Club Offers Tango for More Than Two

    Forehead to forehead, eyes closed and hands pressed softly
    yet assertively together, two tango partners spin around the floor of Main Gym
    during the weekly UCSD Argentine Tango Club practica. Leading with their
    chests, the men sweep the women across the floor in a dance that mixes a series
    of basic moves with improvisation based on the crooning of the violin, piano
    and bandoneo-infused tango music. Each couple has a unique interpretation of
    the mood that conveys tango as they connect, lean on each other and create a
    flowing movement of emotion and personal expression.

    “[Tango is] kind of
    an intimate, unspoken conversation between two people,” said Justin Ma, a
    graduate student and current tango club president.

    Ma is one of the many graduate students who have found the
    club to be a great opportunity to both practice tango skills and socialize with
    a community of diverse people.

    “The tango community is very international,” Ma said. “Tango
    people tend to be very driven, and it tends to be reflected in the
    professionalism of the people that come in.”

    The tango club caters to more than just UCSD; it also
    incorporates the larger La Jolla community and encourages people of all ages
    and levels to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from, and help, teach
    others.

    “Practica is about showing your knowledge with other
    people,” Revelle College senior Parisa Ghannadan said. “Everyone has a role of
    learning and teaching.”

    To reach out to all levels of dancers, recreation classes
    are offered at RIMAC Arena that teach beginners dance’s basic structure before
    they develop a more free-form practica. Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore
    Samara Kaplan was skeptical about going to her first practica, but soon found a
    supportive environment.

    “The atmosphere was a little daunting at first, because the
    dancers seem so professional … but once you get dancing, everyone is in their
    own world,” Kaplan said in an e-mail.

    Luckily for any tango novice, the basic concept of the dance
    derives from an act the average student has hopefully mastered: walking.
    However, learning to walk with a partner and engaging in a lead-and-follow
    dynamic takes much practice and dedication. In order to advance to moves such
    as leg wraps and spins, every student must first learn the basic steps.
    Beginners must master the crusada, ochos, molinete, weight change and, perhaps
    most importantly, a consistent frame posture.

    “There are opening
    moves … but then [the moves] take you to different places,” said Maziar Nezhad,
    a graduate student and former tango club president. “There is an element of
    randomness.”

    The tango is a naturally explorative dance, and mastering
    the initial techniques prepares dancers for all sorts of possibilities.

    “[Tango] is really diverse because the motions you go
    through when you’re dancing goes from playful to sad to dramatic,” Ma said. “It
    runs the gamut. I like that variety.”

    The uniqueness of a
    tango dance is accredited to the combination of two partners sharing their
    common knowledge and style since the male leads and the female follows.

    “It’s an interaction of invitation and acceptance,” Nezhad
    said.

    Because the dance itself is so rhythmic, music plays a
    crucial role in the dance’s movements and mood.

    “A great deal of the pleasure of the dance comes from the
    connection to the music,” Nezhad said. “If [the connection] is not there, then
    it’s just a bunch of moves that don’t really make sense. When there is this
    connection to the music, then it all kind of falls in place.”

    Because music is an integral part of tango, Ma encourages
    students to get involved with the club through DJ opportunities in addition to
    dancing. The practicas revolve around a sequence of tango music that can invoke
    different feelings and emotions from the dancers; students can approach tango
    through appreciation of its music, which ranges from classical slow and
    romantic tango to a large range of modern adaptations called “nueva” tango,
    which Ghannadan describes as “tango with a ghetto beat.”

    The tango club also hosts events such as demo dances, in
    which two partners showcase their tango skills to audiences during events
    ranging from campus activities to La Jolla cultural fairs. Promoting the club
    has become increasingly important to members.

    As a free opportunity to both learn and teach, the tango
    club provides a place for anyone and everyone to explore their interest in the
    dance, music and culture.

    “What is so unique about tango is how smooth the movements
    are,” Kaplan said in an e-mail. “There is such a passion that comes out of you
    when you tango, especially when you close your eyes and let your body just move
    around the space.”

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