Ivan has been dancing tango for 5 years. His attention to musicality and proper technique make him a wonderful dance partner. Ivan is part of the quintet, the “Media Lunas”, who specialize in traditional tango music. He also co-teaches the beginner tango course with Elly on Wednesday evenings. Come learn! Come dance!
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
HOW DID YOU ENCOUNTER TANGO?
My wife made me do it. She didn’t want to do what we call the “7th grade shuffle” for our wedding. And I happened to know someone who did tango, and they were like “hey you should try tango” and I was like, “No.”
And that went on for a while cause I thought dancing was lame. And then I said “Okay” then did tango for months and months before our wedding, probably 14 weeks or so. Then got married and continued doing tango, even though I hated it and thought it was repulsive. Then, I came back to tango with a fresh outlook on life and never left.
WHAT MADE YOU STAY?
Honestly, I re-learned how to communicate with, love, and appreciate my wife through dance and through tango. That’s really our story, we re-engaged in our love affair through dancing. I started playing in Tango Jam, which was so hard, but tango music drew me in like a moth to the flame. My muscianship has accelerated because I’ve played tango music. Tango taught me how to emotionally deal with and accept situations in life in general.
ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW TO TANGO?
Accept it. Let go. It’s okay, it will get better. Be patient.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE TANGO IN 3 WORDS?
“Ferocious love connection”
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT EXCHANGING ROLES?
Empathy, acknowledgement, and acceptance because you can never understand a story from one side. I know for a fact that exchanging roles has made me an empathetic leader. I’m not going to squeeze someones hand, or shove them over, or move too fast. I’m not going to do the negative things that happen to a follower, because I do follow. The understanding that comes from following is simple: If you’ve never experienced what someone else has experienced, you will never be able to understand them as a tango dancer. Exchanging roles truly helps you become empathetic. How can you be a leader if you don’t understand where the followers are coming from?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT TEACHING AT SANGHA SPACE?
On an emotional level, it seems like everyone behaves like family. I like that the community goes out of its way to welcome all ye who enter, unlike a lot of different places where you have to fit this mold of a dancer, be a certain way and behave a certain way … [Sangha Space] is kind of like the tango melting pot.
SOME SAY TEACHERS ARE LIFELONG LEARNERS. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY LEARNING MORE ABOUT OR WORKING ON AS A TANGO TEACHER?
I am always working on my frame, my posture, and my walking. I am currently working on acceptance. I am currently working on patience. I am in this place where I am working on just pushing myself to keep doing it. Finding the perserverance to keep at it even though I’m running on very little sleep. I’ve started to not do it for me, but for the students because all the energy I spend is worth it to help someone find what I found through dance…Find that fire, that perserverance, that willingness to push themselves, that ability to seek out a compassionate experience.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TANGO SONG/ORQUESTRA?
Favorite to play in the Media Lunas: “Nueva de Julio”
Favorite to listen to: instrumental version of “Vida Mía”
Favorite to dance to: “El Trito”
Favorite Tango Nuevo: “Malena” and “Milonga Triste” by Hugo Diaz and “Los Vino” by Otros Aires
Favorite Nontraditional: “Bloodstream” by Stateless and “Skyscrapers” by OK GO
WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES (BESIDES TANGO) DO YOU ENJOY?
Cinema. Hanging out with my son. Playing music. Chillen with my bestie, the young Glenn Wiltsee. Hanging with the misses, watching movies, doing computer sports, the arts, graphic design work, sketching, drawing, expressing myself.
IF YOU WERE TO WIN THE LOTTERY, HOW WOULD YOU SPEND YOUR TIME?
First things first, I’d buy new stain glass windows for my old church that I grew up in. Then start charitable organizations around the world, getting food, fresh, water, clothing, and education to young girls where it’s not allowed for them to get an education. I’d be a philanthropist, I think it’s the greatest gift that you can give someone. Build and open schools. I want to teach people how to produce and take care of themselves.
WHAT’S SOMETHING SECRETLY AWESOME ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW?
Sometimes I wear my sunglasses at night. I’m pretty open and honest about the cool stuff I do. Everything else is just hear say and BS.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Yes, tango is hard, and you’re not going to be happy every time you do it. You’re not going to understand it in a day. You’re not going to understand it in a month. You may not even understand it in a year. It takes time, but it’s about continuing.
Hi Graham! Hi Meg! I’m on the internets.