Occasional workshops are planned with visiting professional teachers with occasional special tango events in Geelong for Australia’s dancers.
TANGO PROJECT In 2016, Pamela and Richard Jarvis developed an innovative new program for people with a diagnosis of dementia and their partners/carers, working in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia (Geelong), now Dementia Australia (Geelong). The Tango Project trials showed positive and exciting results. Participants enjoyed the Project so much they wanted to keep dancing, and so the Project was expanded into weekly Gentle Tango sessions.
GENTLE TANGO now caters for people with a diagnosis of dementia and their partners and full-time carers, people with a variety of medical conditions and their partners, and others who find it difficult to participate in classes at night. A group pf trained volunteers assist Pamela and Richard, so that a high standard of individual attention and safety can be maintained. Each session is conducted with engaging music. The class begins with a graduated exercise program, designed to improve balance, coordination, mobility, flexibility and postural alignment. A class follows, teaching simple tango steps, with social dancing practice. The session concludes with a delicious morning tea / lunch for everyone at a long table, with espresso coffee and tea. Conversation and socialising is an important part of the program, enjoyed by all.
Tango Friends Australia Inc has been providing sponsorship to cover basic costs, and additional private donations, have meant that Gentle Tango can be offered to participants for an affordable cost of $5 per session.
Recently, the respected Melbourne tango teacher, Dianne Heywood-Smith, of The Tangueria - Sidewalk Tango has joined Southern Cross Tango’s Pamela and Richard Jarvis on the teaching faculty of Gentle Tango, making possible the expansion of Gentle Tango into other parts of regional Victoria.
About Community Tango in Geelong Community Tango in Geelong was launched in November 2009 at a Beautiful Afternoon Tango Tea that, with generous sponsorship from the Friends of Buenos Aires at the Beach Incorporated, raised over $1,000 for charity. Christ Church was chosen as the venue because the parish hall is a community centre that has provided people in need with free, nourishing meals, daily, for more than 20 years. It seemed like the right place to bring together a different kind of tango community – an open and supportive circle that welcomes newcomers, provides a viable alternative form of healthy, affordable exercise, entertainment and social activity in Geelong, and gives people of all ages and backgrounds an opportunity to come together to enjoy tango. Southern Cross Tango stepped in to help, taking on this new group as a community outreach arm. Pam & Richard Jarvis, long-standing supporters and dancers of Argentine tango in Melbourne and Adelaide, now resident in Geelong, see it as a way they, too, can contribute something to tango. They launched the first monthly Community Tango get-together in February 2010. They envisioned a practica format, but when 30 aspiring dancers turned up (with no tango experience), they realized that classes were called for. They have settled on a format that offers simple, basic instruction, lots of encouragement and opportunity to practise with experienced dancers (some of whom come from Melbourne and Canberra to help). The format is working; numbers are growing steadily. They want people to experience success, have fun, and feel confident to take to the floor at any milonga. They offer supper and espresso coffee too. Visiting experienced dancers are warmly welcomed.
Richard and Pam are respected Australian exponents of tango. Drawn to tango’s flame in 1989, they were able to visit Buenos Aires often in the years before the current popularity of tango tourism. Driven to learn as much as possible about the culture of tango and develop skills for social dancing, they worked diligently with chosen ‘maestros’.
Buenos Aires’ thinkers and philosophers, bookshops, libraries, recordings, archives, literary and oral traditions, and Tango’s custodians, offered first-hand experience or inspiration. Tango music was a constant companion to the city’s life. Pam began writing the monthly journal ‘Tango Australis’ a decade ago, for dancers in Australia and around the world. It is a labour of love.
Richard and Pam became known in iconic Buenos Aires milongas, places that exist today only in memory and history books. They danced socially with wonderful dancers, now sadly deceased, and trained with some of the greatest professional dancers of Argentina. In Australia, in time, they received invitations to perform in tango shows and on stage. Initially reluctant, they were encouraged to occasionally brave the limelight when they learned that traditional Argentine tango shows have an older couple in the cast.
Pam & Richard now live in a regional Victorian city. Wanting to contribute to their new home, they founded Community Tango in Geelong. They teach as volunteers and have introduced around 200 people (in two years) to Tango. The group is unique. Students learn in the time-honoured tradition of old Buenos Aires; experienced dancers help new dancers find their feet. Pam tells stories of Tango, trusting that this legacy and heritage will be carried into the personal stories that her students tell when they dance the Tango.
Having recently retired from full-time legal practice Richard now has more time to teach and pass on his tango knowledge. Pam continues to write, research and dance. She is a lively, informative public speaker, these days most often on a topic related to Tango. They both feel that the gift of Tango that they received should be passed on to others.