Damian Esell's Tango Secrets (Video Interview)
Damian Esell's Tango Secrets (Read from screen or download the PDF)
Damian Esell's Tango Secrets (audio)
Damian Esell didn’t start as a tango dancer right away. He was a sketch artist and a painter, and his love for art led him to focus on the art of tango.
His tango journey started in 1997. From 1999 to 2009, he traveled for seminars and various tango festivals. Damian is known for his style, which combines the Tango Salón and Milonguero styles. Add the elements of the Scenic Tango and Tango Nuevo, and that’s him! He and his dance partner developed their own style, pedagogy, and methodology.
Damian as a Visual Artist
Damian Esell’s power in visual artistry is as incredible as his artistry as a tango dancer and teacher. Damian’s artworks are a great source of inspiration for many people! You can easily find his artwork on Artmajeur, Facebook, and Instagram to get an idea of how he is as an “artista plástico.”
It’s easy to see how art just naturally flows through Damian. He has a way with colors, and his paintings are very detailed and playful. His art is an excellent addition to any space! Damian’s artistic talent is reflected in both his visual art and tango teaching. Damian is a living legend, and we’re so advantaged to have the opportunity to learn from him.
ArtistSecrets of a Master
Damian shared that he only accompanied his then partner, who pushed him to take a lesson. He said he didn’t like to dance and didn’t dance anything. That lesson turned out to be the beginning of his long tango journey!
I remember myself practicing movements of dancing between… in the rest time between one lesson and the other in the fine art school. And the teachers come say, “Oh, you are a tango dancer.” “No, I’m just learning. It’s my second lesson,” I said. “No, but you look well.”
Damian had always been an artist, painting since he was six years old. He learned to play the piano at 12 and discovered his potential in tango when he was a fine art school professor. Damian had many teachers and learned from many people. One particular influence he mentioned is Eduardo Sotelo, a tango teacher teaching in a pizzeria. However Eduardo Sotelo was just a push. He was an instrument for Damian to learn that there were tango styles he liked and didn’t like. If there was one tango dancer he really wanted to be like, it was Gabriel Angio.
I think he was one of the dancers, let’s say, or teachers that I watched more because I like his style, the elements that he was using by dancing, I think they were my sample… I want to dance like them, but I don’t have the spirit or the character like them. So I have to find my own way.
When Damian finally embraced his love for tango, he embarked on a new journey of self-discovery. Damian found his own style by mixing different aspects of his favorite styles. It was reflected through his teaching.
What sets Damian apart from other teachers is how he lets his students learn the tango in every way possible. Usually, learning something new means that you should stick to the rules. You must listen to one teacher and grow from there. Damian, however, thinks it’s important for students to listen to different teachers and take what they think is best for them.
On Learning Tango
In tango, there are traditional roles that the man and woman play. The man leads the dance and marks the movements, and the woman follows the man and gets carried away by the tango embrace. Generations and generations of dancing the tango carried this on, and Damian challenges this tradition. He says that the quality of the dance can be superior if we give each one more functions. The couple can even exchange roles! In Tango Secrets, he said:
…the traditional roles that all our teachers taught us was the man is the leader, the girl is the follower. Okay. Yeah, this is part of the truth, but it’s not the complete truth.
The complete truth is that the man is the leader, but also follows. The girl is a follower, but with her body, also leads at the leader.