Fabian Salas is a pioneer in the argentine tango scene. He was born in La Plata, Argentina in 1963, and has taught dance for almost 30 years. He began his professional career as a lawyer, but that was short lived and he began teaching tango in Buenos Aires. In 1992 he become one of the first professional touring argentine tango instructors.
In 1996, Fabian took part in the filming of the motion picture “Evita”, and a year later was one of the main dancers in the award-winning film “The Tango Lesson”. He is also the organizer and director of the tango event CITA (Congreso Internacional de Tango Argentino). We caught up with him and his dance partner, Lola Diaz, at the 15th annual Fandango De Tango in Dallas, Texas. English is not Fabian and Lolas first language, but they were kind enough to be interviewed between workshops.
How did you two meet and how long have you been teaching dance together?
LOLA: We met at a festival called CITA (Congreso Internacional de Tango Argentino). It’s a festival Fabian organizes in Argentina. That was 10 years ago and I was just starting to dance. We’ve been dancing together for about five years.
So what are the characteristics of a good dance instructor?
LOLA: That they are fun…and know how to explain the steps.
FABIAN: You need to know good technique, and have some knowledge of how to manage a big group. Most of the people who attend these workshops aren’t looking to be professionals. They are here to have fun and be entertained. So, as teachers we are often entertainers. We want them to have a nice time and a good experience. I’ve been teaching for 27 years. Unfortunately today we have a lot of teachers who became instructors after only a couple classes. That’s not good.
LOLA: Teaching is providing other people with information. If you don’t have the right information you will mess up the people who are trusting you.
What feelings or impressions do you want students to take away from your classes?
FABIAN: For it to be fun and they learn something that is socially correct, and technically proper. Tango is a social dance and so we always have to keep proper behavior and social skills in mind. We try to reinforce the desire for dancing because many people on have fun during classes. During the milonga they may feel intimidated. In class they find others who are exactly where they are, and they can relax.
How would you describe your dance style?
FABIAN: Good! (laughs).
LOLA: That’s a tough question! Elegant, maybe. We try to tradition and roots of tango, but add some modern flavor.
FABIAN: I think if there is one word it’s dynamic. We dance dynamically. That creates a very special type of dance. A dance that moves around and generates a connection between the couple. We focus a lot on lead and following. We aren’t choreographers, but we do intricate moves. You get a melting pot of something that’s interesting.
FABIAN: We do but…
LOLA: We enjoy them, but we don’t know them. (laughs).
FABIAN: When you become good at something and you’re not good at the rest you have to focus on one thing. You have to know when you suck at something. (laughs). If you suck at everything that’s fine, but you have to realize that you suck. It’s interesting because I remember when I started dancing and taking classes from friends. I was having fun! This was 20-something years ago. A few months ago we had the chance to go back and dance salsa. I suck man. It’s a disaster. (Everyone laughs). I don’t have the training or time to put into a new dance. I just stick with tango! If I was good at it, I would enjoy any type of dance.
Well lets moving away from sucking at dancing…
FABIAN: And let’s move on to sucking at something else!
(NOTE: Fabian is a funny guy).
Do you have a favorite dance memory?
LOLA: Hmm, together…
Well how about separately? (laughter).
LOLA: The salsa thing. We were having fun, but we were terrible.
FABIAN: In April we were in Los Angeles. We were shooting a video clip for a new project. Not only were we dancing tango, but we were teaching other dance professionals our style of argentine tango. The people wanted to incorporate our moves into their dancing. That’s when we realized we couldn’t dance the other styles (laughs), but the whole experience was great. We were filming with people who did movies all the time, and it was something special.
LOLA: It was funny because they were great at dancing everything, but they were our fans! They had created a tango fan club which is great!
For more information on Fabian Salas and Lola Diaz please visit: Tangopal.com.