It Takes Two to Tango

Brendan Eprile

Oberlin is home to a variety of dance scenes from contra to swing, but one style has been conspicuously missing — the tango. On Tuesday, Oberlin College began offering tango lessons at Spanish house, taught by two professional instructors who share a deep history with the art form.

Instructor Micaela Barrett teaches classes through the Cleveland Tango School. Launched in 2015, the school describes itself as “a cultural organization dedicated to preserving the beauty, codes and traditions of Argentine Tango in the Greater Cleveland area.” Barrett hopes to foster a vibrant tango community in the area as well as inspire a new generation of dancers.

Barrett started out swing dancing as a teenager in New York City, but once she discovered the tango, she knew she could never go back. “It was a feeling unlike any I had ever experienced before,” she said. “The tango is entrancing and mystifying. I liked how it wasn’t choreographed and [that] it was just two people dancing together with few other visual cues.”

After studying in Buenos Aires for a year under masters of the art, Barrett moved to Cleveland with Alberto Cordero, her teaching partner, to give roots to their craft. Barrett was drawn to the city’s beauty, low cost of living and close proximity to other cities with thriving tango scenes such as Chicago, Detroit, Anne Arbor, MI and Buffalo, NY. The latter was especially important to her as her weekends are filled with master class-related travel — she and Cordero will travel to New York City Sept. 24 for a class. Cordero himself worked in New York City as well as the in Caribbean, where he worked with Y Entonces… Tango. The pair’s wide horizons stem largely from Barrett’s love of travel. It allows them to “connect with people all over the world through the tango,” Barrett said.

Barrett and Cordero will be at the helm of two separate tango classes at Oberlin, one tailored for students and another meant for faculty — “Tango @ Oberlin” and “Tango for Adults,” respectively. The pair taught their first class on campus Tuesday.

Barrett stressed that late arrivals are welcome, and that anyone with an interest in the art should give the class a try. She also emphasized that no partners are necessary as classes are not role-specific and experience is not required.

Looking to the future, Barrett hopes that students will catch on to the growing tango scene and start a club of their own at Oberlin. “Maybe some will even want to teach it themselves,” she said.