The Arthur Murray Dance Studio Sponsors a Tango Extravaganza
By Fredric Dannen
Arthur Murray, the man who lent his name to the world’s best-known dance studio franchise, was born in 1895 in Austria-Hungary as Moses Teichman. He was tall, gangly, and shy¾that was, until a friend gave him his first dance lessons. Several years and numerous dance competitions later, Teichman had changed his name and married his dance partner, Kathryn Kohnfelder. “She was cute and sociable, the kind of girl he could never get if he didn’t know how to dance,” says Christie Olvera, director of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in San Miguel at Salida a Celaya 59¾the only Arthur Murray franchise in all of Mexico.
Tango: Celebrating an Art Form in Music and Dance
To benefit Libros para Todos (makingreaders.org)
Thu, Mar 17, and Fri, Mar 18, 7pm
A Pittsburgh native, Christie met and married her own dance partner, Mexican-born Adrian Olvera, in Cincinnati, where the couple danced competitively and won a handful of trophies. Cincinnati was also where Christie became a certified Arthur Murray instructor; she considers this system one of the world’s most efficient methods of dance pedagogy. “People get seduced by great dancing,” Olvera says, “but the best dancers are not always the best teachers.” The instructors at her San Miguel studio are subjected to months of training, and Olvera insists on certain qualities. “The main thing I’m looking for,” she says, “is a person with positive energy, someone who is not intimidating, who wants to help people.”
In the spirit of helping people, Olvera agreed to co-sponsor a show called “Tango: Celebrating an Art Form in Music and Dance,” taking place at 7pm on Thursday, March 17, and Friday, March 18, at Bellas Artes. The show, which recently completed a sold-out tour in Australia, is a benefit for Libros para Todos (makingreaders.org), a non-profit organization aimed at inspiring young Mexicans to read. Argentinean soprano Alicia Rappoport and Russian pianist Alexander Pashkov head an all-star cast of musicians (on violin, double bass, and bandoleon), along with the award-winning tango dance team of Angeles Carrión and Diego Pagaza. Tickets are 400 pesos and can be purchased at La Conexión (Aldama 3); Solutions (Recreo 11); Arthur Murray (Salida a Celaya 59); or online at steinwayseries.com.
Thanks to Olvera’s largesse, each ticket purchase includes a free one-hour tango workshop at Arthur Murray, or a half-hour private tango lesson, or both. The monetary value of these free lessons is roughly equal to the price of a ticket. “Obviously,” Olvera says, “our lessons are not cheap and are not intended to be cheap.”
The combination of group and private instruction is one of the tenets of the Arthur Murray system. “It’s not an option to take only group classes here,” Olvera says. “I can’t sell you a dance program that doesn’t work.” Another aspect of the system is that students are encouraged to study at least four different dance forms and not just, say, salsa or ballroom. “We teach a basic alphabet of dance,” she adds, “and we use those elements to teach any step of any dance style.” For more information call 415 185 8282, or visit arthurmurraysanmiguel.com.