Meet Gabie Kur. Officially, she is the East Coast General Manager, overseeing BAM’s New York team. When she’s not being named one of PRSA’s “Exceptional Under 35,” she shimmies on down to her local tango studio. Read about what BAMf, Gabie, does to slow down amid New York’s rapid-fire pace.
How did you initially get into tango dancing?
Well, I have never been an exceptional dancer. I would describe my dancing skills more average than most, but watching people dance was something I always enjoyed doing. The people I like to watch the most are my parents. Even though they are not doing anything very technical, they’re amazing. They have this incredible connection that you cannot turn your head away from them when they dance. Their wonderful relationship shines through their dancing.
So, it was the holidays again in New York and instead of just buying useless junk for my boyfriend, Pablo, I thought that we could take dance lessons together and learn something new. He is Argentinian, and dance is a big part of their culture, so he would fit right in. We built a strong connection and dancing gave us something to do outside of the norm.
How long have you been at it?
We’ve only been dancing for a couple of months, but we go three times a week. However, Pablo and I had to take a little break from it, and we miss it a lot. When we dance though, we look pretty graceful to the untrained eye, even though we’re still very beginner level. We have a solid foundation now, but it’s such a technical dance.
How do you make time with such a busy schedule?
For me, the structure of having something that is at a scheduled time and something that I paid good money for is what makes the difference. I think being intentional about prioritizing your mental health is crucial. Taking classes like tango, for example, is something that is going to make me motivated and inspired. It’s going to create a work-life balance where I would be on my phone and checking emails, but instead, I have 60-90 minutes of learning something new.
What is the most refreshing or most rewarding part of tango dancing?
The most rewarding part would be the process of self-improvement, both physically and technically. My boyfriend and I went from stepping on each other’s feet to being able to put together three of four different sequences. We built a rhythm together, and that was really impactful for us.
On another note, and this may be an unpopular opinion, life can be a little dull and monotonous sometimes even in New York City. While it is considered the brightest and most exciting city, it can get very mundane doing the same thing all the time. Or, on the opposite end, it could be very high pressure to be doing something new constantly. It was a unique experience to build a new community, check your ego at the door, and have the opportunity to learn and make mistakes with no pressure attached.
What are the more challenging aspects of the dance?
There is no detail too small when it comes to tango. There’s a lot of storytelling that comes with a dance, and that’s where all the detail comes from. Additionally, you have to relearn to move your body. Naturally, you may turn your hips and shoulders a certain way. For me, usually, I am a very commanding person. I would tend to lead the men and anticipate their moves. It’s not that I don’t want to let them lead; it’s just so difficult for me because it’s like going against my nature. Allowing someone else to be in control was quite uncomfortable.
What advice would you give to a beginner who wanted to learn?
Just do it! Any age, single or with a partner- do it. I didn’t have any dance background, so you don’t need any of that either. As long as you have the right teacher, the elementary stuff is very teachable, and it looks beautiful.
It is worth noting that I did only dance with Pablo one-third of the class because we were continually cycling through partners, which is excellent for people who don’t have partners. And we were on the younger side of the student group. Some people were retired, middle-aged, you name it! So, everyone is genuinely welcome.
Are there any resources that you would suggest?
For a start, I would not suggest looking at YouTube videos because they will confuse you. I think a studio is definitely the way to go. Someone who wants to learn needs a studio with a consistent regimen because it’s all muscle memory. Pablo and I went to the Jeni Breen Tango Academy in New York. We loved it. The pricing is not terrible in terms of New York, but the biggest perk is the intimate class sizes. The one-on-one attention is beneficial in learning to tango.
Want to learn more about Gabie? Follow her on Twitter @GabieKur.