Let's Tango!

Juneau’s small dance community is in for a treat the next few weeks. Richard Council, a U.S. Argentine Tango Champion, will be teaching workshops at the Filipino Community Hall.


Pat Belec and her husband Frank Bergstrom, owners of the Dance Loft, first met Council at Tango Fest in Portland, Ore.

“We must have taken lessons from 8 to 10 different teachers,” Belec said. “We were so impressed by the way Richard broke down dance moves. We also liked the way he looked when he was dancing and how engaging he was with people. He is in his fifth year providing workshops in Juneau. His workshops are a great way to introduce new people into the tango community.”

Belec and Bergstrom have been teaching a variety of ballroom classes in Juneau for many years. Belec noted that when couples learn dances like the swing, the woman can anticipates a gentleman’s moves. Tango is unique because it is built off of about six basic steps that can be arranged however the lead desires. A refreshing excitement is found in tango because the woman cannot anticipate the lead’s next step.

“Tango is totally unique,” Belec said. “There is no preset structure of sets and steps. Tango allows you to switch steps to match a crowded dance floor. There are so many different emotions in the tango. It can be a new partner with the same song and become a whole different dance. Council teaches this by making you feel good about learning the basics because his teaching style is comforting and inviting.”

Beginners and experienced tango dancers alike can take advantage of the opportunity to be part of the workshops. Council and his previous partner, Colette Hebert, were finalists in the Tango Salon division and semi-finalists in the Stage Performance division of the world championships in Argentina in 2005. He has performed in the Tango Libertad Festival in Japan and has a well-known reputation as a tango teacher.

Jane Stokes, a local involved with the Dance Loft, said workshops performed by professionals are about inspiring others.

“Juneau is a small community,” Stokes said. “It is good to have inspiration for whatever you are engaged in no matter the population size. Whether it be visual arts or dance, we need to have someone to inspire us and Richard can do that.”

Along with the teaching, a Milonga dance will be held at the Hangar Ballroom Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The dance will have a one-hour tango lesson at the start of the evening and is open to the public. Admittance is $10.

Council will be teaching workshops this Friday through Aug. 31. The workshops will be held at the Filipino Community Hall on the second floor. The cost is $20 per session and there are discounted prices available for multiple sessions. The first class will be on Friday at 7 p.m. For more details visit the Facebook page Dance Juneau or call Pat Belec at 523-1995.


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