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MCCC Theatre and Dance Coordinator Jody Person
Does the Tango!


West Windsor, N.J. - When MCCC Theatre and Dance Program Coordinator Jody Person began contemplating the choreography he would develop for the student production of "Rent" in 2010, he realized that a particular number, "The Tango Maureen," would pose a challenge. Person, a dancer with many styles on his resume, had no training in the tango, a highly stylized form of Latin American dance.

Person's choreography for "Rent" turned out to be the inspiration for a whole new form of self expression. Upon taking his first tango class, he says, "I fell in love with it." And, Person proved a natural at this dance style with its complex footwork and graceful, precise movements carried out with a partner.

Person quickly moved from amateur to confident professional, performing at numerous venues this summer. In June, he performed with partner Svetlana Keselman in Vaudeville at the Broadway at the Broadway Theatre in Pitman, NJ. In July, he performed with Keselman in a Pro-Showcase at Dancesport in New York City. The partners also shared their talents with a community audience at MCCC's very own Late Night Series.

In August, Person and partner Anton Gazenbeek won a Bronze Medal in the 7th Annual New York Hustle Congress in the Pro-Open Dance Competition, held at the New York Hotel. They also performed at the 11th Annual New York City Tango Festival's Black and White Ball with some tango legends including Jorge Torres, Nelson and Madalyn Avila, and at the Esther Pugliese Benefit Tango Concert at the Pierre Dulaine Dance Studio, also in New York.

MCCC Associate Professor Jody Person dances the tango with Svetlana Keselman in "Vaudeville at the Broadway" in Pittman, NJ, in June.

Person is now bringing tango to his students at Mercer. "I have started teaching introductory tango movements to my theater students. It's a great tool for acting. Among the many benefits are improving posture and coordination, and learning to give up control and trust your partner. The most important benefit for student actors is that tango teaches them how to connect with fellow actors on stage," Person explains. He notes that he is also adding tango elements to his modern dance classes, which inncorporate diverse styles.

To view Person's medal winning performance in the Pro-Open Competition, click here.

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