Strictly Tango is a studio like no other because Nadia Tavakoli is a teacher like no other.
The Making of a Dance Teacher
Nadia’s love affair with dance began early, with lessons in classical ballet at age ten in her home country, Iran. By the time she was fourteen, she’d earned a scholarship to study ballet in New York City. By nineteen, she was the youngest company soloist of the San Diego Ballet. Even when university studies and a successful career as a high school teacher demanded her focus — and took her from the United States to Canada and on to New Zealand— Nadia continued to teach ballet at the urging of her students. Her love of dance also took her to Cuba on three occasions, where she studied modern dance. In 2000, back in Vancouver and ready for a change, Nadia put dance on centre stage again, devoting herself full-time to her own studio, the Forufera Centre for Dance.
Photo credit: Mariko Evans
The Making of a Tango Lover
Ask Nadia about her earliest tango memory and she’ll take you back to her childhood in Iran, with fond memories of dimly lit rooms and couples moving together to the music in what she calls “the essence of tango.” Fast forward to a dimly lit dance floor in downtown Montreal in the 1990s, the site of Nadia’s first milonga. She was captivated. Upon her return to Vancouver, she took up with the small, newly formed tango community. “There were about twenty of us, and no milongas. We danced in each other’s living rooms!” But it wasn’t until 2001 that Nadia’s passion for tango really caught fire, on a month long trip to Buenos Aires. There was no looking back after that. She started hosting monthly milongas at Forufera and dedicated herself to being a lifelong student of tango. In 2004, Nadia started a new chapter in her dance career, offering tango lessons under the studio name Strictly Tango.
Bringing It All Together: The Making of Strictly Tango
For the last decade, Nadia has offered her best to the tango community through her work at Strictly Tango. When pre-Olympic rent hikes forced the closure of her beloved Forufera Centre for Dance in 2008, Nadia chose to continue teaching tango exclusively. She installed a top-quality sprung dance floor in her MAINSPACE work/live studio and brought Strictly Tango home. It was a perfect fit. The most intimate and artful of dances is now taught Nadia’s own intimate and artful home studio.
Since that life-changing tango trip in 2001, Nadia returns to Buenos Aires every year for one to three months, to study with the masters in tango’s birthplace. “I go to learn, to dance, to refine my teaching skills—to make sure I always have a lot to give my students.” Ask any student of Strictly Tango and you’ll quickly learn how much Nadia gives. She shares her unrelenting passion for the dance, music, and history of tango. (Ask her about Osvaldo Pugliese. I dare you.) She is generous with inspiration, encouragement, challenge, and support.
And she gives from a wealth of teaching experience. Perhaps from decades of teaching teenagers in dance studios and high schools, Nadia has a knack for finding the perfect balance between teaching core skills and enticing students with lessons in elegant floor craft. Class time flies by and there is never a dull moment. Her many years of studying and teaching classical ballet and her more recent experience as a student of yoga give Nadia a particular talent for detecting and correcting subtle flaws in posture and body mechanics. Not only do students benefit from this by developing graceful form, they avoid the strains and injuries associated with bad alignment.
Perhaps, most importantly, Nadia gives of herself. With all the confidence and experience she has to draw from, she teaches with the grace and humility of one who recognizes that Argentine Tango is the study of a lifetime.
The Strictly Tango studio is a perfect reflection of Nadia’s character and values. You will be welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm. You will be drawn into an embodied love of tango that encompasses the values of mutual respect, generosity, humility, creativity, playfulness, and passion for excellence. And, you will dance. You will dance well.
Content Writer: Sandra Vander Schaaf