Podcast Episode 113 is now online

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Episode 113 of Joe’s Tango Podcast is now online!
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My guest today is originally from Uruguay, and discovered tango for the first time in 2002. Ever since then, it's been hard to keep him off the dance floor. He's been teaching since 2004, and has traveled to numerous festivals to teach and learn, and has studied under many world-class instructors. Now based in Miami, his dancing and teaching styles are a creative blend of traditional and new tango.

He has worked for several dance companies, productions and shows, including Enamorados del Tango, Miami Contemporary Dance, Brasilian Carnaval, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the 15th International Tango Festival in Montevideo, Uruguay, and many others.

Let's meet Diego Santana...

More on Diego here:

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Podcast Episode 107 is now online

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Episode 107 of Joe’s Tango Podcast is now online!
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So, do we choose tango or does tango choose us? My guests today certainly feel that tango discovered them. It happened in 2013, and very quickly, they fell in love this dance. Before they knew it, they were deep into studying, and have received guidance from many renown tangueros.

They have traveled internationally to hone their craft, and are presently based in Eastern Kansas where they teach and organize events.

Let's meet Kirill Miniaev & Sophia Miniaeva…

More on Kirill & Sophia here:

Podcast Episode 102 is now online!

Hello Friends!
Episode 102 of Joe’s Tango Podcast is now online!
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My guest today is one of the most experienced tango professionals in NYC. She has taught extensively at the NYU Undergraduate Drama Program at Playwrights Horizons Theater School, the Lee Strasberg Professional Theater Program in New York, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and many others.

But long before moving to the big apple, today's guest trained as a modern dancer and received a degree in Performance/Choreography from the California Institute of the Arts. She's lent her expertise all over the US as a choreographer for musicals, operas, plays, and films. Of course, she eventually crossed paths with Argentine Tango, and developed a passion for that particular dance. At the Sandra Cameron Dance Center, one of New York's top ballroom dance studios, she joined the teaching staff and was the director of both the Argentine Tango and Salsa programs. She is the founder of the Jeni Breen Tango Academy, located in downtown Manhattan, where she continues to spread the love of tango.

Let's meet Jeni Breen...

More on Jeni here:

Help support Joe’s Tango podcast – You can make a secure donation here

Podcast Episode 98 is now online

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Episode 98 of Joe's Tango Podcast is now online!
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My guests today are Daniela Pucci and Luis Bianchi. They first met in 2005, and lived in NYC from 2006 - 2012. In 2012 they made the big decision to relocate to Buenos Aires. There, they set up Tango Oasis, which is their studio and guest house.

Since then, they have traveled to over 90 cities in 4 continents to teach at workshops and various festivals. Some of their more notable appearances include the esteemed Ostertango in Switzerland, Phantastango in Germany, and the Copenhagen Tango Festival.

More on Daniela and Luis here...


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Podcast Episode 97 is now online

Hello Friends!

Episode 97 of Joe’s Tango Podcast is now online!
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My guest today is an internationally renowned DJ based in San Francisco, CA. He has DJ'd at a number of big-name festivals, marathons, and events, including the Taiwan Tango Marathon, The Southern California Tango Championship, The San Diego Tango Festival, the Austin Spring Festival, and many others. If you live in or ever visited the San Francisco Area, you'll see him DJ'ing at many of the popular venues there.

Let's meet Jonas Aquino...

More on Jonas here:

Help support Joe's Tango podcast - You can make a secure donation here

Podcast Episode 93 is now online

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Episode 93 of Joe’s Tango Podcast is now online!
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Today's guest is a Tango DJ based in Charlotte, NC. He is also a master craftsman, and designs mobile dance floors that have garnered praise from tangueros everywhere. He and his wife started the renown Queen City Tango Marathon, and we'll hear the interesting story of how that came about.

Let's meet Mark Mindel...

More on Mark and the Queen City Tango Marathon:
Website here

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Podcast Episode 82 is now online

Hello Friends!

