We are: Joanne Canalli & Rusty Cline
The list of master level tango instructors Rusty and Jo have worked and studied with is literally “The Whose Who of Argentine Tango”. Many of the world renowned dancers that have influenced their dancing have stayed in their home where they had the luxury of exploring tango in very intimate settings. This vast and rich exposure has affected their dance and their teaching styles over the past decade. Jo and Rusty have spent over 5 months studying and dancing in Buenos Aires over the years. Rusty found tango in 2001 and became a full time tango instructor in 2004. Joanne found Rusty teaching tango in 2004 (he was her first teacher in tango) and began studying with him in 2005. They quickly became partners and she began helping him demonstrate in group classes.
Rusty & Joanne have been traveling to study tango together ever since. They have danced and studied tango in every major US city and all over the global map; from New York to San Francisco, London to Mumbai, Buenos Aires to Sydney. As such they have worked with over 60 master level instructors and have attended, studied and danced at scores of tango festivals. They have been teaching and organizing tango group classes and workshops in Tucson since 2005. They founded the annual Tucson Tango Festival in 2009 and continued to organize one to two festivals per year. At the 2014 Festival they took their partnership to a new level and were married during the Saturday night milonga. At the conclusion of that festival they handed the reigns over to their good friend Jim Baker in order to pursue new adventures in Tango and life. Rusty and Joanne have competed in and repeatedly placed in the top 10 at the only Buenos Aires officially sanctioned Argentine Tango Social Salon US competition in San Francisco every year since 2011. They have also competed at the Mundial World Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2011, and what a tremendously enriching experience that was!
Rusty and Jo’s passion is to share the remarkable magic that is Argentine Tango with the world. Coming from a normal everyday work life background and walking into a ballroom as a beginner, they understand what it takes to become an accomplished Tango dancer. They believe you can to!
About: Rusty Cline
Having been a musician since 1974 year gives Rusty a sense of timing and musicality that he conveys to his students. He spent his youth as an athlete so his body awareness is sharp and clear. He combines these skills to apply a grounded and balanced approach to the “Walking dance of Tango”. He can help you get inside of your movements so you see and feel the natural body mechanics needed for fluid dancing. He will help you discover the elements from the inside out that make a step flow and work with your partner as you build your tango foundation.
Rusty’s parents danced Texas Two Step and country swing so he learned to partner dance in his teens. Then in 2001 he started ballroom dancing but he only dabbled in tango. Eventually the allure and mystic Argentine Tango caused him to take a second look slowly he became further and further seduced by the movements of this sensuous dance.
Rusty has a body-wise, spiritually and psychologically sound approach to his instruction. He is constantly improving his instruction with training by world class dancer/instructors. Being a certified Aerobics and Weight Trainer gives him spot on body mechanics. Rusty has posted lots of videos lessons on this web site as reminders for students of classes they took. He knows you won’t be able to get the fine points of tango in a video, but it is a handy tool for reminding you what you learned in class. Using video has put an edge on their dancing and teaching because they have to watch their own dancing as he edits the videos – doing so helps learning dancers to improve dramatically – hint hint.
“There is a very simple foundation that underlies all of the movements in tango and if it is missing, it is readily apparent. Tango isn’t mysterious you can grasp it, in the end tango is all about mind/body information, discipline, training and repetition. The techniques needed to dance good tango are not at all mysterious, a bit complex perhaps but totally accessible. With a reasonable amount of effort anyone can learn to become a competent social dancer.
My job as an instructor is to teach you to find your own style by providing you the proper tango foundation. Good leading and following in tango gives you room to be yourself. My words can only be a small slice of the alluring scrumptious recipe that makes tango so special and so popular.”
About: Joanne Canalli
Joanne’s passion and love for tango has motivated her to rise above the challenges of learning to dance while battling the stiffness resulting from scoliosis surgery at a young age. She brings the experiences and epiphanies of her personal struggles and breakthroughs to her students enabling them to realize that they too can attain higher levels of tango through awareness of what their body can do.
Joanne started her dance life in 2004 at the Arizona Ballroom Company as a student, falling in love with ballroom during her first introductory lesson. She soon became an avid and intense learner, taking lessons almost every day of the week. ABC very quickly became her home away from home and Joanne realized the next step in her dance journey was to become an instructor so she began with their instructor training courses. It was during this period that Joanne was introduced to Argentine Tango by Rusty Cline and her passion was fully realized.
Argentine Tango instantly became her primary focus. Joanne has invested a great deal of floor time on lessons and practice. It wasn’t long before she and Rusty began attending Tango Festivals around the US. Her first major festival was the Portland TangoFest and it was her first adventure in dancing outside of her own community and the impact of the experience opened her eyes to what Tango is to the world outside of her home community. From Portland, Joanne has since danced in scores of cities around the US and in Australia. Joanne first ventured down to Buenos Aires in 2005 to study and learn from the masters of the dance and has since made several trips to further her knowledge and experience in Argentine Tango. Joanne is passionate about learning and takes every opportunity to develop her skills and techniques from the many experienced and insightful teachers around the globe.
