The origins of tango date back to the end of the 19th century, when Argentina’s thriving economy drew more than 7 million immigrants from across the globe. Many of these individuals had backgrounds from Spain and Italy.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina and also Montevideo, Uruguay, dances from Spain merged with the Viennese waltz, while also blending with an Afro-Argentine form, giving birth to tango.
Today, that same dance is taking the streets of the US by storm.
One educator spearheading this movement is Sonja Riket, an internationally renowned ISMETA registered Master Somatic Movement leader. A pioneer in the application of somatic movement therapies, her more than 40-year career has brought her to the top of her field.
Today, it is estimated that there are more than a million tango dancers across the globe.
Many are looking at this period as a golden age for tango.
Having studied movement since the age of four, when she began dancing at the Royal Ballet School of Josée Nicola in her home country of Belgium, Riket later studied at universities across Europe fully funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Today she has been spearheading tango and interdisciplinary dance across the United States, including at San Francisco State University, the Institute for Health and Healing at the California Pacific Medical Center, the Institute for Healing Arts and Sciences, the California Institute for Integral Studies, and others.
For over 20 years she has made critical and essential contributions to the Bay Area’s National Dance Week, an annual free festival of hundreds of dance-related events where she offers classes in injury prevention for performing artists. She has also been a speaker at the Feldenkrais® Guild Annual Conference, the Congress of the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health, San Francisco State University’s Future of Medicine conference and others.
Riket specifically recognized the connection between the fundamentals of Argentine Tango and their intersection with foundational somatic concepts—listening and moving from within the body, achieving a seamless communication between two bodies through breath and energy.
Since the turn of the 21st century, tango music has been thriving in Argentina. Close to 15 years ago, in recognition of the dance as an art form from Argentina and Uruguay, UNESCO declared the tango an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.