Tango goes to Africa
You don't need to know how to dance tango to be my partner in this program to enrich young people in Nairobi, Kenya. Mungai Waweru, my Kenyan-American teaching partner, and I hope you'll help us bring tango back to Africa.
Peace ambassadors in training
Mungai and I are asking for your help to continue renting the dance floor in Nairobi and helping to transport youth to and from the place where the training intensive takes place---since March 3, 2014. Your contributions have helped us procure for the students proper soles for the dance shoes, music, and sound equipment. Mungai and I have already devoted several months of our time in Kenya to getting the dance project on its way to being self-sustaining and youth-maintained. The success exceeds our expectations!
Ready to tango
You can see the exhilaration and engagement on their faces in the short video below. There are more than 200 city slums in Nairobi where the people are crammed into five percent of total available land. With a Kenyan friend, I visited two of the city's slums, Kangemi and Kibagari. I'll spare you the description because by now, given mass communications, you know something of this abject misery that even the poorest American will never see.
Our vision has been to use dance the way sports have been used, to promote self worth and respect for others, while investing youth with earning power, social and coping skills,thus reducing social ills and mainstreaming justice, and promoting inner peace and national peace. And it seems to be working!
The influence of Africans, former slaves in Argentina in the late 1800s, is well documented (see Robert Farris Thompson's Tango, an Art History of Love). African Argentines performed precursor dances called candombe and canyengue, both incorporated into modern tango. The popular form of tango, called "milonga" has an African percussive beat and its name is derived from African. Milonga is the tango style you see us teaching in the video. It is no wonder that the tango aptitude among the young Kenyans was impressively high. It is also due in part to the pent-up desire we all have to live a creative life.
Many of you know that more than ten years ago, I quit my day job as I was swept away by tango. I'm still in love with the dance. And I can say that in the way of the soul, tango has been a sort of "poverty-reduction" for me, its riches tangible and spiritual. I hope you'll be my partner in Tango Goes (back) to Africa and contribute what you can.