.
WF: One which is sincere and unpretentious.

Your dream tanda – what would the songs be?
Y: Being an unconventional dancer, it would be a tanda that consists of Schindler’s List theme, Oblivion and Lara Fabian’s Je T’aime
WF: For dancing at a milonga: (Di Sarli – Podestá)
1. Nido Gaucho
2. Soy Aquel Viajero
3. La Capilla Blanca
4. Nada
Purely for personal gratification: (Misia)
1. Tive Um Coração, Perdi-o
2. Solidaõ – Canção do mar
3. Amor Sem Casa

The truth: do you have a life outside of tango? What do you do? (work, hobbies)
Y: I also do other dances and I love cooking.
WF: Travelling, travelling and travelling on holiday.
Y & WF: The beauty of being in our tango community is it doesn’t really matter what you do for a day job.

Do you dance /listen to music from any other genres, apart from tango?
Y: I dance and listen to other genres of music  such as latin, salsa, kizomba, bachata, swing, jazz and blues. I also listen to instrumental music.
WF
: Mostly classical music, specifically baroque music and opera. I also find world music appealing.

Maestros and maestras we should follow:
Y
: In no particular order, Rodrigo “Joe” Corbata y Lucila Cionci, Vanessa Villalba y Facundo Piñero, Roberto Castillo y Julieta Biscione, Mauro Caiazza y Carolina Giannini and Nick Jones y Diana Cruz.
WF: If by “following”, you mean “watch”, there are so many! Also in no particular order, Jorge Dispari y Maria del Carmen, Carlos y Maria Rivarola, Lorena Ermocida, Los Villagras, Manuela Rossi y Juan Malizia, Fabian Peralta, Diego Riemer, Maria Belen Giachello, Cristina Sosa y Daniel Nacucchio, Los Totis, Mauro Caiazza y Carolina Giannini, Juan Pablo Bulich y Rocío Garcia Liendo, our dear Roberto Castillo y Julieta Biscione and for something out of the box, Bruno Tombari and Rocío Lequio, of course, and the list goes on and on…

Should we support the KLTF, and what are your hopes for the Malaysian tango community?
Y & WF: Of course we should support KLTF. The tagline says it all – ” Where Malaysian hospitality meets the passion of Buenos Aires”.
For our community, we hope that it will grow harmoniously and with quality.

Were tango an animal, what would it be?
Y & WF: A unicorn. It is elusive; many claim to have “seen” it and have subjective ideals about the dance. In the end, these may all be questions that lie firmly in the realms of existential enquiry. And the hunt of the curious for the unicorn continues.

Tango in Kuala Lumpur this week: Apr 11-15

 Milonga in Kuala Lumpur this week: 11-15 April 2018.

Come join us this week at the 11th Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival!!!

Countdown to KLTF – 3 days to go!

Milonga in KL-2018-W15Please click on highlighted venue for location map and organizer.

WEDNESDAY
DEL SABOR
Time: 9.30pm-12 midnight
Venue: The Lounge @ Pullman Hotel Bangsar No. 1, Jalan Pantai Jaya Tower 3, Kuala Lumpur
Entrada RM10
Contact fb Sara / Christina or email: sara.supernova@gmail.com / christina.choong@gmail.com

THURSDAY
MILONGA ALUAN
Time: 8pm-1am
Venue: The Fairway Restaurant, Royal Selangor Golf Club, Jalan Kelab Golf, Kuala Lumpur
Entrada RM165   Theme: Spots – “Dotty about you”
Registration at Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival website

FRIDAY
MILONGA ASMARA
Time: 9pm-2am
Venue: The Fairway Restaurant, Royal Selangor Golf Club, Jalan Kelab Golf, Kuala Lumpur
Entrada RM165   Theme: Hearts – Pink or Red
Registration at Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival website

SATURDAY
MILONGA ALAM
Time: 9pm-2am
Venue: The Fairway Restaurant, Royal Selangor Golf Club, Jalan Kelab Golf, Kuala Lumpur
Entrada RM165   Theme: Nature – Flora & Fauna
Registration at Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival website

SUNDAY
MILONGA AKHIR
Time: 9pm-1am
Venue: The Fairway Restaurant, Royal Selangor Golf Club, Jalan Kelab Golf, Kuala Lumpur
Entrada RM165   Theme: Stripes – “To go on forever”
Registration at Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival website

Meet the Locals: The Instructors Edition Part 3

Interview
MEET THE LOCALS
The Instructors Edition, Part Three
By Petra Gimbad

In honour of the KL Tango Festival’s 11th year, we have subjected the instructor below to the TANGO HOT SEAT.
IMG_0359Name: Andrea Zsapka

When and where do you teach?
I teach only via word of mouth, for friends mainly. I often do free events at 1 Mont Kiara in cooperation with the Will You Cafe. We organise Free Social Dance parties, tango also included.

