Tango Element 2011


Well-Known Member
Another year, another Tango Element gone by. Amazing festival. I have some notes from it if you guys are interested. After I pass out for a week first. heh. Also, I can't feel my feet.

Teachers this year included Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes, Chicho Frumboli and Juana Sepulveda, Aoniken Quiroga and Alejandra Mantiñan, Martin Maldonada and Maurizio Ghella, and Lucas Gazcon and Cecilia Piccinni.

Pretty impressed with the classes this year. The organizers did a great job balancing them for leader/follower ratio and brought in like ALL of the east coast teachers to help with taxiing where needed.

More later. Sleep now.


Well-Known Member
So some interesting classes this year. Chicho and Juana's were packed of course, but I still managed to get a lot out of them. This year each teacher seemed to have a theme to their lessons. C&J's theme imo was exploration of split-weight soltadas and getting into alternate embraces. Definitely felt some Swing influence there. We explored a hold very similar to sweetheart as well as a cross body handshake hold. Shadow position from BR made an appearance as well.

Chicho taught heavily with sequences, though he made a point of telling the leaders to focus on the transitions and to be able to do every movement backwards/forwards and to both sides of the embrace. The class was huge, so I never got a chance to work one-on-one with him, but I did get some help from Juana. She's fantastic, I think she often gets overshadowed by her partner.

As far as the moves themselves, some of them were cute, and I could see using them with the right partner and the right music. The alternate embraces can be fun, but they also served the purpose of making me think very hard about how the lead is communicated in open. Try leading ochos from a handshake hold sometime and you'll see what I mean. ;)

Sebastian and Mariana's teaching style was similar but a little different. The patterns were shorter, and there was more discussion of the quality of the embrace and the movement. Sebastian sometimes punctuated lessons with stories from his personal life and his experience learning tango. One in particular I thought was helpful for the class. It went something like this:

When you're looking at a teacher demonstrating a movement, often the move can seem large and impressive. Particularly if the teacher has a stage or theater background. But this can be an illusion; teachers who perform are trained to project their presence. They learn about body lines, presentation of movement, emoting larger, etc. Sometimes they use this presence without even realizing it, in a teaching setting. This can lead their students to dance "big" thinking that this is what the teacher is doing. It's important to distill the movement down to what it really is and dance it small first. And for the would-be show dancers of the tango community... if you want to look impressive on the dance floor, don't dance bigger. Study with a teacher who has a performance background and can actually teach you how to project.

So yeah, that was an interesting rant.

As far as steps, S&M focused a good bit on the closed side of the embrace. Calecita, outside right partner walking, cross system outside right partner walking, etc. Some interesting ideas. S&M are big fans of the close embrace with no weight sharing. I'm not a fan, but I can see how it makes those kind of movements easier. They also did a great session on milonga: musical timing, floorcraft, and a couple quick and fun patterns.

Martin and Maurizio are great. One of the rare guy duo teaching teams. They are full of energy and keep people entertained and focused with their banter. Their theme this year seemed to be internal spirals; using disassociation, enrosque movements, etc. How to take advantage of them as both a leader and a follower. Also, M&M made the gender balance of the visiting teachers somewhat, ah, offset. There were some shenanigans at the group performances where both of them would grab the girls and leave two of the other leaders stuck dancing with each other. Sebastian kept getting stuck dancing with another guy. :D

I took one class with Aoniken and Alejandra. I have to say, I love their style. Aoniken seemed to be the most humble of the visiting leader teachers, but still very confident when showing something to the class. Alejandra is an amazing dancer and has a keen eye; I noticed her zipping around the group class making adjustments and correcting people at the level you'd normally get in a private lesson.

Lucas Gazcon and Cecilia Piccinni I did not work with at all. I'm sure they're nice, I just hadn't heard anything about them before so I didn't want to take a chance on a class. Maybe next time after I quiz some of the other local dancers on how good their classes were.

That's all, I'll look for the performances to be posted and stick them in the video section. Lots of choreography this year, which is ok I guess. What was interesting was C&J seemed to use less choreography than the other teachers and just went with their crazy musicality and off-the-wall steps.

Next year you guys should come! The milongas were insanely packed. I noticed almost every teacher I know from the east coast hanging out and dancing.


Staff member
I would have liked to have made it, but it just wasn't in the cards this year. I know quite a few people who went. I will say that I did go to a fantastic milonga in Jamestown, RI that Saturday, so I don't feel like I got cheated.


Well-Known Member
I would have liked to have made it, but it just wasn't in the cards this year. I know quite a few people who went. I will say that I did go to a fantastic milonga in Jamestown, RI that Saturday, so I don't feel like I got cheated.
Nice! Well, maybe one of these days I'll make it up your way too.


Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting. The class with S/M sounds like it was a good one, full of interesting tidbits.
You're welcome! Yeah, it actually was several classes. I spent most of the weekend with C/J and S/M in their advanced classes. One thing that is different from Tango Element that I haven't seen in other festivals is the experienced teachers are allowed to run couples-only advanced topics classes with no set subject. You sign up for the class and the teachers give you whatever they feel like teaching. So far I haven't been disappointed with the format.

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