I had doubts about these workshops. I went in with a fairly skeptical attitude.
Local teachers Juan Carlos and Alicia Suarez , hosted Gato and Andrea, and I wasn't familiar with them at all. When I searched for information (and YouTube videos of course) about them, all I found was performance dances and very general details about their style. From their website, "Andrea Monti and Hugo “Gato” Valdez were both trained as tango dancers and teachers in their native city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, sixteen years ago (Andrea) and twenty-five years ago (Hugo). They met in 1998 and since then, they have been working continuously in Argentina and around the world."
Their website is here and their Youtube channel is here.
The class descriptions were a little bit general, but still intriguing:
Tango I Workshop
Dance with style and musicality: different possibilities when walking for parallel and cross systems; double time steps in the walk. Use of the pause. Changes of directions. Turns. Good resources for good navigation. Easy sequencies for the social dance. Close and open embrace.
Here's the deom from their first class:
Tango II Workshop
Turns with “entradas” and stops. Technique of the "sacada". Special moves and positions for sacadas. Technique of the “barrida”; barridas inside the turn and from different positions. Coordination and musicality. Line of dance. Flexibility of the embrace. Combinations and Sequencies.
Here is a demo from their second class:
Tango Vals Workshop
Rhythm and musicality for vals. Figuras from cross system. Turns with syncopation for vals; double time in the turn. Turns with sacadas and voleos. Specific sequencies and combinations for vals.
Rhythm and musicality. Close embrace and connection. Different walks. Easy, useful and playful moves for the social dance, leading tranfer of weight. Combinations.
After some persuading from a friend (and my curiosity about the class subjects), I decided to give it a try despite my reservations. I am so glad I did!
As with most tango workshops, the classes were pattern based but with two very welcome differences. First, each pattern was made of 3 interchangeable chunks that could be worked into nearly anything. Gato and Andrea showed several ways to get in and out of each chunk and change it up as needed. At the end we would string the sequence together and play with it some more. They allowed time for practicing each part and throughout the workshops, Andrea taught a few posture exercises to make each movement more graceful and distinct.
Second, and most surprising to me given the fact I could only find performance videos of them to watch, was that every step/sequence/movement they taught was immediately useful and appropriate in a milonga setting.
No ganchos. No boleos. No colgadas, soltadas, or volcadas.
Everything was on the floor. The "fancy" stuff came from small, well placed and timed sacadas, amagues, arrastres, and changes of direction. (See glossary here for terms.)
I learned a great deal in their classes though not much of it related to the sequences themselves, but more about waiting to feel for the transitions between movements. I also, as I always do, had ample opportunity to work on my posture. I wish I had been able to record their Vals and Milonga class demos as I was especially impressed with those classes. Andrea is excellent about breaking down and explaining each part as well as letting you know what you need in your posture and alignment to lead/follow each part well.
As far as their style goes, they are flexible embrace dancers but seemed comfortable in everything from very close embrace to completely open embrace, depending on how the students in the class preferred to learn.
If you get the chance to study with them, I highly recommend them. They have their schedule posted here: http://www.gatotango.com/htmldocs/schedule.html though it appears that it might be outdated. Their contact info is here: http://www.gatotango.com/htmldocs/contact.html.
Thank you to Juan Carlos and Alicia for hosting Gato and Andrea in Austin.