Rochester Tango


Rochester Tango is a community of Argentine Tango dancers in Rochester, NY who originated as DancEncounters studio in 1997. The organization was rebranded as Rochester Tango in 2017 by the studio's young successors.

Our mission is to create a friendly and welcoming environment for all dancers. We are committed to teaching and spreading awareness and love of Argentine tango with the Rochester community. We focus on the social aspects of the dance and generally avoid teaching choreography or patterns. We aim to provide our dancers with the tools to create their own dance.



Steven Thull

Steven began dancing in July of 2015 having never danced before. He quickly fell in love with the dance and began attending lessons and events every week at DancEncounters with Barbra Warren and Alden Stevens and through RIT and UofR tango clubs. Steven is a full time teacher's aide and part-time photographer. He most recently became the official tango photographer for multiple scenes in and around Western New York. Steven also enjoys other forms of dancing including East Coast Swing, Blues/Fusion.


Amalia Van Hall

Amalia was first introduced to social dancing in September of 2014 where she learned East Coast/Lindy Hop at Groove Juice Swing. During that time she picked up Blues/Fusion dancing and became a member of the Rochester Institute of Techology's swing dance club. In July of 2015 Amalia was introduced to Argentine tango and became a dedicated member of the Argentine tango community, attending weekly lessons through RIT and UofR's college tango clubs. In 2017 she started assisting in teaching with former organizer and lead instructor, Curtis Burtner, and Steven Thull. Amalia is also a full time student at the Rochester Institute of Technology majoring in New Media Design and Marketing.


Curtis Burtner

Curtis Burtner starting with ballroom dancing when he was 13 years old. In 2008 Curtis was inspired by guest instructor Richard Council to dedicate his time to Argentine tango. With his sister Alexandra Carcich, Curtis started the Argentine tango club at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Curtis spent the bulk of his time building up the tango scene through RIT and UofR's college clubs teaching weekly, performing, choreographing, and organizing other dance events. During his time as an organizer of Rochester Tango Curtis also travelled around building relationships with the other dance scenes around Western New York. During his 11 years of dancing Curtis also picked up Lindy Hop and Blues/Fusion dancing. In January of 2018 Curtis accepted a job opportunity in Denver, Colorodo where he works as a software engineer.

Argentine Tango



Argentine tango is a partnered social dance that focuses on connection and improvisation. The dance originates in late 1800’s, Buenos Aires which became a hotspot for many new immigrants from Europe and Africa. They began congregating at bars and as a new style of music evolved so did a new social dance. The first dances were usually inspired by the sexual tension between pimp and prostitute and thus included very emotional and suggestive undertones. Hard times also introduced a sense of longing into the dance and sensuality continued to be a key component.

The Music

There are several styles of Argentine Tango, including Milonguero, Salon, and Tango Nuevo. Within the style of Argentine Tango there are three styles of music, Tango, Vals and Milonga. Tango is identified by it's common 4/4 measure, vals by it's 3/4 measure and milonga by it's signature syncopated base rythm. DJs will order a tanda, or dance set, typically as tango, tango, vals, tango, tango, milonga. Cortinas are the "palate cleansing" songs played in-between dance sets that are not tango music or sound completely different from what was just played.


The Argentine tango is danced counterclockwise around the dance floor in what's called the "line of dance". It is usually frowned upon to stop for long periods of time or cut across the dance floor. The accepted practice for asking for a dance is called the cabaceo where a couple will make eye contact and motion to the floor. A couple will dance for a tanda, or set of 2-4 songs, which are broken up with a cortina.

A milonga is both a style of dance, a genre of music and the term for a dance party. Milonga dance parties are typically semi-formal events where teaching on the floor is frowned upon and code is more strictly enforced. Practicas are practice session where people go to give each other feed back and practice what they've learned. These sessions are casual and can either be loosely guided by an instructor or free form. A practilonga is somewhere in between a practica and milonga. It is run like a social dance but is more causal and code is loosely enforced. The sunday night milongas for Rochester Tango are typically run more like a practilonga.


Clothing for milongas are typically semi-formal and avoid restricting leg movement and allow the body to breathe. For women, skirts and dresses range from tight cocktail attire with slits to allow for a full leg extension or flowing skirts to hide the line. Harem pants are also worn. Tops are typically tight fitting and often have decorative or open backs. For men, italian cut pants or slacks are typically worn with a nice shirt.

dress skirt pant men


Shoes make a huge difference in the dance. While beginners are fine in socks or anything they can pivot in, there are specific shoes created for tango that are different from ballroom or latin/salsa shoes.

Women, for practice, shoes should be practical with a short and well-built heel. They have to give enough mobility yet be a close fit so they would embrace your foot tightly. A leather sole if preferable for it allows pivots and gives one a good balance and stepping ability. For milongas women typically wear fancier heels. Heel heights and widths vary but a standard height is 3 inches with a 13ppt heel. Sandals and regular heels/pumps are often unfit to dance in as they don't have straps and easily fall off your feet or are not flexible. The heels on regular shoes are placed too far back and cause instability and the platforms on high heels are stiff and bulky.


Men for a practice or milonga shoe, find something that you can pivot in and is fairly flexable but form fitting is best. Many of our leads use character shoes, jazz slippers, or jazz sneakers. Please note that regular street sneakers have tread on the bottm making them unsuitable for dancing. Shoes that slid off easily are also very dangerous.