As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango. At Wofford College, those two are Ana Maria Wiseman and Vic Bilanchone. Together they teach a class on the South American dance at the Richardson Dance Studio on campus. Their class includes students, faculty, and even staff.
“We’re trying to get faculty ready for their Milliken Faculty Development Seminar in Argentina in January,” says Wiseman. “You’ll see several faculty members going down there and we’re giving them a head start. Also, some of the students who took an interim class last semester called Dance, Dance, Dance just wanted to keep it going and learn some new steps. They are very gung ho. They’re already pretty good. And then we have several staff members as well, which is exciting.”
The tango was on display in the movie “Scent of a Woman,” although Wiseman says Al Pacino’s tango moves left something to be desired. Fellow actor Robert Duvall has championed the dance recently in an attempt to open American eyes to its charms. This is Wiseman’s goal as well.
“I’m very passionate about the tango and I just want to share it with everybody,” she says. About 10 years ago, Dr. Bilanchone and I taught an interim on the tango. We didn’t know anything about it. Tom and Patt Rocks were kind enough to teach us.
“As the interim went along, Vic and I realized that we were looking for more of an Argentine style tango. So little by little we started learning how to do it. When he retired from Wofford we went to Argentina to learn more. We’ve been either teaching interim or doing this after hours since.”
Teaching the tango involves more than just dance steps, according to Wiseman.
“You can’t really dance it properly if you don’t know anything about it,” she says. “The tango is the dance of immigrants who went to Argentina in the 1900s, more or less. I was born in Argentina, but I grew up with rock and roll. It wasn’t until later that I found out my parents had this huge collection of tango records and I started learning about it and what a wonderful dance it is.
“I feel that there is a part of my heritage in there and it’s really interesting to see it come out as I learn new steps. For me, the tango is immigration history and music history. It has many different influences including flamenco, waltz, and polka.”
So even the teacher learns something with the tango.