Tapping into tango

A second-generation tango instructor is organizing a three-day intensive study on the subject in hopes of igniting passion in would-be dancers.

Orlando Paiva Jr. is carrying on the tradition of his father, world-renowned instructor Orlando Paiva Sr., by creating excitement in the dance of their native Argentina.

Tango Masquerade, packed with workshops, social dances, dance instructor exhibitions and a dinner show featuring the Otero Dance Company, will be from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel & Convention Center.

“It’s for people to be able to enjoy the socializing, dancing and the culture of Argentina,” said Orlando Paiva Jr., who is producing the event.

Glendale resident Cristina Benedicto, one of Orlando Paiva Jr.’s students, is planning to attend the three-day event. She’s been dancing the tango since 2003, she said.

“I’m a tango aficionado,” she said. “I dance at least once a week but when I have more time, I dance two or three times a week.”

Benedicto owns an insurance agency in Glendale and is a local Realtor. Dancing the tango gives her energy and a release from her business life, she said.

“I manage my own business and my left brain is always working, but in dance, it’s one period during my day where I give up control,” she said. “Tango is about surrendering and giving up control to your partner and the music. It makes you feel ecstasy. The music is very passionate and very romantic.”

The three-day event is for anyone who wants to learn tango, Orlando Paiva Jr. said. And it’s for all ages.

“It can be a family event,” he said. “I teach my daughter. She’s 8 and she catches on pretty quickly. And I have students who are 80 to 85 years old.”

Studies have been done on the benefits of tango dancing compared to other dances, he said.

“It’s good for mind and body coordination and movement of legs and arms,” he said. “There is a magazine, Scientific American, which published an article on how therapeutic tango is. They are using it with Alzheimer’s patients and found it helps with their coordination of movement.”

Orlando Paiva Jr. instructs at studios in Reseda and Westlake. His three-day festival is titled Tango Masquerade, the First International Halloween Tango Weekend in Los Angeles. There are two locations for classes and social dances, called milongas, one at the Argentine Assn. in Burbank and another at Ramsey’s at the Club in Toluca Lake.

Three-day events give dancers more time to learn the dances and socialize, he said. Burbank’s event will offer classes taught by six teaching couples — two couples are coming from Argentina; one couple from San Francisco, one couple from Kansas City; and two more from Los Angeles.

Workshops for beginners, intermediate and advanced dancers will be interspersed with practice times during the event. On opening night, there will be a Halloween party and costume contest with prizes, he said.

On the second night, a dinner show will showcase the Otero Dance Company. Social dancing continues the rest of the evening with instructors performing in between.

The highlight of the final night is an Argentine fusion tango fashion show with proceeds earmarked for the National Breast Cancer Foundation based in Texas.

Evening events will have live bands.

The event will give newcomers a chance to see professional dancers, said Laura Tate, Orlando Paiva Jr.’s girlfriend and dancer partner.

“The dance venues are usually small, but a larger event like this that is widely publicized offers people unfamiliar with the dance the opportunity to see people dancing, and not just performances but see people who dance for the pure pleasure of it,” she said. “And we can grow the tango community here in Los Angeles.”

Orlando Paiva Jr. continues to teach his father’s salon style of Argentine tango that he developed while teaching in Argentina in the 1940s, he said.

“It is based on elegance and smoothness, while other tango styles are more stage-prepared styles,” he said. “My style is more social.”

The family moved to the United States in the 1970s and Orlando Paiva Sr. introduced the style in the early 1980s at a restaurant in North Hollywood, his son said.


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