With deepest admiration, appreciation and affection
Polly’s Tango Talk is dedicated to
My idol and treasured friend is one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known; extraordinarily generous, versatile, dynamic, beautiful inside and out.
Her expertise and encouragement inspire students to strive to become the best dancer we can be.
Her integrity and respectfulness inspire students to strive to become the best partner we can be
Nora was the first Argentine Maestra Clay Nelson invited to teach workshops in Portland. We had met her at Stanford Tango Week and were touched by her warmth and congeniality as well as by her teaching and performance.
Portland was a fledgling community in 1994, yet Nora treated us as if we knew what we were doing. Whatever material she presented has likely drifted off to wherever partially absorbed instruction drifts off to, but everyone remembers her.
She stayed with me a few times and we discovered a mutually-wacky sense of humor. One day we got a case of knee-slapping-sides-aching-non-stop-can’t-stop laughing, giggles. One of many delightful moments and still induces an inner chuckle.
In 1998 Nora taught at University of the Pacific, Stockton Folk Dance Camp as full time staff. She had previously taught workshops in tango and classes in Argentine Folk Dance but this was FDC’s full-fledged introduction to Argentine Tango. I had attended FDC since 1980 and very much looked forward to Nora being there. We stayed in the same dorm and shared two weeks of late-nights and wee-hours doing what women, and by women I mean “girls” in certain circumstances, do.
Many, if not most, of the students had likely never seen tango, let alone taken a class in it. I was the only person with experience, and had the privilege of partnering La Maestra in her classes.
Folk dancers, in general, are not accustomed to connecting beyond a hand-hold with someone in close frontal proximity. For most, her classes were an introduction to being dependent upon and responsible to a partner…waay beyond that of other couple dances.
All shoes, minus two pair, were tennis shoes, sandals or flip-flops, which made anything resembling foot finesse a fantasy. However, during the week she led her classes, which increased in numbers each day, through basic figures including walking to the cross, parada, follower stepping over the leader’s foot, forward ocho, out. And they GOT it! More importantly, they expressed enjoyment of the experience.
By the end of the week, her classes were packed and students raved about how much they had learned, how different tango was from what they thought it would be, and what a great teacher Nora was.
At the Saturday assembly, when Director Bruce Mitchell introduced Nora, twelve men from the audience came forward and each handed her a long-stem red rose. It was a beautiful moment and in the eighteen times I’d attended FDC, she received the longest sustained ovation, ever.
During the same period, Richard Powers asked Nora if she would take over directorship of Stanford Tango Week. She agreed, changed the name to Nora’s Tango Week, and relocated it to Oakland. Not long after, I received an email asking if I would attend NTW as her guest and write a daily newsletter. I nearly fell off the chair! However, I had to decline for lack of funds. She said, “Don’t worry. You can stay in my apartment and drive my car.” Again with the near-chair- falling.
Despite multiple midnight wanderings of Oakland’s maze of concrete mistakenly identified as “streets” NTW [www.tangowekend.com] was a magnificent experience. For twelve years it was my honor to be on her Staff, and a very great pleasure to be in her presence.
Thank You, Nora, for your treasured friendship, and for all you have done for me, your students and the global Argentine Tango community.
Nora has taught at universities, colleges and tango associations throughout the United States and Europe. She is the co-founder of the Bay Area Tango Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the traditions of Argentine culture. She is the co-founder of Nora’s Tango Week held every July since 1998. Nora and Ed host “La Milonga de Nora” every second Saturday of each month at Allegro Ballroom in Emeryville. They teach in San Francisco at the Mission Cultural Center (Wed & Sat), in Emeryville at the Allegro Ballroom (Tuesdays), and in Palo Alto at Etz Chayim Congregation (Thursdays).
Nora Olivera has been preserving, sharing, and cultivating the tradition of Argentine tango for over 40 years. After graduating with a Master of Dance at the National School of Dance in Buenos Aires, her early career included joining the Argentina Folk Ballet and forming a dance partnership with the company’s Artistic Director, Raul Dinzelbacher. After traveling and teaching extensively across the globe, Nora moved to San Francisco, CA where she co-founded the Bay Area Tango Association and partnered with Bob Moretti to launch Nora’s Tango Week. She participated as a judge in the Official Argentine Tango USA Championships in 2011 and 2012, currently teaches classes in the Bay Area, and is producing Nora’s Tango Weekend now in its 19th year which remains one of the most preeminent tango festivals in North America.