For UT's Vol Tango student organization, there's a strong love for dancing a special type of tango.
In spring 2014, Caroline Rempe, founder and first president of Vol Tango, realized UT needed a successful student tango club like those that many universities already had made available to their communities.
Argentine tango is a social dance with characteristic dance elements, like types of embraces, walks and figures.
Professor in the entomology and plant pathology department and Vol Tango advisor Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes equated it to an improvised conversation rather than a prepared speech.
Although there are certain patterns of movement, the dance is largely improvised and is determined by the lead dancer. Because of these unique aspects of Argentine tango, the dancers must hone different skills and focus on their partners.
“It (Argentine tango) requires more body self-awareness and expressiveness,” Jurat-Fuentes said. “The energy in social Argentine tango is more focused on the partner, the music and the rest of the couples sharing the dance floor with you.”
The physical and social nature of Argentine tango pushes its dancers to further their emotional, physical and social developments. The dance has even been used by some for mental and physical therapy. Nevertheless, despite the intimacy required, the Argentine tango maintains every dancer’s comfort and deserved respect.
“(They) promote utmost respect and generosity among all the tango dancers in a social dance,” Jurat-Fuentes said.
Participants are also able to gain self-confidence and poise while learning within a supportive environment. Jurat-Fuentes said these benefits, in turn, help the UT community.
“As an advisor, I think that students who are confident in their abilities and who have a sense of community are more successful and contribute to a healthier campus at (UT),” Jurat-Fuentes said.
Mateos Hayes, sophomore in history and philosophy, said the club allowed him to get involved on campus and meet new people.
“This society provides a social atmosphere for interaction with students and other people in the surrounding community and is a great way to come together and learn about aspects of different cultures and interact with each other,” Hayes said. “For me, it was really helpful to adjust to life here on campus. It was a place where I met a lot of good friends.”
The weekly classes host instructors from the U.S., Canada and Argentina. Along with practices, the organization participates in social dances — milongas — as well as coordinated events with the Knoxville Argentine Tango Society (KATS) to cultivate student wellbeing, cultural awareness and diversity.
“I think (students) value the friendly environment, learning about a different culture, learning to dance and sharing tango with others,” Jurat-Fuentes said.
Interested students can attend Vol Tango's meetings on Mondays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Hollingsworth Auditorium located on the Agriculture Campus.