San Francisco is such a dynamic, vibrant city that people all over the world are drawn to its charms. When I first moved to San Francisco in 2008, I was enamored by its unique and high quality tango scene. Ney and Jennifer had a dance studio on one of the narrow, hilly streets of Nob Hill, Cellspace in the Mission was magical with its ever changing decor, and David and Mariana’s late-night milonga at the Metronome was THE place to be on a Saturday night.
And some of the old-timers still reminisce dancing at Broadway Studios and the Candle Light Ballroom in the East Bay. We can savor these sweet memories yet appreciate and celebrate SF’s Tango present. New milongas and even new Tango instructors bring fresh energy and perspective, helping to keep San Francisco’s tango scene as hip and progressive as the city.
One such person is Veronika Kruta. Veronika was fortunate to have the legendary Daniel Trenner as her downstairs neighbor in her home town of Massachusetts. Hailing from an artistic background, Veronika is one of a younger generation of dancers who celebrates tango’s history yet keeps the dance exciting by incorporating contemporary styles of movement and becoming an accomplished leader and follower.
Veronika began her tango life in 2005 and had since spent much time in Buenos Aires immersing herself in the culture of the city, its many milongas and also training intensively with world renown instructors. She began her tango career by hosting tango events in her home community of Massachusetts and by 2010 began teaching, helping to build the tango community in Western Massachusetts. She has since been invited to teach, DJ and organize events around the United States, Canada, Europe and Argentina.
Veronika graciously agreed to an interview so we can all get to know her a little better. Here it is:
SF Loves Tango: How did you find Tango? (Or how did Tango find you?)
Veronika: When I was in high school my family moved into an apartment right above Daniel Trenner (known in the tango world as the Johnny Appleseed of tango.. he was one of the first to spread tango in the US during it’s revival in the late 80’s and early 90’s). Of course I didn’t know the significance of this at the time, but when he invited me to take his class I took him up on it. I think I was hooked ever since that first class! Soon after he started teaching tango at my high school which was a performing arts school so dance was a big part of it. So I guess I had quite an early exposure to tango… you definitely did not see too many other teenagers at milongas.
SF Loves Tango: Who inspired you the most in your Tango career?
Veronika: I can’t attribute this to one person. There are so many! Some that inspire me with their dancing, some with their pedagogy, some by their approach to community building, and some with their words of wisdom that have stuck with me all through-out this wild and crazy journey! I also continue to look for new inspiration all the time as my own dance and teaching evolve and my perspective and interests shift.
SF Loves Tango: What brought you to San Francisco Bay Area and what do you like about living here?
Veronika: I have been searching for some time for a place that would allow me to be both involved in the community through teaching and hosting events, but also let me to continue growing by having access to great dancing on any night of the week and a plethora of artists coming through all the time. I have been spending the better part of the year studying and training like crazy in Buenos Aires and then coming home and teaching like crazy, and I want a little bit more balance in my life, and I think San Francisco is the answer. I also think it’s a great city beyond the tango scene. There’s so much to do and see and I feel inspired just walking around! Plus I get to indulge in so much yoga… my other absolute necessary practice!
SF Loves Tango: Where will you be teaching in the Bay Area and what level of dancers do you teach?
Veronika: This summer I will be teaching at LevyDance in SoMA and will offer classes to all levels. Thursday nights will be all about fundamentals for any one who is totally new to tango and for dancers who are still struggling to put the pieces together and find their confidence at the milonga. And Saturdays will be Technique & Connection which is for anyone who wants to improve the quality of their movement to better connect with a partner and the music. We will do both solo and partner exercises in this class. I will also be teaching a short series at Milonga La Paz on Sundays that will be for all levels and will focus on essential combinations for the social dance floor (even the really crowded ones!) And I am available for private lessons by appointment.
SF Loves Tango: I see that you DJ and host Tango events and have one coming up on Massachusetts. Please tell us about it. Do you have any plans to host a Tango event in the Bay Area?
Veronika: Yes! It’s called the Buena Onda Tango Immersion and this is the 3rd year we are doing it. It is something between a marathon and a festival. This year the highlights include live music by El Cachivache Quinteto (From Buenos Aires), three musicality workshops for dancers with live instrumentation, taught by members of the band and myself (our first collaboration together!), and a video screening of the legendary maestros from Daniel Trenner’s one-of-a-kind historical archive, with personal anecdotes and stories from Daniel himself. In addition to this we’ll also have yoga and massage, great food, and all kinds of hilarious shenanigans that usually involve lots of impromptu booty shakin’ dance parties. Really, it’s all about having a good time with great people doing what we all love most. And it is all happening in Holyoke, Massachusetts at a great converted warehouse type of venue on September 14-16. Further details are at www.buenaondatangoimmersion.com.
I don’t have any immediate plans for hosting an event in the Bay area but it’s definitely something that is on the horizon as I get to know this community.
SF Loves Tango: Thank you Veronika! We look forward to seeing you out and about in San Francisco!