That’s how it happened for Vera Baraz, who turned her passion for Argentine tango into a second career. Baraz and her husband, Daniel Calcines, teach the social dance as part of their not-for-profit club, Casa Tango Edmonton.
Both were born in Russia, but Calcines grew up in Cuba with his Cuban father and Argentine mother. He came to Canada at the age of 25 as a political refugee, while Baraz came to the country at age 14 with her parents. They met more than 20 years ago, and went salsa dancing on their first date.
It wasn’t until 1999, when the couple visited Calcines’s parents in Buenos Aires, that they took their first tango lesson. “I fell in love with [tango] and never looked back,” says Baraz.
By day, Baraz is a registered dietician and Calcines manages a chemistry lab. But, at night, they teach about 25 students, ranging from absolute beginners to intermediates, in their 2,000 square-foot basement studio. Argentine tango “is not a dance you choreograph,” says Baraz. This means that the fancy footwork changes from dance to dance.
The heart of the tango is the intimate connection between the male lead and the female follower. But don’t assume the man does all the work. “It does take two to tango. It is more than following; she accompanies the man in the dance,” says Baraz. So how does it feel when she gets to tango with her husband? “It’s heaven,” confirms Baraz. “Tango connects us.”