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Paul Vossen and Paras Saghy of Tango Atelier

 Last Tango in Hastings: Part Two

After a triumphant evening earlier this month in the museum, which buzzed with unique music and tantalised with  costumes and sensuous dance,  yet another colourful tango event is due to delight our imaginations at the weekend – this time in the Old Town, writes HOT’s Chris Cormack, a chance to watch and ‘explore the tango embrace’.

If you like the idea of dancing the tango to live tango music in congenial surroundings, or just watching and listening, book now for Hastings’ very own tango trio Three Hat Tango at the Venuu, George Street, this Saturday night. This is the public part of a weekend of tango workshops with Paul Vossen and Paras Saghy of Tango Atelier, talented teachers from the Netherlands.

Three Hat Tango is a home-grown tango trio – the original ‘Three Hats’ are Hastings’ very own favourite Blair MacKichan on piano, accordionist Duncan Curtis and Harriet Wilder on violin.  Duncan has been playing every week for the tango club since it first started nearly two years ago and Harriet since shortly after.

Three Hat Tango with Blair

Blair is often unavailable due to his many work commitments. so Duncan asks guest pianists to take part and he is always on the look-out for eager musicians – please note anyone who fancies playing some tango classics!

Teachers Paul and Paras invite you to “explore the tango embrace, discover your own axis and learn how to explore your own dynamic qualities in the dance.” Hastings tango blogger Elise Liversedge describes tango as a walk which encompasses musicality, interpretation, balance and the playful interference of the free leg. Most elements are performed within one’s own axis or within a shared axis – the axis is the connection each dancer has with the floor and their own balance. So both the leader and the follower need to listen to their partner’s response to the body movement, weight placement and the interpretation of the music being played.

Using a simple analogy, the axis is a bit like a steel pin in a door hinge that allows movement but stays solid and static whilst being moved – that is the axis that needs to be rediscovered and possibly shared or reset with each new partner to create “dynamic drama within the dance,” says Elise. As dancers become more advanced, there is much more of a connection with the dance form itself rather than a reliance on steps and routines that may constrain the fluidity of the dance.

The ‘ embrace’ is a strong  connection that two dancers need in order not to lean unduly onto each other’s axis – and to become one unit;  the weight of each participant needs to be directed into the floor while developing the technique. Standing on one leg is good practice for tango as are any yoga and pilates moves that slowly explore this kind of balance. Disassociating the shoulders and the hips in yoga or pilates stretches and the slow development of core muscle strengths are great for the more advanced dance skills, says Elise.

Thus advanced tango dancers share certain key strengths, flexibility and meditative skills with yoga and pilates practitioners – and this may account for tango being described in recent reports as a very useful antidote against depression.

At the museum Valentine Tango event, Polo Piatti’s Melancolia, specially dedicated to the Hastings Tango Club and written for a sextet, went down splendidly to wild applause and the music brought out virtuosi performances from the individuals, Harriet Wilder (violin), Trevor Sheldrake (clarinet), Sayzharn Westward (flute), Martin Bradshaw and Jonathan Bruce (violoncellos) and of course Polo on piano. Polo talked of the uphill task of instilling Argentinian sensitivity into the English musical mindset, but to my untrained ear it paid off brilliantly. Harriet Wilder of course has a track record of playing in the tango idiom through her weekly performances with the tango club on Tuesdays.

The Pinta Brava Trio, which accompanied the dancing, also justified their international accolades with their tangos, valses and milongas. The London-based Argentine singer Guillermo Rozenthuler managed to silence the party by mingling in the crowd and singing a plaintive solo unaccompanied love song that electrified the room.

If you enjoyed this, why not book the Tango Embrace Milonga, at 8pm on Saturday 2 March at the Venuu, 10 George Street, by emailing or ringing or 07961 792 936 – cost £10.

Or enrol for the whole weekend, Exploring the Tango Embrace:
1 workshop and milonga £25
2 workshops plus milonga £45.
For booking either day or the weekend and also to book private lessons with Paul Vossen or Paras Saghy,  email Elise directly at

The Hastings Tango Club holds a ‘practica’ or social practice night for tango dancers to practise what they have learned every Tuesday at All Saints Hall, All Saints Street. The £5 entry fee goes towards venue hire and future fees for visiting teachers and live music. There are also classes on a Sunday run by Oscar and Sofia from south London, who have been around the London tango scene for years. Their teaching method is technique-based and disciplined – good for people to get the fundamentals right. See HOT’s event listings for more details.

See also Last Tango in Hastings: Part One

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Posted 12:39 Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 In: Performance

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