Archive for the ‘California’ Tag

MY EXPERIENCE WITH ALBERTO PAZ AND VALORIE HART   1 comment

A testimony by Jean-Pierre Sighé
April 2, 2006

I met Alberto and Valorie during the Winter of 1998, in California . I had just made the decision to learn Argentine Tango, after going to the show “Forever Tango” twice in San Francisco and watching the movie “The Tango Lesson” by Sally Potter. I needed someone from the Culture of Argentina to teach me Tango, as I had intuitively sensed how deep Tango seemed to touch the different delicate layers of the human emotions.

Someone had given me their phone number. I called and during the preliminary introduction, I explained the reason of my call: “I needed someone to teach me Tango, but more than the steps. I wanted to understand the “Culture” behind the moves”. After his delighting usual chuckle, he said: “Well…you found me. I think I can teach you what you’re looking for”. These words marked the opening of a marvelous door to my quest.

The first lesson consisted in Walking and… Walking, with no reference to any figure. I had to learn how to keep my partner in front of me, therefore, learn how to “negotiate” curving and straight paths. “Tango is a walking danceAlberto said. Little did I understand at the time all the profound implications of that comment. Confident I was, sensing I was studying with someone who knew what he was doing.

After several months of private and semi-private lessons, Alberto and Valorie encouraged me to start going to the milongas to dance. The dance floor is the place where my many lessons taken, would show, they kept saying.

About 6 months later, as I signed up for the Nora’s Tango week-end (a major Tango event in the San Francisco Bay Area in July) I began to realize how fortunate I had been to study with Alberto and Valorie. I had been very well prepared to understand the instructions of other great tango Masters such as Fabian Salas, Carlos Gavito, Tito…etc. that I encountered at the event and later on, studied with.

I had NEVER had to go back and unlearn or correct anything Alberto and Valorie have taught me. For that I will be forever grateful to them. In the world where many delve and stagnate in so much fantasies and half information dispensed by people who have not yet studied long enough and yet want to be “teachers”, it means a lot to find the right Master Teachers such as Alberto and Valorie, from the very first neophyte’s steps.

To Teach is also to express Love. It is a gift and a talent. I was very impressed with Alberto’s ability to go into my mind and explain to me a difficulty I was experiencing. He was thus able to help me identify the problem and therefore put me in a better position to correct it. Infinitely patient, Alberto and Valorie NEVER looked at their watch to “check the time” of the lesson. I remember one day where I was so enthusiastic about a subject we were studying, that I kept working on it and asking questions, over and over. At some point, Valorie went to the kitchen for a quick brake. I continued with Alberto for a while. Then, Alberto walked toward the couch, slumped onto it with his hands resting on his head. At that moment, Valorie came out of the kitchen and Alberto, looking at her said with a very calmed and exhausted voice : “I think we’ve created a monster!” She burst out laughing. I quickly realized…checked my watch and (Oh my God!) we had been working for over two hours already, for a lesson that was meant to last one hour. I too laughed, apologized for my “stubborn focus” and departed shortly after to allow my teachers some rest.

That availability of a Teacher, that Love expressed tirelessly for the student, has marked me forever. There is an indescribable joy in helping a student receive the information and to see that information take shape in his/her mind. The length of time it takes to accomplish the goal does not matter anymore. That is the modus operandi of Alberto and Valorie.

Very attached to the historical accuracies, Alberto opened my eyes to many facts about Argentine Tango. He is the one who made me realize the contribution that the African descents in Buenos Aires , along with the Italian, Spanish and Indian, had brought to the birth of Tango. After the class, it was customary to sip a cup of tea, graciously offered by Valorie, in the kitchen of their wonderful house (I called it ‘The Temple of Tango”, because everything in that house was breathing Tango). During that special time, casual comments often helped me open my heart more to the Argentinean spirit.

Alberto and Valorie gave me a gift of a priceless value, an added life lasting joy to my existence: the experience of Tango. They opened a window on the garden of my soul to let more rays of the sun and more warmth of Love rush in. Thank you!

THE GIFT OF TANGO   Leave a comment

Standing in the living room, we formed a circle and held hands. One by one we introduced ourselves. Some came from Texas, others from Chicago. Then there were the hosts, the family who owned the farm surrounding the home where the ritual was taking place. We were from California, and the words “traveling tango teachers” sounded awkward and somehow out of context with the spirit of the moment. Suddenly, and all at once, they began to sing a harmonious hymn that filled the room with sounds of purity, love and a heartfelt appreciation for the joy of being alive, surrounded by friends and family. Then, we sat down at the dinner table and celebrated Thanksgiving in the heartland of America.

We’ve been traveling quite a lot embracing our chosen vocation of preserving and fostering the development of new and established Argentine tango communities. We bring along our passionate love and dedication for the music, poetry and dance, empowering the force of knowledge to free the minds, to encourage the bodies to accept the closeness of other bodies for engaging in enjoyment of the music and joyful sharing of the dance. Returning to places we have been, where the Argentine tango already has a established presence, we have also discovered new fledgling hamlets. There, the desire to dance the tango is only surpassed by the energy and passion with which the people go out of their way to reach out, grasping as much tango as is humanly possible.

In retrospect, our intuition, our confidence and our faith in people has allowed us to establish a presence for the tango as far north as the city of Anchorage in Alaska, and as deep in the south as the city of New Orleans. Along the way, we met great people in Winnipeg, Canada, and found ourselves a family in the heartland of America. So, when Thanksgiving caught us wandering through the prairie, we never felt away from home. We never paused to question what does a traveling tango teacher do when the moan of the bandoneon and the whine of the violin, are replaced by the call of the turkey on Thanksgiving day .

We found ourselves holding hands with our new friends and their families, saying grace and feeling thankful that our lives are so blessed with the gift of tango. We are thankful for the possibility of sharing that gift with warm, gentle, generous and caring human beings who had morphed from total strangers to affectionate friends in the brief time it takes to embrace and walk a few times around the dance floor.

This is the kind of rewarding experience that reminds us about the quality of life that Argentine tango can bring to those who dare to be close. There is nothing like the shared intimacy of a sound, a scent, a gesture, a look, a smile, a tear. Intense moments that soothe the soul, energize the heart and make us feel alive, vibrant, inspired, and above all thankful. We have connected, we have made an everlasting impression, and there is a part of us that forever will be special. Step by step we keep navigating the dance floor of life. As we go around, there is always something or somebody who reminds us how important it is to be at peace with ourselves, to give each other the gift of tango, to hold hands, to embrace, to love the music, to absorb the culture, to teach by learning and to learn by teaching.

Posted November 27, 1999 by Alberto & Valorie in EDITORIAL

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