Tango Teacher at Voodoo Cafe, Darlington, England
Final nominee for the LUKAS Award – Contributions to Dance ‘Tango Teacher of the Year 2014’
How did tango find you?
Back in 2004, two of my friends, Andrew and Irene, decided that they would learn to dance Argentine tango. Their arguments on the pista suggested that this was not a good idea – and to save the tears, Andrew asked me to partner Irene in the next class. It was love at first sight – not with Irene, but with tango! I was hooked!
How did you come to teach tango in Darlington?
I was teaching in the little church hall in Walbottle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, when I was spotted and asked to take over as teacher-in-residence at Voodoo Café – the 2013 LUKAS AWARD Winning ‘Best Latin Restaurant outside London’. It was like being asked by Simon Cowell to be a judge on X Factor – but better! Les and Kendra Fry, the proprietors of Voodoo Café give me a choice of studios in which to teach. We have classes most Mondays, every Thursday; and on Thursday night, we host the Voodoo Café Milonga which transforms the café bar into a tango club! This way I am happy to have opened up tango to hosts of new dancers who only dreamed that they could dance. Now even the proprietors are my students!
Where did you learn to dance?
I started dancing in an urban suburb of Newcastle Upon Tyne called Heaton – probably the last place you would expect to find tango. Between there and Byker (Newcastle’s La Boca) I learned the importance of mastering technique for tango.
Who is your inspiration?
Javier Rodrigues dancing with Geraldine Rojas was my early tango inspiration. It was then, the best place to start, and probably a great place to finish.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone learning tango?
Work hard with your teacher, but be yourself on the pista.
What is the greatest challenge to teaching tango?
To help students over their personal fears – its about the dance and their ability to master it.
How many pairs of shoes?
I have one pair, which I cherish and polish. When I become successful, perhaps I will treat myself to a second pair.
Vals, Milonga or Tango?
A true friend Julien, who influenced my tango, danced a tanda of tango the day before he died. For me, the essence of Argentine tango – is tango. This will hopefully be my last tanda in life.
Am I happy, or am I sad? But Piazzolla is always my bridge between feelings and dance.
When your NOT dancing?
I sculpt – tango dancers. This is a pleasure more than a business; it keeps me in touch with another ‘feel’ for tango.
Where to next?
My aims are for my students rather than for me. I would like those that I teach to find their way as real tangueros that enjoy their tango journey to their chosen destination. Of course I would love my little tango school here in Darlington to be recognised as a true home for tango in the North of England.