Temple Times Online Edition
    MAY 4, 2006
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Night of Argentine tango benefits dance projects

Photo by Joseph V. Labolito/University Photography
Boyer graduate student Nora Mullen conducts regular creative dance classes at Meade Elementary, a Temple Partnership School. Dance education projects like Mullen’s will benefit from a silent auction on May 13, part of the dance department’s annual “Mighty Milonga” — an evening of Argentine tango music and dance.

For nearly five hours on May 13, Mitten Hall will become a dance hall echoing with live accordion music and filled with professional dance instructors and performers, as well as with novices who want to soak in tango culture and pick up a few steps.

In the United States and in many cities around the world, a “milonga” has come to mean an evening of dancing — Argentine tango style — in which people gather to socialize, enjoy food and, of course, dance.

On May 13 from 8 p.m. until 3 in the morning, Temple will host its second Mighty Milonga, an extended evening of Argentine tango music and dance performances, dancing to live music, refreshments and a silent auction benefiting dance education in local schools.

The Mighty Milonga is part of Dancing for Schools, a fund-raiser of the NDEO/Temple University Center for Research in Dance Education, which aims to improve dance education in K-12 schools, incorporate dance into classroom curricula and inform the public of the benefits of dance.

“Through dance education, students learn not only the physical skills of dance, but also crucial social and communication skills that are important in creating and sustaining productive interpersonal relationships in life and in the work environment,” said Luke Mahlich, chair of the dance department at the Boyer College of Music and Dance. “This tango event is a vital part of these endeavors.”

The Dancing for Schools Monster Milonga in 2004 brought more than 190 people out raised more than $12,000 for dance education. Funds have gone to support the Temple-Meade Elementary School dance project that encourages graduate students to explore connections between dance and literacy education. Temple has also collaborated with After-School Activities Partnerships in North Philadelphia schools and awarded four Philadelphia children with free summer dance classes conducted by Temple dance professionals.

At Meade Elementary School, dance education graduate student Nora Mullen conducts regular creative dance classes during school hours. She began this work as a volunteer dance instructor in 2004 for CRDE’s after-school program at Meade.

Mullen also is currently working on a new “Creative Dance in the Classroom: Creating an Original Story” project, a 10-week program of classes that integrates creative dance with language arts. It culminates with the production of a story written, illustrated and performed by students.

“I believe that when students participate in a creative dance program, they have an opportunity to explore ideas and concepts kinesthetically,” Mullen explained.

The Mighty Milonga next week will start with a beginner Argentine tango dance lesson from 8 to 9 p.m. The rest of the night will feature performances by musicians and performers, including internationally acclaimed tango dancers and an accordion virtuoso.

During the events, there will be a silent auctioning of items including fine art, dance lessons, tickets to music performances and kayak lessons. Many of the auction items were donated by local tango dancers, “who understand the importance of dance in society,” said Dancing for Schools director Elizabeth Seyler, a doctoral student in the dance department.

“This event is truly a collaborative effort between Temple and the Philadelphia Argentine tango community, which has donated hundreds of hours of service to make Dancing for Schools a success,” added Seyler, an avid tango dancer.

“I can look back on my childhood and imagine how different my school years would have been had I the opportunity to dance,” said Leslie Mitchell, owner of Tango Time Productions in Philadelphia, who will be dancing at the Milonga with her partner, Kelly Ray. “I’ve experienced the transformative power dance has in a person’s life, and I want to give that gift back to small children.”

- By Erin Cusack

Mighty Milonga
The Dancing for Schools tango festival’s main event, the Mighty Milonga, takes place Saturday, May 13, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. in Mitten Hall, and is $45 if you register by May 8. Additional music and dance workshops will be held at Temple and around Philadelphia on Friday and Sunday. Visit the Dancing for Schools Web site,
www.temple.edu/boyer/dance/dancingforschools, for details and to register.