Interview with Joanna O’Connor

Story | Interview | Opinion | 21 Oct 2023

What inspired you to start learning to dance tango?

I’d always wanted to learn Argentine Tango and was walking past the Strictly Smartz studio when I saw a poster for Leigh Tango and thought ‘now’s the time!’.

Did you have any previous training/lessons in tango or other dance styles?

I did ballet as a child and, later on, a couple of years of flamenco and belly-dancing.

How long have you been coming to Leigh Tango and what do you like about it?

For 7 months. Oh, so much! Our teachers – Samira and Luis – are amazing. Their dedication to giving all students the best possible foundation is absolute and they’re both the most incredible dancers. The music is stunning, the movement so beautiful and there are lots of lovely people attending classes. It’s also rather glamorous and we have monthly Milongas where we get to dress up and dance together socially.

How do you feel you have improved since taking lessons?

Massively. It’s taken a good while for everything to start to come together and I’m happy with that. Samira and Luis make it clear when you begin that learning Argentine Tango is a marathon, not a sprint and it’s wonderful to feel yourself at the start of a long journey where you’ll always be learning and refining your skills.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Relaxing and allowing myself to be led.

Has taking tango lessons improved any other areas in your life?

Yes, in so many ways. It’s fantastic for mental clarity, balance, stamina and fitness. There’s a great social life and it’s also led me to take up other forms of dance and to challenge myself in other areas of my life. I come with my partner, so it’s lovely for us to dance together and have that connection, but if you’re coming along on your own everyone is very welcoming and we rotate dance-partners so there’s always someone to dance with.

What would you say to someone starting out or thinking of trying tango for the first time?

Do it! Jump in!!