THE BEGINNINGS OF A NEW TANGO SCHOOL IN PORTLAND
Argentine Tango is an improvised dance that originated in Buenos Aires, where men and women would come together to share their life experience, emotion, and artistic expression with each other. Tango is an infinitely variable dance contained in an embrace “el abrazo.” It is defined by the endless possibility of self-expression and musical interpretation where every person has the freedom to develop their own way of dancing. Argentine tango is one of the world’s most rapidly evolving dances and is danced in every major city in the world.
Dominic Bridge has years of experience dancing and teaching in Buenos Aires, Florence, Paris, Budapest, and Moscow, to name a few. He has studied multiple styles all amounting to a “tango of today,” which is internationally recognized as Tango Salon. In 2015, he returned from Paris to introduce this specific style to Portland, eager to see what he could do to modernize tango in the local community that raised him and bring it on par with the rest of the world.
Without delay he began building local classes, first focussing on cultivating Portland’s most avid tango dancers. Jedi Training became Dominic’s advanced program, which develops technical skill, advanced fundamentals and artistry. His goal was to inspire as many experienced dancers as possible to draw out their spontaneity and self-expression, while raising the bar on technique.
Before too long he was introduced to Billy Bork, the general manager of the Alberta Abbey. Dominic was searching for a single location for his tango operation, while Billy dreamt of building the Alberta Abbey Centre for Dance. A perfect match, he became partners with their nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster exposure and development of the arts for children and adults of all backgrounds in NE Portland. By November 2015, he moved his classes to the Abbey and started the Big Alberta Abbey Milonga “BAAM,” where he offers free weekly classes for first time dancers.
Dominic’s dream is unfolding into reality: PDX Tango is Portland’s first tango school to have a team of instructors and a variety of classes that specialize in Tango Salon.
Starting this fall, the feeling of a school begins to take shape as we recruit more teachers to our team and add classes to our developing tango curriculum. In addition to tango education we are proud to announce an inspiring new twist: the all-new Tango Barre class taught by professional contemporary ballet dancer and certified fitness instructor, Emily Schultz. You may have seen her debut with Dominic Bridge in their recent performance of “Claire de Lune” at the BAAM all-nighter during Portland Shenanigans. Tango Barre will focus on building strength and flexibility, increasing body awareness through dance technique, and improving overall fitness. This is not a partner class and there is no dance experience required, which means you can move at your own pace. Great for followers and leaders of all levels!
We are very excited to welcome Bassel Hamieh and Rebekah Mitchell to our team of instructors. Both have studied extensively under Dominic Bridge and others over the past year through private instruction as well as participation in Jedi Training. Both are vibrant, enthusiastic teachers who are passionate about sharing their love for tango. They will be taking over the beginner level with a set curriculum that allows students to effectively progress through our multi-level classes.
We also have Jacob Tolbert who has been on the team since the beginning. Jacob has worked with Dominic over the past 9 years. He taught tango at University of Oregon for several years while helping lead the growth of the Eugene tango population. He now brings his energy and experience to PDX Tango. His knowledge of the dance, teaching, and working with people is extensive and he has trained many skilled dancers.
Finally, another invaluable member of the team is Aurora Camille. Aurora has been dancing in Portland and Seattle since 2006, and is one of the organizers of the annual Portland Tangofest. From everything to logistics, web-design, marketing, to helping teach theclasses, Aurora is here making this project a reality and success.
PDX Tango aims to bring together the talent and passion of some of Portland’s finest social dancers dedicated to a common mission: to grow the community, cultivate skilled social dancers, and bring tango into more people's lives. Starting September 19th, we will be offering a total of six classes, including our free weekly Intro to Tango class on Tuesdays, in addition to a weekly milonga and práctica.
I've been asked many times over the years whether I would build my own school. ‘Maybe in 5-10 years,’ I would say. Now it’s time to get started. Our Portland tango operation is stepping into something new: a tango school with a variety of classes, a team of teachers, and a developing system and curriculum. I have helped build tango schools in multiple countries over the years. It’s now time to grow our own.
— Dominic Bridge