"one of the world's leading experts on the Tango" Angela Rippon, LBC Radio
"Britain's leading authority on the Tango" BBC Radio 2
"La ves bailar y sentís... que es más porteña que el mate" Angel Battelini, from A Los Amigos Milongueros ("You see her dance and you feel that she is more authentically of Buenos Aires than the most typically Buenos Aires thing you can imagine") to read the whole poem click here
To read more about Christine's philosophy of Tango click here
Christine Denniston, author of
The Meaning of Tango
and main contributor to history-of-tango.com
Christine has taught on five continents, including having been invited to teach in some of the most prestigious Tango clubs in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has appeared on national and local television and radio, and in national and local newspapers, around the world.
From the Evening Standard (London's daily newspaper):
Breaking the Corset Barrier by Maureen Paton
Only the comeback of the dreaded corset stands between the average Englishwoman and her total tango experience, it seems.
One of the world's leading exponents of Argentina's national dance is a London based theoretical physicist with the very un Latin sounding name of Christine Denniston. But set aside all prejudices about the naff British approach to tango as exemplified by Come Dancing contestants with orange suntans.
To Denniston, a former theatre director who became the first non-Argentinian to teach the dance in Buenos Aires eleven years ago, tango is a state of mind. Or, as she puts it so enticingly, "a blend of sex and chess".
The chess is where the mathematical logic of Denniston's physics degree, acquired at Cambridge, where she was a contemporary of the Donmar's Oscar nominated former artistic director Sam Mendes, comes in. The sex is all about "entering a meditative state" and working with another body in complete intimacy. It can be very charged, but it's more like Tantric sex than a quick leg-over.
"It's like Zen, it's incredibly simple but also empowering. Not only can it improve people's sex lives but it's also about helping men and women relate to each other without being either a bully or a doormat. Tango doesn't work if you're aggressive: you have to anticipate the needs of your partner."
If so, one wonders why tango isn't taught by divorce lawyers. Denniston, who has been holding regular tango tea dances at the Waldorf Hotel since 1998, now chairs the United Kingdom Academy of Tango. And next week sees the opening of her web site, where visitors can take virtual tango lessons and order her e-book Dancing Tango - Unlocking the Mysteries and a catalogue of CDs that explore a music with similar roots to jazz.
Tango arrived in the northern hemisphere in 1908, becoming a pan-European obsession by 1913 when women cast off their corsets to take part. But after the fall of President Peron in 1955, the dance he had championed as the ultimate expression of nationalism fell into disfavour in Argentina until the early Eighties.
It has taken the enthusiasm of foreigners like Denniston to help spread the message around the globe again. She's off to the World Tango Summit in Argentina this summer. Meanwhile, those tempted to tango, unite - you have absolutely nothing to lose but your corsets.
con alma de tango...!)
Es de la tierra de Tacher...
y se largó pa. estos pagos
quisó sentir el alago
que representa el gotan...
escarbó entre el arrabal
buscando un patio oriyero
y en brazos de un milonguero
sintió su pecho vibrar...
Y así comensó a gozar...
del placer bailando tango
mientras se va prolongando
esta pasión sin igual...
y entre milonga y gotan
entre ochos y quebradas
se entregó con alma y vida
a nuestra danza inmortal...
La ves bailar y sentís...
que es más porteña que el mate
y no es ningun disparate
lo que te voy a decir...
lo demuestra su perfil
que va mostrando al bailar
esa pasión senciblera
se dechada al milonguear...
Para esta hermosa inglesita...
con resabios de arrabal
que va mostrando al taquear
el alma de milonguita...
yo le dejo la infinita
y profunda admiración
de mi pluma de poeta
con perfume de malvón...
from the book
A Los Amigos Milongueros
...(The English girl...
with the soul of Tango!...)
She comes from the land of Mrs Thatcher and she set sail for these shores. She wanted to feel the thing which Tango represents. She searched the arrabal, looking for a place to dance genuine tango, and in the arms of a real tango dancer, she felt her heart shake.
And there she began to enjoy the pleasure of dancing the Tango, extending this passion without equal. And between milonga and tango, between ochos and quebradas, she gave herself with soul and life to our imortal dance.
You see her dance and you feel that she is more authentically of Buenos Aires than the most typically Buenos Aires thing you can imagine, and it is true when I tell you that she shows as she dances that sensitive passion which demonstrates the model of how to dance Tango.
To this handsome English girl with the flavour of the arrabal, who shows as she walks the soul of milonguita, I give the infinite and profound admiration of my poet's pen, with the perfume of man of Tango.
Began dancing Tango in 1992. Since then has travelled often and extensively to Buenos Aires, and has taught Tango on five continents.
a.. Choreographed and performed in Tantamount Esperance by Rose English - part of the Barclays New Stages Season at The Royal Court Theatre, London and in Manchester
b.. Performed at The Purcell Room, London, dancing with film maker Sally Potter (director of Orlando (1993) and director and star of The Tango Lesson (1996))
c.. Performed at the club Heaven with Sally Potter, and with Barry Jones (all later performances with Barry Jones unless otherwise indicated)
a.. Performed at the Cumbre Mundial del Tango (World Tango Summit) in Granada, Spain
b.. Performed with Dutch band Sexteto Canyengue, the best Tango band in Europe, and one of the best in the world, at The Jazz Café, London
a.. Appeared in the film Evita
b.. Worked as assistant to Eduardo Arquimbau (star of Tango Argentino and one of the two most famous Tango dancers in the world)
c.. Taught at Club Gricel (a major Tango venue in Buenos Aires) with Manolo Salvador
d.. Taught at La Galería del Tango (another major Tango venue)
e.. Taught for the Argentine British Community Council in Buenos Aires (classes taught in English to Argentines who wanted to practice their English while learning to dance!)
f.. Subject of a documentary called La Embajadora del Tango (The Ambassadress of Tango)
g.. Poem dedicated to Christine included in the book A Los Amigos Milongueros (To Our Friends Who Dance Tango), as the only foreigner so honoured.
h.. Was a founder member of a group of women investigating the artistic possibilities of women dancing the Tango on stage together, co-creating several choreographies
i.. Studied Tango History at La Academia Nacional del Tango, Buenos Aires with the cream of Argentina's Tango academics
j.. Performed at the Cumbre Mundial del Tango (World Tango Summit) in Uruguay
k.. Began importing Tango CDs to the UK
a.. Ran the UK's first dedicated Tango studio, El Corazón, for six months
b.. Worked in Buenos Aires as assistant to Eduardo Arquimbau
a.. Inaugurated the Tango Teas at the Waldorf, an occasional series of Tango Tea Dances in the Palm Court of the Waldorf Hotel. (One Dutch guest described it as "the best Tango dance in Europe")
b.. Invited to be on the committee of the United Kingdom Academy of Tango (UKAT), inaugurated by President Menem at a reception in the Banqueting House, Whitehall
a.. Given responsibility for preparing UKAT's Eductional Programme
b.. developed and founded the web site www.totaltango.com
c.. expanded teaching to include regular visits to The Netherlands.
a.. Inaugurated a series of lectures on the history of Tango for UKAT at the Kahn Lecture Theatre in the new Sadlers Wells complex
b.. Elected chair of UKAT (United Kingdom Academy of Tango)
c.. Featured in the BBC2 documentary "Travels with my Tutu" teaching Royal Ballet star Deborah Bull. The programme was shown on Boxing Day 2000.
a.. Created "Dancing Tango", a unique series of electronic books and videos to be launched in Spring 2002
b.. Expanded teaching to include tours of New Zealand and Hong Kong