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An Interview with Mariana Parma after a performance of Swango

by Robert Abrams
September 26, 2002
New York, NY

Interview with Mariana Parma

By Robert Abrams
September 26, 2002

Robert Abrams: How did you start dancing?

Mariana Parma: I started at the age of 4 in my house. I knew that I wanted to dance always.

Mariana and Ronen perform in Swango
Photo by Lisa Allen

RA: What makes you passionate about dance?

MP: I can't really say what it is. It is the only thing that makes me feel alive, feeds my spirit and my soul. A lot of things play into that: the music, the expression, the commitment, the discipline, everything. It is like nothing in this world, to be able to move and express yourself with your body. That's what is inspirational.

RA: What is your favorite thing about performing?

MP: I like a lot of things, as long as it is genuine, real, challenging. Exciting, thought out. That's what I like. Mostly Latin American folk dancing. There is a lot of history behind it. There is a story behind it: the life of a culture. Everything is symbolic: the clothes you wear, the music. There is nothing like this music. From the Andes, from the Caribbean. It is amazing.

RA: What have you learned from performing in Swango?

MP: In terms of performing, dancing with my partner. He has been exceptional. He has made me very grounded. He has made me realize that being nice, you can achieve great work, you can achieve great partnership. You don't always have to be arguing and struggling. You can take your time to discover those great moments that make dance passionate without being so tense. Dancing with great performers has added to my dancing. Watching Mariela in tango is amazing and inspirational. I am very happy that every Thursday and Friday night I can share the dancing with her. She is not just a tango dancer, she is an artist, and I respect her greatly for that, and all the other dancers for their efforts. It is all very inspiring.

RA: How has the show changed over time?

MP: It has definitely gotten better in the sense that we have developed our characters, we interact better with each other, we know what our interactions are. We have cleaned up a lot of numbers. Overall, it has gelled together. I can say what Swango is now, I understand the vision of what Swango is. People were skeptical that it would be a mishmash, but they found they [Robert and Mariela, the choreographers] respected each dance. The show can never go wrong. We have the top Tango and West Coast Swing choreographers. It comes from the real source, so it won't be a mishmash. We'll find people who will disagree. But it doesn't matter because it is the real people doing it. These are the real people, they live Tango and West Coast Swing.

RA: What led you to become a teacher?

MP: I always taught dance to kids, that is my love, my speciality. I was hired in a partner dance studio to structure and establish a children's program, then they asked me to teach adults. I didn't want to teach adults. Now I like teaching adults. It now makes sense why they want lessons. My background is you take lessons to dance professionally. I didn't know there was a social scene. Dance for fun. Finally I understand where they are coming from.

RA: Is there a choreographer or dancer who inspires you?

MP: There are many. When I was very little the person who inspired me the most was Leslie Brown in the movie "Turning Point". In terms of cabaret, Iris Chacon for Latin music and her shows. She was so there even if it was really bad. Because she had really big thighs and a big butt and guys were lifting her up in the air, I knew I could do that too. Great shows I saw. I wanted to ice skate like Dorothy Hamill. The first person in Tango who inspired me - I loved her feet and legs - was Cecelia Saia. And Mariela. Dance to me is great. When I think of strength, I think of Alvin Ailey dancers. To see emotion, besides technique. If I don't see emotion I don't care.

RA: Where do you hope to take your dancing next?

MP: I have reached a place where I enjoy my dancing. It took me a long time. I want to do everything with entertainment: movies, commercials. I want to do theatre. If it requires my dancing, so much the better.

If you would like to contact Mariana about her classes, private lessons, or choreography, you can contact her at Parmacom@aol.com or call Dance Manhattan at 212-807-0802.

Swango runs until October 30, 2002, currently on Thursday and Friday evenings, starting at 8:30 PM (get there by 7:30 PM if you are having dinner at Swing 46). Do yourself a favor and call Swing 46 at 212-262-9554 to reserve your tickets. Swing 46 is located at 349 West 46th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues. They can also be found on the web at www.Swing46.com. Swango can be found on the web at www.SwangoProductions.com. And don't forget to bring your dance shoes for the free dance lesson and dancing to a live Swing band after the show.

For Robert Abrams' review of Swango, please click here.

For the Inside Perspective, read Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower's interview with Robert Royston and Mariela Franganillo.

For pictures of Swango, please go to the Swango Pics page.

And be sure to check out The SWANGO Photo Essay by Lisa Allen

If you would like to take lessons from any of the SWANGO performers, here is the contact information for the SWANGO teachers who have sent us their info to date.

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