Gan Shuxian went for her very first tango workshop in November 2015 wearing only her gym attire and sports shoes, which raised some eyebrows among the teachers there.
Gan was working there as an accountant in an oil and gas company during that time. A colleague had told Gan about the workshop, which was held at one of the local dance studios in Miri, Sarawak. Despite being away for work at that time, she changed her flight tickets and flew home a day earlier in order to attend the workshop.
She fell in love with tango right after the workshop and just a year later, quit her job to move to Kuala Lumpur to learn more about the dance.
Gan had two teachers – one taught her how to dance for herself, and another, how to dance for others.
She met her first teacher Rodolfo Saile, a Filipino, at the workshop. She met her second teacher, Marguerite Brodie, in Kuala Lumpur. Brodie is one of the founders of tango in Kuala Lumpur and around the region.
Her first exposure to tango was when she was around 12, thanks to the movie Evita, the 1996 film starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.
Today, her passion for the dance form continues to grow.
It is her burden to know that many people still have misconceptions about tango. To introduce the dance to more people, Gan mooted the idea of a Malaysian tango festival.
She saw the need to create a platform for Asians to explore their identity in tango. The opportunity to do that arose when she was approached by her organising partner Maximiliano Cristiani, the 2013 World Champion.
She organised the Malaysia Tango Festival and Preliminary Competition 2019, the first of its kind in Asia. It is open to dancers and the public. Four couples from Malaysia will be competing. The preliminary champions will compete in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Aug 8-21.
Preliminary competitions are held in major cities around the world. Malaysia is the first official host for the 2019 Tango Mundial Preliminary Championship in South-East Asia.
The festival offers various exciting activities such as milongas and workshops given by artistes such as Ivan Romero, Cristina Sosa, Daniel Naccuchio and Cristiani, the World Champions from 2004, 2008 and 2013.
Also coming up is the Malaysia Tango Open Day. The highlights will be a free one-hour introduction to tango, taught by Cristiani, and an exhibition on the history of tango.