After our magical, mind-reading Tango class we sat down with Chantal and Sebastian, the founders of Art.13, to find out more about this beautiful dance and the philosophy behind it…
USC: How did you discover Tango?
Chantal: I discovered it when I was in school in Switzerland. A friend of mine wanted to learn Tango so we went to a class and took it in turns to lead and follow. That’s how I got into it and I never got out of it. My friend stopped after a year but for me it was forever.
Sebastian: I was in love with a girl at school in Berlin and she wanted to take a Tango class, so I went even though I didn’t want to. Then word got around and I became the guy who could dance Tango, even though I couldn’t do it at all. This motivated me and I just kept going. I didn’t like it at first. I felt awful. I was afraid, I was nervous. I’m quite shy so it was a huge challenge. I really didn’t enjoy it.
USC: What was it you didn’t enjoy?
Sebastian: I didn’t enjoy the confidence of the teacher, I didn’t enjoy that I couldn’t perform the movements at all. I was so afraid, it was terrible. I didn’t like that people said “he can dance Tango” and I knew I couldn’t. Maybe that’s what kept me going – I wanted to arrive at a place where I could say yes, I can dance Tango.
USC: What do you love about Tango now?
Sebastian: I like challenges. It took me years to understand how Tango works. After about 7 years I think I started to understand how it works. I like designing movements for other people and with Tango I can design a movement for my partner and create something beautiful for them to experience.
USC: The dance seems quite simple – is it about more than movement?
Sebastian: It’s not a show dance – it’s for for the dancers and their experience. So there’s a lot of perfectionism in Tango. And the further you go the more you discover about the movements and communication. It’s endless.
USC: How did you come to teach Tango in Berlin?
Chantal: I came to Berlin to study which is where we met. We were looking for an apartment big enough to practice and then we found this. Nothing was in here – no electricity, nothing. But it was cheaper than an apartment, so we moved in here and trained every day.
Then we thought it would be good to host classes to help pay for the space, so Art.13 was quite an organic thing. It was never our plan to have a school; it was just our living room.
USC: Is there a strong Tango community in Germany?
Chantal: Yes it’s huge. In Berlin and other larger cities you can go dancing every night in several different places. And even in smaller communities usually at least someone is organizing something. It’s a beautiful experience so people tell their friends about it and it just keeps growing.
Sebastian: Tango is a good dance for sensitive people. There’s so much subtle communication and you have a very, very strong connection with your partner. And it’s quiet. It slows you down. You really have to concentrate on one person and be in that moment.
USC: What are the physical and mental benefits to Tango?
Sebastian: Tango mirrors everything that happens in life. When I started dancing I met people who said stuff like that and I thought why make a religion out of everything? We’re dancing Tango, that’s enough!
And then after 18 years I started to realise just how much it is a reflection of your personality, of your state in life, your situation in life. So much is happening in Tango. And maybe if there’s something you don’t dare change in life, you can change in Tango and then, over time you can take it into your real life. So if you’re open to experience yourself in a different way it can be a very healing experience.
Physically you learn so much about your body because the dance is so precise – you really learn how to move. The coordination that Tango dancers have is amazing.
USC: Have you had any moments since you opened Art.13 that have made you very proud?
Sebastian: Sometimes people come and they’ll tell me “something really big has changed in my life. A topic that has been a big problem for twenty years – I’ve now resolved it. And you helped me.” This is really cool, to see how Tango can contribute and do people good.
USC: Do you have plans for the future of Art.13?
Chantal: We want to travel more with Tango. It’s a very enriching experience to get to know different Tango scenes and communities in different countries. How they dance, why they dance like that, what we can learn from each other. So we want to do more of that – stretch out, travel, and keep this alive.
If you’d like to try Tango or any other dance class, Urban Sports Club has tons of dance partners across Germany, Italy and France.
And take a look at Art.13 TANGO’s website for all their latest news, updates and events.