What Led Me to Argentine Tango?
Amie Cressie has a background in jazz and ballroom dance, however she now specializes in Strictly Tango.
She performs in Columbus with Francesco Guerra, who has been dancing Tango for over 25 years. Amie was part of a Tango performance group in Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia where she also lived. Amie loves to travel and has learned from top instructors at Tango Festivals worldwide. Amie enjoys teaching group classes, choreographing wedding dances, and teaching private lessons at Dance Edge.
My Dance Background
I have been dancing since I was 5 years old. 5-18 years old I was on a jazz dance team. From 18-22 I was part of Hip hop team, OU Rebellion at Ohio University. After University, I experimented with other dances and became an Arthur Murray Ballroom Dance Instructor in my mid 20s.
My Tango Journey
My cousin and I went on a 2 month trip to South America in 2014, spending over 2 weeks in Argentina. Our first stop was Buenos Aires, the tango capital of the world. After seeing a tango show at Cafe Tortoni, I knew this was a dance that I wanted to learn. The body composition, the movements, the complexity, and the improvisation was so different compared to any partner dance. My cousin and I booked a class the next day recommended by a local friend.
The first few classes I took were by an Argentinean tanguero. He taught us the basics: walking, ochos, and crusada.
After coming to Columbus, Ohio from my South America vacation, I learned from Francesco Guerra. He’s been dancing Argentine Tango for over 20 years, with his specialty being Nuevo Tango. After a couple months dancing tango in Ohio, I quit my jobs in Columbus and moved to Los Angeles to work in film and marketing.
Los Angeles Tango Scene
Los Angeles, California has such a high level of dancers due to many Hollywood choreographers working on film and advertising projects. I was ecstatic to learn from Tango maestros Jordi Cabellero, as well as Sandor and Parissa.
When I wasn’t busy working, I was in the studio learning and practicing tango. Jordi Caballero taught me a lot about stage presence, flashy moves, and storytelling through the dance.
I was part of the Tango team at 3rd Street Dance, where he coached us.
I found the experience rewarding and challenging. Jordi is not only an amazing dancer, but an inspiring influence. He has starred on Dancing with the Stars, music videos, advertisements, and in numerous films.
Sandor and Parissa also performed on DWTS and coached World Champion Ice Dancers. Sandor was a star of the Broadway and London hit show Forever Tango, nominated for the Tony Award, “Best Choreography.”Parissa, has coached numerous celebrities, including Antonio Banderas for the movie Take the Lead and Halle Berry for a Revlon commercial.
The way they dance is much more intimate compared to Jordi, switching between close and open embrace. What I took away from learning from them made me more aware of my body movements, adjustments and subtle changes to help with embrace, torsion, and leveraging.
Looking back, I had some epic memories during my one year in Los Angeles. I met amazing dance teachers and had a couple amazing dance partners that still dance Argentine Tango. After working in the film industry for a year, I realized it wasn’t for me and took the opportunity to move to Australia to study for my Masters in Business.
Tango in Sydney, Australia
When I was living down under, I explored Salon and Milonguero style tango. I learned from Jacqueline and Anthony at Tango Spirit in Sydney, Australia. I learned a lot about spatial awareness, disassociation, and close embrace.
With a few minor adjustments, I felt like I was interconnected with my partner. This made dancing at a Milonga, also known as a a formal dance party, so much easier and could communicate in a more intimate way. I now understand the phrase 1 person, 4 legs. You are truly connected with the person from the rib cage, up. My body can now understand what the lead wants almost instantaneously, if he’s a good lead.
Tango Spirit Performance Group
I joined Tango Spirit’s performance team where I worked with lots of Australians and Latin Americans. My dance partner for the performance group was a 6’4″ and took long strides.
Shortly after our last performance, I experienced excruciating foot pain. A physiotherapist and podiatrist diagnosed me tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and inflamed flexor hallucis brevis on the feet. Unfortunately, I had to put tango dancing on hold and put my 4 inch heels in my closet. In the meantime, I focused on strengthening exercises and yoga until I had fully healed.
I experimented with different teachers in Sydney and attended Milongas when I could. During the spring and summer months, Sydney holds a monthly outdoor Milonga in Darling Harbour and also had Flash mobs where we would dance across from the Sydney Opera House.
Tango Workshops & Festivals
I took workshops from tango maestros that were touring Australia that I admired. I especially liked Claudio Peralta and Janna’s Lopez workshop on Stage Tango.
Attending the Australian Tango Festival and Singapore Tango Festival was a worthwhile experience. Tangueras that I found very helpful, making adjustments to my body were Mariana Montes, Moira Castellano, and Sigrid Van Tilbeurgh. Their videos inspire me and their teaching influences the way I dance.
It was a great atmosphere to connect with tango lovers all over the world. Every teacher has their own philosophies, but I can say every maestro has given me a different perspective on Tango.
Aside from dancing, I was the Digital Marketing Manager for Sydney Tango House, which was a dance studio strictly dedicated to tango in the central Sydney area. I was in charge of updating their website, creating content for their social media, email marketing, creating videos like the one below, and other activities promoting the business.
Tango in the Midwest
It feels that I have come full circle now that I am back in Columbus, Ohio and dancing Argentine Tango with one of my first teachers, Francesco Guerra. We have been experimenting with different styles and embraces. We will start performing January 2019 and I am looking forward to sharing our experience here on a space that I created strictly for Tango.