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Friday, March 23 Entertainment

CT Tango Weekend to spread ‘pure excitement’ in several area towns

Few things are more attractive than a couple entwined in a romantic, sensuous tango.

For those who have always wanted to be among those glamorous couples with all the right moves, New Haven-area tango coach and performer Gem Duras may have a few suggestions.

Duras is the host (and founder) of the annual Connecticut Tango Festival each summer; this year’s event is slated for July 13-22, celebrating the “pure excitement” of the art form, Duras said. As a prelude to the 11th festival, Duras and his partner, Dale Ellison, of Charleston, S.C., will be hosting the Connecticut Tango Weekend March 16-18, with events in Milford, Norwalk, Danbury and Middletown.

Duras, who studied with the original cast members of the international show “Forever Tango,” said the focus will be an Argentine Tango Boot Camp, which is an intensive three-hour session designed to introduce tango to new enthusiasts. The weekend includes more advanced workshops and tango socials known as “milongas.”

The Connecticut Tango Weekend has successfully introduced hundreds of dancers to the Connecticut Tango community since its inception in 2010, he said. In a recent telephone chat, Duras said the upcoming weekend of events is designed to encourage those who would have liked to participate in the festival in past years to learn the basics in time for this year’s activities.

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Tickets for the socials may be purchased at the door. To register for classes, call 203-584-4480, www.cttangofest.org

“It will be an essential introduction to tango, covering a wide range of basics,” Duras said. Of course, it takes time — and practice — to develop a personal style, but the Tango Weekend will give dancers a foundation from which to build. To appreciate and excel in tango, Duras said, it’s important to understand its history.

“It’s a dance of immigrants to Argentina,” he said, noting the tango’s origins date to the late 1800s when aspects of the musical traditions of various cultures, including those from Europe, Africa and South America, were melded. It was the music of the working class, for the working class, Duras said.

Tango’s continuing popularity is a reaction to the beauty of “communicating with another human being without speaking.” To “communicate nonverbally” with great sensitivity, one must be able to “feel the music,” he said.

Weekend schedule:

Friday, March 16, 7 to 8:15 p.m. class, 8:15 to 11 p.m. tango social at First Church of Christ, 190 Court St., Middletown; $25 for both.

Saturday, March 17, 11 a.m. and noon Tango Elegance, improving style for those with some tango or ballroom dance experience at Vitti’s Dance Studio, 10 Precision Road, Danbury; $25 for each class.

Saturday, March 17, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Argentine Boot Camp for Beginners at the Milford Arts Council, 40 Railroad Ave. S.; $50

Saturday, March 17, 8 p.m. to midnight social at the Milford Arts Council, 40 Railroad Ave. S.; $20 at the door, with refreshments and performance by Duras and Ellison.

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Sunday, March 18, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Individual classes on various techniques followed by a reception. Dance Dimensions, 15 Cross St., Norwalk. $70 for all classes.

pasboros@ctpost.com; Twitter: PhyllisASBoros

Phyllis A.S. Boros|Senior Arts/Entertainment Writer