How do we contact you?
I have an Instagram page (@Dancewithmeinasia)
or you can find me on Facebook: Dancewithmeinasia Dance Community
My website (www.dancewithmeinkl.com) will be ready soon!

Describe yourself as a tango instructor in five words:
Encouraging, emotional, practical, intuitive, inventive.

Best tango moment:
I was in Hungary when I started tango and attended my first milonga. There was a wonderful old cinema with beautiful decorations inside, really like what you see in movies.

I was so excited; I was all dressed up for tango and paid attention to every detail. Over a cup of coffee while waiting for the event to start there were people gathering and greeting each other. The bonding that I sensed that first time, is what I feel whenever I go to a milonga. That night was an amazing night with non-stop dancing.

Worst tango moment:
I had a partner who ate garlic before attending a milonga, every single time. When I started, I thought that it was rude to say no and I kept accepting his invitations to dance. However, after a while I could not take it anymore. I politely refused to dance with him after I found out that if you really do not want to dance with someone it is okay to say no.

What keeps you going?
I like all types of social dances, but got addicted to tango, as many tango dancers do. You do not need an exact partner, which was what caused me many problems in the past. Instead of finding the perfect dance partner and insisting on something that did not work, I chose other forms of partnering.

I have no regrets, for improvisation and following became my passion, and I like the smiling faces and positive reactions of leaders when they finally find someone who is really following all their intentions. This is what I try to teach my students.

What made your best tanda, special?
I could not name one tanda – all my best tandas are good and enjoyable. Particularly when the leader follows the tiny little sparkles of the music, has great improvisation skills and has of course, great leading skills.

I love dancing with people from countries with Mediterranean or Latin roots, as they have a great sensibility for musicality. For me, that is the most important in tango – to be able to mirror back the music with your mood and your steps.

Favorite tanda playlist?
I like Nuevo and Milonga.
For Nuevo:
Tango to Evora from Loreena McKennitt
Regina by Electrocutango
Zitarosa from Bajofondo
Siempre me Quedara from Bebe

For Milonga:
Larga la Penas – Francisco Canaro and Roberto Maida
Milonga vieja – Juan D’arienzo
El tangon – Francisco Canaro
Milonga criolla – Francisco Canaro and Roberto Maida

Do you have life outside tango? What do you do?
Yes I do, but what I do not have is a life outside dance. I am lucky to be able to do what I love. Dancing and helping people to start dancing is my passion. I believe that to be a dancer is to live a wonderful lifestyle – it is healthy, you have friends everywhere, and you have lots of fun – what else do we need in life?

Maestras and maestros to follow?
I like Zotto, for he is incredibly fast when he dances the milonga. I definitely like Chicho Frúmboli and Juana Sepúlveda for their musicality.

Last but not least, a young couple who I adore is Jonathan Saavedra and Clarisa Aragon. For me, they represent the rebirth of the classic Argentine tango.

Should we support the KL Tango Festival?
I love the KL Tango Festival. It brings all sorts of good dancers together through its workshops and milongas. Both provide participants opportunities to learn more from great dancers. I especially like festivals with international milongas, because of the mix of different nationalities. It is like Nasi Kerabu: the best ratio of the best spices creates the best mix!

Hopes for the local community?
I hope the community grows bigger and people do not give up the desire to learn more. I hope everyone becomes hungrier for tango, for if you are really committed you will find ways to improve yourself. The sky is the limit.

Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival 2018 April 15

Only 4 days to go! Please book for Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival’s Milongas now to save on walk-in prices. Sunday will feature Sebastián Acosta & Laura D’Anna, first time in Kuala Lumpur!. They were voted Tango Salon Champions at the World Championship 2014 Masters of Tango.

