x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The Dubai Tango Festival returns for its fourth year

Festival promises four days of Argentina's national dance, with something for everyone, no matter their skill level.

Dubai,United Arab Emirates-May 15, 2012; (L) Eleanor Brodie and Maya Saliba (R) organizers of Dubai Tango Festival pose during the interview in Dubai . ( Satish Kumar / The National ) For Arts & Life
Dubai,United Arab Emirates-May 15, 2012; (L) Eleanor Brodie and Maya Saliba (R) organizers of Dubai Tango Festival pose during the interview in Dubai . ( Satish Kumar / The National ) For Arts & Life

When he clasped hands with a stranger in Scent of a Woman, it made you forget for a moment that Al Pacino's character was blind. It made a mechanical Arnold Schwarzenegger swoon-worthy in True Lies. This is the magic of tango, and there is great news for everyone under its spell: the Dubai Tango Festival is almost here.

The event

In collaboration with the Embassy of Argentina, this will be the fourth edition of the event. Organised by Eleanor Brodie and Maya Saliba of Tango Dubai, the festival is open to everyone - dancers, potential dancers and non-dancers. According to the organisers, the purpose is "to spread information on tango in the Gulf Region - the philosophy, the history, the dance and the music".

The organisers

Brodie, who has been in Dubai since 1975, first discovered Argentinian tango in 2002. She held the first tango classes and milongas (social dance events) in her house and then moved on to organising tango events, workshops and parties. Today, she is fondly referred to as "the godmother of tango in Dubai".

Maya Saliba, brought up in Abu Dhabi, started ballet at the age of six and dabbled in various forms of dance. She now teaches intermediate and advanced tango classes and performs semi-professionally.

It was her hotel and banqueting background that saw her team up with Brodie in 2006, when both began organising tango-related events under the Tango Dubai banner. In 2008, they took it to the next level with the first Dubai Tango Festival.

What to expect

"This year, the festival features seven tango maestros, two international tango DJs, one international tango photographer and one videographer," reveals Brodie. "There will be free tango initiation classes every night as well. There has been a huge response from overseas tangueros."

The maestros

Alejandra Mantiñan, who partners with Aoniken Quiroga, brings to the table 25 years of tango experience. She manages Fabrica Tanguera dance schools in Rome, Italy and in Tutzing, Germany, and organises and manages the Fabricando Tango festival in Rome.

Quiroga began dancing tango in 1994 and studied with the most sought-after teachers. In 2006, he won second place in the annual Tango World Championship. In 2009, he began travelling and teaching in Europe, directing La Mariposa tango school in Milan, Italy. He has performed at the largest tango festivals in Europe.

Sabrina and Ruben Veliz began their career in 1989, as part of the renowned Ballet Brandsen of Argentina. They have performed at the most important events of Argentina, have choreographed numerous shows and been maestros at many international tango festivals across the globe.

Facundo Gil Jauregui started dancing at 17. His style has developed into a combination of old tango de salon mixed with the dynamics of tango nuevo. He has been teaching and performing in Estonia, Finland, the UK, Italy, the UAE and Indonesia as well as several cities in Argentina.

The fourth Dubai Tango Festival runs from Wednesday to Saturday at the Meydan Grandstand. The event offers three levels of workshops, a DJ course and milongas every evening. Tickets range in price from Dh140 to Dh1,200. For more information go to www.dubaitangofestival.com