ARGENTINE TANGO HEATS UP THE NIGHT

Tempo - - CONTENTS - By Ariana Kramer

Dance teacher Shahin Medghalchi ex­plains that the heart of Argentine tango is in its em­brace. With a proper em­brace, the two dance part­ners form a carpa (tent) and the world melts away.

Medghalchi has taught pri­vate lessons in Taos for the past eight years, and is now open­ing her own Taos stu­dio. In ad­di­tion, Medghalchi will be host­ing a se­ries of mi­lon­gas (pub­lic tango dances) at her stu­dio and in the com­mu­nity.

To­day (Feb. 22) from 7-10 p.m. Medghalchi in­vites her dance stu­dents from all over north­ern New Mex­ico to come to Taos for a mi­longa. Mu­sic for the dance will be pro­vided by Ale­jan­dro Ziegler Tango Quar­tet, an ac­com­plished group of mu­si­cians from Ar­gentina. It’s all hap­pen­ing at the Taos Mesa Brew­ing Mother­ship, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west.

Medghalchi has stud­ied the art of dance since the age of five and tango since the mid-1990s. She said she stud­ied tango be­cause “I found the dance in­trigu­ing, soul­ful, mys­te­ri­ous. The con­nec­tion that comes in tango is very pro­found. When you hold some­one in your arms and move with that some­one, the other world doesn’t ex­ist.... It’s the most psy­cho­log­i­cal and pas­sion­ate dance in my opin­ion.”

The his­tory of tango goes back to the 1800s, ex­plained Medghalchi, re­fer­ring to a piece writ­ten by Su­san Au­gust Brown, ti­tled “Argentine Tango: A Brief His­tory.” Brown is a tango teacher from Texas and her es­say can be found at te­jas­tango.com/ tan­go_his­tory.html.

In her es­say, Brown dis­cusses how tango de­vel­oped in the mid-1800s when African peo­ple were brought to Ar­gentina as slaves. The word “tango” was used to mean the place where Africans came to­gether to dance. The tango, as it is known to­day, came from mix­ing Argentine mi­longa mu­sic (a fast polka) and the rhythms of Africa in the poor bar­rios of Buenos Aires.

“Although high so­ci­ety looked down upon the ac­tiv­i­ties in the bar­rios, well-heeled sons of the porteño oli­garchy were not averse to slum­ming,” wrote Brown. “Even­tu­ally, ev­ery­one found out about the tango and, by the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury, the tango, as both a dance and as an em­bry­onic form of pop­u­lar mu­sic, had es­tab­lished a firm foothold in the fast-ex­pand­ing city of its birth.”

From there, Brown says, tango spread in­ter­na­tion­ally in the early 1900s when the sons of rich Argentine fam­i­lies trav­eled to Paris and shared the dance. Af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a Golden Era in the 1930s, Brown says tango went un­der­ground dur­ing the rock-an­droll era un­til the mid-1980s when the stage show, “Tango Ar­gentino,” opened in Paris, and in­spired a re­vival of tango across the world.

Medghalchi iden­ti­fied three types of tango: in­ter­na­tional, Amer­i­can and Argentine. How­ever, she says the mother of them all is Argentine tango.

“The staged tango is dif­fer­ent than sa­lon or so­cial floor danc­ing. So­cial floor danc­ing is more re­stricted and in­ter­nal. The big steps are made for the stage, for the show. So­cial floor danc­ing is for con­nect­ing with part­ners of any gen­der,” said Medghalchi. “On the so­cial floor, there shouldn’t be any show­ing off. Danc­ing in that em­brace makes two peo­ple be­come one in har­mony and move­ment. It’s all about energy.”

Ac­cord­ing to her web­site, thetan­go­hous­esf.com, Medghalchi’s area of ex­per­tise is so­cial floor tech­nique, “teach­ing peo­ple to en­joy danc­ing at mi­lon­gas while main­tain­ing a har­mo­nious flow with other cou­ples on the floor.”

“This in­cludes cre­ativ­ity, in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the mu­sic, con­nec­tion to one’s cen­ter, one’s part­ner, and to the mu­sic. Her ap­proach fa­cil­i­tates con­fi­dence in and en­joy­ment of tango danc­ing,” the web­site state­ment con­tin­ues. “She brings el­e­gance to tango and en­cour­ages the stu­dents to fol­low the same path. Ex­tremely de­tai­lo­ri­ented, her lessons are en­gag­ing and tech­ni­cal.”

Medghalchi runs the Tango House of Santa Fe, which has re­ceived the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Best of Santa Fe awards for dance in­struc­tion. For more in­for­ma­tion about Medghalchi’s classes, work­shops and mi­lon­gas, visit thetan­go­hous­esf.com.

The Ale­jan­dro Ziegler Tango Quar­tet was formed in 2008 in Ar­gentina. The quar­tet plays reg­u­larly in Buenos Aires and has toured ex­ten­sively in Europe and North Amer­ica.

“Tango mu­sic is nat­u­ral to me,” Ziegler told Tempo. “Be­ing born and raised in Buenos Aires, where I still live, is of course a big part of the in­spi­ra­tion as this mu­sic rep­re­sents the city where I come from and its cul­ture.”

Ziegler said he has per­formed many times in Al­bu­querque, but this will be his first time com­ing to Taos.

“We will be pre­sent­ing a new CD that’s called ‘Live Around the World,’ that was recorded while tour­ing dif­fer­ent coun­tries both in Europe and North Amer­ica and re­flects the am­bi­ence of the mi­lon­gas in Buenos Aires,” said Ziegler.

The quar­tet is in­spired by the golden age of tango or­ches­tras and tries to strike a bal­ance be­tween a tra­di­tional sound and con­tem­po­rary ex­pres­sion of the unique mu­si­cal style. For more in­for­ma­tion on the Ale­jan­dro Ziegler Tango Quar­tet, visit ziegler­tango.com/en.

Tick­ets for tonight’s con­cert and mi­longa are $10. For more in­for­ma­tion, call (575) 758-1900 or visit taosmesabrew­ing.com.

COUR­TESY IM­AGE

ALE­JAN­DRO ZIEGLER Tango Quar­tet

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