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On Friday April 5, Gabriel Misse and Analia Centurion brought a slice of Argentina to the Big Apple. The evening’s event marked the end of a two-week series of tango workshops, milongas, and performances held at Dardo Galleto Studios.

I arrived early for the 9:30 pm start time. Luckily, this meant I got to peek in on the tail-end of a pre-milonga tango lesson. As I watched the class unfold, the hallway just outside the studio began to fill with men and women. Ladies were dressed in stiletto heels and swaying skirts; men in dress shoes and suit coats.

The lesson ended, and just as soon as the students had emptied the floor, the milonga attendees had filled it again. Heads facing away from one another, the partners embraced. Then, as soon as the music started, legs and feet propelled gliding bodies across the floor in a circular, counterclockwise path. Sometimes the gliding paused, and the dancers swiveled, slid, or wrapped their legs around their partners. When all of the partners danced along the cyclical path, their bodies revolved around the dance floor as the planets revolve around the sun.

Collisions were few and far between, but they happened. Sometimes, one pair would break orbit, drifting or even barreling through the space and into others. After recollecting themselves, the dancers began again and the cycle of movement and music continued. As I watched this process occur and reoccur, I couldn’t help but wonder if the way we dance—especially the way we dance with others—gives some indication of our character off of the dance floor.

I was seated in one of the chairs lining the dance floor’s circumference and found myself reflecting on how social dances, like this one, are great places to see people express their personal style. Perhaps we see it through a person’s choices in dress. Or, maybe it is through their personal movement style, the unique way that they move to music.

After watching for a bit longer, I had the pleasure of participating. A friendly older gentleman—Ted was his name—asked me to dance. Though I didn’t know Ted and I didn’t know how to tango, I agreed. Not only was my experience dancing fun, but it taught me quite a bit about partnership, both on and off the dance floor. First, I noticed that though I didn’t know quite what I was doing or who I was dancing with, I could dance with Ted just fine—so long as I trusted his ability and listened to him, not with my ears, but with my body. Second, I recognized that sometimes it is helpful, and even necessary, to follow someone else’s lead. In fact, following effectively arguably takes just as much skill as leading.

At about midnight, the performance section of the evening began. Internationally renowned tango dancers Misse and Centurion moved to the center of the dance floor, surrounded by an enthusiastic audience. They performed three energetic dances, each one pairing highly intricate footwork with calm and elegant carriage of the upper body. Misse was fun to watch—his technique is clean, his style is playful, and he is a wonderful entertainer, often including tastefully spectacular tricks to wow the crowd. Even when still, Centurion’s presence was strong and elegant. Her footwork was mesmerizing, inspiring many shouts from the audience. Together, their energies balanced to create harmonious, precise, and beautiful images in the space.

The performance ended to roaring applause from the audience and Misse and Centurion left the floor. Almost immediately, it was filled once again and the evening of dance continued until 1:30 am.

Perhaps the best way to assess the evening’s success is to consider my thoughts as I left Dardo Galleto Studios that night…“I’ve got to get some of these shoes…I want to learn to tango!”

Written by Alejandra Iannone

Alejandra Iannone is an interdisciplinary artist who relocated to the Twin Cities after a decade in New York City. Her writing has been published by DIYdancer, Dancer’s Turn, and the International Journal of Technoethics. She has performed at venues like the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Jacob’s Pillow, the Ailey Citigroup Theater, and the Versace Mansion. Alejandra’s choreography has been presented in New York City and throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area. She is the Creative Director of Sparkle Theatricals, an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher, and a Balanced Body® Certified Pilates Instructor. Alejandra graduated with high honors from the Ailey School Fordham University B.F.A. Program and holds an M.A. in Philosophy from Temple University. She is a citizen of Argentina and the U.S.A.