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Iowa Tango Club brings in international professionals

BY MEREDITH CULLEN | JULY 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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Tango instructor Patricia Vahanian said the fluidity of tango makes it an alluring dance style.

“It’s like an addiction,” she said. “But it’s a good kind of addiction.”

The Iowa Tango Club regularly provides the chance for the community to experience this Argentine partner dance, and new artists coming to teach tango will provide a new opportunity for these dancers. Argentine tango masters Somer Surgit and Jessica Stserbakova will teach a workshop Friday through July 28 involving six lessons and performances.

“It’s a way to see the dance done by professional dancers,” Vahanian said. “And also to improve and continue developing the vocabulary that we all need in dancers for tango. It’s a feast for the eyes to see [the artists] performing.”

Both the instructors of regular tango classes and the dancers said they are excited to learn from and watch Surgit and Stserbakova.

“This is a chance for beginners or more advanced tango dancers to experience classes from international instructors,” said Dianne Day, who has been attending tango classes for four years.

Iowa Tango Club participants said tango is a dance for all levels. As part of the club, beginners are encouraged to try the classes risk-free.

“Give it a try,” said Suzanne Palmer, who takes tango classes regularly. “That’s one of the other things I love about [tango] is that it’s super accessible. My partner [and I] took a salsa class, and it was way over his head. Tango starts with just walking, so it’s very accessible for any level.”

For beginners wanting to try out tango, Vahanian suggests they try the Friday class at 7 p.m. This course teaches fluidity and embrace, the most challenging elements of tango.

“For people who haven’t done a lot of tango, it’s a must because the most difficult thing we see when people come to the floor is getting into a comfortable embrace,” she said. “I think Somer [Surgit] and Jessica [Stserbakova] have that expertise to help us getting to that level of comfort and enjoyment in our dance, discovering what isn’t working.”

Palmer has experience with different dances, but she said tango was different from anything she has done, with communication playing a big part in mastering the moves.

“I really had never done much partnering or social dance. So learning to follow was a big lesson,” she said. “I really learned to appreciate the leaders’ role in a different way. They have a big job. The leaders in tango do a lot of the work, and having a partner who had no dance experience to just be patient and really learn to listen.”

Day said she learned about the importance of the leader in tango.

“For me, it’s a lot of fun, because for the follower, you’re honing in on how to read the lead of a different leader,” she said. “Some are very strong in their lead, some are very subtle. It’s where you get sensitive to communication with another individual but on a nonverbal kind of level. It’s very fun that way, and I’ve found that I’ve become more at ease with people in general.”

Palmer said she also learned about the connection dancers experience with their partner in tango.

“I was really impressed with the level of connection that you can make with a partner to the point where you become one body moving as space,” she said. “You could really tell what foot your partner was on. The level of connection was really notable and sweet.”

Palmer said these experiences keep people coming back to Iowa Tango Club.

“It’s the beauty of having those moments of connection with a partner and expressing music as you move around the floor, which is really gratifying,” she said.


What: Iowa Tango Club Argentine Tango Workshop
When: Friday through July 28
Where: Cannon Studios, 260 33rd Ave. S.W., Cedar Rapids
Admission: Full pass $125 ($65 for college students), one class $25, two or more classes $20


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