Duet, an Elbow Room Dance Company project, was seen at the Lemon Tree Aberdeen in 2002

Footage from the Research and Development of Princess Pea.

What you can expect when you join us

A warm friendly welcoming environment

Tango made easy and fun

Tip top quality teaching from an experienced dance and movement specialist

Plenty of help and support with your learning from me and assistant Niall

An introduction and support to social dancing events

Opportunities to meet outside Tango to socialise

What do you need to bring?

Just yourself. You do not need a partner to come to any of our classes.

Shoes without rubber soles or socks.

Tango roles and swopping

If you do bring a partner, you will have the option to stick with them or rotate with the class.

You can choose to lead, follow or swap roles learning both, in any of our classes.

To find out more

You can click on any class or please do feel free to get in touch with me, Ani. I am always happy to chat to you about anything Tango. And if there is anything on this website that you looked for and couldn’t find I would like to hear from you.

We look forward to welcoming you!

Beauxartz for Channel 4 ECT

In the early stages of the creation of Medsmama, there was this space, a gap in my knowledge of her and her story and the story of the Armenians. Many survivors, like her, stayed quiet. It was hard to revisit, share, record and hand down such stories. So I was so privileged to have found and interviewed Astrid Aghajanian, who’s mother did share her story, of carrying Astrid, as a toddler through the atrocities that took place in Turkey between 1915-18 and eventually leading her to safety.

This interview continued into the realms of the complexities that emerged within the Armenian community in the aftermath, as they struggled to come to terms with pain, trauma and identity in diaspora. At this point the interview ends abruptly, as Astrid and I began to discuss and share notes on our experiences and find commonality. In many ways, not least the sense of not belonging and for me that I am only half Armenian after all. It all raises more questions still, that remain unanswered three generations later. In diaspora what from your heritage do you take forward? Can we separate our Armenian cultural heritage, or our perception of it removed as we are, from our wounding? And how is it preserved as it integrates with other cultures?

Very sadly, Astrid was refugeed again by the Turks having settled in Cyprus. As was my family. They, mine, also settled and were unsettled from Jerusalem and Beirut.

Although this interview took place in 2001, I remember all too clearly a sentiment that Astrid shared with me that must not be forgotten. That this is not ‘the Turks’. This is some misguided men, a few “bad men” she called them, a movement called ‘the Young Turks’. And that she had been rescued by Turks, “a good man”. It is a mistake some still make to blame ‘the Turks’ and I very much hope that as more of the Countries of the World recognise and acknowledge the genocide of the Armenians, that is estimated to have been anywhere between 1.5 and 3 million, that the community in diaspora can slowly take a deep let go.

A balancing act as we must be mindful to remember too, so that we can consider a time when the story does not keep on being repeated on the worldwide stage, learn from all these stories. There is a direct Hitler quote, that when in discussion over what to do with the Jews, he replied, “who, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenian?”. That they did not, helped inspire him three decades later, as did Genghis Khan’s gruesome exploits, probably amongst many others.

I believe passionately that those who lost their lives would wish us to live vibrant joyful ones, not lost in the shadow of their lost lives. We owe it to them to live as richly and fully as as many men at once; it is almost a duty. Passionately and well in honour of them.

You can hear my interview with Astrid here soon. I would point out that some of the scenes she depicts are deeply disturbing but that ultimately the story is of survival and extraordinary resilience.

As part of Damian Thompson’s Residency in Aberdeen 2019 with Ani, they performed this Salon style Val at their Special Event Milonga. Alongside an exciting array of Workshops and opportunities to take Private one to one sessions with this International Tangauro, who’s reputation and reach, particularly for his quality unique teaching is continually expanding.

The Fyvie Homecoming was a Highland Clan Gathering, where Clan members from all over the globe come to revisit their roots, gathering together to share in their cultural heritage. And this year 2014, they chose to celebrate a previous Clan Chief’s links with Argentina by inviting an Authentic Argentine Tango performance under the shadow of the Castle. What a delight it is to be able to take our beloved Tango out and about to entertain, introduce unsuspecting audiences, sharing it’s wonder and hopefully inspiring non dancers to give it a go. And of course it is always a pleasure to dance with Micheal Freeman!