Episode 82 of Joe’s Tango Podcast is now online!
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My guest today is Jim Chow; he is the owner of Belltown Dance Studio in Seattle, WA. 

Jim established the studio back in 2005, but he's been a passionate dancer all his life. He's familiar with a variety of dances, but salsa is his specialty so it should come as no surprise that he's Belltown's head salsa instructor. Belltown Studio is home to a number of other dance genres, including Argentine Tango.

So why interview a studio owner? Well, studio owners provide venue space for tango classes and milongas - In many cases, we tango folks wouldn't be able to do what we do without people like Jim. But I also thought it'd be fun to hear about the challenges, the behind-the-scenes action, and the highs and lows of running a dance studio...

Podcast Episode 77 is now online

Hello Friends!

Episode 77 of Joe’s Tango Podcast is now online!
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My guest today is an Argentine Tango dancer and performer. She's also a choreographer, and an actress. She started dancing at the age of 5, and has a background in ballet, Israeli folk dancing, jazz, latin, and contemporary. At age 16, she performed at the Teatro San Martín, which is one of the most most prominent theaters in Argentina. She has performed in productions at the Spanish Repertory Theatre, and in New York, she was nominated for two ACE Awards for best dramatic actress. Over the years, she has appeared in a number of musicals, plays, films, and TV programs. 

In 2009, she rediscovered her love of tango and is now based in San Diego, CA. She teaches tango classes several times a week, with a heavy focus on understanding body mechanics. She often teaches technique through the use of the Feldendkrais Method; the goal of which is to help her students gain more body awareness. Throughout the year, she also travels to teach at various festivals. 

Let's meet Patricia Becker...


With a dance like tango, any number of figures can be initiated at a moment's notice. And so we prepare ourselves to react quickly. 

In order to react quickly, we feel we have to guess what will happen next. But viewing tango as a constant guessing game is stressful, which leads to a lot of bad things like physical tension. Physical tension makes communication with our partners more difficult, and this guarantees bad reaction time.

To be able to move and react quickly, we must focus on the moment. Instead of worrying about what will happen next, we must concentrate on what's happening right now. Oddly enough, to be able to react quickly we must learn to slow down our thinking.

tango painting motion.jpg


We know the type of person we want to dance with. It is a leader or follower who is respectful, fun, and patient. This is the type of person who makes our night when we're feeling unsure of ourselves, and doesn’t react negatively to our mistakes. We've worked hard building up our own tango skills, and show up to milongas hoping to dance with such a person.

Stop leaving it up to chance whether or not this person will notice our skills and remember to give us a cabeceo. That’s waste of time. Instead, once we figure out the type of person we want to dance with, let's work hard to be that person. 


Don't get stuck in the past

Over time, not only will our own tango evolve, but the community around us will probably change, too. 

Friends will come and go, as may teachers. New venues may appear, and old ones may close. Despite all this, it’s best to find ways to keep moving our tango forward. Yes, we’ll be nostalgic for times when certain dancers were still in town, or when classes and/or events were done a different way. 

But let's not get stuck in the past, or be too romantic about it. Constantly talking about how better things used to be is not a strategy for a better future.

The world of tango is aways in flux, regardless of how big or small our communities are. Sometimes the changes will be welcome, sometimes not. But regardless, there will always be opportunities for tango to enrich our lives. Ultimately, we are responsible for the amount of enjoyment we get from dancing. As times change, either we’ll have to look for it elsewhere, or we may have to create it ourselves.



With tango, the shape of our bodies - regardless of size - presents a number of limitations. In addition to that, the amount of space we have to dance in, physical obstacles on the dance floor, and the length of each song create yet more limitations. And we're also limited by the extent of our dance knowledge.

We should be aware of boundaries in our tango, whether they be physical or mental. We should test them, stretch them, and on other occasions, work within them. 

But it’s counterproductive to think of limitations only as hindrances to our dancing growth. Paradoxically, the creative nature of tango can’t come to light without them.