Please note that all the Milonga venues are at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (The Fairway Restaurant) off Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Kelab Golf.

Day 4For more info and registration for Milongas, go to Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival 2018 website.

Meet the Locals: The Instructors Edition Part 2

Interview
MEET THE LOCALS
The Instructors Edition, Part Two
By Petra Gimbad

To celebrate the KL Tango Festival’s 11th year and introduce participants to the Malaysian tango community, we have subjected the instructors below to the TANGO HOT SEAT.

iskandar and aly

Name(s): Iskandar Zulkarnain and Alyzsa Lim a.k.a. Alyzsa y Iskandar

When and where do you teach?
Mostly private classes, Iskandar teaches a group of seniors on Tuesdays at Sungai Penchala.

How do we contact you?
Email iskisenna@gmail.com or message Facebook facebook.com/iskandar.z.hadi

Describe yourself as a tango instructor, in five words.
Iski: Passionate, unorthodox, nitpicky and imaginative.
Aly: If i believe in someone, i will make sure they get it right, right down to the core. I will push them to their limits or to the best standards.

Best tango moment:
Iski: Two. Professionally, achieving 5th place (becoming the first Malaysians to achieve this in Stage Tango) in the Asian Stage Tango Championship 2017. Not because of the achievement per se, but due to competing with a torn meniscus.
Personally, it was finding each other through Tango.
Aly: When my partner and I dance a choreo flawlessly and the crowd goes wild, inside, I am soaring. Also, when I made 5th place in Campeonato Asiatico 2017 and 1st place twice in TangoBlitz and Asia Pacific Competition in 2012.

Worst tango moment:
Iski: The preceding years before that when we did the competitions and never got past the semi-finals. Specifically, when the judges didn’t call our names.
Aly: When something goes wrong in a choreography and you want so much to correct it – arghhhh!!! Or, when a leader presses my back too forcefully into the embrace or whose arms /hands are very hard.

What keeps you going?
Iski: The connection we feel when we dance, and the friends we make.
Aly: The dream inside, the music and the dancers who inspire me.

What made your best tanda, special?
Iski: When we flowed. Movement to movement as if we were reading each other’s minds, yet without force.
Aly: When I followed intensely from my core.

Your dream tanda – what would the songs be?
Aly: Watashi, La Bordona and Paciencia.
Iski: Paciencia, Nostalgia y Balada Para un Loco.

The truth: do you have a life outside of tango? What do you do? (work, hobbies)
Aly: I am a ballet teacher, dancer, choreographer and YouTube addict.
Iski: I’m a drama teacher and actor. My other hobbies are Kart racing and some boxing.

Do you dance /listen to music from any other genres, apart from tango?
Aly: I prefer tango. Of course, I like listening to new and different renditions of evergreen or pop music and alternative / rock music. I am not so much into electronic music.
Iski: Reggaeton and Latin pop.

Maestros and maestras we should follow:
Aly: Vanessa Villalba and Facundo Pinero, Claudio Villagra and Helena Fernandez, David Figueroa Caicedo, Gaspar Godoy y Carla Mazzolini, Jorge Torres, Martin Ojeda, Guido Palacios y Florencia Zarate , Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merlo, Claudio Gonzalez and Melina Bruffman.
Iski: Juan Malizia y Manuela Rossi, Claudio Villagra and Helena Villagra, Martin Ojeda, Los Totis, Gaspar Godoy y Carla Mazzolini, Vanesa Villalba y Facundo Piñero, Jorge Torres, Alejandra Gutty, David Figueroa.

Should we support the KLTF? What are your hopes for the Malaysian tango community?:
Aly: Yes, it has grown and the people here are really warm and kind.
Iski: We hope that the community will grow harmoniously, where everyone dances well without pretense.

If tango were an animal, what would it be?
Aly: A cat or lion.
Iski: A panther.

Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival 2018 April 14

Countdown – 5 days to go! The Saturday theme is nature – flora & fauna. Marguerite Edith Brodie has a prize for most inspiring or best theme “dress”.

 Bruno Tombari Rocío Lequio and Sebastián Acosta & Laura D’Anna will perform for us. DJ is Fuchon El Tanguero from Indonesia.

Make sure you note all the Milonga venues are at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (The Fairway Restaurant) off Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Kelab Golf.

countdown kltf2018 day 5For more info, go to Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival 2018 website.