During her dance journey, Joanne struggled with an inherent stiffness generated by a scoliosis surgery rod implant in her spine at a young age. She had always worried that this would be an impediment to her reaching an advanced level of dance. To her surprise she is now doing moves with her body that she thought would never be part of her repertoire. Her strength and flexibility have both improved due to the intense work she has put into learning tango. The lesson Joanne has learned from this personal experience is that dance is a possibility in most anyone’s life, regardless of age or physical abilities.
Joanne would love nothing more then to introduce Argentine Tango into the lives of as many people as possible. Her philosophy towards teaching is that it should be fun and the student should leave at the end of each lesson with a wonderful feeling in their heart, a big smile on their face and the certainty of having learned something new while eagerly looking forward to more.
You really are on to something Rusty Cline. I can’t imagine where Lorayne and I would be if we had started this way. And you’re right that the main thing is how much simpler your method makes it. Keep up the good work we are sure enjoying the ride.
Thank you! My hour with [my wife] Lorayne Baker Monday night was amazing… she was grinning from ear to ear and we did sacada after sacada and most of it was her idea!! How cool… Thank you!
Rusty thanks for a great tanda last night! Bigger thanks for your patience on my tango journey. Your about to turn me into a dancer. That’s something I truly wasn’t sure I would ever say. Thanks to your lessons I’m not only still dancing after a bit more than a year but I’m enjoying it.
Thanks you for all of your advise and critique. I am paying for critique, not compliments. Having taught university for 40 years, all my best students would concur. Unlike the first year learning steps, we do not get tired in your classes even though I play tennis 8-10 a.m. on Thursdays.
We really appreciate both of your instructional efforts very much. You both are making tango a joy, which will make us return to Buenos Aires to dance instead of being tourists in a lovely city. Thank you. Richard
Probably one of the most important of the many epiphanies that come from leading Tango is this. It is not about putting right foot there and left foot here while twisting your body thusly! It is about having the correct posture with a soft, comfortable and stable embrace, the most intense sense of connection that you can imagine and the ability to maintain that connection and embrace while moving your partner and yourself gracefully from point A to point B in compass with the music and the other couples on the floor. Your reward for doing this will be that dreamy little smile on her face as you slowly let the embrace melt away at the end of the tanda.
Really good instruction embraces (pun intended) and facilitates this mindset. I think that as more of our instructors realize this and begin to emphases learning/teaching from a deconstructed point of reference as Rusty and Jo have. We will see less of leaders trying to do their moves just so, while obstructing the line of dance. And, we will see more emphasis on connection, posture, embrace and walk.
All of the “Moves” are just marketing…. After you’ve spent a ton of money forgetting them you realize that Tango lives in a network of connection, connection to the music, with your partner, with the other couples on the floor, the energy of the milonga and most of all, in that little smile at the end of the tanda
Richard M. Maerker 2009.
Murat & Michelle Erdemsel
“Rusty and Jo are rare personalities in the tango scene. Their philosophy of teaching and dancing is inspirationally caring and generous. Tucson is lucky to have such a wonderful couple.”
- Michelle and Murat Erdemsel – M&M
“What you’re [doing] here is what has attracted me to your classes. In spite of the fact that I have been in tango for more than ten years, I feel that I need to totally rebuild my dancing from scratch, in order to attain the objective you lay out. My intention is to do that, and I occasionally have moments when I realize that I will be able to do so. But, for the time being, I will continue only flailing at the effort.
“I have also been wanting to tell you that I am really impressed by what you have accomplished in just a few short years. I do recall when you started in Michael’s classes a few years ago. I hope you’re not offended when I say that I thought you were a total clutz on the dance floor then. I simply don’t know how you have done it. But, with every class I attend, I realize that you have penetrated deeply into both the physics and the feeling of the dance, to a level that is well beyond anything I have been able to achieve. I look forward to studying with your considered guidance for a very long time. And I hope you will continue to put up with this “drop-in” student.
Thanks very much for being a part of our tango community. I hope you and Joanne will stay here forever.
- Jack Kennedy
Gato y Andrea (Hugo Valdez y Andrea Monti)
Rusty & Joanne are excellent people. They are very involved in the tango world and culture. They are tireless in their study every time we see them they have dramatically improved their dancing. They are always learning more and more about the dance, the music, the different orchestras and the culture. They have a solid understanding of the tango and its codigos.
These are the things that make them good instructors. Thank you for passing this information along to your students. We look forward to working with them again next year.
- Gato y Andrea
Joanne Canalli – Rusty’s foremost tango student:
“Rusty Cline was my first Tango teacher and to this day is still my primary Tango teacher. Without Rusty’s love and dedication to tango and his knowledge of body awareness I most likely would not have reached the level of dance that I am currently at.
I have taken many lessons with various Master’s of Tango, and what I hear in their lessons is what Rusty has already been passing on to me. His continued awareness of himself as being a lifelong student of tango has enriched my personal learning experience as he is always ready to gain new knowledge and pass that on to his students. He does not cloak himself in mystery or restrict himself to that frequently erroneous belief of “this is tango that is not tango”. His willingness to acknowledge the beauty and intricacy of all styles of tango has lead me down a path of openness and acceptance in my tango lifestyle. This openness enables me to strive towards being a participating and active follower for any leader.
Thank you Rusty Cline for being such a shining catalyst in my life adventure!”