For many of us, tango dancing is not a strict discipline. For instance, multiple teachers will introduce multiple ways to execute the same step. Two teachers may contradict each other, yet still both be correct. There is no universally agreed-upon method of instruction, and what works for one group of dancers won't necessarily work for us. 

Learning tango, and developing our own style can be like wandering through the woods without a map; we'll have to find our own way instead of following a trail. Becoming a good dancer in an environment such as this requires a willingness to experiment, and to discover a bunch of ideas that won't end up working. 

But even without a "map," we can successfully navigate the tango "wilderness" by indulging our curiosity. Add a strong dose of pure determination, and we'll be on our way. Don't panic if the journey gets messy. That's just the way tango is sometimes.

tango messy.jpg


On our tango journey, we'll encounter a numerous internal obstacles such as voices of doubt, lapses in confidence, and irrational fears of judgement by others. In the face of all that, we push ahead anyway.

But those obstacles don't go away as we improve. In fact, they get bigger. The fearful voices in our heads get louder.

The more we accomplish, the more reasons we'll find to quit.

We'll never completely silence the voices of doubt, but that isn't the goal. Instead, we need to be careful not let our internal fears drown out the objective, observable improvement in our tango. The process of getting better is a worthwhile endeavor, even if it's never a smooth journey. 



It's important to have specific goals with our tango, whether it's to attend a certain festival, learn a particular step, or build the courage to perform for an audience.

Reaching a particular goal feels great...for a short while. But focusing on that single moment is a waste of time in the long run. Nothing magical will happen, and chances are we won't be suddenly transformed.  

We also need to think about what a particular tango goal means. Upon reaching it, what have we learned? What other opportunities have opened up? What have we been doing wrong up until that point? What do we need to do more of? Or what do we need to stop doing?

Celebrating a goal, like dwelling on failure, becomes counterproductive after a while. They should be looked upon as occasions to honestly evaluate ourselves before moving forward.



When we feel like we're actually dancing, we realize that we've let go of anxiety and the mental struggle of remembering countless technique points. That feeling of smooth movement, even if it's fleeting at first, gives us a sense that we can indeed become tango dancers after all.

The sensation is like riding a bike for the first time, when the person teaching us lets go of the seat and leaves us to balance on our own. On the dance floor, we capture that feeling when we start making a better effort to move with the music.

We may still stumble every now and then as our muscle memory takes shape, but the key to our next tango breakthrough is closely tied to the music. So let's pay closer attention to it, trust it, and not be afraid to let it take us. 



When we watch our favorite tango couples online, we're mesmerized by their amazing technique. But what exactly goes into that technique?

Once we start understanding particular steps and/or technique, we often find ourselves trying to control every single body movement in order to get things right. Intuitively, this makes sense. But the more we apply control, the more restriction we'll feel. And when we feel restricted and tense, nothing feels or looks right.

If we take a closer look at those tango pros, we'll notice that their movements reflect freedom and ease; they're not exerting absolute control over every movement. But when we try embracing freedom, tango feels more risky and scary...as though we're about to lose control.

Yet the need for control - or illusion thereof - is the very thing holding us back.

Tango requires us to embrace more freedom than we're comfortable with at first. But in the long run, things work better when we trust that our minds and bodies can handle that freedom.



Learning new steps is always fun. However, learning more and more steps doesn't necessarily mean we're improving our tango. Even if we don't know too many steps yet, there's a lot we can do to make our tango more interesting and dynamic. Here are three ways to improve our dancing without having to learn a bunch of new steps.

If we're leaders, we fall into a habit of dancing the steps we know in a certain sequence. if we stick to the routine, things can get boring. We can take the steps we currently know, and simply reorder them. Reorganizing or breaking old sequential habits will help our tango feel new and fresh again.

With tango, it's relatively easy to move with the strong beat of each song, and apply occasional quick-quick steps during certain musical phrases. This, too, can become a habit that can eventually make our tango feel stale. Fortunately, addressing rhythmic habits can be as simple as slowing down when we have normally sped up. Or, for some more dynamism, we can mix half-time steps with faster syncopations - this is fun. Leaders probably have more flexibility in applying this change, but opportunities also exist for followers as well. 

