Tango workshop brings fancy footwork to IC


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With quick and graceful footwork, two internationally known stars of Argentine tango will glide into Iowa City this weekend for their first performance in the United States.

Ricardo Calvo and Sandra Messina will lead workshops this weekend at the Wesley Center, 120 N. Dubuque St., and dance a short performance at the Milonga (social dance party) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the center.

Gail Ireland, the host of the event, said she is excited to learn from these two maestros of dance, who have worked with some of the greatest performers in the world.

"Tango is passed down from one generation to the next, and they've learned at the knee of some of the best teachers, some of the best dancers," she said.

The pair's teaching method is also something that Ireland said she finds interesting and believes will make for effective and informative workshops.

"They're teachers, and they teach teachers, so they've evolved a very good way of teaching tango," she said. "They can impart the information as quickly and easily as they can, so people can really grasp it."

Both born in Argentina, Calvo and Messina are the creators of the progressive education teaching method "The Foundations of Tango" and the art of tango "The Mechanical-Drive Propiopulsión."

The duo said they developed these methods through a vast amount of experience and thoroughly studying the learning process.

"Tango is a popular dance; anyone can learn it, but its complexity requires gradual and safe learning," Calvo said. "It all boils down to three fundamental movements: walking, turning, and drawing basic figures. The rest is easy."

Messina, a dancer, choreographer, and actor, graduated from the National School of Dance. The tango's small complexities are the most appealing, she said.

"I like the details, fluency, and I find myself surprised at every turn," she said. "I feel free to interpret the music spontaneously; this brings me to another state … as if floating."

Calvo has a genetic connection to the dance; his first teacher was his father, who danced during the golden age of tango. Calvo said he is interested in the history of the dance that he finds so enchanting.

"The tango is a feeling I can only express with my dance," he said. "I like playing with my companion, as if we understand each other without speaking. Time ends, and I hope for magic."

The two dancers said that their partnership is one of love and respect. They are always trying to help each other move forward, evolve, and do new things.

"We talk, exchange ideas, and laugh at ourselves," Messina said.

At the center of their work and their relationship is the dance itself. The movement is the way that they can express themselves best.

"The tango is a form of communication of the body, emotions, and feelings," Calvo said. "It is an expression of identity and personality in the act of dancing."

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