UAlbany Tango Club Gives Free Tango Lessons Every Sunday

Published on Mar. 12, 2013

By. Casey So Hyeun Cho

UAlbany Tango Club lesson in session Provided by UAlbany Tango Club

UAlbany Tango Club lesson in session
Provided by UAlbany Tango Club

The Dance Studio located on the third floor of the Athletic Center turns into a ballroom every Sunday afternoon.

An energetic instructor in a shiny shirt demonstrates his moves. As he shows his moves, the tap of his shoes resonates in the room.

Two long lines of men and women facing each other stand across the room meet and practice the move that the instructor just taught.

UAlbany Tango Club became an official Student Association group in Fall 2012.

According to Valerie Lavash, the Tango Club Adviser, she participated in tango lessons led by Kevin Magee in the Colonial Quad Penthouse several years ago, and she enjoyed so much that she wanted to bring him to UAlbany.

“Argentine tango is all about connecting with the person you’re dancing with so that you can improvise together and feel the music,” Lavash said. “I thought other students may enjoy this as well.”

Lavash teamed up with current club members Beleah Kollou, Simone Arthur and a student from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Daniel Schlegel, and went through the whole process for the Tango Club to become an official student group.

Instructor Magee gives UAlbany students the tango lesson for free on every Sunday 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The lesson is open to public with the charge of $80 for non-students to join the whole semester or $15 drop-in fee.

Magee, the organizer and founder of the Albany Tango Society, has presented Tango events in Albany since 2007.

Magee has brought over 200 guest instructors and performers to the Capital region, drawing form the upper echelon of tango dancers world-wide.

Along with UAlbany, Magee teaches tango through the Student Union at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Magee has also instructed modern dance, ballet, and jazz technique, as well as lectured in contemporary choreography, dance history and cultural studies at colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

Magee received his MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois (’91) with an emphasis in contemporary performance, choreography, and pedagogy, according to the UAlbany Tango Club website.

In order to acquire the dance moves that were learned on Sunday, the UAlbany Tango Club holds a practice session on Tuesday.

On Tuesday practices, the participants are paired up in partners and dance in a circle of desks. This is for the students to get used to dancing in a small, crowded space and helps them to prepare for dancing in public, according to Lavash.

The practice sessions are led by Bilge Avci, a graduate of UAlbany who has studied tango intensely with Magee.

Avci helps switching partners and music, and provides further assistance in understanding how to dance tango. Also, she demonstrates how to do it right and answers questions.

“It helps us quite a bit to have someone with her expertise,” said Lavash.

An average of 40 people attend the Sunday lessons, and there have been as many as 70. On Tuesdays around 10 people attend the practice sessions.

Lavash gives thanks to UAS Funds, Amnesty International, fundraisers, donations and the New and Unfunded budget money that they received from the Student Association last semester. The lessons have been provided to the UAlbany community for free.

With help from their fundraising efforts and other student groups, they can pull through this semester.

“I wish to keep the lessons free to all UAlbany Students,” said Lavish. “In that way anyone attending this college can enjoy this beautiful dance regardless of their economic circumstances.”

If you are interested in learning tango, visit the lesson at the Dance Studio on the third floor of Athletic Center on Sundays at 3 p.m.