Maida Zanaboni Doleman — an interview

Maida Zanaboni Doleman

Maida is a well-known personality in the Auckland tango scene, and her passion for the dance shows through as soon as you talk to her. She teaches all the dances under the tango umbrella and also runs courses on women's technique and adornos. When she is not teaching tango, she designs tango dancewear.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My life has been an incredible journey. I was born in Milan, Italy, of Armenian parents and came to America as a displaced person without a country and lived most of my life in New York City until moving to New Zealand 6 1/2 years ago. I've worked as a clothing designer in Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Guatemala, India, Spain and North Africa for various clothing manufacturers on 7th. Ave. NYC. I have been running my web based design company www.zanabonidesign.com for the last 15 years. I've danced and performed solo on the famed stage of Carnegie Hall NYC and traveled with the dance troupe throughout the major cities in the US. I started learning and dancing tango in 1994 in NYC. and have danced in Berlin, Rome, Bologna, Milan, Capri, Naples, Madrid, London, Buenos Aires, Paris, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Montreal in Canada, Miami and Tampa in Florida, San Francisco in California, Seattle in Washington, Mexico City in Mexico and Cleveland in Ohio.

What got you into tango?

A dear friend, knowing how much I loved to dance, bought me tickets for my birthday to see the first Tango Pasion show which came to New York in 1994. I was hooked after seeing the show.

What do you love about tango, or what does tango mean to you?

Tango for me is my idea of meditation, where nothing else matters, and I'm totally focused on the music and my partner. I dance all the dances, but tango in my opinion is the only dance where one can connect to another person on a soul level.

How long have you been teaching tango for?

Besides 6 years teaching in New Zealand, I was a teaching assistant in New York and was invited to perform at various milongas in the mid 90's. I've also appeared on 2 tango documentary films shown on the PBS TV stations in America.

Which tango dancers have you learnt from, or who inspire you?

Living in New York City, I had the luxury of learning from every big name imaginable, which are listed on my website, www.zanabonidesign.com/tango-salsa. My main consistent teacher was the late and great Carlos Gavito. My inspiration aside from teachers were the dancers I would avidly watch on the dancefloor at the milongas there. I learned so much through the osmosis of watching.

Which style(s) of tango would you say you dance and/or teach?

My specialty is milonguero closs embrace tango, which includes tango, vals, milonga and milonga tras pie.

What are your classes like?

I teach at my home studio, which has a full mirrored wall and great matai wood dance floor. I only teach 4 couples at a time and do my best to find you a partner if you don't have one. So it's basically a semi-private class, with the attention and time I'm able to give each student, because of the small class size.

I mainly teach by myself, working with my students and sometimes demonstrate with my husband, David. I teach all levels, from first time tango dancers through to advanced intermediate. I don't like to use the term advanced, on its own, because even the most seasoned dancer is always perfecting and improving his craft. I define my levels by how well each student can lead and follow anyone they dance with.

The foundation of my teaching is technique, not tango by numbers. As the student's technique improves, the leader must be able to transmit the intention of the move and the follower should feel the intention of the leader clearly. It should be felt not memorized by rote.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring tango dancers?

Tango is a Work in Progress and you will have the joy of learning and dancing it for all your life if you wish. Enjoy the journey; the trip is well worth it.

Maida Zanaboni Doleman
June 2008

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