DanceUS team had a pleasure of attending the very first NYC Abrazos Tango Fest 2022 organized by Mariela Franganillo. The pandemic took its toll on the dance community and seeing such a grand event take place in NYC was spirit-lifting. The festival took place in a beautiful new space of Stepping Out Studios, featured renown tango maestros, and a live music orchestra - Pedro Giraudo Tango Quartet, a Latin GRAMMY winner!
We spoke to Mariela Franganillo (the festival organizer and prominent teacher, performer & producer):
Mariela, tell us about yourself in a few words.
I am a dancer, teacher and choreographer. I performed in Forever Tango on Broadway, Julio Iglesia’s show, with Pablo Ziegler’s quintet in Carnegie Hall, and with other music groups and shows. I created the choreography for Recuerdo Tango, Tango Connection, and Swango the Musical among other shows. I love teaching Tango because of its capacity to connect two people in a moment, and the pleasure that it brings them in their lives.
You studied with Gustavo Naveira, Mingo and Esther Pugliese - how was that experience?
They gave me a passion and a profession that I have enjoyed for more than 30 years. At that time, they were the teachers of the future since there were few young people dancing tango in the 90’s.
You performed in the show "Forever Tango" on Broadway - tell us how that experience shaped you as a dancer and producer?
Forever Tango gave me the experience that I needed on the stage. Here in the United States, there are far fewer Argentine Tango shows. I wanted to create productions that would display the beauty, creativity, and passion of tango.
You’ve been an organizer of tango events in NYC for many years already, and now you have presented us with an amazing "Abrazos" tango festival. Tell us about the festival - what was the inspiration and grand idea behind it?
I have been organizing Tango events since 2003. Shows, galas, workshops and the NY Tango Festival at Columbia University. We had 1,000 people at that time... "Abrazos Tango Fest" came about because I wanted an intimate festival for 200 people. I wanted to bring amazing and inspiring teachers to a community after the isolation from the pandemic, so they could find joy, connection and a learning experience in a fun and safe environment.
The festival featured performances by Virginia Gómez and Christian Marquez, Yanina Quiñones and Neri Piliu, Florencia Borgnia and Marcos Pereira, as well as Guillermo Merlo and yourself. Tell us about them.
- Virginia Gómez and Christian Marquez present a beautiful rendition of “traditional” Tango. When I see them they remind me of Mingo and Esther Pugliese, two of my teachers. Their elegant style and clear instruction have made them sought after teachers for many years. I really enjoy seeing them dancing and teaching. They are superb.
- Yanina Quiñones and Neri Piliu come from a new generation of dancers that combine traditional and new tango styles. Their intense and expressive performances are exquisite, and their teaching dynamic is delightful.
- Florencia Borgnia and Marcos Pereira express their movement in the more “traditional” way. Their teaching is very clear and approachable, and their performance was very emotional. We are very lucky that they are now based in New York City.
- I have had the pleasure to know Guillermo Merlo since 1996, when we were working in Forever Tango. He is a talented dancer both on the stage and socially, a tony-award winning choreographer, and an inspiring teacher, now based in Boston, MA.
My goal was to inspire the community with these amazing artists.
Pedro Giraudo Tango Quartet – a Latin GRAMMY winner - performed live at the festival. How does live music make the festival edition so special?
To dance with great live music like Pedro’s Giraudo Quartet makes your dance complete. It gives you a sense of living in the moment, since you know that exact music you are dancing to can never be repeated. The sound goes through your body like no sound from a CD can.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to organize another festival, and to teach and perform when it is possible for me to do so. I have two lovely daughters and a husband, so I must balance my family life and my work.
What should we expect at next year's festival?
The next Abrazos Tango Festival will be in 2024. I expect to have great artists like this year, and to bring joy to our community through learning and social dance. I want to thank the NYC tango community once again for their amazing support. Without you all, this event would not be possible.
Thank you so much -- we all looking forward to the next years' festival edition!