Tango takes Brandon

By Emily Cutts | Correspondent.

As Orquesta Sin Trabajo played last Friday, couples glided across the floor of the Brandon Town Hall as part of the 10th annual Moonlight in Vermont Tango Festival.

“The music grabbed me,” said attendee Bob Bernstein. “It’s very soulful. I feel it. It gets inside of you.”

More than 100 people from across the region and the country came to Brandon over the weekend of Sept. 11-13 for the event at the Brandon Inn.

Event host Gerd Hirschmann said he has been dancing the tango for the past 15 years, though his connection to the dance goes back much further.

“My mom was dancing tango when she was pregnant with me,” he confessed.

Hirschmann said as an adult he found the tango through the music he listened to at a record shop he owned in Rutland.

“There is a certain sex appeal because you are dancing so close,” Hirschmann said.

The intimacy of the dance was evident as the couples held each other. Some danced cheek-to-cheek while others were chest-to-chest or head-to-head.

As the men led their dance partners across the floor, the women’s skirts swaying with the movements, some dancers closed their eyes.

“It’s a nonverbal communication between two people,” Hirschmann said. “It’s always improvisational.”

For Bernstein, when dancing with the right partner, it’s the soul that connects.

Bernstein said he started dancing the tango in 2007 when he was 76. He said he has been spending part of the year in Buenos Aires to get away from the cold and experience the tango.

“I can’t experience it anywhere in the U.S. like I experience it there,” Bernstein said.

“In Argentina, you never dance with a woman twice in a row,” he said. “You hear about tango as a dance of passion. I believe it’s not true, but when you’re dancing with someone you’re as one, so you need a rest with somebody after that.”

While some couples danced together song after song, others switched partners.

Louise Rogers of Somerset, Mass., sat and watched as her husband, John, danced with Kim-Yen Vu.

Rogers said she and her husband went to ballroom dancing when they were teenagers. They took up the tango about 12 years ago, she said.

“We just love it, love the music … it’s good exercise, too,” she said. “The music is intoxicating, to say the least.”

Vu, a ballroom dancer from Massachusetts, said this was her second time attending the festival. As she danced, it was evident she got over her initial hesitation.

“How could you do such an intimate dance, so sexual, so sensual, with a stranger?“ she asked. “Then I got into it, and now it’s my passion.”