In the background of Yiraje you will find Ariel Sanchez & Alenka Jelen-Sanchez.
Ariel was born in Buenos Aries and was raised in Córdoba. His father was a tango singer and as a child he regularly visited local milongas, well Ariel slept in the milongas under the cultural protection of tango after his father performed. He was raised listening to the more influential singers of the tango history. Growing up with tango music and singers significantly shaped his dance style.
Ariel started dancing in his early 20s and moved back and forth to Buenos Aires (half of his family lives in Buenos Aires). He has been teaching and performing tango since 2002. He started tango dance with the San Telmo style. During his years in Buenos Aires, he learnt and danced tango with several worldwide recognised teachers, including the DNI founders Pablo & Dana, Luis Solanas and Horacio Godoy, Roberto Firpo, Cristina Cortés, and attended workshops with Roberto Herrera, Fabian Salas, Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes, to name a few. He trained intensively with local tango dance companies and worked and performed two years in Villa Gessell (Atlantic side of Buenos Aires). Although he had preferred teachers to learn, he enrolled in any tango lesson that he found in Buenos Aires and Córdoba, literally. Besides his experience in cultural tango events, he was organising and participating in street performances in Villa Gesell and Pinamar.
He moved from Argentina to the UK in 2004, where he has been teaching tango first in Brighton until 2009, in Manchester until 2013, and Stirling ever since. He also taught in London and across Europe. Ariel established several tango autonomous learning groups, including weekly practices at the University of Sussex (Brighton). He founded the first tango dance society at the University of Manchester, whilst finishing his MA in International Relations.
Ariel is a sociologist and political analyst interested in the cultural reproduction of tango in Europe, and a PhD candidate in political sciences (human rights researcher, focus on Latin America, Northern Ireland, and Spain) at the Institute for European Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussels). Therefore, he uses a solid political theory approach when teaching Tango dance. Tango related themes are tackled in a very friendly way in different classes, where students are gently introduced to truly complex arenas such as Lunfardo culture, translations, anthropology of tango dance, underground tango culture, and the objects versus subjects of tango dance. Ariel mixes theatre, humor and metaphors to teach tango, that are linked to the cultural context in which he was raised (Córdoba, Argentina).
Alenka is from Slovenia and she started dancing and performing in children's show dance group when she was four. At the age of seven, she started training ballroom and Latin American dances in a local dance school. She later on enrolled in jazz ballet class and passed an audition to join one of the best and most prestigious Slovenian dance schools Kazina in Ljubljana, where she danced with top dancers for seven years. Her group came 5th in Slovenian national championship. When she moved to the UK, she took up salsa and was for two years training with Salsology in Manchester, where she also discovered and started dancing tango in 2010. That was the end of her dance life as she knew it. She has been training, dancing and teaching tango with Ariel since 2012.
Alenka holds a PhD in Communication Studies and Teaching Fellow qualifications from the UK Higher Education Academy. She currently works as Lecturer in Public Relations at the University of Stirling. Her dance and academic background significantly underpin her teaching and dancing style, in which she integrates dance technique with communication theory.
Alenka & Ariel have taught in Manchester, Liverpool (TangoAires), Glasgow, and Perth. They are currently based in Stirling and Glasgow, and introduced a series of workshops and Milongas in Edingburgh in coordination with local organisers (Sarita Tango, Edinburgh). YirajeTango is in principle a dance school, though bridges the Scottish communities of the Central Belt of Scotland through dance classes, practices, afternoon tango-cafes and evening milongas at YogaTreeStudio suited in the historical Stirling Arcade Gallery. The studio is at 10 minutes' walk from the Stirling Castle, and it is surrounded by the best restaurants and pubs of Stirling. In Glasgow, classes and Milongas are every Tuesdays at Glasgow Mango, and in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Palette.
They have performed and delivered workshops at several festivals and cultural events, including the DidsburyArt Festival in Manchester, Chilli Festival at Scone Palace in Perth and Creative Stirling. YirajeTango co-organised Killearn Summer SolsticeTango with Louise Davidson and Hunter Reid. They are also co-founders of Tango Art Project, which was established in collaboration with local Scottish artist. They organised "tango breaks" at the University of Stirling (oriented to decrease stress levels of lecturers).
Besides weekly clases, regular cultural events organised in Stirling, and performances in Scotland such as the Edinburgh Castle (corporate event, privately funded), their agenda in 2017 included conference presentations, tailored dance group lessons at the Universita of Julme 1 in Castellón de la Plana (Spain, funded by the School of Communication and Culture, Royal Roads University, Canada), and a corporate performance at the Slovenian Society for Public Relations (SKOJ) in Portoroz (funded by the SKOJ).
Drawing (right) by Catherine King