When people think of Hoboken and dancing, they most likely picture the city’s nightclubs and bars. But there’s a new, more sophisticated dance scene in the mile-square city.
The Monroe Center for the Arts in midtown Hoboken (720 Monroe St.) is the home of the Hoboken Tango Lab, a new school that teaches Argentinean Tango, an old tradition of complex, social dancing.
Classes, practices, and formal dances are held regularly in the lab. The instructors are Sandra Antognazzi and Pawel Cheda.
The two have choreographed for films and performances in the past, and have decided to share their talents in Hoboken.
“People that stay with it, even for just a little bit, they get hooked.” – Sandra Antognazzi
Antognazzi moved to the United States from Argentina in 1992.
“I’ve been doing this for quite a long time,” she said. “I have been in professional, modern dance for many years. I’ve had the pleasure of performing in Argentina with a great choreographer, Ana Maria Stekelman.”
Stekelman is the leader of a dance troupe in Argentina, and is one of the country’s leading choreographers.
“I was very lucky to be able to work with her,” Antognazzi said.
In Hoboken, dancers of all skill levels are now learning from the dynamic duo of Antognazzi and Cheda.
“What we offer now are classes followed by a practice,” she said. “The dancers learn new material, steps, techniques, and during the practice we have the students dance with each other. We are there to guide them.”
Antognazzi said she hopes to offer “milonga” in the future. Milonga is a social dance that is often performed in Argentina.
“People go to a club or they go to a milonga,” Antognazzi said. “In some tango there is a live orchestra, of course now we use recordings, but this is really our goal for the future…we hope it can be a place where dancers come to dance and interact.”
She said that there are a wide variety of dancers that come to the Monroe Center, the new home of the tango lab.
“There are people from the area and some that travel quite some distance to be here,” Antognazzi said. “The thing about tango is that it’s attractive for so many people. We have artists, photographers, scientists, writers, and all kinds of people, young and old. That’s the amazing part – it’s such a great mix. Everybody just mingles and dances together.”
Despite the low-key nature of the Hudson County Argentenian dance scene, Antognazzi said she believes there is a place in Hoboken for the tango lab.
“We’ve directed and choreographed one of the summer concerts on the Hudson River recently,” she said. “It was a wonderful production because we were able to feature some of Argentina’s most well-known dances. We had one of the dancers who did a movie with Robert Duval, and other dancers who were in well-known tango movies.”
Now, the group has their eyes set on a production at the Monroe Center Theater.
The Tango Lab’s home, the Monroe Center, is a once financially troubled facility that has recently seen an influx in investment capital. Now, Antognazzi hopes that her dance class students will be able to perform for crowds on stage, just like other production companies in the Monroe Center, like Mile Square Theater.
New classes start on Friday, Jan. 27, and dancers from all skill levels are welcome to join.
For more information about Hoboken Tango Lab, call (212) 617-9157, or e-mail FusionTango@msn.com.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com