For followers, be on the lookout for opportunities to try adornments. As we gain experience with tango, we'll find that following is quite an active and assertive role. Adornments are a fun way to bring that out. They create spice in the dance, and open up opportunities for back-and-forth playfulness with the leader. And with leaders who are alert, adornments offer further connection practice. 

Although easy to understand, it takes a lot of practice to implement these ideas effectively. Work on them one at a time, and take your time thinking them through. Although keeping our tango fresh and feeling new takes effort, it won't always require drastic action. 



Whether we're taking a class to reinforce basics or challenging ourselves with something new, group classes or workshops are an obvious choice for moving our tango forward. But once the class starts, it's easy to become flustered and frustrated. Sometimes our brains feel overloaded, and we find ourselves struggling to keep up mentally.

What to do? Here are seven strategies to organize our thoughts and alleviate much of the anxiety. It'll help make the most of our tango, and get our money's worth.

If the instructors are introducing a new exciting step or technique concept, it's not going sink in right away. And that's fine. Our teachers make it all look so easy because they've been doing this forever. Rather than try to waste all our energy trying to perfect the step within the workshop's 60 - 90 minute timeframe, let's focus more on understanding the subject matter. Once we grasp the concept, the bulk of perfecting the material will happen during our own practice time.

Teachers will often introduce a new step by giving us a sequence to work with. Instead of just going through the motions of the sequence and treating it as a to-do list, it's much more important to pay attention to what our bodies are doing while we're working through it.

How much are we pivoting? How close or far away do we have to be from our partner? Are we on balance? Are we pushing or pulling too much with our arms? What are we doing right? What do we need to improve?

Even though we're serious about our tango, remember that even the most challenging tango class/workshop is meant to be fun (as opposed to torture). Let's put in our best effort, but keep the perfectionist tendencies in check. If we start to put ourselves down, then we're doing it wrong. Taking things too seriously is counterproductive.

Most teachers will do a video review or demo at the end of their classes, which summarize the topics they introduced. Have your phone or camcorder handy, and take the video! Or at least get a copy from a fellow student. Never rely on your memory, as you'll be surprised at how much you forget after the workshop ends. 

Yes, old fashioned note-taking is a great way to retain new tango knowledge. Jotting down your own description of the workshop's main points (along with the video summary) will go a long way in committing the information to memory.

When the class or workshop ends, out tango teachers will remind us to practice. This isn't just a final pleasantry before saying good-bye. They're serious, and the class or workshop is only the beginning when it comes to the next stage of tango growth. After the motivational, feel-good rush of a fun workshop wears off, it's on us to work the new ideas into our bodies. Sometimes it takes weeks, or months for the material to fully sink in. But if we had a great time at the workshop, why wouldn't we want to keep working at it?

Did some of our tango friends miss the class or workshop? Let's show them what we learned, and spread the fun! Sharing new knowledge is not only good for our communities, but it's a great way to solidify our own understanding. Everyone wins.

I hope this list is helpful, and thanks for reading!


Remember to Play

Taking tango too seriously makes the learning process more difficult than it needs to be. Yet, it's so easy to catch ourselves trying too hard.

In Episode 53 of my podcast, I interviewed Veronica Toumanova, an instructor based in Paris. She made an excellent point about why we struggle with tango, in that we often start the dance at a time in our lives when we've already developed expertise in a different field (usually related to our professions). And because of that, taking on a new activity like tango can leave us feeling vulnerable and frustrated.

But despite requiring commitment and practice, it's counterproductive to approach tango the same way we would with work. There are no deadlines, meetings, or yearly evaluations. And we won't get called into anyone's office for making a mistake. Much of the learning process requires experimentation, or play. So let's re-work our thinking habits and try a lighter approach.

Treating tango like play not only makes it more fun, but also creates a rich atmosphere for learning that we haven't experienced since we were children. Bringing back that kind of enjoyment into our lives as adults can only help with moving our tango forward.