About us

YirajeTango Ltd is a dance school that focus on Argentine tango dance and its cultural practices in Scotland and Europe. The company is community oriented by definition. The market rationale of this company developed through an intensive field work of the current status of tango in Scotland, and the local community needs that are related to tango. Our policy is simple: tango is a cultural product that should enhance the local communities at all the times. In the background of YirajeTango you will find Ariel Sanchez and Alenka Jelen-Sanchez.

What is Yiraje?
Some argue that the word yiraje comes from the French flâneur, which means walking around without any specific intention, objective or reason. The term was used in the 19th century, during the French Urbanisation, and referred to the unemployed, urban explorers and people of leisure, who walked slowly around towns and cities without hurrying themselves. In its contemporary meaning, the word flâneur contains connotations of being an aimless wonderer, stroller, affected by phenomena experienced only in passing. Flânering is not about a destination, but rather a pleasure of a walk, discovering details, which in the rush of everyday life too often go unnoticed. It can also include complete philosophical way of living and thinking, including dancing tango. 
In the Lunfardo dictionary, the word “yiraje” means "somebody that goes around". Lunfardo used to be considered a slang language, it was a code of the underworld. The origins of Lunfardo are placed on the border between Uruguay and Argentina, more precisely in the Rio de la Plata (River Plate). Lunfardo is also associated with poetry, it has its own cultural power, its own history, its own mixture of ethnic interaction well rooted in the immigrant waves that many times shaped the social context of the Latin American countries.

The use of the word yiraje has become increasingly common in the last half a century. In Buenos Aires, for example, taxi drivers use the verb "yirear" (a synonym for yiraje) for “driving slowly in the main roads in order to get costumers”.

At YirajeTango, we interpret yiraje as used in tango songs, such as in the expression "Yira,Yira", by Discepolos. It means that, no matter what, the world always turns around itself (yira). In tango, yirear means going around, walking, dancing, observing or looking for something.

About the teachers:
Ariel Sanchez & Alenka Jelen-Sanchez.

Drawing by Catherine King
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, where he had his first performance when he was only four years old. He was born with musicality, and was raised listening to the more influential singers of the tango history. Tango is in his blood and 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, and Luis Solanas and Horacio Godoy in La Viruta. He attended several workshops with Roberto Herrera, Fabian Salas, Cristina Cortez, Roberto Firpo, 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). 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 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 at the Institute for European Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussels). 

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, Perth and are currently based in Stirling, where they run their tango school, 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. 

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). 

Teaching methodology: technique, interaction and feelings
Teaching methodology of YirajeTango is grounded in communicative and sociological aspects of tango dance and culture. It embraces diversity in all its forms and encourages dancers to explore dance movements through creativity. 

The methodology, which has been carefully designed through 15 years of experience, focuses on individual technique, body language, couple interaction, communicative elements and feelings. Tango dance has nothing to do with rationality and reason, but everything to do with feelings. Rationalisation of tango would mean rationalisation of feelings, which by definition hinders creativity and dance expression.

Students are encouraged to learn tango dance unrelated to dance levels or gender roles.  Leaders and followers are encouraged to change roles while dancing in order to develop a more profound understanding of dance expression and creativeness. As such, the methodology aims to decrease segregation in tango. We encourage students to disregard tango dance levels and socially constructed gender roles.

Learning tango is about the interaction between the group’s knowledge (students) and the dance teachers, who propose a movement and technique and then encourage students to further explore, analyse, build, interpret and integrate them in their own dance.

Student support: associate factors to minimise learning hazards
Students usually join YirajeTango classes for several reasons. But if they wonder what is about tango dance culture beyond the badly over marketed "just tango-moves routine", then Ariel and Alenka tackle aspects related to tango that are difficult to find somewhere else. It is really easy to learn tango with them because they focus on feelings and body language. You will know when you are improving your dance understanding because you will literally feel better and better than before. This is generalised at the couple and group dance level in a very gently, friendly, and technical way. 

They focus on body memory, minimising the stress that individuals face for several reasons when learning a new dance. Ariel and Alenka are aware of the factual challenge that students face in their initial learning process. By default, if you do not speak Latin American Spanish or if you did not live in Buenos Aires for a substantial period of time, you are initially taking a challenge that cannot be underestimated. Basically, tango music, songs and culture are no part of the things that you may know. To make you feel in your comfort zone at all the times, they designed a clear and friendly teaching method that is the outcome of a systematic evaluation of learning and stress associated factors. All your inquiries can hopefully be answered in their lessons, from dance technique to more complex historical factors well rooted in tango culture, usually explained to boost your dance confidence. Students are gently introduced to tango dance, and through specific body language moves they also get insights of tango culture, history, music, customs, and lyrics (lunfardo poetry).