Very loved and respected by Club Milonga members but perhaps not well-known outside, are Toronto tango duo Nina Velikova and Nick Niagolov. Their seemingly low profile belies the influence they have on the scene at large – Nina has managed (and redesigned) that long time important source of Toronto tango information the torontotango.com website for four years and as a couple they often teach the Tango Essentials Class at Club Milonga which is an entry point for many new members of our community.
Obviously Club Milonga is your tango home, why do you think that is?
Club Milonga was the first tango place that we went more than 10 years ago. There we became fascinated by Argentine tango. There we made friends and acquaintances with many tango lovers. There we feel welcome.
Unique for Club Milonga is that it provides in one night a combination of extended classes and extended practica, almost a milonga, in a very informal atmosphere. A great variety of tango instructors teach there and although we consider ourselves experienced dancers, we still enjoy taking classes, as we can always learn something more, even if it’s just an idea for another improvisation.
Tell us more about the Tango Essentials Class at Club Milonga.
Club Milonga is a place for social tango, based on improvisational movement. The Tango Essentials Class is designed for people who are new to tango and have less than six months of experience. The groups are usually small – four to eight couples – which helps us give personal attention to everyone. We teach tango fundamentals emphasising things extremely important to begin with – posture, musicality, walking, navigation, footwork, essential basics that many “students” skip and miss while chasing dance patterns.
At the Club the lessons are not organised in sessions, they are drop in only. New people pop up almost every Tuesday so we have to divide the group, start from scratch with some, give different tasks according to levels of experience while paying attention to everyone.
In the past you have taught at other Toronto tango locations such as Practica La Coqueta and Milonga Sentimental (now closed) are you available to do that now?
Tango is a part of our social life and we love teaching it, helping other dancers and having fun. Although, so far our aim is not to focus primarily on being professional tango instructors, we never know what the future might bring.
Describe your personal tango style.
Our personal style is dominated by “salon-style” tango, with looser embrace that shifts between close and open, while looking toward the clasped hands. We build it over a mishmash of influences, from milonguero-style, through club-style, to fantasia, adjusting to our physical capabilities. We like to interpret and apply the essence of tango to any kind of music.
Are there any particular reasons we don’t see much of you outside Club Milonga?
When we started dancing we use to go to every milonga in town. Although tango is still a big part of our social life we try to keep an active lifestyle and balance between work, family and friends.
What events, milonga, classes, etc. do you go to outside Club Milonga?
Usually we try to attend the big events like The Toronto Tango Festival, Tango Summit, El Congreso and workshops of visiting prominent tango professionals.
As regulars at Club Milonga for 10 years, you have taken classes with many visiting teachers. Who are some of your favourites?
We like teachers who can bring out the best in everyone, making the lesson a pleasant and fun experience. Some of our favourite out of town visiting teachers are Luis Bianchi and Daniela Pucci, Miguel Zotto and Daiana Guspero, Amira Campor, as well as almost all the Toronto teachers who teach regularly at the Club.
Nick, you are a physiotherapist, how does your extensive knowledge of the human body influence your tango and how you teach others?
Knowing human anatomy and body mechanics helps me a lot to assess capabilities to maintain proper balance and perform quality movements. I try to help people to overcome their physical limitations and find the best way to dance.
Nick, if there are tango dancers who need a physiotherapist who understands tango, how can they get in touch with you?
I’m currently working in retirement and long term care homes, but I would do private house visits if needed. If someone needs help I could be reached at: email@example.com.
Nina, you are a graphic designer and you manage the www.torontotango.com website, tell us about that.
I redesigned the website pro bono for the club in 2008 when I was the Club program director. Since, I’ve been managing all the necessary updates, which usually occur bi-weekly.
Toronto has many East European tango dancers but are you two the only Bulgarian Canadians?
No, we are not alone but the group is small. We know a few single dancers, but no couples. If you are a Bulgarian Canadian and a tango lover reading this blog, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will be very happy to meet you. Of course, any other tango lover is welcome as well.
I need to mention that we miss a lot another Bulgarian Canadian – Grigor Kotzev (Greg), a prominent Toronto tanguero, who we lost due to cancer two years ago.
Anything else we might like to know about you?
We felt in love with tango because of all the social dances it has the greatest sensual return with its beauty and passion. They say that tango is “the history of love – for three minutes” and this is exactly the explanation behind our tango.
Lydia, we would like to thank you very much for introducing us. We come from an upbringing where modesty is a virtue and honestly we didn’t expect such attention. Thank you.