Dance Base Saturday Class now has a half hour Practica session to consolidate your Tango. I passionately believe Dance is a Practice you carry with you and to get Tango under your belt with true integrity, it takes quality Practice or ‘Practica’ time. This is where the Improvisation inherent in Authentic Argentine tango evolves as we take skills and moves we’ve learnt in class and decide which ones suit our style and personality as we discover our own dance. Where we hone the skills, so they become part of our experience and can flow easily without effort or thought. This is where at the end of class, you can practice anything you like at any level you like and get input from myself and or my terrific Assistant Niall Menzies, pictured here, who will always point you in my direction if need be. And we also offer occasional Deep Dives for the Practica hungry, where we look at how we practice as well as diving deeper in a small group.

It is a tried and tested format to learning Tango to have some Practica time post class and I am delighted that we are bringing that to you now in Edinburgh.

La Traviata was created in 2002 for the Haddo House Operatic Society. Ani also had the pleasure of choreographic the dance scenes for Martha in 2004

Ani describes the journey……The making of Medsmama involved 2 years of research and development, before our 6 week make period in a Scout hut on the sea front in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. All an enormous privilege, here is the process in brief.

The very beginnings was to interview remaining survivors of the events that took place 1915/16 in Turkey, under the cloak of the First World War, to which my beloved grandmother was party. Astrid and her mothers extraordinary story, in interview, is available on this website.

Then an initial 2 days in London scouting out existing creative work with Gaby Agis along with time spent with Levon Chillingarian OBE who initiated me into Armenian folk music and Shakeh Avanessian, an International Folk Dancer who introduced me to her performance work. All this before a field trip to Armenia itself, my first visit.

There musician and composer Daniel Weaver worked with traditional musicians to create the underlying score. Whilst I worked with Andranik Michelian and the community to develop a deeper connection and broader understanding of the dances we danced at cultural events in London in childhood and expand upon that vocabulary.

I travelled Armenia attached to a video camera, with which I feverishly filmed almost everything I saw, including the almond orchards reminiscent of those Medsmama’s family owned and played in as children, in the mountains, close to Adana. This raw material fed into, the final work. My intension is to share these videos here at a later date.

On my return I was honoured to work in a studio filming with Shakeh in her gorgeous traditional costume, to create the representation of the goddess seen in the finished piece.

Meanwhile, I had developed a relationship with writer John Harvey, who absorbed all I was getting up to. He eventually created some incredibly powerful text, which we integrated into the work.

Youth dancers I had working relationships with in the community were brought in to the Lemon Tree to represent Medsmama’s sisters, whom I choreographed dancing playfully in a traditional circle, which was eventually overlayed onto the orchard scenes I’d filmed in Armenia by video artist John McGeoch.

The overriding pressing question throughout was who would share the stage with me as Medsmama. And there is no way I could have anticipated what happened next in finding the remarkable Ruth Posner. One of the early dancers of The London Contemporary Dance Company, Ruth had turned actress when she spotted the call for Medmama. What’s more, she knew first hand of that huge missing piece of Medsmama’s story that I was searching for, in that she had lost her entire family in the Jewish Halicaust of World War 2. I would like to take a moment here to pour out as best I can the enormous gratitude I feel to Ruth for trusting me and stepping back out onto the stage to dance Medsmama. She was really the star of the show for me.

Though it was young Medsmama I was getting to know and bring forward  through this process so I also brought in Adrienne Hart to represent her in her earlier years.

And I would not be representing this piece fairly if I was to leave out the contribution of the very gifted Lighting Designer Simon Gane. I’ve been fortunate to work with him on many many occasions (most recently Alter;nativity 2016) and here he lit up the stage with beautiful Armenian rugs of light, amongst other things.

The contribution to each of these collaborators was overwhelming. Their work was astonishing and with Gaby Agis being my third eye, over 1 week of the 6 week devising process, assisting in Directing the piece, the challenge was to keep this rich tapestry balanced. So that no one art form or piece overshadowed or drowned out the other.

Ultimately, unlike Metchen, Medsmama, though primarily dance theatre, was not all about the dance. It was an honouring of my wise, beautiful, quietly dignified, kind, supportive and extraordinary grandmother and a telling of a story that she could not, one the Armenian community in Diaspora is still seeking acknowledgment for. It remains politically and morally important to air and share. It was also a wonderful oportunity for me to take a deep dive into my heritage, which continues to inform me and to be the cross media artist I am just beneath the surface. Though of course my first love Dance, Dance Dance, Dance does tend to take over somewhat!

Why Medsmama? On a very personal note. As a loan parent desirous of committing to a major project, I felt I owed it to make something meaningful to my son also. The work had to be personal this time. And now I find myself a grandmother, the legacy of this project for me, is the gift of passing down as custodian to Medsmama’s great, great grandchildren her story and our rich heritage. May there be many circle dances!