The 6th Philadelphia International Tango Festival, May 19-22


Prolonged dancing of Argentine tango is known to produce a particular kind of exhilaration. It’s often called a “tango trance,” and it happens when feelings of connection— with one’s partner, the music and the surrounding space and dancers—are so sublime that one’s focus becomes completely tethered to the present, with no possibility of distraction or doubt. Some people have this experience fairly quickly when they start dancing tango; others may have to wait years.  But once people get a taste of the tango trance, they long for more.

Enter the 6th Philadelphia International Tango Festival  – no experience is quite as likely to induce the tango trance as an event that makes it possible to dance all day and all night for days on end. The Festival offers 37 hours of workshops and 26 hours of social dancing in the short space of three and a half days, from the evening of Thursday, May 19 through the wee hours of Monday, May 23. At least 500 dancers from throughout the United States and abroad will gather in Philadelphia for this annual event, which will take place at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street in the heart of historic Old City, Philadelphia.

Four world-renowned couples will teach and perform at this years festival. Of the eight dancers who make up those four couples, seven are natives of Argentina, tango’s birthplace. Gustavo Naveira and Giselle Anne, the headliners, are arguably the most famous tango dancers in the world. They are recognized both for their exquisitely moving performances, that feature brilliant musicality, gorgeous lines, and a relentless search for perfection, and for creating a tango pedagogy that has become the basis for tango teaching the world over. Area dancers are excited to have Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne headline for the festival a second year in a row, putting Philadelphia on the world’s tango map.

The festival cast is rounded out by three younger couples who have taught and performed worldwide to great acclaim: Alejandro Larenas & Marisol Morales (Argentina), Marcelo Gutierrez & Inés Muzzopappa (Argentina) and Andrés Amarilla (Argentina) and Meredith Klein (USA). Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to see and study with Inés Muzzopappa, the World Champion of Tango Salon in 2007, who will be in Philadelphia for the first time.

The festival features a total of 25 workshops for tangueros (tango dancers) and aspiring tangueros at every level, from first-timers through professional dancers. Of particular note is the four-class Absolute Beginner Track, the first class of which will be taught by Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne. Never before has it been possible to take one’s first tango steps in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the undisputed best in the field. Argentine tango is an extremely accessible dance form since it is based on walking. Anybody can sign up to start learning tango and perhaps experience that tango trance during this year’s festival. (It’s not necessary to bring a partner) For those who have been studying and dancing tango for years, a variety of intermediate and advanced level workshops are offered, including a 12-hour intensive seminar.

Nightly milongas (tango social dances), lasting until 2 am, will feature world-class tango DJs and jaw-dropping performances by festival teachers and special guests, including the tango comedy group, The Tango Cheeseballs.  One late-night milonga will allow tangueros to dance non-stop until 6 am. Afternoon prácticas (less formal social dances) will enable dancers to practice what they have learned during the workshops and warm up for a long night of dancing. At a month before the festival opens, registrations have already come in from over 100 dancers from 15 states and three countries.

With the exception of one late-night milonga, the entire festival will take place at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Old City, Philadelphia, the neighborhood known as America’s most historic square mile. Visitors and residents alike will enjoy viewing quaint cobblestone streets and architecture older than the nation, visiting historic sites like Independence National Historic Park and Elfreth’s Alley (the country’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street), browsing in the area’s 55 art galleries and numerous boutiques, and dining in a variety of exceptional restaurants and cafes.

The Philadelphia Argentine Tango School (PATS) organizes and sponsors the Philadelphia International Tango Festival. PATS recently celebrated eight years of offering superb instruction in Argentine tango to beginners through professional dancers in Philadelphia. In addition to group and private lessons, PATS offers weekly prácticas, monthly milongas and occasional larger events. PATS has organized five previous Philadelphia International Tango Festivals, and has hosted three major tango bands directly from Argentina, as well as workshops with more than 40 world- renowned tango dancers.

Complete information is available on the festival website. Special pricing is available online for every workshop, social dance, and pass through May 12. After that, all registration will be at the door (cash only). Full-time high school, college, and graduate students receive 20% off all events and registration options.

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