Tango builds bridge to China

Updated: 2014-07-19 22:25

By CHEN NAN (China Daily USA)

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Tango builds bridge to China
Xu Xuanyi(left)is the first Chinese to attend the 11th World Tango Dance Championship in Buenos Aires last summer.ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

For Xu Xuanyi, the 30-hour flight from Beijing to Buenos Aires brings much more excitement than exhaustion. Last summer, she flew it to compete in the 11th World Tango Dance Championship as the first ever Chinese competitor and won 10th place in the Stage Tango competition. The committee gave her the title of "Tango Cultural Ambassador" in China and awarded her a pair of gold boots.

This summer, as chairman of the Chinese Association of Argentine Tango, the 29-year-old Xu flew again to Buenos Aires to participate the 12th World Tango Dance Championship. But what tops her agenda this time is not winning the competition but rather promoting more tango communication between China and Argentina.

"If you compare Argentina to a man, then one of his legs is for football and the other is for tango," says Xu. "Tango is a life and an attitude in Argentina and I couldn't agree more. I hope to pass on the spirit of tango to more and more Chinese tango lovers."

A former ballroom dancer who has been teaching dance for years, Xu started dancing the tango in 2009 after participating in a four-day master class taught by a group of Argentina tango dancers in Beijing. Though she learned only some of the basic steps and styles of the tango, she fell in love with it instantly and continued to look for opportunities to learn more about it.

Like many people in China, what attracted Xu first about the tango was the music, especially the kind used by Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-wai, which she said "conjures up a variety of visions full of emotions".

Scent of a Woman is Xu's favorite movie and a line from it — "No mistakes in the tango; not like life. Simple. That's what makes the tango so great. "You make a mistake, get all tangled up, you just tango on." — has become her life motto.

"It's easy to start dancing the tango," Xu said. "No strict rules or high skills required. It also caters to all ages. The more I learn it, the more I discover about it. It has even changed my personality. I am much more positive and open than I used to be."

Xu said that 19 cities in China have tango clubs that organize events and the number of people learning tango in China has been increasing rapidly in the past five years.

"People learn to dance the tango not only as a way of exercising but also as a way to relax, to socialize and as doorway to Argentine culture," Xu said.

In 2012, with the help of the Embassy of Argentina in China and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Xu founded the Chinese Association of Argentine Tango in Beijing, with the aim of promoting cultural exchange between Argentina and China.

Each May, she runs the China Tango Championship and the winner participates in the World Tango Dance Championship in Buenos Aires. The first children tango troupe, which she founded in Chengdu, Sichuan province last year, will perform in Buenos Aires this August.