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PSS Winter '12

Tango for the 21st Century

by Dominic Moore ’05

Tango

Sharna Fabiano ’97 and Dan Istrate demonstrate the tango

Sharna Fabiano ’97 isn’t just a master of the art form of tango, she’s helping to evolve the dance into new and innovative directions. As the co-founder of two tango schools, one in Boston and the other in Washington D.C., Fabiano teaches basic skills, but is always looking to energize the field, to connect more people with tango and to build a world-wide community.

Because tango is community driven, largely fueled by the work of passionate non-professionals, Fabiano wanted to find a way to make the art form more sustainable. “I wanted a way to present tango to a wider public,” Fabiano says, “as well as to bring credibility and honor to the art form.”

The result was Tango Mercurio, a non-profit, educational arts organization that brings tango to new audiences through teaching, cultural events and outreach to under-served youth and the elderly, all while supporting the authentic folk traditions of tango and the community of musicians and dancers who give life to the art form.

Instead of teaching tango as a service, Fabiano sees the industry moving toward a non-profit education model, one that throws new light on the dance. “We lump tango in with other forms of ‘entertainment,’” Fabiano says, “but it isn’t that at all; it’s a community-based art form, and because of that it doesn’t fit very well into a commercial business model.”

Another project co-founded by Fabiano, Global Milonga, connects a global community of tango dancers through events streamed over the Web. “There is power in people discovering their ability to connect with one another,” Fabiano says of the experience. “It fosters a sense of our collective humanity.” Global Milonga donates the proceeds of its events to Trees for the Future, which supports community- based re-forestation efforts.

A passionate innovator, Fabiano is on the cutting edge of her art, mixing education, outreach and service into a new model for 21st century tango.