Local dance group helping people with reduced mobility find strength through tango

A local dance group helps people with reduced mobility find their inner strength through a love of tango.

Tango Stride, another kind of tango, helps people with reduced mobility who are not afraid to break down barriers and push their doubts far behind in the face of obstacles.

Tango Stride proves that not all moves are alike.

“You go out, ‘what am I going to do?’ And I hear about this tango class and, tango god? Give me the rose, I’ll go,” student Erin Musser said.

Musser was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. She said Tango Stride gives her hope and all the little moves really add up.

“Today I was actually standing with most of my weight, just me doing it on my tiptoes. When you do this it helps with depression because you can feel quite isolated when you’re sitting in a chair like this and when you come to a class like this with people and you laugh, it just makes you feel better, mentally as well as physically,” Musser said.

For founder Gabriela Condrea, Tango Stride is not about turning students into expert dancers. It’s about strengthening balance, posture, and pushing students to limits they’ve been told they can’t reach.

“For some people it’s a way for them to get stronger, especially if a lot of our students come in wheelchairs, and so they have to be able to stand, I even tell people five seconds, and we can work on standing and for some people we can work to help them stay stronger,” Condrea said.

Annie Jones, who comes to Tango Stride, suffered a massive stroke in 2018 which left her entire right side paralyzed. Doctors told Annie she wouldn’t survive the night, but she didn’t give up.

“It happened instantly. I got medical help about the first half hour after the stroke and they were ready to call a chaplain and read me my last rites,” Jones said.

However, four years later, Annie is still breaking down barriers and improving day by day.

“It brought life back to different parts of my body that I thought would never work again, from what I was told,” Annie said.

The goal of Tango Stride is not to return people with reduced mobility to full mobility, but to help people in this situation become stronger, more coordinated and more confident. Seeing small improvements is what allows Condrea to do what she is most passionate about.

“I love seeing my students grow stronger. I like to see their confidence. I like how they support each other. I think it impacts their life, you know, and it gives them a chance to get around where some of them, they’ve been told, “here’s your wheelchair and good luck.” Some have been told that you’re not going to get out of your wheelchair, by well-meaning people, I’m sure. But that doesn’t bring much hope. So hope, I think that’s the most important thing and seeing their hope and seeing them light up,” Condrea said.