Stéphanie Fesneau

« You listen to somebody else while dancing, you try to understand, to feel what he is trying to tell you. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you have incredible discovering. It is truly beautiful when it happens, it makes you keep going on! »

Stéphanie sat at the small table where I was myself with a coffee and an apple pie in the hand, smiling and available, seeming enthusiastic for Tango Mio and co and ready to answer my questions with sincerity. So I first asked her to talk to me about her tango and I felt relieved, as a young dancer quite often unsure, to see that those who are practicing tango as their job obviously go through some difficult moments: “In life, there are always ups and downs, and in tango it is the same, it changes all the time. There are several reasons: your mood, your physical state, your expectations and hopes that are satisfied or not… these days I feel I am in a good time for my tango, I feel quite balanced and most of the time while dancing I feel pleased. I am still hungry for tango which is really important because sometimes you just can’t take it anymore. I passed this state and feel better now.”
Stéphanie is my age, I am fascinated, once again, to meet someone so young but so dedicated to tango. I ask her to tell me a bit of her story: “My whole teen life was focused upon tango. The place I was living, the travels: I did everything I could to meet tango wherever I was. I left my house at the age of 18, with no money, with nothing, just to dance. I launched myself alone in a quite instable adventure.” I ask her what she is proud of, what could be her heroism: “I was alone but I am proud now that I managed to go through everything to be here today. Everyone wanted me to have a normal life, to study so I could have a secure job, but I went to Paris to dance tango, then to Italy. All I was doing was simply following tango and I am proud I made up that decision against all. It is my heroism. But if you want to follow your heart and passions, you have to leave this normal and comfortable life. You can’t keep trying following the regular frame because it does not suit you.”
She dedicates her life to tango, so what could be the symbol of it? “Of course, you have tango shoes, bandoneon, good music… but I think that beyond that, tango is the symbol of freedom, a way to express myself, it is my space and my heaven.” I love seeing the stars illuminating her eyes, and her face is getting animated when she talks about this tango that makes her live, even more when I ask her if there has been a special moment when she fallen into tango. Then she has this exclamation and she answers me with so much joy in the voice: “Oh, yes! My first Ocho! It was an ocho cortado. I was dancing since a very short time and I did not really want to start. Before, I used to dance ballroom dancing and I didn’t like tango, it was not convincing for me. One day I went to a practica, and a 4 or 5 times older man invited me to dance. I warned him that I was just a beginner but still, he wanted to dance. When he did an ocho cortado, my very first one, I thought: ‘Ah, this is so great, I love that!’ It was nine years ago.” A simple step that plunged her into tango… “Yes. Tango has been really generous with me, and it keeps going on like this every day. I am grateful for that. I am always happily surprised that tango found me, not the contrary. I feel so welcomed and well seen in that world, it is unbelievable!”
I ask her then what she considers as being her contribution to tango, and the question seems to embarrass her. I already felt she is very humble, and the answer confirms it: “I feel more comfortable saying that I simply try to give and share what I love with tango, by talking and dancing and I hope it can be useful to someone. But I am quite shy saying this because I am still very young and I want to keep humble. I love what I do and if it makes people happy, it is perfect: here I am to give to who wants to take.” And this is so true! I had some classes with her and I know how patient, a good listener and ready to give a lot. “During a class or a conversation, I always try to propose my point of view about tango and to understand and give the small detail that might help someone feeling better while dancing, more involved or at least picture things in a different way. I also like to be challenged. I like to understand somebody else’s point of view to add something new and fresh. During the class, we always work on something technical because we need to work that and know one’s body better. But once you managed the technique, it does not mean you are a good dancer! This is this huge detail I try to have people understand: how to be someone managing more than the technique. The step, you can easily learn it by watching a video. But this feeling, this sensitivity put on something more than something else can change a lot when you dance. I am really open for feedbacks. You can’t always manage everything, you need to nourish it from outside, from people’s experience. Sharing is the most important thing in tango. You listen to somebody else while dancing, you try to understand, to feel what he is trying to tell you. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you have incredible discovering. It is truly beautiful when it happens, it makes you keep going on!”
She goes further: “A lot of dancers are physically well-gifted but there are not that many men with this sensitivity or even this ability to be open for discussion in the dance (I talk a lot about men cause I have way less chances to dance with women). Too often I feel a man is thinking about the whole thing he is doing. It is perfect from the point of view of the technique. But the joy of having accomplished a beautiful dance dies immediately. While this other sensation of communication, exchange, few people got it. Very often you hear ‘do less but being together’, this is so important, it changes everything!”
We are now talking about her biggest hope for tango: “I hope someday tango will be danced all over the world. They say it is contageous
Alors nous commençons à parler de ce qu’est son plus grand espoir pour le tango : « J’espère que le tango pourra se danser un jour partout dans le monde, on dit qu’il est contagieux, mais j’aimerais que cela se trouve vraiment partout –je lui raconte que j’ai commencé en Inde et elle s’en émerveille. Je souhaite à chaque nouveau danseur que très tôt dans son parcours de tango, il trouve quelqu’un ou quelque chose qui l’entraine dans la passion, comme moi lorsque j’ai fait mon premier ocho cortado. Je regardais des vidéos dix heures par jour, je ne pensais qu’au tango, j’étais happée. Parfois c’est un danseur, un maestro, une musique. Peu importe, mais je souhaite que chacun ait cette expérience, cette inspiration sinon je trouve que c’est triste, ça n’a pas de goût, c’est l’activité du vendredi soir, ça n’est pas ça le tango pour moi, danser comme ça, non, j’aime voir les gens vraiment intéressés dans ce qu’ils font, tango ou pas. N’importe quelle passion, que ça soit vrai. »
Elle a des heures de classes qui l’attendent, une démonstration dans la soirée, pourtant elle a pris le temps, elle était présente et sincère, également à l’écoute, en plein dans l’échange. C’était un joli moment, une belle rencontre vraie !

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Photo By: Kinga Lakner
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