April 10-14, 2014

Christopher Nassopoulos(Buenos Aires)

My name is Christopher Nassopoulos (rhymes with metropolis) and I started dancing and teaching tango twenty-plus years ago in May of 1993. Dancing tango was initially a way out of my 20-something boredom and apathy, yet quickly became one of the defining and ongoing experiences of my life. It is, a mixture of emotions, physical skills, entertainment, frustration, pride, envy, more envy, jealousy, hubris, etc, etc.

In 1995 while in Buenos Aires, I met Susana Miller, a mysterious teacher of the equally mysterious "Tango Milonguero", defined mainly by a very close, chest-to-chest embrace. When I first saw her dance this way, I was utterly transfixed and utterly baffled by the way she and her rather ordinary-looking partner turned every motion into something fluid, relaxed and ancient. Unlike the "tango por export" (loosely: tango for foreigners) that I had been taught, they danced without drama, without stress, without the cliché, rose-in-the-teeth exaggerated passion. And the precise navigation and floorcraft was simply other-worldly, nothing like the bumper-car, pinball floorcraft we were doing back home. It was "blue-collar tango", and I was totally hooked! Susana quickly became my best friend and trusted teacher, and have not danced socially in an open embrace since. My teaching and dancing has grown around the idea that when most dancers go to Buenos Aires, they strive mainly to dance with the old guard, the milongeros/as who exemplify this natural, authentic, individualistic way of dancing. This simple, but by no means easy, manner of dancing tango is informed by life, years, and experience, the good times and the bad.

Over the last 14 years, my wife and life and tango partner, Caroline Peattie, and I have taught over 100 festivals and weekend workshops around the country. Without question, the nicest compliment we routinely receive, is that most people appreciate the way we demonstrate accessible, enjoyable social dancing, rather than trying to perform "the impossible", that neither they nor we could ever hope, or perhaps even want, to achieve. This exemplifies perfectly what tango is about for me: community, accessibility, and pleasure. Unfortunately, due to an arm broken while skiing, Caroline won't be joining me this trip, but I am delighted to be co-teaching with the talented and extremely versatile Mariana Flores (BsAs/NY) for several classes at the festival. Thank you, Mariana!

Over 20 years I have learned many, many steps and ideas from hundreds of milongueros/as; some are excellent and appropriate, yet so many are useless for social dancing in a relaxed embrace, using skillful and cooperative floorcraft. I give the highest credit to Caroline, Susana, and every follower that has informed - and insisted on - my listening to both the follower AND the music, rather than running a fixed agenda of steps and "look-at-me" choreographies and adornments. The tango that I have come to love and teach, and that is found only in the sweetest of embraces, is the art l of doing more with less. Especially less hubris. Hmmm...

Looking forward to seeing you all on the dance floor, Christopher

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