By Tammy Scileppi
What’s sexy and saucy and breathes love and sensuality?
It takes two to tango the night away.
“I love Argentine Tango because the music inspires me to dance, sing, and create. The music itself is so captivating, it pulls you in,” says Forest Hills-based dancer and choreographer Mariana Parma. “It expresses emotions so poetically written in verses that touch you emotionally. And to be able to dance it and share it with a partner is the icing on the cake.”
“Artistically, it inspires me to create and choreograph dances,” Parma added. “As a person, it connects me to my Uruguayan culture, and most importantly to my father, Americo Parma, who passed onto me the love of Tango music, Condombe, and Murgas, music from Uruguay that he listened to growing up.”
Parma said she loves all dance, and has been performing many partnering dance styles, including salsa, hustle, swing, and Argentine tango at a variety of New York venues and beyond.
“My experience in Tango is vast. And I have spun in my stiletto heels in many venues throughout the world and onto film and TV sets,” she said.
Parma has performed tango throughout the United States and across the globe in China, India, Europe, and South America. She admits that most of all, she loves showing off her elegant moves in New York City venues so she can be close to friends and family. Her performances at the Queens Theatre — one of her favorite places to perform — have wowed audiences on many occasions.
Since the dance is a mix of diverse cultures, you could say the tango belongs in Queens, one of the most diverse places in the world. But all of New York City has been celebrating the rich variety of Latin American dance, theater, music, film, literature, and visual arts during the 13th annual Latin American Cultural Week, with dozens of events held in venues across Manhattan and the boroughs through Nov. 21. Looking graceful and dramatically gliding across the dance floor with your partner means you should both learn some fancy footwork, for starters. But according to Parma, who is also a dance instructor, tango really isn’t that difficult to master if you have commitment and patience.
“It is not a dance that you can learn a few basic steps and go out on the dance floor. It requires commitment to take classes for at least a year on an ongoing, week to week basis, if possible,” she said. “I myself am still a student; you never stop learning from great teachers and dancers.”
Parma is a native New Yorker and was born in Elmhurst Hospital. Because of her heritage and background — her parents came here from Montevideo, Uruguay — it seems fitting that she’s so passionate about a dance that had its beginnings along the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay.
Her family later moved to New Jersey, where she grew up and graduated from Douglass College — part of Rutgers University — majoring in dance and communication.
“I always danced as a child and trained in jazz, ballet, and modern dance,” Parma said.
After graduating, she toured with a Latin Dance troupe as part of a cultural educational program.
“This is when I became more involved in training myself in Latin Folk dances, Argentine Tango, Mexican Folk, Colombian Folk, and Argentine Folk,” she added.
All that hard work paid off. In 2008, Parma became the USA Tango Champion in Salon style.
The beautiful multi-style tango, can be danced to different types of music, from tango to electronic tango-inspired sounds, and even “Alternative tango.” The dance is liberating and intimate at the same time and that close embrace and chemistry between the man and woman is stunning to watch.
So, what makes a great tango match?
“It takes two, and you both have to be on the same path to achieve harmony in the partnership,” Parma said. “And having experience always helps you to achieve that level of understanding.”